By Ben Morse
He's nearly six months into his "Brand New Day," but if Spider-Man had designs on things settling down for a nice quiet summer, well, sorry Spidey.
Beginning in August, writer Dan Slott welcomes legendary artist John Romita Jr. back to the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN for "New Ways to Die," a six-part story that unfolds over two months, bringing familiar faces like Venom, Norman Osborn and Mary Jane Watson back into the Webslinger's world, while also introducing the new menace of Anti-Venom.
We caught up with Spidey editor supreme Steve Wacker to make sense of the excitement.
Marvel.com: Why do you feel you've reached the point in this new Spider-Man direction where you can start bringing back familiar antagonists like Norman Osborn and Venom?
As a group we all agreed going into this book that for the first six to eight months we wanted to keep the familiar antagonists off the table so that we didn't use them as a crutch. Without the classic Spidey rogues gallery to draw from for the first few months, it made everyone involved work harder to make sure we came away with some intriguing enemies to go up against Spidey.
"New Ways to Die"
And this won't mark the end of the new bad guys being created, but we'll be mixing it up starting in August and even watching the classic villains interacting with the new crew.
Marvel.com: This six-part arc will mark the biggest story told in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN since the new direction—again, why do you feel the time is right for something like this?
Editorially, I've had my [eye] on Johnny Romita coming back and I knew I wanted it to be a big deal when he did, so in that respect this is a "creator-driven" event. But we also had several story threads ready to pop and Slott—with some brainstorming help from [Spidey braintrust members and writers] Zeb [Wells], Bob [Gale] and Marc [Guggenheim]—had come up with intriguing way to pull them all together into our first epic. The best of these kinds of stories just happen organically and that's what happened here.
Marvel.com: What does it mean to have John Romita Jr. returning for this story?
I had a realization a few weeks back that I like JR Jr. on this book so much because it's rare in life that you see someone in any field simply doing the thing they were born to do—and it's beautiful when it happens. It's like watching Michael Jordan play basketball or [Executive Editor Tom] Brevoort work his way into a cheeseburger.
Marvel.com: Where does Norman Osborn fit into the current landscape Peter Parker is living in as far as how he relates to the other characters, in particular his son, Harry?
Norman and Harry are at the center of Peter's world and we're going to see that in the story. Plus, Peter has to deal with Norman as Spider-Man since he's unregistered and Norman leads the Thunderbolts.
The T-Bolts play the role of "people who want to hit Spider-Man." Several others are cast in this role [as well].
Marvel.com: Where has Eddie Brock, the original Venom, been and where is his head at as he re-enters the world of Spider-Man?
Eddie was last seen in an arc in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN last year bed-ridden with cancer. He's still sick when we see him in ["New Ways to Die"].
Marvel.com: Who—or what—is Anti-Venom and what does it mean for Spidey as well as the current Venom?
I don't want to give away anything, but to put it in '80s movie speak: If poisonous venom makes you sick...an anti-venom is the cure.