Age of Ultron

Tuesday Q&A: Christos Gage

The writer prepares Superior Spider-Man to enter the Age of Ultron!

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Superior Spider-Man #6AU preview art by Dexter Soy

By Jim Beard

Writer Christos Gage pinch hits for regular Spidey scribe Dan Slott in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #6AU, a special Age of Ultron tie-in issue that hits stands on March 27. In it, the “new” web-slinger—Doctor Octopus’ mind in Peter Parker’s body—finds himself in the middle of a technological takeover, his vast brain seemingly useless against the onslaught of the Avengers’ most persistent foe.

Gage’s task centers on illustrating the spread of Ultron’s latest evil throughout the Marvel Universe, a plan that once might’ve curried favor with the formerly villainous Doc Ock. We asked the writer to tell us about the origins of the special issue and what readers can expect from the superior showdown therein.

Marvel.com: Christos, how did you get the gig of writing this AU tie-in issue of SUPERIOR SPIDER-Man and what really intrigued you about it?

Christos Gage: I’ve collaborated with SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN writer Dan Slott for a long time, going back to when we co-wrote AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE, and as recently as when we co-wrote AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #695-697. I also worked with editor Steve Wacker on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #661-662 and some Spidey limited series that were beautifully drawn by Mario Alberti, SPIDER-MAN/X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN/FANTASTIC FOUR. So I think the feeling was that if Dan’s too busy to write it himself, I’m in tune enough with the way he and the Spidey office do things that it wouldn’t feel like this book was some outside thing, but rather part of the overall Superior Spider-Man saga.

Superior Spider-Man #6AU preview art by Dexter Soy

And that was what intrigued me about it, as well as Steve: seeing how, specifically, the Superior Spider-Man reacts to the Age of Ultron. We essentially have a guy, in Doc Ock, who has more than once been the master villain trying to conquer and lay waste to the entire world. Now, all of a sudden he’s on the other side, trying to stop it. What’s that like for him? Is he better equipped to handle the situation, or worse? Will he maintain his new course as a hero, or return to his old ways? That’s what Steve, [editor] Ellie Pyle and I wanted to examine, and what makes this particular story unique.

Marvel.com: What's the transition like from issue #6 to #6AU? What's the set-up for Spidey-Ock here?

Christos Gage: Plot-wise, the transition is more something you’ll see in the AGE OF ULTRON series proper. That said, in terms of character, I read Dan’s plots for all the SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN issues up to that point, and Ock’s mindset is very much informed by where he is in issue #6, especially as relates to the Avengers.

Marvel.com: What can we expect of Ock's outlook on the Age of Ultron? What of it will challenge him the most?

Christos Gage: Otto is none too keen on someone other than him conquering the world. Especially Ultron. They met once before, in SECRET WARS, and it was not a friendly meeting—but at that time, Ultron had been deactivated by Galactus and was being controlled by Doctor Doom. So to Doc Ock, if Victor Von Doom—whose intellect is, clearly, inferior to that of Otto Octavius—could bring Ultron to heel, it should be child’s play for him. On the other hand, all around him is evidence of what Ultron has already done, and it’s hit the other heroes quite hard. So the question is, will Otto’s arrogance be his downfall, or will he be the one man confident enough to handle his business in the face of overwhelming tragedy?

Superior Spider-Man #6AU preview art by Dexter Soy

Marvel.com: How might the story involve our supporting players?

Christos Gage: Things are not going so well for the rest of the book’s cast. Spidey’s fellow Avengers are the most prominent, specifically Iron Man. I also got to put Quicksilver in there, which was fun; I missed writing him in AVENGERS ACADEMY.

Marvel.com: What about Peter? Inside Ock, what's his take on the Age of Ultron, and can he do anything about it?

Christos Gage: The focus of the issue is really more on Doc Ock. My first draft had Ghost Pete in it—that’s just what I call him—but I ultimately felt that wasn’t working; if you go there at all, you have to have him as a strong part of the story throughout, and really, with just one issue, I felt it was a stronger story to see Doc Ock’s point of view. We’ve all seen Peter Parker as Spider-Man facing an end-of-the-world scenario. We’ve never seen Doc Ock—well, not from this side of things; he’s always been the one trying to cause it! Plus, with Ock not aware of Pete, you’re almost telling a different side story if you open that door. For these reasons I kept the focus on Ock.

Marvel.com: And what's it like working with artist Dexter Soy on this issue? What are his strengths in a story like this?

Christos Gage: Dexter has a very dynamic and powerful style that lends itself nicely to an apocalyptic story like this, but the real revelation for me was how amazing his rendition of Ultron is. Very machine-like, but he imbues him with an obscene, eerie life.

Dexter Soy’s Ultron will scare you. You will submit.

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