Comics

Amazing Spider-Man: Arachnid Analysis

Dan Slott provides a post-game of reveals and revelations for Peter Parker!

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At over 90 pages, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25 packs quite a wallop, launching a brand new storyline—“The Osborn Identity”—showcasing some new talents in two delightful backup stories, and teasing the return of a certain multi-armed superior foe.

It proved such a wallop, in fact, that we could not just talk to ourselves about it. Thankfully, AMAZING writer Dan Slott answered the phone when we gave him a call.

Marvel.com: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25 is a massive issue.

Dan Slott: You could kill a man with this! If you rolled it up—it is kill-a-man-able size!

Marvel.com: Did it feel like a really big burden coming right after Clone Conspiracy or did you feel like you needed an issue that size, with the number of stories in it, as a kind of palate cleanser or system reboot after that last storyline?

Dan Slott: Every time I do a [Spider-Man event], by the time it’s done, I’m screaming to the heavens, “I am never doing this again. Never!”

They are huge undertakings to make sure everything works out on time, to fit everyone’s schedules, and how it ties into others books. You are laying tracks for it months in advance and it all has to come together. Oh boy…I just…oh God.

For me, the fun of this was we knew were going to come out of [Clone Conspiracy] with momentum. I mean how could we not with gorgeous Jim Cheung art.

But there’s a flip side to that, which is you always get excited about the next thing. While we are talking right now, issue #26 is leaving house, issue #27 is all drawn, issue #28 is being drawn as we speak, and issue #29 is due for plot.

Marvel.com: So you’re really in the thick of it all.

Dan Slott: Yeah. And you always get excited by the shiny piece that’s coming. So it is weird to be promoting Clone Conspiracy while I’m like, “I’m off here in ‘Osborn Identity’ and it’s great! Let’s talk about that.” That’s always the danger of this.

Marvel.com: Actually that makes for a great transition. This is the start of “Osborn Identity.” Coming off something as big in scale as Clone Conspiracy, it can be hard to decide how to maintain the momentum. Given that when people think of Spider-Man, Green Goblin is one of the first villains that come to mind, was this something of a solution. Not necessarily bigger in scale, but, deeper perhaps?

Dan Slott: Oh it’s huge! We haven’t had Norman, really, in this book. He hasn’t been around since the end, basically, of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN and even then Peter only got to face him for an issue. Even when Peter had to deal with problems with the Goblin Army in [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4] Norman was far off the canvas.

It’s exciting. As a writer, the only times I’ve really had a big mano-to-mano showdown with Norman was in “New Ways to Die” and that was…Dear God…when was that?

Marvel.com: It’s longer than you think, right?

Dan Slott: That was 2008….2009?

Marvel.com: Oh God.

Dan Slott: I know.

Marvel.com: The grave draws ever closer.

Dan Slott: [Laughs] For most of the time I was coming up through “Brand New Day” we couldn’t touch Norman Osborn. He was off in THUNDERBOLTS; he was off in DARK AVENGERS. And then [writer] Brian [Michael Bendis] had stories he still wanted to tell about him in AVENGERS. We got him on loan for “New Ways to Die” and a few other stories. As a Spidey writer, I didn’t really have ownership of [Osborn] until the arc in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN and even then I was having him go up against Otto Octavius. So this has been a long time brewing for me.

As a kid who grew up—you know, little eight-year-old me, the two Megos I had were Spider-Man and Green Goblin. So this is like, “Finally, the toy is in the toy box. I get to play with him.”

Marvel.com: Everyone, when they handle a character, makes their own unique impression on them because they all have elements they think are essential to the character. For Norman Osborn, what are your essentials?

Dan Slott: Well, this is a version of Norman we have never seen in the history of Spider-Man. At the end of “Goblin Nation,” using nanite technology developed by Doc Ock and implemented by Spidey, there’s something in Norman’s system that won’t let the Goblin formula work. He’s cured.

Even back in the day when you met him as Harry’s father in the book, he was always a little—he had Goblin serum already in him, we just didn’t know it.

This is the first time Spider-Man is going up against a cold and calculating Norman Osborn without even a hint of the madness. This is a different kind of enemy. Spider-Man may have given himself his greatest threat of all. Be careful what you wish for—you thought “The Goblin serum can never work on Osborn again, yes!” But it turns out that might have been holding him back. Now this is a Norman of undivided focus. That’s not good.

Marvel.com: Being careful what you wish for seems to be increasingly a theme of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. For a while, he was very successful. He was building up his company. Now we are starting to see the return of Ben Reilly as a villain, having to reject Uncle Ben being brought back to life, having to tank his company’s reputation to stop the possibility of the degenerative virus spreading, and now a Norman Osborn free of the Green Goblin and more dangerous than ever. So one might get the feeling that your long-term plan might be to have built him up just to take it all from him.

Dan Slott: What kind of evil, evil person would do that?! Who would do that to poor Peter Parker?

Marvel.com: Without getting that far ahead of ourselves, is that an essential feature of how you view Peter? That so-called “Parker Luck” blown up to bigger proportions because he’s been playing on a bigger scale lately? This idea that, no matter what, Parker cannot win in all aspects of his life, that he has to have a tradeoff?

Dan Slott: It’s more the tradeoff. There’s so many things you could do if you had these powers, if you had these opportunities. But then, you wouldn’t be Spider-Man.

You’re Peter Parker and you kind of wake up to find Doc Ock has rearranged your life and given you this company. And then the company becomes a worldwide hit. It’s almost as instantaneous as being bitten by that spider, like a different kind of power.

And as Peter, he still buys suits off the rack, he takes a massive paycut so he’s not making much more than his middle execs, he spends so much of the resources either helping him build tools to fight crime as Spider-Man or to ensure the Uncle Ben Foundation helps people around the world. It’s like he’s going to try and use this stuff responsibly.

But it is his own special kind of goof. He’s running this company and probably not running it the best way because he’s Peter. If he has to go to a meeting and he’s swinging his way there and he sees a woman getting her purse snatched, he’s going to stop and do that.  Because he’s Peter.

Marvel.com: We see some of that this issue with him trying to balance company business with his search for Norman. It is clear that Norman gets under his skin like no other and it gives us, in the issue, a balance of the silent, meaner, darker Spider-Man and the more jokey, typical presentation. How do you find and keep the balance without the book getting too dark or undercutting the seriousness of the Osborn threat?

Dan Slott: I’ve read comics where he and Norman, like, sit down and have a laugh. To me, that personally doesn’t work for their relationship. From the moment he kills Gwen, there’s no laugh and this is a Spider-Man who just saw Gwen again and is hurting. Then Kingpin has stepped in to offer Norman on a platter. And Spider-Man is willing to chuck it all to take that opportunity.

You can’t…you can’t just stick Spidey in a box and say he is a dark urban vigilante who swings through the night to fight crime. Or he’s a jokey super hero. There’s all these different things that make up Spider-Man and all these different ways you can tell a Spider-Man story. You see Mike Deodato draw Spider-Man and that’s a specific kind of Spider-Man and [then] Humberto Ramos draws him and that’s a different kind of Spider-Man. There’s something fun about that.

Amazing Spider-Man #25 cover by Alex Ross

It’s the same way when someone talks about you Tim or me Dan, the different people that know us might describe us completely differently. Your mom is going to give a completely different description of you than your wife than your girlfriend than your English teacher than your music teacher that thought you didn’t apply yourself.

Marvel.com: That’s a little too insightful about me there Dan.

Dan Slott: Yeah [Laughs] and Spider-Man is just the same way. You have me chasing down White Rabbit with Frog-Man and him crawling out of the grave in “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” There is a wide spectrum of Spider-Man stories you can tell. I put him in outer space. [Laughs]

For me, having been on this character for this long part of the fun of it is taking a look at those different aspects for a while and seeing where that takes me.

Marvel.com: A lot of the lighter aspects of Spidey in this issue comes from his interactions with Mockingbird. As a writer, what made her a good fit for that role?

Dan Slott: I had kind of different plans for Mockingbird long-term and then seeing Stuart Immonen’s art and the light and spark he was giving her and the way [she and Spider-Man] had chemistry on the page together made me go “I’m rethinking this.” And that’s the beauty of comics.

It’s not golf. It’s not you alone. It’s a team sport and you are going to get energy from each other. You are going to bounce ideas off each other. The way I write a script and the way Stuart draws it makes it a completely different animal then it would be with another artist.

Seeing all the gifts that Stuart gave me with them in those scenes I was like, “Oh my God, I love these guys together.” I really love the Stuart Immonen Spider-Man and the Stuart Immonen Mockingbird together. They’re fantastic. I’m shipping them.

Marvel.com: One of the things you referenced earlier was how long ago it had been since we’ve seen Norman Osborn in the book and the last time we saw another character here was very long ago and that was Silver Sable in the “Ends of the Earth” storyline which, at the time, seemed to end with her dying. As we know in #25, she is back. How long did you know you were planning to bring her back and why was the time now?

Dan Slott: From the moment we killed her—with irony quotes around the “killed”—I knew how she got out. I knew what her escape was. The hardest part was keeping Rhino also off the table that long because the moment you show Rhino, you know, “Hey if Rhino’s alive, wait a second…”

I knew we were bringing the Rhino back for Clone Conspiracy. The moment he was back it was just a ticking clock. I couldn’t wait to bring back Silver Sable.

Marvel.com: Beyond the ticking clock aspect, what made this a good time to bring her back? How is a she a puzzle piece that fits well into the larger story of the “Osborn Identity?”

Dan Slott: Umm, I don’t want to answer that question.

Marvel.com: Fair enough.

Dan Slott: [Laughs] Yes, that is a question I’d like to avoid until people read #26.

Marvel.com: So, for those interested, #26 is the issue to look for?

Dan Slott: Yes. I think we are putting off telling you how she lived until #27, but you’ll find out [how she fits] in #26.

Marvel.com: After the main story, there are some shorter stories including one that runs at the end of the book like a post-credits teaser. In that one we meet the reborn and revamped Doctor Octopus.

Dan Slott: Yes!

Marvel.com: Obviously, you’ve written him a bunch. You’re written him as Otto Octavius, as Peter Parker, and now a very different Otto, physically—

Dan Slott: I’ve written him inside a very clunky robot!

Marvel.com: Yes, that’s true too. So you clearly have some affection for him. What persuades you to return to writing him time and again?

Dan Slott: Honestly—I’m sure people who write who are reading this know that sometimes the story just starts happening and you’re along for the ride and that’s when writing is the most fun. There’s that kind of fun with Doc Ock. I just don’t know what he’s going to do sometimes. Or how he’s going to react.

The amount of time I spent in Doc Ock’s head while doing SUPERIOR—it was fun! It was just fun. Part of you goes, “I don’t want the ride to end. How am I going to save him? How am I going to bring him back?”

But this is what we’ve been building to. This is how you get a Superior Spider-Man-like character for him.

Marvel.com: One thing I noticed is that he clearly is a villain for Spider-Man and knowing who Parker is has certainly made him develop a grudge. Beyond that though, I like that we are not sure how this Otto is going to break. Is he going to be a pure villain or will he be more like his Superior Spider-Man incarnation that was arrogant and mean but still looking to do good.

Dan Slott: So when this new character Tomas picks [Otto] up and drops him off at the Auto Empire…

Marvel.com: That’s a nice touch.

Dan Slott: Thanks. Yeah, it’s where old “auto bodies” are… [Laughs] I just love that. It’s so stupid, so wonderfully comic book-y stupid. That’s just bliss.

Anyway, [editor] Nick [Lowe] was like, “Are we going to see Tomas again?”

Because when Tomas drives him Otto is like, “On the day when my plans come to fruition, you will be one of the saved, Tomas!” There’s a weird kind of honor to Otto.

But now it’s got me thinking we might see Tomas again. [Otto saying], “I have converted your pickup truck to…hover mode! You’re welcome.”

Marvel.com: That would be a nice thing to do.

Dan Slott: Oh now watch me do that.

Marvel.com: I’ll look for it.

Dan Slott: [Otto’s] fun! We’re spit balling here and he’s already going to these fun places.

Marvel.com: His new look, both in and out of costume, who created that look, that appearance?

Dan Slott: That was a team effort. There was a moment in putting together Clone Conspiracy where we thought we might have put this and because of that there was a good chance that Jim Cheung was going to be drawing it and so Cheung took stabs at the designs. So the current design is mostly Jim Cheung.

There were certain things that I wanted in, like the lenses to be Doc Ock goggle shaped and for the arms not to be like spider arms but like Doc Ock arms. It is very much a suit that is a hybrid of Doc Ock suits and Superior Spider-Man suits.

Marvel.com: With the coloring, it’s a much darker green then we are used to seeing Doctor Octopus in which I mention because when he takes back his base, HYDRA is occupying it.

Dan Slott: Huh.

Marvel.com: So was that because of what was around making that shade of green available to him or are there other reasons.

Dan Slott: Huh, it is very HYDRA-ish, isn’t it?

Marvel.com: Indeed.

Dan Slott: And it is almost like HYDRA’s logo is like an octopus.

Marvel.com: That is true. It is almost like that.

Dan Slott: How odd.

Marvel.com: I feel like this is another thing we’re going to have wait on for an answer…

Dan Slott: Sorry. I will say one of the things I really liked about that 10-pager is we just came off of evil Ben Reilly and the return of Gwen Stacey to straight on into going after Norman Osborn and next up is—bam—Doc Ock. The hits keep coming. And [there will] be something coming after that! We are not going to take our foot after the accelerator in AMAZING.

If you haven’t read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25 yet…what are you waiting for?! It’s available now!

 

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