NYCC 2014: Spider-Gwen


Debuting in the second issue of EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE, Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman immediately developed a passionate cult following. Those fans will be rewarded in February 2015 with the exciting new SPIDER-GWEN ongoing series! caught up with writer Jason Latour, artist Robbi Rodriguez, and colorist Rico Renzi who revealed some of what they love about Spider-Gwen as well as what they have percolating for the book. Were you surprised how much the EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE issue and Spider-Gwen resonated with readers? What is it you think hooked people?

Jason Latour: Well, there just seemed to be this groundswell from day one, and that was certainly a little surprising. It changed my expectations a little, but as a writer you learn pretty quickly that you can’t really control how things are going to be received. All you can really do is focus on creating a story that speaks to you and your collaborators and just hope that you’re all excited about that. If you it turns out you’re in tune with the larger world, that’s amazing. But it’s also always a little lucky.

I know for me, when I sit back and think about the response I try to step back and look at the bigger picture as much as possible. So I do think a lot it just has to do with Gwen Stacy herself. I’ve been reading Spider-Man off and on since I was a small kid, but by the time I came around Gwen Stacy really only mattered by virtue of the fact that she’d impacted Peter so much. But even so that impact had been severely diminished, he’d kind of seemed to get over it and moved on to Mary Jane in a way he’d never have been able to do with Uncle Ben. She’d just become kind of a watered down plot point, and not a character. In the worst hands she was just a lost possession.

But you jump forward to today and fortunately you’ve got Gwen sort of re-emerging in other media, finding a very real voice again, [and] even bringing new readers into the books. So suddenly that death has meaning again and for a lot of people it’s pretty hard to swallow. Maybe in part because we’ve slogged through the decades of copycat “fridgings” that’ve followed “The Death of Gwen Stacy”; maybe there’s just that much demand for diversity in these books. I can’t say for sure—but the idea of what she represents and who she is has kind of burst free of the borders of the page.

So I think there’s clearly a lot of catharsis in seeing her get to be Spider-Woman. And it was important that she get that chance earnestly and with the same sense of impetus that Peter had when he first put on the suit. It couldn’t be treated like a lark or a cheap novelty; it’s not “I’ll give you your powers back later, honey.” So that was where Robbi and Rico and I really tried to make hay and make it our own. Approach it like it’s new and make it all matter. Fortunately the audience seems to agree with us so far.

Robbi Rodriguez: I knew some would find the issue cool and a gem they may find in a dollar bin a few years from now, but this amount of love took us all by surprise. 

I think at first [fans] were curious to see where we were going with the character but once the reader knew that there was more than just sizzle to the steak they really had a connection to the issue and the people in it.

Rico Renzi: With such a huge pre-release response I was a little worried people would be let down. I mean it was a huge amount of fan-generated hype and there’s only so much you can do with one 20 page issue. I think once it was out people saw our hearts were in it and it was more than just a great costume design by Robbi. Care to recall that moment when Marvel asked you all to do an ongoing series?

Jason Latour: Hey man, I was grinning ear to ear. The best part was how thrilled our editor Nick Lowe was when he called to tell me. It was like his wife had just given birth or something. Bubble gum cigars all around. But yeah—I was acutely aware of that groundswell, and watching how it was received like a hawk. We’re all very invested. So tracking it was just kind of mind blowing. You had all these folks calling for more—and it was selling so well that by the time the news came it just seemed like such an obvious decision. You can get really jaded making comics if you’re not careful, but having something so unprecedented and surreal happen has just been really rewarding and re-invigorating. This book exists because people wanted it. I feel a tremendous sense of pride in that, and a real desire to deliver on it.

Rico Renzi: I was ecstatic when Jason passed the news on to me! I can’t wait to do more Spider-Gwen stories with these guys! A tour of social media reveals that fans were excited about the prospect of Spider-Gwen months before the one-shot’s release. How creatively satisfying is it to have developed a fanbase so quickly and to be able to jump into a monthly ongoing almost just as rapidly?

Jason Latour: Again, it’s just kind of surreal. It’s unheard of, uncharted territory. We were announced just before [changes to DC’s] Batgirl, and it was so amazing to see her kind of right there neck and neck with the renewed interest in that character, especially since she was appearing in just a one shot. A lot of it has nothing to do with things we could ever have controlled, but I do love seeing people respond to Robbi’s design the way they have. I’ve known that guy for at least 10 years, and always known how talented he is. It’s been really rewarding to see this happen for him. All he ever needed was a stage.

Robbi Rodriguez: It’s wild. I know I tried to keep the door cracked a bit as I constantly posted peeks of pages as I was working on them on my social networks. I don’t think we realized how many people were watching. I think we are ecstatic that our vision has connected with so many people. Beyond Spider-Gwen, now that you have multiple issues to explore, are there certain characters each of you look forward to dealing with more in the coming months?

Jason Latour: Oh man, where do I even start? Gwen herself of course. Especially in terms of her relationship to her father, Captain Stacy. The mask she now wears does mean something to her, but it still means something very different to the world around her. She’ll be seeking to change the latter, and that journey is going to pull her father along into its wake. He knows her secret, and it’s a truth that threatens to make his world into a very dangerous lie.

We’ll absolutely see a lot more of “Evil” Matt Murdock, and the Kingpin. I’m a huge old school Daredevil fan, so I get this real sick thrill out of twisting him around and making him the villain. Daredevil without the guilt: that’s a dangerous, exciting idea to me. There’s also a new twist a character you’d probably immediately identify as a villain, who we’re re-casting as a more complex threat to Gwen and Captain Stacy—a character coming at her from the within the system…kind of.

And of course—the Maryjanes, man! We’ll get to meet all those young women and see who they are now in this context where Spider-Man’s name is not on the cover and his presence isn’t driving the book forward.

I think that’s key to re-imagining this stuff—to find how it relates to the story we’re telling. We want all of the new cast to have a life just around the corner of the page, one where we can’t always assume we understand.

Robbi Rodriguez: There are a ton. There were when we were developing this issue that got dropped and now we can go back to them. But what’s the fun in telling them now? I mean we can’t take out the reader for drinks just yet. We have to charm them a bit more. This is a creative team that clearly enjoys working together. What is about each other’s storytelling approach that makes you all such a great combo?

Jason Latour: Ah well thanks. I think a lot of what people respond to in these kind of “boutique” super hero books and creator owned projects is that sense of hand in glove collaboration. There’s definitely roles we all play, and one of mine is just to keep these guys excited. I try to work for my collaborators as much as for the project, and with them it’s easier to do that because I know them and I know they’re doing the same. I’m just thrilled we all found a stage together and I hope it’s a good long while before we give it up.

Robbi Rodriguez: We all have an understanding as far as what we bring in and what those talents can do to make the whole [series] far better in the long run. Much like a band we know when it’s time for one member to take lead, keep the beat and the other to solo the hell out.

Rico Renzi: Familiarity between us personally makes bouncing ideas around really easy. It’s been obvious to us from reading reviews that people can’t tell who did what and I think that’s a good sign. My favorite comics are made by either one person or a few that are working seamlessly together. I think when we’re successful we’re achieving that.

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