UnSHIELDed: "Agents of SHIELD" Evolves With the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Yesterday, Amazing Spider-Man Editor Steve Wacker had a chat with me where I worked in most of the reader-submitted questions you folks sent in! Tom Brevoort also stopped by and chatted, as well, which was a nice surprise.
To see the transcript, read on!
Brian Cronin: Thanks for coming, Steve, we got over 100 questions for you – over 20 of them were even usuable!
Stephen Wacker: You can tell everyone up top that we aren’t going to stop publishing Spidey or go back to Pete being married, so if that drives you nuts, you can stop reading now.
Brian Cronin: Duly noted!
Brian Cronin: Actually, on the subject of unusable questions, one fellow sent me a question that opened with “Thanks for doing this segment. As journalists, I hope you’re willing to field some constructively critical questions to S. Wacker.”
Stephen Wacker: Ah, this’ll be good: “Do you try to suck so hard, Steve?”
Brian Cronin: And included such gems as: When are you going to undo this absolutely destructive retcon? Let us know so that we can know when to be the least bit interesting [sic] in Spider-Man again?
Brian Cronin: So I was curious, what is the most convoluted way someone has tried to insult you via a question?
Stephen Wacker: I wish I could remember. When you grow up a chubby, stuttering vagabond kid named Wacker, the insults tend to all run together.
Stephen Wacker: Here’s a dirty secret…these books aren’t created with a huge barometer on what particular fans will get angry about. The anger is part and parcel of putting these books together and has been for 40 years.
Brian Cronin: True, but for the folks who DID write me these heartfelt questions -how do you best explain that you do not mean to “disregard” their feelings?
Stephen Wacker: I love the opinions but in general I am more guided by my own instincts, my boss’ instincts and, most of all, by the instincts of my creators.
Brian Cronin: That’s fair – I’ve said on the blog more than once that I’d much prefer creators to just do what they think is best rather than make decisions based on what they think fans will think. Of course, if the end result is poor, then that’s on the creators – but the initial notion, I think they should have all the leeway they want to do what they think is best.
Stephen Wacker: Really, if the fans really had control over the reins, Bucky wouldn’t be back, Daredevil would never be a ninja, Doctor Manhattan would be Captain Atom and a million other things that a section of people didn’t agree with at first.
Stephen Wacker: Bottom line is, the decision that Pete was getting unmarried was done by the time that I and all the Spider-Man writers got here, but we all agree with it. This is about long term goals, not the feelings on message boards in the short term.
Stephen Wacker: All that said, as you mentioned, you may just think that the book stinks and I strongly feel that you shouldn’t read something you’re not enjoying. If you have to leave, go ahead. It’s okay.
Brian Cronin: Speaking of the “fan versus creator” take on the issue, while I do note that, for the most part, the fans probably weren’t asking for this, practically EVERY creator over the past decade or so were. And if creators as different as John Byrne and Joe Quesada, and many different creators in between all agree on a point (while, of course, disagreeing on how to achieve the point), then while you certainly don’t have to agree with said position, it likely has some real merit.
Stephen Wacker: FOR THE MOST PART (big so you don’t miss it) fans want things to stay like they were whenever they personally liked it best. However, the truth is that this stuff is a pendulum, going back and forth to keep a character interesting.
Stephen Wacker: I love the feedback though. We get a lot and it’s a blast. People really care about this.
Stephen Wacker: Mark Farmer will be done with his next issue on Monday, by the way.
Brian Cronin: I got a lot of questions about continuity
Brian Cronin: How will the continuity be parsed out over the next year or so? You have a certain amount of continuity changes that you plan on addressing, right? Is it a matter of “we’re going to address X amount next year, then Y amount the year after” or is it not planned out that far ahead?
Stephen Wacker: You mean the wedding stuff? Next summer.
Stephen Wacker: Same with the identity stuff. It’s a big story. We’re aiming for #600, but it keeps growing.
Brian Cronin: Fair enough.
Stephen Wacker: We just had a retreat where we planned the rest of 2009.
Stephen Wacker: I’ll warn you not much has changed.
Brian Cronin: Okay, here are some specific questions.
Brian Cronin: Reader Jamie asks: With all the goblin related characters appearing, is there any chance we’ll see the Hobgoblin anytime soon?
Stephen Wacker: No plans for Hobgoblin. Roger Stern did a pretty good job wrapping that story up.
Brian Cronin: Do you have any plans in the future for Stern being involved at all?
Brian Cronin: One reader asked what he needed to do to get a Stern/JRjr story again?
Stephen Wacker: I have a pitch for Rog’s next story right here that he’s waiting for notes on.
Brian Cronin: Great!
Stephen Wacker: JRJr is booked for now. He starts his next story next week.
Brian Cronin: A few different readers (surprisingly) asked about the Stacys, Jill in particular.
Brian Cronin: Any chance of them stopping by?
Stephen Wacker: No Jill Stacy plans.
Brian Cronin: Could Spider-Man Family be a place for new Spider-Man 2099 stories at any point?
Stephen Wacker: As for 2099, I already have that written down. No plans at the moment, but it’d sure be cool
Brian Cronin: A few readers also asked about JMS’ run – will anything from his time on the book be addressed any time soon?
Stephen Wacker: You’d have to ask about specific JMS things for me to answer. Aside from where the ID went back into the box, it’s all in continuity.
Brian Cronin: Sure, stuff that JMS left unresolved in his run – like the future Spider-Man storyline.
Stephen Wacker: We did talk about the future Spidey stuff and Slott even wrote up something, but nothing nailed down
Brian Cronin: Why was the Secret Invasion tie-in published separately instead of just as three issues of Amazing?
Stephen Wacker: We had too much planned for the regular books to be able to make room for the Secret Invasion stuff. We planned all this when SI was a gleam in Bendis’ one good eye.
Brian Cronin: Eddie Brock/Anti-Venom seems to remember Spider-Man’s identity- does that mean perhaps other people do remember his ID, such as Black Cat?
Stephen Wacker: No one remembers Spidey’s ID. Except Peter.
Brian Cronin: Speaking of Black Cat, any plans for her in the future?
Stephen Wacker: Yes there are Black Cat plans in Amazing.
Brian Cronin: Reader Pedro had a question about TPBs: Has the thrice-monthly schedule improved TPB sales, since a certain number of readers (myself included) would rather prefer to buy a bimonthly TPB than so many comics every month?
Now that the BND imprint is gone, will the TPB release pattern for the series continue to be the Premiere HC followed by the regular softcover TPB?
Are there other formats planned (digest-sized books, oversized HCs, Omnibus, etc.)?
Stephen Wacker: I don’t believe the TPB plans are changing. We have them on a relatively regular schedule.
Brian Cronin: Another suggestion for Spider-Man Family by a reader (it seems like folks view that book as a place to put their odd ideas) would be a “Re-Told Tales of Spider-Man” story, like the “Death of Jean DeWolff,” which involves Daredevil knowing Spider-Man’s ID as a major plot point.
Stephen Wacker: We’ll only be retelling one story. No need to retell anything else. It all happened.
Tom Brevoort joined the chat
Brian Cronin: Hi, Tom
Tom Brevoort: A Re-Told version of the “Death of Jean DeWolff” would be exactly like the published version.
Tom Brevoort: At that point, Daredevil knew Spidey’s identity.
Brian Cronin: Okay, so that goes to another reader question
Brian Cronin: So the identity change is one of those mystical things that didn’t change the past? Just the present?
Tom Brevoort: Only one thing was changed, and that’s the wedding.
Brian Cronin: But people don’t know Spider-Man’s ID who did before the wedding, right?
Tom Brevoort: Daredevil, the Goblin, Venom, etc. used to know that Pete was Spidey–but after a certain point their memories were erased. That changed as of around the time of “One More Day”. They used to know–everybody used to know–but now they don’t. Exactly how that happened will form the basis of an upcoming story.
Brian Cronin: Gotcha.
Brian Cronin: Are Liz and little Normie still around?
Stephen Wacker: Normie and Liz in December. Prepare for The Molten Kid!!!
Brian Cronin: A reader asked about the ethnicity of Eddie Brock’s ex-wife in Venom: Dark Origin. Was that a coloring error or is that a ret-con (She used to be white now she’s black)?
Tom Brevoort: Coloring error.
Stephen Wacker: Coloring error.
Stephen Wacker: I should say a Warren Simons’ sponsored coloring error.
Brian Cronin: Hah
Stephen Wacker: For once it’s not me!
Brian Cronin: Reader Michael asked: The cab driver in Dan Slott’s first story – was it the same cab driver that drove Detective Gonzales around in the Rashomon issue? Will we see him again?
Stephen Wacker: Yes and yes. Good catch.
Stephen Wacker: He’s a benevolent Travis Bickle.
Brian Cronin: Reader Glen brings up something that I think is important
Brian Cronin: He says – Was this “Brand New Day” Peter Parker de-aged? And if so, how old would you say the character is?
Brian Cronin: Now, that is a major factor in my mind about having Peter be single, because Peter has NOT been de-aged, but it just feels that way, because when he was married, it seemed like he was 30 when the guy should be mid-20s tops.
Stephen Wacker: My ball park for Peter is mid-20s
Tom Brevoort: Pete is exactly the same nebulous age he was before OMD. He hasn’t been de-aged. We just play him a little younger, that’s all.
Tom Brevoort: When Spider-Man feels like he’s your dad’s age, you’ve got a serious problem.
Brian Cronin: This one fellow did an age chart and got it published in an old issue of West Coast Avengers that was pretty detailed. And he had Peter at 23 back then, so I think 25 is a reasonable age for him now.
Stephen Wacker: That’s pretty cool, but I don’t feel beholden to it.
Tom Brevoort: That sort of thing will only make your head hurt, because characters in various titles don’t age consistently.
Stephen Wacker: I used to do the same types of things for ATARI FORCE and NEW TEEN TITANS.
Brian Cronin: Is Sins Past in continuity?
Tom Brevoort: Yes, like it or not. Everything that was in continuity is still in continuity, with one exception.
Brian Cronin: Reader Ashley wanted to know if we would be seeing more of Carlie Cooper
Stephen Wacker: Yes. She’s a big part of Character Assassination coming in a couple months.
Brian Cronin: Reader M. Waid wanted to know if it was true that Kick-Ass outsells Spider-Man.
Stephen Wacker: Only on the Millar board.
Tom Brevoort: Would Mark Millar lie to you? Could he?
Tom Brevoort: What’s important is that FANTASTIC FOUR outsells KICK-ASS.
Stephen Wacker: Kick Ass does outsell 1985 though.
Stephen Wacker: IS there going to be a sequel to 1985?
Brian Cronin: Reader Ryan had a good question – Being an election year, is there any policy to try to keep appearances equal among candidates. Or can writers feature whatever candidates they wish, as often as they wish?
Stephen Wacker: There is no equal time clause in the Marvel U., though McCain-Feingold is related to the origins of Kree-Skrull War.
Brian Cronin: A few readers asked if we will see Peter date in 2009
Stephen Wacker: Here’s the beginning of the solicits to 583: “YOU ASKED FOR IT, YOU GOT IT! PETER PARKER DATES!”
Brian Cronin: Reader Taimur asked -Was there a reason not to include Swordsman, Moonstone, and Penance with the rest of the T-Bolts in New Ways to Die?
Tom Brevoort: Just a matter of not being able to service that many characters in the space we had.
Tom Brevoort: Just assume those other T-Bolts are off somewhere hunting down NFL SuperPro.
Brian Cronin: The same reader asked the following threee questions:
Brian Cronin: Will the new Kraven get her own villain moniker or will she just be referred as Kraven?
Tom Brevoort: New Kraven will get a name so you’ll have some way to refer to her.
Stephen Wacker: We call her Kraven around the office, but Ana is acceptable.
Brian Cronin: – Is the villain Blank who is set to appear in Roger Stern’s December ASM issue the same Blank from his run on West Coast Avengers or a new completely new villain?
Stephen Wacker: Same Blank.
Tom Brevoort: Yes, it’s the same Blank.
Brian Cronin: I know you probably can’t reveal the creative team on the 600th issue coming out next summer, but can you tell us if one or more writer(s) will be involved?
Tom Brevoort: There’ll be at least one writer involved with AMAZING #600.
Brian Cronin: One reader asked if there was any past Spider-man villain that you didn’t like at the time that you would like to see a writer revamp and make cool now.
Stephen Wacker: Erik Larsen.
Tom Brevoort: Who’s he? I must’ve missed that issue.
Stephen Wacker: I never much liked Slyde, sorry to say.
Stephen Wacker: I’d like to see Kaine made into something interesting, too.
Brian Cronin: Reader David asked if you will continue to introduce a lot of new villains once the older villains begin to come back, or will it be mostly re-using the new ones already introduced (like Paper Doll, etc.)
Tom Brevoort: We’ll be doing all three–introducing new guys, bringing back the new villains we’ve used so far, and bringing back and revamping the classic villains.
Brian Cronin: I didn’t even notice the following, so it may be one of those things where the reader is just flat-out wrong, but if he’s right, it’s an interesting question
Brian Cronin: Where have all the oversized text in the captions gone? I thought it was a good look and it DID make the book stand out visually, I mean…what happened?
Tom Brevoort: Pete stopped talking to himself during “New Ways To Die.” But it’ll come back just as soon as one of the writers opts to use it again.
Brian Cronin: About villains, another reader wondered if the new villains were mostly joint-created or the creation of the writer who wrote their debut story.
Tom Brevoort: Most of them tended to be the creation of one writer, the guy who wrote their story. So Mr. Negative and Paper Doll were Dan’s, Freak was Bob’s, Li’l Kraven was Gugg with a lot of Phil Jimenez…
Tom Brevoort: And Menace was something of a joint effort.
Brian Cronin: Reader Shaun has been wondering for over a decade, apparently: Will they ever say what really happened to Lance Bannon way back in Web Of Spider-man? The story line was bad (what a lame villain, F.A.C.A.D.E.), but I’ve been wanting at least someone to come in and end it.
Tom Brevoort: Eventually somebody will inevitably deal with it, but there isn’t really a wellspring of interest. Just assume he was a mutant Inhuman and move on.
Brian Cronin: Reader Michael asked: Since “Spectacular Spider-Man” is arguably the best animated interpretation of the character ever, is there any chance of getting some members of that writing staff taking a crack at Peter’s world in the Marvel U?
Stephen Wacker: I don’t know the guys from the cartoon, but if they had a good idea, sure.
Stephen Wacker: Brevoort hates Spider-man cartoons though. All of them.
Brian Cronin: I don’t know whose office this book was announced in, so I don’t know if it fits here, but reader Iyanez asks: What happen to the Genndy Tartakovsky Power Man mini series?
Tom Brevoort: Genndy’s CAGE series is still being worked on. He’s got a day job, y’know?
Brian Cronin: Reader Patrick wants to know if we’ll be seeing any romance within the supporting cast.
Stephen Wacker: Patrick, we’re already starting to see Lily show interest in Peter.
Tom Brevoort: I’m not going to be dating anybody from the supporting cast, and I don’t think Steve will either. Brennan, maybe.
Stephen Wacker: John Romita Jr. and Aunt May have started dating too since they’re so close in age.
Brian Cronin: Speaking of romance in the supporting cast – what do you guys think – did Peter sleep with Betty Brant when she was married to Ned Leeds? That recently came up on the blog.
Tom Brevoort: No, Peter wouldn’t have slept with Betty while she was married. If he did, we’d be reading about it it huge self-tortured thought balloons for pages.
Stephen Wacker: We should bring that Spidey back.
Brian Cronin: Will we see more interaction with Spider-Man and the police (a la the DeWolff days), or is he too much of a fugitive nowadays?
Tom Brevoort: Definitely more interaction between Spidey and the cops–but not necessarily on the same side of the bars.
Brian Cronin: A few readers asked if Puma will return in the future.
Stephen Wacker: Puma will return but not soon
Brian Cronin: I imagine he’d be pissed about giving Peter and MJ that free vacation for no reason.
Tom Brevoort: They’re good people, they helped him out. And he’s rich–it’s no sweat.
Brian Cronin: A number of readers asked about the various classic villains – the Doc Ocks, Mysterios, etc. of the world – will any of the classic ones be showing up in 2009?
Stephen Wacker: Most of last weeks retreat was talking about the classics.
Brian Cronin: Cool.
Tom Brevoort: Yes, we’ll be slowly bringing more of the classic Spidey villains back on stage. You’ve seen Norman and Venom already, and you’ve heard about Molten Man…
Stephen Wacker: You may have already seen one classic villain and not realized it.
Tom Brevoort: My, Kraven, how you’ve changed…
Brian Cronin: One reader wanted to know what the deal was with the pardon Tony Stark offered to any hero who would help during WWH.
Tom Brevoort: That deal was for amnesty, but they’d still have to sign up and register. Seems like not too many people took him up on that.
Brian Cronin: Reader Mike wants to know what’s the deal with the Osborns’ hair in New Ways to Die?
Tom Brevoort: It’s a sophisticated gel developed by Osborn Chemical. It’s also flame-retardant!
Stephen Wacker: Hair was my fault. JRJr and I had a mis-communication on what we were doing. We’ll try and fix it in the trade.
Brian Cronin: One reader wanted to know what was the current status of Peter and the Human Torch’s friendship
Tom Brevoort: Spidey and the Torch remain friendly rivals. Pete and Johnny have met, but they’re not especially close.
Stephen Wacker: They’re still friendly.
Brian Cronin: Reader Stephen wanted to know if Ron Frenz will get a shot at the main book in the future and whether Spider-Man will ever use the black costume.
Tom Brevoort: No immediate plans for Ron on AMAZING, he’s got his plate full with SPIDER-GIRL.
Tom Brevoort: And inevitably we’ll see the black costume again. Possibly early in 2009…
Brian Cronin: Another reader asked why Spider-Girl was not given more publicity.
Stephen Wacker: Spider-Girl gets a decent amount of promotion, all things considered. Any way you look at it, that book has been a success. What else from the last 10 years has been that steady?
Tom Brevoort: We mention SPIDER-GIRL every chance we get. SPIDER-GIRL!
Brian Cronin: Reader Magnus wanted to know if we’d be seeing more or less of JJJ in 2009 as compared to 2008
Brian Cronin: Same with MJ – less or more in 09 than in 08
Stephen Wacker: JJJ is in 577 in a few weeks. Spider-Girl!
Tom Brevoort: More JJJ in 2009. SPIDER-GIRL!
Stephen Wacker: MJ is in Spider-Girl!
Brian Cronin: Reader Chris asked: How does a reader maintain an interest in Peter Parker’s personal life if it is known that, as a matter of editorial policy, he is destined never to get the girl?
Stephen Wacker: Chris made that rule up, so it’s a bit of a stacked deck.
Tom Brevoort: Pete can get the girl, he just can’t marry the girl.
Stephen Wacker: Pete got the girl. Had her for 20 years. Then something broke them up.
Stephen Wacker: It’s a soap opera – that kind of thing happens.
Tom Brevoort: SPIDER-GIRL!
Brian Cronin: Reader Taimur asks if Peter will ever find out about what happened to the Steel Spider
Stephen Wacker: Warren messed him up…which was a real slap in the face to my childhood!
Tom Brevoort: In terms of the Steel Spider, anything’s possible, but there aren’t any immediate plans.
Brian Cronin: Besides not using the classic villains, were there any other “rules” that the writers had to adhere to in the early days of BND?
Stephen Wacker: I mandated that everyone must have the webshooters fail.
Brian Cronin: Ha!
Stephen Wacker: Seriously, we did all agree to not dwell on One More Day right away and to jump right into new stories.
Tom Brevoort: They all had to say how much they liked 52.
Stephen Wacker: Hey, I edited most of that!
Stephen Wacker: Brian, did you like 52?
Brian Cronin: I liked Matt Fraction’s review of 52 the best!
Stephen Wacker: 52…Great weekly comic, or GREATEST weekly comic?
Stephen Wacker: Before 1985…there was….52!
Brian Cronin: I collected all the various writers and artists people wanted to know if there are plans to have do Spider-Man stories, and I figure I’ll post them all at once:
Brian Cronin: JM DeMatties, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, Peter David, Brian Reed, Jeff Parker, or Jason Aaron?
Stephen Wacker: I think most of those guys are writing a Spidey story of one kind or another in the next year. Not all for my office though.
Brian Cronin: And on the art-side – Leinil Yu, Terry Dodson, a return of Steve McNiven, Frazer Irving, Arthur Adams or Mike Allred?
Tom Brevoort: Most of them are tied up elsewhere at the moment, but down the line you never know.
Brian Cronin: That’s about it for reader questions
Brian Cronin: Although, I can always return to the guy with the constructive criticism: You know that the Clone Saga debacle was a masterpiece compared to this BND debacle, right?
Brian Cronin: I like the “right” parts he sprinkles in, like he’s going to catch someone off-guard and they’re going to say yes. “Yes, I do know…oh crap, I’ve undone myself!”
Stephen Wacker: I declare that he may not read Spider-Man again. There. He’s cured.
Stephen Wacker: It’s all due to be reversed in issue 950…see ya then!
Tom Brevoort: Why, that reads like the kind of thing that gets posted over at my blog day in and day out…
Stephen Wacker: Brevoort can work a blog plug into any answer. Try him…
Tom Brevoort: SPIDER-GIRL!
Stephen Wacker: Tom, what was 52’s greatest failing?
Tom Brevoort: It wasn’t mentioned often enough on my blog…
Brian Cronin: I asked Steve this, Tom, but since you’re here, I’ll ask you, too – can you recall any particularly good convoluted criticism?
Brian Cronin: You know, like a post designed to LOOK like it’s being normal, then it sneaks in insults.
Tom Brevoort: Most of the criticism I see is relatively blatant and obvious. I guess they figure I’m not sophisticated enough to read between the lines.
Brian Cronin: By the by, a few of the above questions had stuff like that mixed in that I had to delete. Like the question about the captions, after “What happened?” was “What happened, did your balls drop off?”
Tom Brevoort: Hey, like in that movie!
Stephen Wacker: If the 1-point caption size difference is bugging someone that much then we’re doing something right. Did Waid ask that?
Stephen Wacker: Thanks for doing this, Brian.
Brian Cronin: Thank you guys for coming out!
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