By Dan Brooks
When it comes to credentials in the comic book industry, few stand more impressive than Tom DeFalco's.
The legendary writer and editor has penned almost every major Marvel title over the course of his 30-plus-year career, including successful stints on AVENGERS, THOR, FANTASTIC FOUR, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and many others. DeFalco also served as an editor on numerous books, and in 1987, found himself named Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, a position he held until 1994. Yet even with all these accomplishments under his belt, DeFalco will still be adding a new notch upcoming shortly: digital comics creator.
Starting this April, Spider-Girl, the character co-created by DeFalco will continue her adventures on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited with the launch of the online-first ongoing series THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL. We recently talked with the industry vet about the creation of Spider-Girl, writing for the digital format, and what lies in store for the future daughter of Peter and Mary Jane Parker.
Marvel.com: Let's start at the beginning. You co-created Spider-Girl with Ron Frenz in 1998. How did it happen?
While I was working on the Spider-Man books during the so-called "Clone Saga," we learned that Mary Jane was pregnant. The plan was for Peter and MJ to become parents, but that eventually got changed. Anyway, after I left the Spider-Man books, I was assigned to write WHAT IF. I immediately decided to do a story about Spider-Man's daughter. I called Ron Frenz and asked him if he'd like to team up again. He agreed, but thought the story should be called Spider-Woman. I disagreed because too many Spider-Women had already come and gone. Anyway, Ron and I began throwing ideas at each other and WHAT IF #105 was the result. We never imagined Spider-Girl would eventually be given her own series and still be published nearly 12 years later.
Marvel.com: Lately in comics, we've seen many iconic super heroes being given sons. What about creating a daughter for Spider-Man appealed to you that creating a son did not?
People always assume that a son will take over the family business. I liked the idea of playing against type and having a daughter take over. I also had a young niece whose relationship with her dad served as a good model for the character.
Marvel.com: And Peter was always very protective over the women in his life, ever since he lost Gwen Stacy. So the fact that his daughter has picked up the mantle adds a certain tension and drama to the book that might have been absent had he had a son.
Yes, Peter used to try to stop May from risking her life and he still isn't very comfortable with it—although he really tries to be supportive! We have to remember that May will always be his precious little baby girl. In many ways, Mary Jane handles Mayday's web thing a lot better. But, of course, Mary Jane has had a wall-crawler in her life a lot longer than Peter.
Marvel.com: How did you come to shape Mayday's personality? She definitely has a bit of both her parents in her...
Ron and I figured May would be able to cross the line between the geeks and the jocks—taking qualities from both her parents.
Marvel.com: That's one of the more interesting aspects of the character, I think. She doesn't really fall into either high school stereotype.
Nope, Mayday Parker is definitely her own person.
Marvel.com: As for the comics themselves, what I always loved about SPIDER-GIRL and AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL was how refreshingly fun they were. It always felt like your Spider-Girl comics were, at their core, classic super hero comics. They weren't gratuitously violent, but they were action-packed and still had a sense of danger. Is that tone something you consciously created, or did it just come naturally?
Of course it was conscious! I always assumed that having spider-powers would be a blast and have always wanted to convey that feeling of fun and freedom in the series. Also, Mayday has a totally different origin from her dad. Peter failed to stop a burglar who later killed his uncle. Mayday succeeded in stopping a super villain and prevented him from killing her dad. Pete learned that people die when he fails. She learned that people live when she succeeds. It's a subtle, but profound difference.
Marvel.com: Right—Mayday approaches her super hero duties out of a place of hope and not tragedy.
Absolutely! She's being proactive while Peter is usually reactive.
Marvel.com: You also had a chance with SPIDER-GIRL and AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL to essentially create your own continuity, though you had to stay true to what came before. Was that daunting or liberating, as a writer?
Everything is both daunting and liberating to a writer. We're paid to face creative challenges and do the unexpected.
Marvel.com: So, now onto the big news: Spider-Girl will continue her adventures online at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. How does it feel to be working in this new comics format?
I love to be on the cutting edge. The series will be called THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL and is currently schedule to premiere on April 15—so sign up for your subscription now!
Marvel.com: Will the digital format change anything about the way you plot or script your stories?
Not at first, but, as time goes on, I'll be experimenting with the format. As far as I'm concerned, the digital format is like the early days of television. It took the writers, actors and directors a little while to learn what could and could not be done with their new format. At first, everyone treated television a lot like radio, but then people realized that the actors could actually move around and that visual action could be used to advance the story. We're still learning what the digital format can do. You should ask me the same question a year from now.
Marvel.com: AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL launched with Mayday facing off against Hobgoblin and ended with the return of the Green Goblin. Can we expect Spider-Girl to face any other classic Spidey villains as the series goes digital? And any hints as to who those villains might be?
I think it's time to introduce a whole bunch of new villains and supporting characters.
Marvel.com: So Mayday's world is about to be shaken up a bit?
Mayday's entire life changes at the end of AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL #30. When THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL launches on Marvel Digital and in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY, she has a brand new status quo.
Marvel.com: Do you think readers new to Spider-Girl can easily jump on board with THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL #1?
The team and I believe that every comic book story is someone's first and we always try to make our material accessible to new readers.
Marvel.com: With the new digital comic essentially being Spider-Girl's third ongoing series, she's proven herself to be quite the resilient and lasting heroine. What do you think it is about the character and the stories you've created that have connected with fans?
I believe that Mayday Parker is a sweet and sincere individual who is nice to spend time with and so are most of the people she hangs with. Spider-Girl is also one of last super hero comics that follows the classic action and angst ethos in the mighty Marvel manner.
Get excited for the debut of THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL on April 15 by checking out SPIDER-GIRL and AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL for free on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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