Chip Zdarsky's Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man goes back to basics
Spider-Man has had an eventful few years. In the pages of his main comic, Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker has recently become a tech millionaire running his own company. As fun as it’s been to watch Peter become a technological powerhouse like Tony Stark, Marvel fans have been clamoring for a return to the wall-crawler’s down-on-his-luck days. That’s what they’re getting with Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, the new series from writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Adam Kubert. The new comic will get a lead-in story on Free Comic Book Day, and then the first issue will officially hit stores in June.
Ahead of the launch, EW spoke with Zdarksy about his vision of Spider-Man and his plans for the book.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How would you define the mission statement of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man? What separates it from other Spider-Man stories/books?
CHIP ZDARSKY: The main book, Amazing Spider-Man, has kept things fresh by stretching the character and his situation. It’s still classic Spider-Man at its core, but transposed into new settings. With this book, we’re using the same Spider-Man in-continuity but shifting the spotlight back to his NYC environment and supporting cast. But even though we’re pushing to make it a more personal book, we’re still going to have big adventures with ramifications that’ll be felt in his other books. If I had, like, a true mission statement for the title though, it would be: “Have fun, have heart, have stakes.” My personal mission statement going into the book is “With great power comes something something I don’t know I’ve never had power before.”
How do you see the interplay between the Peter Parker and Spider-Man identities?
In a lot of ways, I feel that “Peter Parker” is the mask and—[laughs]—just kidding. Can you imagine? Spider-Man is kind of like when you’re a kid and you go to camp or a new school, and you think, “I can be a new person here,” but you invariably end up with the same problems because you’re still, you know, the same person. Peter can be having a crummy time of things, put on his Spider-Man outfit and feel like he can do anything. But inevitably his “Parker luck” spoils things, even as Spider-Man. And part of the fun of the character is seeing how he gets out of the holes he digs for himself. There are still periods where one is doing better than the other and I’ve always loved that aspect of secret identities. Peter could get a new job, a new girlfriend, but Spider-Man is accused of a crime and is public enemy number one. That’s the fun of Spider-Man, you’re playing with the outside perception of two characters.
What are your favorite Spider-Man stories? Are there any in particular you’ll be drawing inspiration from on the new series?
I’m a child of the ’80s and ’90s, so a lot of books from that time really imprinted on me. The mystery of the Hobgoblin hooked me as a kid. I also loved the stories that made you feel like Spidey was up against impossible odds. The classic scene from issue #33 of him struggling under the wreckage; his defeat of Firelord, Galactus’s herald; the introduction of Venom, which was terrifying; or when J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr. introduced Morlun, an unstoppable, single-minded villain. Even though he’s been on teams, Spidey as the loner trying desperately to survive and save everyone is key. I also love stories that remind you of why you love the character. Superior Spider-Man managed to do that superbly while not even having Spider-Man as a character, which was incredibly bold with a fantastic payoff. I think those are the things I want to push in this book: impossible odds and reminding people why they love Spider-Man.
Adam Kubert is obviously a legend. What excites you about working with him on this book?
It’s crazy! I can’t believe I’m getting to work with someone so synonymous with superhero comics. His work’s dynamic and rooted in the best storytelling, but he’s also got a great eye for humor and expression.
Spider-Man obviously has a long, complex mythology. What can you tease about potential new characters you’ll be introducing to that mix?
Your head’s going to spin when you see all the senior citizen characters I introduce! Marvel keeps telling me to “skew young” and to keep my “weird fetishes out of their book” and that I’m “fired,” but I think audiences are clamoring for the next Aunt May! I’m also introducing Rebecca London, a recent transplant to NYC looking to have a career in stand-up comedy. Spider-Man, not Peter, is the only person she’s managed to meet since arriving in the city, so they strike up a friendship and … possible love connection? Marvel is thrilled with me that she’s (sigh) “age appropriate.”
The book sounds almost like a “back to basics” approach for Spider-Man. What do you think are the basic, essential components of the character?
He’s misunderstood and underestimated, either as Pete or Spider-Man. He’s the mascot for New York City, and, like a sports mascot, that means he’s beloved by children and endured by adults. He’s the only street-level superhero who could beat a herald of Galactus in a fight. He feels things stronger than any other hero and covers that up with jokes. He’s Spider-Man!