Welcome to the final portion of Comic Booked’s interview with Dan Slott! Continuing from where we left off in the first part of the interview, Dan and I turn the focus of the discussion from his career to his solo work on Amazing Spider-Man…
One of the first things you did when you took over the book full time was to kill off Roderick Kingsley, setting up Phil Urich as the new Hobgoblin.
Cut off his head!
Which at this point is pretty much the only definitive way to kill a Goblin!
Yes it is.
So I have to ask: Why Phil Urich?
Oh! Most people go “Why did you kill Roderick Kingsley?” That’s a completely different question, “Why Phil Urich?”
When you look at Phil Urich, at everything Phil is, he’s Peter Parker. He’s Peter Parker, except he stumbled into Goblin tech. I loved the idea, in the cast, of having Bizzarro Pete. Of here’s someone, having all the problems that Peter has, but doing it in a completely different way. “I’m going to sell my pictures of the Hobgoblin to the Daily Bugle! Now I can get the girl and everything’s going great for me! It’s the Urich luck!” That’s great, I love it.
But the big thing was coming up with a new take on the Hobgoblin. The Hobgoblin was this great bullet that we didn’t load into the chamber in Brand New Day. If you look at all the things we did over the hundred-plus issues of Brand New Day, all the characters we brought back, all the bits of Spider-Man lore we touched on, there were two bullets we didn’t load into the chamber. And that’s Hobgoblin and Carnage. For Hobgoblin and Carnage, they’re these two things that people love and kept asking about that we weren’t using. So we knew when we did the launch of Big Time, we had to go for one of those two bullets to get people excited. And when I look at Hobgoblin, the question that keeps coming up is “What made Hobgoblin popular?” And what made him popular was the mystery. The minute you knew he was Roderick Kingsely, he was instantly a less interesting character. The whole fun of it was “Is it Flash? Is it Ned? Is it this, is it that? Who’s it gonna be?!” It’s the guy who was a fashion designer! And his evil twin! The fashion designer and his evil twin! Oh, I can’t wait to keep reading the adventures of him! No, it was the mystery, the fun! “Could it be Ned?” was way more interesting than the fashion designer we didn’t give a crap about because we really didn’t think about him because he was floating in the background. The mystery was the fun part, so if we’re going to do a new Hobgoblin there has to be a new mystery.
And then the thing was that if we do a new mystery we’re doing the same thing again. So my idea was to flip it. The reader didn’t know who Hobgoblin was. Peter didn’t know who Hobgoblin was. Let’s flip it. The reader knows who Hobgoblin is and Peter doesn’t. It’s a mystery to Peter, not to you. You’re on the flip side going “No!” And we’re going to make it someone who’s going to all the same places, doing all the same things, who’s going to keep bumping into him and has wormed his way into the cast. And then… Pete doesn’t run into him after he’s Hobgoblin until after we rip away Peter Parker’s spider-sense. No! Nooooo!
But when you think about it, the spider-sense is back now. It’s back now… Hmmm…
Part of what makes that interesting to me is that I’m someone who’s read Tom DeFalco’s Green Goblin series; I’ve read Spider-Girl. I know Phil Urich. But I’m also familiar with Loners, in which he was already getting a little… you know, crazy. And that was also over a girl, as I recall.
Yeah. You look and he has this repeating pattern. “I want this girl. I want this girl. I want this girl. And this one time I ended up with a ruby-hard skinned freak.” But for the most part it’s just been “I want this girl”. And the big development from Spider-Island is “I got the girl”. So it’s going to be very interesting to see where he is now. Because there’s wanting and then there’s having. And Phil hasn’t had. He’s only wanted. So what’s going to happen to Phil now? And what’s going to happen to Phil now that Peter has his spider-sense back? And what’s going to happen to Phil when we throw the really big “Holy f–k!” moment in? [laughter] Because you thought slicing off the head was the holy f–k moment, we got a better holy f–k moment coming up!
One thing I wanted to bring up, regarding Spider-Island. The Queen was the mastermind of that plot. That is one character I never expected to see again!
I take a lot of pride in the fact that, in a world where writers are talking about how they need Doctor Doom in their story, or they need Red Skull or whoever… Any character can be a badass. You can find a whole new take on any character. It’s all rich, every character has so many levels to them. I love the fact that we did a massive Spider-Man event and the main villains were the Jackal and the Queen.
I have to admit, I love that the Jackal’s back. I’m a huge Clone Saga fan.
There was a science fiction writer who once said that the golden age of science fiction is twelve. It’s not the Fifties or the Sixties. Whatever you read when you were twelve is the coolest thing ever. The people on either side of that think the thing sucked, but the people who were in that sweet spot got “Oh, that’s the coolest thing ever! Ben Reilly, Kaine, Judas Traveller!” And people looked at them like they’re crazy. You’ve seen it on the Internet. And it’s all worth it. I killed the guy who’s a master of cloning, I hope there’s a way out of that one! Oh no, Mysterio, the master of illusion is dead! I can’t wait till a year from now when we talk about other stuff so I can just laugh and laugh.
I think one of the big problems we have today with comics is that when you read old issues of Fantastic Four, every story would end with Doctor Doom dying or being in some sort of “no way he gets out of that” situation. And the next story starts with him getting out of that. And I hate the attitude that “older comics did that, the writing is different now”. We are not Shakespeare! Just because Neil Gaiman comes in and does Sandman doesn’t mean that every comic should be Sandman. We can be Kraft macaroni and cheese, we can be fried butter on a stick!
It’s gonna come soon. And when you see stories happening, it’s in the service of what the Sinister Six’s master plan is and what’s happening as Doc Ock’s life is dwindling away. This is his one last shot at a master plan. And if you’re Doc Ock and you have his ego, and you have one last shot at a master plan, you are not thinking about just Manhattan or just some science community thing. You’re going for… [Dan’s voice deepens] the world!
Hence “Ends of the Earth”.
Yes! Spider-Man. Doctor Octopus. The ends of the Earth. If you look at what Doc Ock’s been doing throughout the Marvel Universe, he has totally pwned Tony Stark. He has invaded the Baxter Building and stolen stuff unscathed, he has pulled the rug out from under Reed Richards. And he has completely schooled Hank Pym and the Avengers Academy. He has done the trifecta in the Marvel Universe. He’s got Stark, Richards, Pym. Doc Ock is on a roll. He’s one of the biggest brains in the Marvel Universe.
It’s very much that whole “How many more days do you have left to live? What are you going to do with your time on this Earth?” And you’re a megalomaniacal genius on an unbelievable scale. And one thing Spider-Man will not have in his favor this time is that, as we saw in Amazing Spider-Man #600 , Doc Ock has a completely new respect for Spider-Man. He doesn’t see him as a kid anymore or as a wise-cracking ass. He thinks “Spider-Man bested me in a mental challenge. Spider-Man has an intellect on par with mine. I will never underestimate him again.” So this is mano a mano.
Well,we’ve been going at this for a while, so I’m going to let you go. It’s been wonderful. As far as parting thoughts, I’d like to ask what you say to anyone who might be on the fence about picking up Amazing Spider-Man at the moment?
Just read any of the many Comic Booked reviews. If that doesn’t win you over, I don’t know what will. We get so much love from your site! I love your site! Thank you!
Oh, that’s being posted! Thank you Dan!
Thanks again to Dan for his time and for a spectacular interview. Be sure to follow Comic Booked’s continuing coverage of the lastest Amazing Spider-Man event, starting with Skott Jimenez‘s reviews of the first and second issues of Ends of the Earth.