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FAN EXPO Boston 2018: Writer Nick Spencer on the magic of Peter Parker and Mary Jane, Amazing Spider-Man, Secret Empire backlash and more

We caught up with Amazing Spider-Man writer Nick Spencer at FAN EXPO Boston 2018.

Stunning action, hilarious banter and, of course, that rekindled romance–since its “fresh start,” Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man has had it all. So you better believe we seized the opportunity to chat with writer Nick Spencer at FAN EXPO Boston 2018 about what makes Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s relationship so special, writing Spidey’s often groan-inducing attempts at humor and more!AiPT!: A central focus of your run has been the romantic reunion of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. As a fan, what does their relationship mean to you?

Nick Spencer: Well, obviously, they’re like one of the all-time great comic book couples, and I think that’s in large part because they’ve stood the test of time. We’ve gotten to see their relationship build in a very different way than what you usually see in comics. Usually when a love interest is introduced, it’s very upfront, very direct. You can tell immediately these two are supposed to be together. What I love about the Peter and Mary Jane story is what a roller coaster it is. How it starts with the classic Aunt May bits, where she wants him to meet Anna Watson’s niece and then it builds to a friendship and really the relationship kind of forms out of tragedy and you learn more about Mary Jane and her life as it goes on. So it really is, I think, the most fully formed comic book romance that exists. So getting to write it is a thrill.

Art from Amazing Spider-Man by Marvel Comics.

AiPT!: What would you say your overall mission statement is with your Amazing Spider-Man run?

Spencer: You know, I don’t think of things that way necessarily. I try to just go where the story takes me. Obviously, Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character ever. He’s been my favorite character for as long as I can remember–since I was a very small child. So, you know, I think a lot about the legacy of this, the history of this. Ultimately, you’re kind of a victim of your muse. You just follow where your imagination takes you and hopefully people respond to it.

AiPT!: You’ve had Spider-Man battle the Ringer and most recently the Tri-Sentinel. Can we expect more of these obscure villains in issues to come?

Spencer: Yeah, you know, I like digging deep. I like the C-list and the D-list and some people would even say the F-list. Spidey has the best rogue’s gallery in all of comics and even the most obscure cuts usually have some real redeeming value. So we’ve definitely got some more coming.

Art from Amazing Spider-Man from Marvel Comics.

AiPT!: And can we expect more characters and elements from your Superior Foes of Spider-Man run to make their way into Amazing Spider-Man?

Spencer: You can certainly count on some reconnection with all of the Superior Foes. And with all of the characters you saw in that book, obviously, I’ve got a big soft spot for that cast and getting to write them again is a thrill.

AiPT!: Writing comedy isn’t easy, but your humorous dialogue is always so satisfying. How do you approach writing Spidey’s witty banter? Do you ever run jokes by people or do you pretty much just trust your gut?

Art from Amazing Spider-Man from Marvel Comics.

Spencer: No, you generally trust your gut. I think one of the things that’s interesting about writing Spider-Man is it’s one of the first times I’ve written a character that’s self-consciously trying to be funny, and that makes the humor a little different. That means more and more of his jokes are the kind that you roll your eyes at a little, that you groan at because that’s what happens when a guy is trying to come up with witty banter on the fly while someone’s trying to kill him. It’s a different kind of comedy, so that’s fun. It’s fun to be writing a character where that’s just part of his schtick. He’s trying to be funny. And the fact that at least half the people he runs into, or at least the vast majority, don’t think he’s funny–that’s even better.

AiPT!: Finally, I’m wondering how you feel about the whole Secret Empire controversy now that some time has passed. Is this just how things are now?

Spencer: I do think that’s just how things are now. I did Montreal Comiccon and got a chance to talk to Gerry Conway for a bit and I was obscenely excited to meet him because he’s one of my all-time favorite writers. But he also seemed kind of psyched to see me because he just wanted to bond over fan backlash. He said it was 10 years before he felt like it was OK to come out in public after the death of Gwen Stacy. That’s just kind of how it works–people love these characters, they’re very passionate about these characters they don’t like when you do bad things to these characters, even though the characters experiencing those things and overcoming those things are usually the moments we remember the most. So in terms of the writing, it’s one of the things I’m absolutely most proud of in my career. I feel an enormous sense of pride over what we accomplished in that story. I think it was timely, I think it had something to say, it kept people on the edge of their seats–even if they didn’t want to be all the time. So I still consider it a pretty massive accomplishment.


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