By Jim Beard
Following "Spider-Man: One More Day," the original Spider-Man title, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, will be the only ongoing Peter Parker comic, and is set to be published three times a month. Marvel Comics has gathered together eight high-profile creators to kick off this incredible time in the history of the character, and will be launching them in teams of two, each with their own unique storyarc. From there, these amazing professionals--and probably a bunch more--will be mixed and matched, creating a Spider-Man title like never before. Ladies and gentlemen, Marvel fans of all ages, we present to you a Brand New Day, and the Spider-Man dream teams supreme…
"This will be my first and last chance! If it doesn't work, look out below!"
--Peter Parker, Spider-Man - Amazing Spider-Man #1, 1963
Brand New Day
Artist Steve McNiven had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put his personal stamp on one of the most famous superheroes of all, Spider-Man. The series was called CIVIL WAR, and along with writer Mark Millar, McNiven took Spider-Man to a place he had never been before: complete disclosure. Peter Parker revealed to the world that he was Spider-Man, and that world will never be the same again. Nor will McNiven's artistic career.
The artist's newest project is, surprise! a Spider-Man jam. But not just any jam; this is the first and best Spidey title, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and you may have heard that with issue #546 it's going three times monthly. McNiven will once again be on the Spider-Man front line when history's about to be made. He wouldn't want it any other way. He and ol' Pete have grown rather close.
And Marvel knows what they're doing, putting McNiven on this ultimate of Spidey projects. "Steve is the anchor, the guy who's going to put the first visual stamp on this new era of Spidey," says Marvel editor Tom Brevoort proudly. "After CIVIL WAR, anything Steve touches is going to be hot, and he earned a break from drawing huge crowds of heroes. Plus, he's extremely good at human drama, as seen in the MARVEL KNIGHTS 4 books he did.
McNiven's fantastic portrayals of Marvel goodniks and baddies have also been witnessed on NEW AVENGERS and ULTIMATE SECRET. He got his start at Crossgen, but always had his eye on working for the House of Ideas and to get his hands on such legends like Spider-Man. That dream has come true. And he's feeling the import of the project, as well as the fun.
"I'm having a blast working on Spidey," reports McNiven. "It's something that I've wanted to do for a while now. Working with Steve Wacker is also a highlight of the project for me. One of the best editors I've worked with, that's for sure. And Dan, well, what can I say? He was born to write Spidey.
Brand New Day
"Visually, I'm hoping to tell Dan's story as well as possible, keeping the characters 'on model' as well as I can," says the modest artist. "Most of the source material I'm responding to comes from Buscema, Romita, Kane and Andru.
"I always look," he continues, "for a well rounded story with a great action piece with a classic villain, good character development and with some great Spidey humor thrown in."
That's where writer Dan Slott comes in, joining McNiven as one of the initial AMAZING SPIDER-MAN launch teams. Slott's known for injecting a healthy dose of humor and lighthearted joy into his stories, lending a bit of jaunty adventure to the lives of heroes such as the Thing and She-Hulk. Take a look at a title like AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE for a glimpse of his comfortable, real-world dialogue and characters with heart and gumption. And he knows exactly what he wants to do with Spider-Man.
"To show him off," sayeth Slott. "Show off every single part of his world. There is SO much to Spider-Man: power, responsibility, cracking wise, the Parker Luck, great 'soap opera,' lots of action, crazy villains and the best supporting cast in comics! The ONE thing I want to do with Spider-Man is to go forward, tell new stories, but to always be true to those strengths."
Brevoort gives Slott high marks in more than one area of slinging words and crafting plots. "Dan's the soap opera mastermind of the team in a lot of ways," he explains. "Very adept at balancing the long and short-term needs of the assorted characters and their overarching storylines. He's got a very traditional background when it comes to Spidey, but he's also very plugged in to what's going on in the Marvel Universe today, so he's a good full-coverage writer.
"And his Spider-Man will certainly be funny."
Slott is looking forward to the kinds of Peter Parker stories where the hapless hero, well, you know, "screws up." It's bound to happen in Spider-Man's world. "Superman? Couldn't lose for trying," explains the writer. "Batman? Never makes a mistake. Captain America? Always finds a way. And Spidey screws up. That's what we love about him. He's us. He tries to do the right thing, but sometimes he makes the wrong choices.
"But he keeps on trying!" exclaims Slott. It's easy to be a superhero--when you never lose. It's a lot harder to be Spider-Man."
Enemies make that harder for the webslinger, of course. And enemies are also on Slott's mind. One in particular, in fact. "Electro. He was the bad guy in MARVEL TALES #63, the first solo Spidey story I ever read," says the reminiscing artist. "Bought it for a quarter with my first allowance. Read it a zillion times. Electro totally kicked Spidey's butt--and then took off. And that was it. The story was over. That blew my 8-year-old mind! That wasn't supposed to happen to superheroes! It really made me WORRY for Spider-Man. Every issue after that, I went it rooting for him, expecting him to lose, but HOPING he wouldn't!"
Dan Slott is also looking forward to working with McNiven and crafting a synthesis between words and visuals that will not also capture the hearts and minds of readers like you, but also honor the character and his history. "For a lifelong Spidey-fan, you'd think that showing up for the launch would be intimidating or stressful--like showing up for your high school reunion or something," Slott notes. "But imagine pulling up in a FERRARI with a SUPER MODEL on your arm. THAT'S what it feels like coming out of the gate with Steve McNiven!
"Seriously, [Marvel's] launching this with Steve's first interiors since CIVIL WAR!" says Slott. "How COOL is that?! Every page that comes in just takes off the back of my head! EVERY SINGLE PAGE is jaw-droppingly AWESOME!"
"Thrice monthly," says the writer, taking it all in. "Wow. Just saying that out loud. But I know we can do it. We've got a great team here. Marc, Bob and Zeb, these are sharp guys. And if anyone can keep this on the rails, it's [ASM editor] Steve Wacker. We're up for this! We're gonna do this! And it's gonna be one amazing, crazy ride!"
With two top creators like Steve McNiven and Dan Slott on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, you can bet it will be the book to watch. Maybe Spidey has never had it so good…
Everything you need to know on the four Spider-Man: Brand New Day launch teams:
Dan Slott and Steve McNiven
Bob Gale and Phil Jimenez
Marc Guggenheim and Salvador Larroca
Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo