X-Men/Spider-Man: Filling in the Blanks

Writer Christos Gage talks about the X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN limited series that brings fans the team-ups they missed

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Preview art by
Mario Alberti

By Tim Stevens In their storied histories, mutant super heroes the X-Men and everyone's favorite hard luck webslinger Spider-Man have spent relatively little on-panel time together. Coming November 5, writer Christos Gage and artist Mario Alberti look to rectify that situation with the release of X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN #1. The first installment of the four-part limited series, which features Spidey and the five original X-Men—Cyclops, Marvel Girl [Jean Grey], Beast, Angel, and Iceman—takes place after their titanic first meeting in X-MEN v1 #35. Thus, the characters, as writer Gage puts it, "know each other, but not well." "They're aware of each others' powers and that they're teenagers, but not a whole lot else," he continues. "But they're not total rookies. We're talking the late Silver Age, circa X-MEN #66 and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #82," he elaborates. Gage found this era to be a creatively rewarding and bittersweet one to launch the series from.

Preview art by
Mario Alberti

"Knowing where they are today does add a kind of shading to everything," the writer notes. "It gives a fun, light-hearted scene between Pete, Gwen and Mary Jane a hint of sadness to know that Gwen is going to die. It's like watching your old home movies years later: fun, touching and maybe a little sad." The setting also allowed Gage to write a scene that struck him the moment he heard about the project: "I just had to get the X-Men, Spidey and Spidey's supporting cast—Gwen, MJ, Harry, and Flash—all together, in their civilian identities, in the Coffee Bean, all hitting on each others' girlfriends. That was a blast to write." Of course, rarely do comics get to be just about the Coffee Bean and poignant memories; villains have a tendency to show up and ruin everything. On that score, X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN #1 proves no different. The fun wreckers this time out might be a bit unexpected though, due to the melding of Gage's and editor Steve Wacker's unique sensibilities. "I think it was Steve Wacker who suggested Kraven," recalls the scribe. "He's a big Kraven fan. And I am a sucker for the Blob, as anyone who has read my [HOUSE OF M limited series] knows. So it's a bit of self-indulgence, but hopefully it makes

Preview art by
Mario Alberti

sense in the context of the story. Also, they're both fan favorite villains who are no longer usable in current continuity—Kraven being dead and the Blob having been de-powered—so using them felt like it fit with the whole 'Silver Age' tone of the story." Artist Alberti aids and abets Gage in nailing that Silver Age quality as well as the essences of the eras the future installments take place in. His work impressed the writer. "The art alone should be enough to convince you [to buy it]," raves Gage. Kraven also plays a big part in the second issue, something that Gage acknowledges comes as no accident. "I don't want to spoil anything, but I can tell you it wasn't an arbitrary decision," the writer says. "Not only is there a connection to our first issue, it reflects on where the characters were at that point in their history. Spidey's been through hell and the X-Men have just experienced the Mutant Massacre. It's another example of how their careers seem to have parallel tracks. And yes, there's more going on!"

Preview art by
Mario Alberti

The "more going on" would seem to point to an overarching thread tying these four issues together, a charge that Gage concedes, but hesitates to give out any more details about. When pushed for more he would only declare, "I can't give it away without spoiling the story—so buy the book!" X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN #1 hits stands on November 5, but you can read the first meeting between Spidey and the X-Men right now on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes!

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