‘Spider-Man’ Writer Dan Slott Untangles She-Hulk & a Web of Lies
On ‘Marvel’s Pull List,’ Dan Slott explains how promoting She-Hulk to the superhuman law division was his best chance at giving Spider-Man his day in court against J. Jonah Jameson.
This August, Marvel’s Pull List is going all-in on everything Spider-Man to celebrate his 60th anniversary. In a bonus episode last week, legendary artist Mark Bagley discussed the death of Gwen Stacy, the art of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, and his work on the end of the Spider-Verse. This week, longtime AMAZING SPIDER-MAN writer Dan Slott joined hosts Ryan Penagos, Jasmine Estrada, and guest host Anthony Carboni to discuss his own personal Spider-Man origin story, his She-Hulk and Spider-Man crossover in SHE-HULK (2004), and more.
Slott had been working at Marvel for nearly a decade when he was chosen to helm his own super hero title with 2004’s SHE-HULK series. In Slott’s run, lawyer Jennifer Walters was promoted from standard human prosecutions and thrown into the unregulated world of superhuman litigations.
“The way I sold it was ‘Ally McBeal with muscles.’ What would it be like to be a super hero, to be a lawyer in a super hero world? We hadn’t seen this at Marvel,” Slott explained. “Everything she was dealing with [before] was real-world law, and the fun of this run of SHE-HULK was we introduced superhuman law. Mainly, it’s because I don’t know a thing about the law, and I could write a lawyer show that way, the same way I could write – like I don’t know anything about science, but I can write a whole story about Adamantium and Antarctic vibranium and Pym particles and cosmic rays. I don’t need a degree in that!”
“So, this was my way of doing that to the law,” he added. “I could decide the precedent for, ‘Is X-ray vision an invasion of privacy?’” (And for those who are curious, Slott confirms that it is!)
Slott’s newfound determination to legislate the Marvel Universe—and his curious line of questioning— eventually led him to answer one of the biggest questions in fans' minds: Couldn’t Spider-Man sue J. Jonah Jameson for libel? This led Slott to create a crossover between the hyphenated heroes, Spider-Man and She-Hulk.
“SHE-HULK (2004) #4 really was my chance to go in and do a full-length issue of a Spider-Man comic,” Slott said. “It was my first super hero monthly book from Marvel, and I didn’t know how long it was going to last and when they were going to wise up and kick me off. So it was like, ‘OK, I’ve got one job to do. Everything I’ve ever wanted to do with Spider-Man, we’re going to do it in this comic. Like, if I get fired tomorrow, if I never get to write Spider-Man again, I will have gotten everything I wanted to get in here.’ So that was kind of fun. That was a hoot.”
In SHE-HULK #4, Spider-Man teams up with She-Hulk to sue J. Jonah Jameson for all the libel printed at The Daily Bugle over the years. However, problems arise for the super hero duo when Spider-Man refuses to reveal his secret identity for a potential payout. (Turns out you can’t cut a check to a masked vigilante!) The legal team is then forced to prove that Spider-Man is who he says he is before a verdict can be reached. Will an old Avengers identity scanner be enough to protect Peter Parker from coming forward?
Slott revealed that this storyline was partially inspired by Steven Grant, Roger Stern, and John Byrne’s AVENGERS (1963) #189 issue “Wings and Arrows!”, which features the first use of the retina identity scanner by Falcon. "That’s one of the big reasons he could never go after Jonah. I remember reading – I think it was a Roger Sterns' AVENGERS issue where he got to put his retina up to a scanner and it registered him as Spider-Man, and it was all kept off-the-books. And I'm like, 'The Avengers are like a real government agency back then.' So he should be able to go, 'I can prove in a court of law I'm Spider-Man. Bring in the Avengers scanner; now I can sue J. Jonah Jameson.' And that was the fun.”
In addition to more behind-the-scenes fun facts involved with creating his iconic SHE-HULK run, Slott also shared his advice for creating story structure. And for those keeping an eye on the latest developments in the Spider-Verse, Slott teased “twists and turns and emotional stakes” for the remaining issues of EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE.
“Mark Bagley and I are ending the Spider-Verse! We’re destroying it, completely and utterly! We’re taking this thing you all dearly love and is a huge cash cow for Marvel and we’re just pouring gasoline on it, setting it on fire, and running away cackling,” Slott joked with the crew. “We’re having fun!”
Don't miss the end of the Spider-Verse in Slott's upcoming SPIDER-MAN series with Mark Bagley, on sale October 5!
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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