Amazing Spider-Questions With Editor Steve Wacker #1: "Where's Nina Blackwood?"

You guys know who Spider-Man is, right? Peter Parker, bit by a radioactive spider, gained super powers, frequent runs of bad luck, and one of the best rogues galleries in comics? Well, for the past few years, Spidey has been sent through his paces by none other than Marvel Comics Editor Stephen Wacker. Along with now solo writer Dan Slott, a rotating team of artists, and assistant editor Ellie Pyle, Wacker has been crafting what we consider one of the best Spidey runs ever. Don’t believe me? Check out our top ten comics from January and February for more evidence. Yes, I just backed up my point by quoting things I wrote as factual information. Deal with it.

Well good news for you MTV Geeks, whether you’ve been up to speed on the web slinger’s adventures – or not: we’ll be regularly checking in with Wacker after each Spider-Man issue comes out, to talk about what’s up in Puny Parker’s life. That’ll start with next week’s issue #656… But to get caught up, we talked to Wacker about where the Spider books are now, what’s coming up, and he proves his comprehensive knowledge of ‘90s era MTV. Oh, and we’ve got some exclusive looks at some awesome upcoming Spider-art:

MTV Geek: Let’s start things off with this: it’s now been a few months since you switched over to one writer, and two times a month; versus a team, and three times a month. How has the transition gone? It’s super relaxing to edit now, I’m guessing? Like a breeze?

Steve Wacker: It’s just about the same amount of work since we’ve gone to 30 pages in every issue of Amazing. We’re only publishing 6 pages less a month than we did before we went twice a month -- and that’s quickly been overwhelmed by the many Spidey-related side projects we’re doing.

So the pressure feels the same, it’s just that I only have one writer to complain to now, so Marvel’s phone bills are lower.

Hey, didn’t MTV used to play videos? Where’s Nina Blackwood? Is Remote Control still on?

Geek: I’m pretty sure it is? Okay, talk a bit about what Dan Slott brings to the book… Why was he the right guy to go solo?

SW: It just hit me the other day that Dan is Peter Parker if Pete never got bit by the Spider (this is probably true of most of the better Spidey writers); he’s as earnest and talented a guy as you’ll ever meet and USUALLY wants to do the right thing. It’s easy for him to step into Spidey’s shoes

Dan’s been living and breathing Spidey since he was a kid and is a never-ending source for ideas on new places to take the character. Dan never really stops shouting out Spidey ideas… I just stop listening because I have work to do!

In addition, Dan has elevated his game as a writer over the past couple years. I think going through the forge of the Spidey writing team the previous 3 years has helped him focus his plotting like a laser. There’s very little scrap in his stories and very little wasted space. We’ve worked hard to make sure something important happens on every single page….which I think is important in this day and age of rising cover prices.

Hey, do you know Puck?

Geek: I think he’s down in accounting? I’ll check on that, too. On the art side, you’ve always brought in some awesome, off the beaten path artists for the book. Talk about your artistic approach to Big Time, and how you choose the artists for each arc.

SW: Humberto and Stefano both came to me via C.B. Cebulski and Marvel’s Talent Management and Food Devouring department. Humberto and Stefano were both between assignments, so when I was told they were available I swooped in like a Honey Badger.

Humberto is an “artist’s artist” has been an absolute favorite of mine since his Impulse run. He’s got an amazing eye for detail and design. He’s also always hungry for more challenges and for trying new things. That makes him a favorite among editors.

I thought Dan and Stefano’s run on the Initiative was criminally underrated. I remember thinking that if I ever had a chance to do something with Stefano, I wanted to take it. He’s got a very cinematic style that almost looks like 3-D at times. Perfect for Spidey where you want to get a sense of vertigo as he moves around the city.

To fill out the lineup, I turned to my secret weapon over the past few years: Marcos Martin. He doesn’t like me very much, but I could care less as he’s a small man that I could easily take in combat.

Every time Marcos gets a story he finds new and inventive ways to get the reader across a comic page. (Sadly, he’s going to move on from Spidey for a bit for a very special secret project I’m editing starting this summer.)

In addition to these 3 main heavy hitters, I’m lucky enough to be able to draw from some of the best artists in the biz (like the upcoming stories from Barry Kitson, Javier Pulido and Reilly Brown). I’d like to think it’s because I’m so wonderful to work with, but it’s all Spidey, Most everyone wants to draw him…in spite of the editor.

That reminds me…will part of this interview involve filming my Crib? I’d like to show off my Sienna Minivan as it is Off Of The Hook!!

Geek: Okay, okay… Now the book proper. Where is Peter Parker right now? What’s going on with him? What’s the deal, guy?

SW: Pete’s got a job, a girl, and a reason to get up in the morning that doesn’t hinge on him being Spidey. In addition he’s a member of the two biggest teams in the Marvel Universe (the Avengers and Fantastic Four).

I think Spidey’s probably earned a shot at a few years of a successful personal life, so I’m not anxious to mess with that.

Geek: Talk a little bit about his supporting cast, there’s an interesting mix of new characters and old.

SW: We’ve tried to bring in some new blood. Most notably his new girlfriend Carlie Cooper, who has been in the book for a couple years, but is now getting more focus.

Pete’s also got some new friends at Horizon Labs where he now works. Many of whom will take bigger roles over the next year…especially his boss Max Modell.

One of Spidey oldest friends, Flash Thompson, is also ready for a big change as he is the Venom. Rick Remender and Tony Moore’s beautiful looking first issue comes out this week and as Flash gets drawn closer and closer into his hero’s world that’s going to have a pretty big effect on who Spidey can trust.

Mary Jane and Aunt May are also around… MJ in particular has some big moments coming up that we teased in the COMING UP IN SPIDEY Preview pages in 654.1

Geek: Last issue was a really heart-breaking (in a good way) look at death and grief. Why was it important to have this issue come now? What does it do for Spidey?

SW: Well it was most important because it was the next issue and Marvel docks my pay if the comics don’t come out!

But for Pete, having gone through so much death in his life—most recently the Human Torch and Marla Jameson—we wanted to remind the readers just how much this guy has lost through the years and how that can mess with your head.

You have to be a very special kind of person to deal with the near-constant loss and grief this guy has. The fact that he can come out the other side smiling and wanting to help strangers speaks volumes to his strength of character and the upbringing he got from his Aunt and Uncle.

What I admire most about the character is his ability to swing away from the gravity of the crap that has accumulated in his life. That’s why we root for him.

Geek: We’re going to be checking in with you after each issue comes out, so questions will get a little more specific – but until then, give us a tease. What’s coming up in the next few issues of Spidey?

SW: We have a DOUBLE PAGE AD for some video game! DOUBLE PAGE!

Plus some preview of Fear Itself where Matt Fraction says something scary! Can you stand it?!

And did I mention the indicia! You’re going to love it!

If you mean the stories, 657 features a look back at Spidey’s friendship with the Human Torch in a trio of chapters with art by Stefano, Ty Templeton and Nuno Plati.

Then in 658-660, we have Spidey’s first adventures with the FF. Also in those issues, you get a 3-part backup story with Spidey meeting Ghost Rider by Rob Williams and Lee Garbett. (It won’t be evident right away, but those backups have an effect on my world later in the year.)

And starting 659…you get your first “Infested” teaser which is leading to something huge for Spidey this summer.

Geek: Lastly, I’m thinking of calling this feature, “8 Simple Questions For Asking My Teenage Wacker.” Good idea, or the best idea?

SW: I think legally actionable idea…. Though “Teenage Wacker” is potentially a great new name for a Jersey Shore follow-up series.

That’s it for this time, gang – but be sure to pick up Amazing Spider-Man #656, and then check back here for our next check-in with Steve Wacker, where we’ll totally spoil the issue. Hence why we suggested picking it up first. Also, if you have a better name for this column? Let me know.

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