By Ryan Penagos
With nearly 50 years of shared history in the Marvel Universe, the number of Spider-Man and X-Men team-up tales remains surprisingly low. Fortunately for fans of misunderstood heroes the world over, writer Christos Gage and artist Mario Alberti aim to amend that oversight with their upcoming four-issue limited series X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN.
A decades-spanning mystery that kicks off during the early days of the Marvel Age when Kraven and the Blob link up to smack down the X-Men, X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN launches in November, sending the series down a path which Gage wants wants to keep intentionally vague at this point.
"I will say that a longtime X-Men villain has his sinster hands in it," teases the scribe.
While Gage's not-so-subtle hint gives a clue as to one character who may be appearing, if the creative team has their druthers, the series will feature a who's-who of Marvel staples.
"I'm partial to Nightcrawler, ever since I first encountered him fighting Spider-Man in the pages of [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN] #161," says Gage. "Like a lot of other people, I've always liked Wolverine as well. As for villains, Juggernaut and the Blob are big favorites—so it's not surprising the Blob's in our first issue! As for Spidey's cast, Gwen [Stacy] is the cat's pajamas, especially when she and MJ have to share the stage. Spidey villains, I'd have to say the Sandman and, I'm not kidding here, Stegron the Dinosaur Man.
"I'm partial [to female] characters and Rogue is probably my favorite," notes Alberti, who brings his internationally-renowned artistic talents to the House of Ideas for the first time with X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN. "The idea that she can't touch anyone or if she does she absorbs all their memories and powers is terrific, like have-nothing-or-take-all in any relationship. I have to say I'm quite new to the X-Men, though, and the more I discover about them the more it becomes difficult to choose! On a graphic point of view I have to agree with Chris: Nightcrawler is awesome. Drawing the Blob was so much fun! [As for] Spider-Man villains, [I choose] J. Jonah Jameson [and the] Prowler. I really liked him as a kid."
It's not just about who shows up in the series, but in which time period X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN takes place that amps up the excitement.
"We looked for eras in which both Spidey and the X-Men were going through interesting events in their lives," Gage explains. "For example, 'Kraven's Last Hunt' took place right around the time of the 'Mutant Massacre,' so that was a logical time period to use. And the Ben Reilly/'Clone Saga' coincided with the time Wolverine had been stripped of his adamantium and was using bone claws, so we felt it would be interesting to explore what that did to the dynamic. Our first issue takes place just after X-MEN v1 #66, which is also when Spidey was in the midst of the classic John Romita/Gwen Stacy era. I think Mario would have gone on a hunger strike if we didn't get Gwen in there! As for the last issue, I'm being a bit secretive about that for now, but it's set in modern times."
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