By Ben Morse
For years fans have been literally screaming: "Dan Slott is perfect for Spider-Man! Let Dan Slott write Spider-Man!"
Ok, we heard you.
The celebrated writer of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE hops onboard to take the first shift of "Brand New Day" with artist Steve McNiven beginning on January 9 with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #546 and carrying over the next two weeks through issues #547 and #548. After passing the baton off to co-architects and fellow writers Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale and Zeb Wells, Slott will return down the line for more fun with the three-times-a-month shipping Webhead.
Marvel.com sat down with Slott to discuss his origins as a Spider-Man fan, the pride/pressure of going first in "Brand New Day," and his plans for Marvel's flagship character.
Marvel.com: When did you become a Spider-Man fan?
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In grade school. It was the mid 70's, and the Spider-Man cartoon was still in syndication. If I biked home as fast as I could from Mabel Barron Elementary, I could just catch part of the opening theme song. Riiiight around when they'd sing, "In the chill of night, at the scene of a crime…"
Marvel.com: What hooked you about the character?
In the first Spidey comic I ever read—MARVEL TALES #63—he was outmatched, he took his lumps, and at the end of the issue, the bad guy got away. That blew my mind.
In every story you're told as a child, the hero wins. But even as a little kid, you know
that's not how it works in the real world. Something about that felt more honest. And it made Spider-Man more heroic.
Superman would win without breaking a sweat. And Batman would win no matter what
the odds. But Spider-Man? I walked in worried that he might lose
. And that got me rooting for him every time.
Marvel.com: What have been your favorite eras of Spider-Man?
The first hundred and change of [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN] with Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, John Romita, Gil Kane, and Ross Andru. And then again in the 80's for that magic couple of years when Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. were on [the book]. In college I was a big fan of Peter David's run on [SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN].
Marvel.com: And what are some of your favorite Spider-Man stories?
That's hard! I'd have to say...[AMAZING SPIDER-MAN] #8 for Peter Parker's boxing match against Flash Thompson. The Spider-Man/Juggernaut fight in [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN] #229-230. But the Spider-Man story that moved me the most was the death of Captain Stacy in [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN] #90. I think that was my favorite Spidey story of them all.
Marvel.com: How were you approached to be a part of "Brand New Day"?
[Editor] Steve Wacker picked up the phone and called me. And I tried very hard not to freak out.
Marvel.com: What was your immediate reaction, both to writing Spider-Man and to the unique format of working with three other writers on a book that ships three times a month?
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A mixture of giddiness and fear. It's the gig of a lifetime! It's Spider-Man
! Now that the machine's up and running, knowing that I'm part of a team of guys I respect, and seeing all of our work being drawn by some of the best artists in the industry...the fear's going away. You're never getting rid of the giddiness though. It's Spider-Man
Marvel.com: What has the process been like thus far with the four of you, plus Steve Wacker and associates, plotting out the start of this storyline?
Strange. I've never done anything like this before. It's more like writing for television than comics. We've each got our own individual stories that we're working on. But we're all pooling together to work out the overarching mega-stories for the year.
It means a lot of planning: conference calls, group e-mails, sit downs, virtual planning spreadsheets in cyber-space—it's crazy. A lot of effort is going into this. Especially on Steve's end.
But when we pull it off? I think it's gonna be cool. It is
going to be like getting a regular Spider-Man TV show!
Marvel.com: How far ahead are you?
Let's see...right now, I'm simultaneously working on a plot for the spring and one for late summer.
Marvel.com: What can you say about the initial summit where you and the other writers—and others—met for the first time?
It was a trip. I really didn't know what to expect. That was quite a collection of guys. You had Steve, [Executive Editor] Tom [Brevoort], [Editor-In-Chief] Joe [Quesada], [assistant editor] Aubrey [Sitterson], C.B. [Cebulski], and I got to meet Bob, Marc, and Zeb for the first time. I was really impressed with all the give and take in that room. There was a lot of creativity and good teamwork going on. I was so
nervous walking in.
And I was so pumped
walking out! I just knew
this was going to be more
than a Spider-Man I'd want to work on, it was going to be one I'd want to read
Marvel.com: Why were you selected to be the first guy to kick off "Brand New Day"?
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Just luck of the draw. But we're all in there. In the overarching ideas. And in the first issue, on top of a larger-than-normal lead, you're going to see all-new short stories and features from Bob, Marc, and Zeb. But at the same time, it's kinda like a parfait. It's a fun mix, but from story-to-story, we all get to keep our own flavors.
Marvel.com: Without giving too much away, what can you as far as what your first arc is about?
The first three issues are our "pilot episode". We're going to throw you right into Peter Parker's world—with a mix of new surprises, new characters, and a whole bunch of familiar faces too. And, of course, a new bad guy. Gotta have a new bad guy.
Marvel.com: Speaking of which…what new villains will you be introducing in your first arcs?
You're gonna see a new crime lord, Mister Negative, in the first arc.
After that, Marc's gonna unleash Menace on Spidey in month two. Both of these guys are really gonna put Spidey through the ringer when they...well, you're going to have to wait and see.
Marvel.com: How do you feel they stack up against Spidey's classic rogues?
A lot of the classic guys wear their hearts on their sleeves. You know who they are, what they want, and what they can do. These new guys know how to keep a secret. And as their stories unfold, and you find out more about them, I think their cool factor will grow exponentially.
Marvel.com: Will you be tackling the old school bad guys down the line?
Totally! We've been given a lot of freedom on this new run of Spider-Man. One of the few editorial mandates we were
given was to take the classic Spidey villains off the shelf for a while. And there's some good thinking behind this.
Basically, we see these guys getting taken out all over the place—all the time
. Some of them should just change their codenames to "Punching Bag" and "Glass Jaw." So we'd like to give them some breathing room for a while. And when they do come back—and they will
--they can come back in a big
Marvel.com: Do you plan to use any guest stars in your first arc and beyond?
You're gonna see some guys in Zeb's arc. And I'm sure he can fill you in when that gets closer. But for the most part, this is Spider-Man's
book. And when he's on camera, he's gonna be the coolest guy in the room.
Marvel.com: What's it like working with artist Steve McNiven?
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Unbelievable! The art on every single page is gorgeous! Dude, I've been digging Steve McNiven's work since his CrossGen days when he was the artist on Meridian! So this was an honor and a treat! I remember reading MARVEL KNIGHTS 4, and being so jealous of [writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa] that Steve was drawing his stories. The level of craftsmanship in his work is mindboggling.
Marvel.com: How does his style play to the strengths of Spider-Man?
Steve visually brings to Spider-Man everything
we're trying to do in the scripts. His Spidey harkens back to a classic era, but [brings] it to you with a modern feel. You can see it. Some of his figures have this Ross Andru or Gil Kane vibe, but there's no denying that each and every shot is drawn by the guy who knocked it out of the park in CIVIL WAR!
Marvel.com: What are you looking to bring back to Spider-Man's world?
One of the things I'm most looking forward to is a rich supporting cast. That's always been one of Peter Parker/Spider-Man's greatest strengths. From Flash, Betty, Robbie, and Jonah....to Nathan Lubensky and Cissy Ironwood. There's always been a great bunch of supporting players running around the book—well-developed characters that you felt you knew.
Over the past few years, Peter's supporting cast shrunk down to a couple characters...as Spider-Man's supporting cast grew. It became more about the world we
can't relate to. Instead of friends, family, co-workers, and bosses—we got super-powered teammates and secretive characters who related to Peter as
Spider-Man. We're gonna change that around.
Beyond your first arc, what types of stuff to you have coming up when you return to the book?
Marvel.com: What are your bigger goals as a group for "Brand New Day"?
Sharing Peter Parker's life with you. Week in, week out. All the adventure, all the drama, all the time!
To me, Peter's at his best when he screws up. Really screws up. When Flash Thompson mouths off at him, he really wants to slug him with all
his Spidey strength. But he doesn't. When Jonah gives him a hard time, he wants to dangle him out a window. And sometimes he does. If he can come up with a cool way to make some bucks off of his spider-powers, he might give it a shot. 'Cause that's what we'd
And just like that time he let the burglar get away, Spidey can make the wrong choice. And pay for it. In my [second] arc, he's gonna make a really stupid, but very Peter Parker-ish, choice. And...stuff happens.
Marvel.com: What hints can you give about the future?
With the thrice-monthly Spider-Man, the future's going to come at you faster than you think! It's gonna big one thing after another. Four guys who are so
into Spidey are going to keep throwing you curve balls. The best artists in the industry are gonna pencil, ink, and color it to perfection. And the hardest working editorial team [is] gonna make sure we keep it all on the rails! It's a killer combo!
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #546, by Dan Slott and Steve McNiven, ships January 9 with the next two issues following over the next two weeks.
In the mean time, you can follow the ongoing adventures of Steve Wacker and assistant editor Tom Brennan on their brand new World Wide Webhead blog and check out the first 100 issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and much more at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!