Last time on Amazing Spider-Questions, we got you caught up to speed on everything happening in Peter Parker’s world, with Spidey’s own Editor Steve Wacker. This week, we’re checking in after the events of issue #656, which found Spidey donning a brand new armor, battling a brand new villain named Massacre, and making a brand new promise that no one dies when Spider-Man is around.
We chatted with Wacker over e-mail about all these events, as well as getting a look behind-the-scenes at the development of Spidey’s new costume, and your very first look at the new Spider-Man event, "Infested":
MTV Geek: Let’s talk about Spidey’s new costume… There seems to be a LOT of attention paid to a new Spider-Man costume by the fans, almost more than other heroes – how much consideration did you guys put into the new one? Did Marcos Martin turn in a first draft, and you said, “Sold!” or is there a lot of internal debate and back and forth?
Steve Wacker: On Spidey right now, we have three very strong designers in Marcos, Humberto and Stefano. In addition Dan is also very specific in his plots for what the various costumes can do and what they look like.
On top of that, the basic Ditko Spidey costume design (which is where you’d start any new design from) is so strong, it’s hard to screw up.
So there hasn’t been a ton of going back and forth so far on overall concepts. In each case they were pretty clearly communicated at the top. Plus, I’m more apt to trust these artists’ instincts given how much great work they’ve done through the years.
But there have been some adjustments in terms of color scheme and details. You can see here where we were playing with some of the aspects of Marcos’ Spider-Armor:
Geek: Sticking with Marcos’ art for a second, he and Dan Slott are credited as “Storytellers” here. How collaborative was the process between them this issue?
SW: Particularly on this 2-parter where so much of the storytelling was in the layouts, Marcos and Dan worked very closely together. Dan writes plots (as opposed to scripts), which gives the artists he works with plenty of room to maneuver and move beats around to get the most out of a scene as possible.
Geek: You’ve also got a new villain, Massacre… Seems like he’s got a bit of the ol’ Phineas Gage in him?
SW: You can’t fool me MTV guy, I know the name of Spandau Ballet’s bassist when I hear it. And, yes, Massacre is just like him.
My hope is to have a new super team made up of Phineas, Spidey, the guy with the voice in A-Ha and Oran “Juice” Jones. Pitch is being worked on now!
Geek: I’ll be first in line for that one… Though I may have meant this guy. The other big news in this issue is that Spidey doesn’t have his Spider-Sense anymore… How much does this throw Peter for a loop? Hasn’t he kind of picked up some training over the years anyway? Or is he up Spider Creek without a web shooter?
SW: He’s still got his standard powers, but this is a sea change for Pete. While he’s lost his Spidey-sense for short periods of time in the past, it’s always come back. What Pete has never really worked out is just how much he depends on that power to get through even the simplest conflict.
What we’ll see in the book is the need he has for some sort of replacement, and as you guess some training might be in the cards as well.
On an editorial front, the Spidey-sense is always the one power that gives writers and artists the biggest hoop to jump through. Mainly because it’s been played so many ways as anything from an early warning system to flat-out mind-reading. In too many cases in the past, it was almost as if the Spidey-sense was reading the story along with the reader and knew just how to get out of whatever danger Pete was in.
When I came aboard Spidey a few years ago, I made the decision that from that point on Spidey sense worked very simply and straightforward: If Pete was in immediate danger, it would tingle.
That’s it. It’s a split-second warning system. It doesn’t mean he can never be surprised (particularly if he’s distracted which Spidey is more-often-than-not).
Anyway, it’s moot now since we finally got rid of it entirely. Spidey’s going to have to get better at this job… And fast.
Geek: If I was to connect the dots a little, Peter has all these scientific resources at his disposal, he probably wants to get his Spider-Sense back, and somewhere down the line, a bunch of people in Manhattan end up getting spider powers in the lead up to Infested. Related? Or have I connected the wrong dots?
SW: Alex, what I like to do in these interviews is give EXACTLY what’s going to happen in our stories, saving the readers from having to go to the expense of finding out themselves. So yes, that’s precisely it.
Or you are absolutely off base.
In any case, you’ll get your first glimpse at “Infested” in ASM #659.
Geek: I have a feeling I’m going to get very itchy while reading those issues. At the end of this issue, though, Spider-Man makes a bold promise, that no one will die when he’s around. How much are we going to see his new resolve tested in the next few issues?
SW: That’s really the status quo now. It’s always been there for Pete, but never stated quite so starkly.
Pete’s choice to live this secret and sacrifice his personal life to help people as Spider-Man has always been borne out of a deep darkness in his soul. That responsibility he feels for Uncle Ben’s death can be salved, but never removed completely. Pete knows more than most heroes how interconnected we all are and that even one accidental death can cause a rupture in the lives of the living.
What I find inspiring about Spidey is his willingness to aim high… Higher in fact than just about any other Marvel hero. His “normalness” sometimes leads people to underestimate his nobility. I think that’s some of the raw material Slott is playing with over the next few months.
Geek: Lastly, there’s a video mentioned in last week’s issue of a Gerbil in a Foosball table. Do you have a link to watch that, or what? Sounds pretty hilarious.
See ya next week!