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Tuesday Q&A: Dan Slott

The writer of Amazing Spider-Man paves the road to Spider-Island and reveals a sin from the past of Peter Parker

By Jim Beard

This July, Spider-Man’s rushing headlong from the “Infected” storyline into the sprawling saga of Spider-Island, but not before a brief stopover at the “Crossroads.”

Writer Dan Slott points proudly to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #665—illustrated by Ryan Stegman—as a tale that will hit the wondrous web-crawler like a ton of bricks and forever mark him. Then, immediately thereafter in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666, our hero must contend with a New York City population that’s starting to look all too familiar to him.

We checked in with Slott to ask him a few questions about these two incredible issues and what else the future holds for Spidey.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #665 inked preview art by Ryan Stegman

Marvel.com: Dan, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #665 clocks in as a standalone story between epics. What gets you most jazzed about this issue?

Dan Slott: I wanted to plug this issue because all the push has been going toward Spider-Island and I’m like, aw man, this story is going to get buried! This is one of my favorites! I’m like, “I must plug this issue, I want people to read it.” This is one of my favorite Spider-Man stories that we’re doing and for a number of reasons. One, it really gets to the heart about who and what Spider-Man is, and two, it does have a big impact.

There is something that happens in the story that is pretty crucial moving on into not just Spider-Island, but AMAZING SPIDER-MAN in general. There are some pretty big things that happen in #665.

Marvel.com: Without spoiling any of the tale, what can you tell us about it?

Dan Slott: Well, I can tell you that something happens in the story that raises the specter of one of Peter’s greatest sins and shortcomings, all the way back from AMAZING FANTASY #15.

Marvel.com: So would you say it’s a culmination of certain aspects of his past?

Dan Slott: There is something that happens in AMAZING FANTASY #15 that when you take the time to think about it, to really think about it, the minute you see the moment, you’re not going to go “aw, why did they add that?” You’ll go “no of course, that’s how that had to have worked, that’s how it had to have happened, and no one’s brought that up. No one’s ever mentioned that, and oh, that’s horrible. That’s really horrible, Peter Parker!”

Marvel.com: So, this really going to impact Spider-Man going into Spider-Island? Is he going to carry whatever happens to him in #665 into that next saga?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #665 inked preview art by Ryan Stegman

Dan Slott: What happens in #655 is very important. This one doesn’t go straight to the bone; this one goes straight to the soul.

Marvel.com: So never assume this is just a pause between two storylines. This is a high watermark.

Dan Slott: Let’s throw in the words “Academy Award Nomination.” [Laughs] What I will say is this is a Spider-Man story I’ve been wanting to tell for some time, that even if you haven’t been reading the book you can pick this up and go, wow, this really does get to the heart of Spider-Man. Also, up until now our “Infested” stories have been two or three pages. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #665 has an eight-page “Infested” story, which is less about the bugs and more about a major status quo change for one of the longest-running characters in the book.

Marvel.com: Other than Peter?

Dan Slott: Yes, and we will see another character gain powers. It is an important status quo change; it’s really hard to say it in any other words. Also, #665 is a stunning Spidey debut for our artist Ryan Stegman. People might have seen Ryan’s work on the SHE-HULKS series and some other projects, but as good as Ryan has been in the past, this really is a time that an artist has said, you know, “I’m working on an AMAZING SPIDER-MAN issue, I’m bringing my A-game. I’m going to surprise everyone.”

Marvel.com: What does Ryan do that makes this particular issue perfect for him?

Dan Slott: This is just pure meat and potatoes Spider-Man. You don’t get more Spider-Man than this issue.

Marvel.com: So in other words, any Spider-Man artist would sell their mother to draw this issue?

Dan Slott: When Ryan read this script he said, “I get to draw this one?” And boy, did he step up. This is going to put Ryan Stegman on a lot of lists. I remember when he turned in the cover for one of the first Spider-Island variants, the one where he’s holding the Bugle. Oh my God, it’s gorgeous. If you look at that art, this guy can really nail Spider-Man. You’re going to have to pick up AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #665.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #665 preview art by Ryan Stegman

Marvel.com: You’ve been blessed with working with incredible artists because you are also with Stefano Caselli on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666, which will be a prelude to Spider Island. What makes it a prelude?

Dan Slott: This is the day before the chaos, but that doesn’t make it the calm before the storm. This is a chance to see where all the pieces are on the table, where everybody is coming from, what everyone is doing as forces are marshalling. Also we’re about to jump into a story where Spider-Man is just one of thousands of Spider-Men in New York, and the prelude is one last time to see him as the one and only Spider-Man, doing only the things that Spider-Man can do to the nth degree. Just the chance for him to shine and go, here’s the one and only Spider-Man. Then, whoop! It’s pulled out from under him the very next issue. It’s an important issue. It introduces you to the whole cast and where everybody is coming from. There’s some secret reveals we’ve been holding back on.

Marvel.com: You’ve been holding back on us?

Dan Slott: We’ve been holding back on you. Everyone thinks this is a story about The Jackal. “Oh, The Jackal is doing this.” Well, look what we got: surprises! AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666 is the issue where somebody is going to say “Oh, that character is involved too! Oh, my God that character is involved! Oh, I see where this is going,” or you’ll think you’ll see where it’s going.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666 variant cover by Ryan Stegman

Marvel.com: Now is the FF, Spidey’s new team, involved in Spider-Island?

Dan Slott: Spidey’s teams are involved. You will see Reed [Richards] and Ben [Grimm] play a role in Spider-Island and you’re going to see other Avengers characters play a part. All of Manhattan is going to turn into Spider-Island, this giant quarantined, scary, run-amok city. Expect all the heroes of New York City to be playing a part.

Marvel.com: Where did the idea of Spider-Island come from?

Dan Slott: Like all great Marvel ideas it came from a lunch. See, there’s a lesson there: if you want ideas from your writers, feed them. Steve Wacker, Tom Brevoort, Tom Brennan and myself all had lunch at a diner. I think this was well before Big Time launched. We’re like, okay, let’s look at the summer after Big Time. So much of Big Time was about raising stakes all the time: Oh, he’s got a new job. Oh, he’s got a new girl friend. Oh, he’s lost his spider powers. Oh no, someone died! Oh wait, now he’s building new tech! Now he’s learning kung-fu! Now he’s on two teams! Where will it stop? Now everybody’s spiders! There’s always something. The foot stays on the gas, and how do we go bigger?

Marvel.com: And this rolls out into several limited series and one shots?

Dan Slott: This is the biggest story we have done with Spider-Man in years. It’s six issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, but since we come out twice a month, that’s three months with a prelude and epilogue. Steve is very proud of the fact that it’s eight parts and a spider has eight legs so we can do some kind of visual. It will play a big part, and vice versa, with the Flash Thompson Venom over in [writer] Rick [Remenber]’s book.

We’ll see some Spider-Island-related meetings with Shang-Chi, who has been teaching Spider-Man kung fu. Spider-Girl is back, and you have to wonder if she’s getting spider powers because she hasn’t had them. We’re going to have Cloak and Dagger return to the world of Spider-Man with Nick [Spencer] and Emma [Rios]; [that book] is gorgeous.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666 variant cover by Humberto Ramos

We’re going to have some special one-shots. Chris Gage and I will be telling the story of Hobgoblin during Spider-Island. He’s not coming out of this unscathed; there will be a major change with him. In the same special you’ll see a feature-length story by Fred Van Lente on The Jackal, where he’s been, and what brings him to Spider-Island.

Marvel.com: After the dust clears from Spider-Island, do you think the people of New York City will understand Spider-Man a little bit better?

Dan Slott: It’s funny you should mention that. There’s actually going to be a special on the people of New York and how they relate to this. You’ll have to see where that goes; there are certain things I don’t want to spoil.

Marvel.com: An issue of the caliber of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666 deserves special covers, and I understand that these covers are special comic shop variant covers.

Dan Slott: This is the coolest thing ever. There will be two covers coming out for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666 where your favorite comic shop is featured on the cover. It’s a special store-to-store variant. One of them is by Humberto [Ramos] of Spider-Man fighting The Lizard and one by Ryan Stegman.

Marvel.com: So, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #665 and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666. Describe them in a few words to lead us out, Dan.

Dan Slott: #665: One of Peter Parker’s original sins from AMAZING FANTASY #15 comes home to roost. #666: Three words: Spider. Island. Ahhhhh!

Marvel.com: Now you’re going to force us to spell that!

Dan Slott: I think that’s five h’s.

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