Paul Tobin is one of the hardest working writers at Marvel Comics, regularly turning in superb work on two monthly all-ages books (Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, and Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes). But his first real stab at mainstream Marvel Continuity is with the latest iteration of Spider-Girl. The hero formerly known as Arana has taken on the guise of Spider-Girl, lost her powers, and in the first issue of the book, lost her Father after a deadly Red Hulk attack.
The rest of the book so far has dealt intelligently and emotionally with the loss and change that comes with the death of a parent – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t big superhero action on the horizon; or that there isn’t time for frequent Tweeter Spider-Girl to stay connected with her favorite social network. To find out more, we chatted with Tobin about his take on superhero deaths, what Anya might Tweet at other teen heroes, and whether ANOTHER Spider-Girl might show up in the book:
MTV Geek: This title – and by the way, I mean this in a nice way, because I really love the book – is definitely not going in the direction I think anyone expected. Can you talk about your initial approach to the book? What was the pitch line, so to speak?
Paul Tobin: Marvel has always been a place where creators have an opportunity to do something really unique, to let the voice not only of the creator come through, but also the character. In Spider-Girl, then-editor Nate Cosby and I wanted to explore what it was like to be without superpowers in a super powered world, somewhat similar to Kurt Busiek's exploration of the theme in Marvels. Except, in our case, we wanted to take that a step forward and say... what would it be like to be a person without super-powers in the Marvel Universe... but STILL be a superhero, still putting your life on the line day in and day out. What's the personal cost of that? That was my jumping off point.
Geek: We’re getting into spoiler territory, but after a big action first issue, the next two have been a pretty thorough examination of grief and loss, with very little action. Why the contrast? And why this focus?
PT: It has to do with that "involved cost." When editor Nate Cosby and I discussed the death of Anya's father, we REALLY wanted it be a factor in her life. Too many comics deal with grief and loss in an entirely cursory manner... with some horrific mind-shattering death occurring, and then ten panels later it's like the hero has completely forgotten about it. We wanted this to shake her to her very core, and then examine what that meant to her in terms of her character, how it defined her. Some of that has been done in the comic, and some of it has been done in her actual online tweet thread, where I can go more into depth on her life.
Geek: You ended issue three with Anya getting funding from the FF, but she’s still a kid on her own – are we going to continue to see her realistically struggling with this? Or has the story moved on?
PT: It's a definite factor in her life. She'll have a roommate, soon, and the FF funding helps, but from a realistic viewpoint she's suddenly alone in the world, and faced off against a whole world of super villains. It used to be two against a million, but now it's one against a million. And while that might not make much difference practically, from a psychologically viewpoint, that's a huge difference.
Geek: Also, this is becoming a bit of a team up book, with the Red Hulk – how’d that come about? And why does he make sense for the story you’re telling?
PT: Red Hulk will be around, but it definitely won't be a team book in that regard. Spider-Girl HATES him for his involvement in her father's death. HATES him. Even though she might come to understand that he was a pawn... she can never forgive him. It's just not human nature, and Anya Corazon is very human.
Geek: Next issue we’re kicking off a semi sequel to The Grim Hunt… How does that tie into the overarching storyline?
PT: It's part of Spider-Girl's continued (and now very pertinent) quest to determine who she is, what role she plays in the Marvel Universe, and if she's just a pawn in a greater game or if she has the muscle to move some of those chess pieces herself. She's had the rug swept out from under her, so to speak, and it's time to redecorate. Wait... that metaphor went all over... let's just say it gives her a chance to really punch someone. She needs that.
Geek: Don’t we all? So what makes Kravens such good foils for Spiders?
PT: Honestly, I think it's because the Kravens are the polar opposite of Spider-Girl and Spider-Man. While their power levels might be the same, their philosophies on life are completely different. While the loosely knit "Spider-Man family" is saying, "With great power comes great responsibility," the Kraven family are saying, "With great power comes great playthings."
Geek: Total fanboy question: could/would we ever see Mayday Parker turn up in the book?
PT: Hmmm. That WOULD be interesting, wouldn't it?
Geek: Most important question ever: when does Anya actually find the time to tweet during a fight??? You can tell I’m confused, because there are three question marks here.
PT: Reed Richards hooked her up with a spoken voice "tweeter." It's in her mask and allows her to simply speak, and it gets tweeted. Someday I'd love to do a story of the early tests, where Spider-Girl was forgetting it was on... or when she was picking up the voices of stray New Yorkers, so that a "Spider-Girl" tweet might consist of, "Yo! Taxi! Over here! Are you #&#@$ing BLIND?"
Geek: Okay, that out of the way, I know there’s a few official Marvel Twitter accounts, including Spider-Girl’s (@The_Spider_Girl), but I thought we could see, if there was pretty much anyone on Twitter, what Anya would Tweet at them. That’s the most I’ve ever said “Tweet” and “Twitter” in one sentence, by the way. Ready? Here we go:
Gravity: What would she tweet to Gravity? Hmmm. Mostly that they should get together more often. The Young Allies disbanded right at a time when Anya could have used them the most. It's tough to lose contact with friends.
Doop: Wouldn't that require some sort of special font? Not sure Babelfish has an English-to-Doop, or Doop-to-Spanish translator. Maybe it's something Reed Richards could work on. He seems to like tinkering with things.
Mettle: I think conversation here would fall into discussions of the Avengers Academy vs. the Young Allies. Not, "Who would win in a fight?" scenarios, but the group dynamics are so different that I think it would be a constant source of discussion. Also, Anya would like to surf. They could talk about that.
Nico Minoru: THIS is where Anya would be a girl. Twitter feeds full of hair care and fashion talks.
Rockslide: Not sure what they'd talk about, but in THIS case, it definitely wouldn't be hair care and fashion talks. Mysteries, maybe? They both like mystery stories. Of course, you sort of have to when you're a superhero... since you're essentially solving them on a daily / hourly basis.
Wiccan: Hmmm. I think Billy would bring out the, "How much can we get away with?" side of Anya's teenage personality. She's got a bit of the troublemaker in her, but it's usually subdued by the mission. With Wiccan, I'd see it as being a bit less subdued. Probably some deleted tweets, here, for sure.
X-23: Laura is rather intense, so I imagine Twitter conversations could get heated rather quickly. What would they talk about? Best ways to sneak into places. Best outfits for infiltration missions. Best ways around techno-security. Anya could really get into stuff like that. I think there's a somewhat "bad girl" in her, somewhat triggered by her training with Ms. Marvel, that's eager to get out.
Valeria Richards: I think Anya is a bit intimidated by Valeria. Who knows when a discussion of the best type of cheese to use on a grilled cheese sandwich might morph into a conversation on how neutrino transfers can be combined with a quark-based computer interface to create temporary amalgam universes where all cheese sandwiches appear at once?
Doctor Doom: Wow. I'm not sure. I love the thought of him having a twitter, though. I'm sure he'd just be using it for propaganda, but it's nice to think of him tweeting his favorite bands (Grinderman? Gogol Bordello? The Monkees?) or his lunches, where we'd find out he's a huge peanut butter and jelly aficionado.
Geek: Congratulations, all of those answers were correct! Before we let you go, though, we’ve been hearing some rumors about a symbiote-based crossover this summer… Are we going to see Anya involved in that?
PT: Let's say... the forecast is good for Anya having an interesting summer.
Geek: And what else is coming up in the book? What’ll make this book a don’t miss?
PT: We're going to be taking a much closer look at Anya's "creepiest neighbor in Marvel Comics," soon... and exploring his connection to Anya. We've been dealing a fair amount with Anya's emotional side, establishing who she is, and now we're really jumping headlong into her, "Sometimes I just like to punch bad guys in the head a lot!" side of her personality. Expect some major action! For instance, Spider-Girl's going to have a run-in with a guy that laughs a lot, and it's NOT going to be funny.