By Kevin Mahadeo
Spider-Man Editor Steve Wacker created a monster—and he couldn't be more excited.
The upcoming AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600 weaves a massive web of anniversary extravaganza with 104 pages of all new material by a consortium of creative talent, including all the AMAZING Web Head writers, the legendary Stan Lee and John Romita Jr, and even Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada. The gigantic issue not only celebrates the aforementioned milestone numbering, but also climbs the walls of significance with a lead story featuring the wedding of two Spider-Man supporting characters, a re-imagined Doctor Octopus slinking his way back into the title and the monumental return of Mary Jane Watson to the Spidey-verse.
With party hats on in anticipation of the July 15 release, we chatted with Wacker about putting together this monster-sized Spidey special.
Marvel.com: What's it been like putting this massive issue together?
For me, it's absolutely easy. For my assistant Tom Brennan, it's been horrible. I handed it all off to him and haven't see the book in six months. [Laughs
] It's big. There's a lot of talent involved in this. The main story is by [Dan] Slott and [John] Romita Jr. They're doing a 61-page story and that alone is a month's worth of Spidey right there. On top of that, we've got Stan [Lee] coming back for a 12-pager with everyone's favorite new Spidey artist Marcos Martin and doing a salute to the history of Spidey. Each of the regular writers on the book gets a five-page story by a top artist. Brian Bendis and Joe Quesada get a six-page story that follows up on the NEW AVENGERS issue where Spidey
unmasked. I also roped Jeph Loeb, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction into coming up with a couple ideas for a feature I called "Spider-Man covers you'll never see" that Mike McKone is doing the art for.
Marvel.com: Obviously with this being issue #600, you all knew you wanted something big. But how did you guys go about deciding on so much?
We have a rash of anniversary issues right now at Marvel between THOR #600 and DAREDEVIL #500, and I think HULK is coming back with an anniversary issue, too. I just wanted to make ours stand out from the pack a little bit. We tried to see how many pages we could get to do new stuff in without any reprints, and everyone agreed to 104 pages. So, I just started the slow process of figuring out what the hell was on [those pages].
Marvel.com: The main story focuses on the wedding and also the return of Doctor Octopus. Did you guys always know this story was going to be the lead in for the issue?
We've been working on this really hard for a long, long time. Dan in particular has just done a hell of a lot of work. Once we knew we wanted it to be a Doc Ock bit, that focused us and we put some thought into what Doc's new motivation was
#601 cover by
J. Scott Campbell
going to be and what would make this comeback different than the myriad of times you've seen Doc Ock in the past. So, once we had that hook and the wedding that we wanted in that issue, we just started peeling the apple—chipping away at it.
Marvel.com: As if issue #600 wasn't big enough, another comeback happens with the return of Mary Jane. Who proposed the idea of bringing her back?
I don't remember, but I'd suspect it was Dan. Sometimes it's difficult to say who came up with what, but that smells like Dan to me.
Marvel.com: Well, when it was proposed, was it pretty much unanimous yes?
Oh yeah. You can't argue with the stuff we have planned for the issue. I mean, you could argue. There's an entire Internet devoted to it. But I can't argue. [Laughs
Marvel.com: As you mentioned Stan Lee returns to Spidey for this issue and is joined by Marcos Martin—how did you decide to pair those two together?
Well, I wanted Marcos involved in this issue because I love his work and I love working with him. I knew what a fan Marcos was of Stan's work. One of the greatest days working on this comic was when I asked Marcos to do this story because he was just over the moon about it. Marcos is a very nice guy, but he's very surly to me—it's our shtick. But you could just feel the stars in his eyes. Once he did the layouts and I got a
message from Stan talking about how much he loved them, I told Marcos about it and he just stayed up all night after I gave him that message.
Marvel.com: Were you the one who approached Stan about doing the story?
Yeah. I wrote a letter to Stan at his company. We work with Stan relatively often here—he did a story in THOR issue #600 and he's got some other stuff coming up. So, it wasn't that out of the blue or peculiar. He called me right back and I was as intimidated as anyone who reads Marvel.com would be, too. He pretty much had an idea for the story [already]. I don't know that it's terribly hard for Stan to come up with Spider-Man stories. [Laughs
Marvel.com: You said the other Web Heads are also contributing stories along with Slott. What's happening in those tales?
I threw it out to the guys that they [each] had five pages to play with. I said that we didn't necessarily need stories that are the next chapter in Peter Parker's life the way the weekly book is; just find an aspect of Spidey, maybe something in his history or something that appeals to you and take five pages to tell a story. Joe Kelly's story sort of became a prelude of teases and hints to big stories we have coming up later in the year. Another story deals with Uncle Ben dealing with becoming a father—what was it like for him to suddenly have a kid in
#602 cover by
his life? Another is an Aunt May story dealing with a lot of the events that happen in issue #600. Bob [Gale] came up with a great little Peter Parker at the park vignette about a bunch of kids who are Spider-Man fans. And we were trying to spread the love to Marvel.com, so Zeb [Wells] came up with a digital only story. So, at the same time the comic is on sale, there's going to be a special AMAZING #600 digital story: a five-page return of the Spider-Mobile.
Marvel.com: So, this comic is so huge it's bursting out of the regular pages and onto the Internet?
Yeah. Maybe I'll have Fred Van Lente twitter a story that day, too. [Laughs]
Marvel.com: Wrapping up, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN issue #600, huge issue, but which has been tougher on you—doing the weekly title or putting together this anniversary issue?
Wow. You know, I take each issue as it comes up in front of me. Issue #600 was a bear, but we started out far enough that we're in decent shape. But it's hard to complain about your job when you're getting a page from John Romita Jr. every day. Johnny is doing the thing he was born to do drawing Spider-Man, so in that sense it's been a real thrill. Putting these books out three times a month has not been easy, though. And soon we're going to have a month where there's going to be four issues. That's going to be even harder.
Marvel.com: You guys just don't stop, do you? How do you survive?
We're a 24-hour operation. I leave my computer on all night. I check up on my phone. I don't see my children. [Laughs
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