Spider-Man Writers Unpack the Joys of the Spider-Verse & All Its Heroes
Spider-Verse writers Dan Slott, Karla Pacheco, and Maurene Goo explain what sets Spider-Man and all his variants apart from other super heroes and more.
From the streets of New York to the far reaches of the Multiverse, the adventures of Spider-Man are some of Marvel’s most epic sagas and affecting personal tales. To celebrate Peter Parker’s 60th anniversary, Marvel sat down with writers Dan Slott, Karla Pacheco, and Maurene Goo to talk about what makes writing Spider-Man and the other Web Warriors so special.
“Every Spider character needs to goof up,” said Slott, who wrote the original SPIDER-VERSE during his iconic decade-long run on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. “Other super heroes can do everything perfectly and have capped teeth and stand arms akimbo, but your Spider characters really foul things up and then have to fix it. That's what's fun. They're like you and me. They screw up all the time.”
As SPIDER-WOMAN (2020) and EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE (2022) writer Pacheco explained, “They feel bad about the screw-ups, just not bad enough to stop screwing up. I think that is something that's very human and very relatable about the Spidey characters in general.”
“They have a lot of heart in everything they do, whether or not that leads to good decisions or bad decisions,” added Goo, who chronicled the super hero adventures of Cindy Moon in SILK (2021). “I do think that it's always their compass, and I find that really appealing about all of them.”
For characters like Silk, bad decisions are only one part of the challenges they face. After being bitten by the same radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker, Silk endured a decade locked in a bunker before going on a lengthy search for her missing brother and parents. “I really loved how her origin story started with a lot of trauma, and then she literally works through that trauma on the page by going to therapy,” Goo explained. “So I just thought, I kind of want to see where all this therapy and working on her stuff takes her.”
While Peter Parker’s stories set the template for that mix of heart and supremely bad luck, those qualities live on in newer characters like Silk. “I never thought as a kid I would ever read about a Korean-American superhero – and a woman – living in my favorite world,” Goo shared. “So I really loved the idea of exploring her Korean-American side in a very subtle way.”
After co-existing in different universes for years, Peter Parker and the other Spider-Heroes all teamed up for the first time in 2014’s SPIDER-VERSE, which was inspired by Slott’s time working with developer Beenox on the story for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. In that game, players could take control of Miguel O’Hara’s Spider-Man 2099 or one of three Peter Parker variants.
“It bugged me that with the mechanics of the game, they didn't get to team up because it's a one-player game,” Slott said. “I was the only guy who got to put them together in the cut scenes.”
After that, Slott started making plans for the comics crossover that would become SPIDER-VERSE. While that massive story brought dozens of preexisting Spider-Heroes together for the first time, it also introduced new characters. As Slott explained, “My favorite alternate universe Spidey is one that I lucked into when I was working on SPIDER-VERSE with Olivier Coipel.”
When one scene was supposed to introduce the British Spider-Man variant called Spider-UK, a happy accident led to the creation of another Spider-Hero. “It was in the plot that [Spider-UK] had a mixture of Captain Britain and Spider-Man costumes with a big Union Jack on it,” Slott explained. “And when Olivier drew it – in his mind – Spider-UK meant punk, so he drew the character we know as Spider-Punk.”
Although Spider-UK was patched back into the issue, Slott and Coipel gave Spider-Punk a full introduction in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2014) #10. “The next time he was introduced, you're supposed to see Superior Spider-Man and I gave him two henchmen that were alternate Spiders, and one was Spider-Punk,” Slott continued. “But Olivier was just so happy that he made Spider-Punk the biggest character on the page.” Since then, Hobie Brown’s iconoclastic rebel has grown into one of the Spider-Verse’s brightest stars, taking on President Norman Osborn and his corrupt allies in the SPIDER-PUNK limited series.
Across the Spider-Verse, villains like Osborn are another one of the most compelling parts of Spider-Man’s mythology. “There's no one like Spider-Man, who can go head-to-head with someone who's just flat-out terrible and just have fun with it,” Pacheco explained. “You can really just kind of dig into just some really reprehensible people, but it’s fun.”
In her SPIDER-WOMAN (2020) run, Pacheco highlighted Jess Drew’s rogues’ gallery by bringing together villains like Octavia Vermis and Lady Bullseye for the Anti-Arach9. Alongside that team, Pacheco and Pere Pérez also introduced Octavia’s baby hippo-ankylosaurus. “We’ve had too many cute little anti-heroes,” Pacheco said. “I needed an adorable, terrible villain, so now we have Chonky… You don't necessarily need to have a really rich backstory for the villain. I mean, you can, and it's great, but you can also just have someone be evil and terrible and it's fun.”
The explosive growth of the Spider-Verse has made room for plenty of new villains, but it’s also put a new spotlight on more colorful heroes like Peter Porker, AKA Spider-Ham. “I love a good pun. It's so silly. It's so outrageous,” Goo said. Throughout PETER PORKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-HAM (1985) and the hero’s other adventures, Porker faced cartoony threats and pun-based villains. “His best enemy is Moosesterio, which is brilliant,” Slott added.
While the specifics of every Spider-Hero’s story might be different, the tales of these Multiversal web warriors are united through Spider-Man hallmarks like “thwip,” the signature sound of a web-shooter releasing a web. “I spend so much time trying to figure out like if the ‘thwip’ needs three ‘I’s or two, depending on like how far it's going,” Pacheco explained. “The onomatopoeia is my favorite part of writing any Spider character, especially.”
“As somebody who grew up always loving Spider-Man, any time you get to hit a big beat – it's just the happiest moment,” Slott agreed. “Writing out ‘thwip’ makes me happy.”
Marvel is celebrating Spider-Man's 60th anniversary all month long! Stay tuned for more Spider-fun right here on Marvel.com.
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