Dan Slott Talks Spider-Man/Human Torch
Dan Slott is one of the funniest men in comics. After recieveing rave reviews in his SHE HULK comic, Slott once again teamed up with long time collaberator Ty Templeton, of Batman Adventures fame, to pen Spider-Man/Human Torch. With both #1 and #2 of the 5 issue mini series now availble, Toon Zone News decided to catch up with Slott, to talk about his new book, and the upcoming SHE HULK relaunch.
Toon Zone News: What inspired you to do a Spider-Man/Human Torch team up?
Dan Slott: SHE-HULK #4. I had such a fun time writing him there, that I wanted to do some more. And with an FF film on the way, pitching a SPIDEY/TORCH mini seemed like a good fit.
TZN: The solicitations and previews have already leaked that Dr. Doom and The Mole Man will be appearing in the books. Any other villains slated to appear, and are there any particular reasons as to why you used them?
DS: We also had Paste-Pot Pete (a.k.a. The Trapster) in #1. The Vulture and Kraven show up in #2. I don’t want to give away the baddie in #3, but Stiltman makes a cameo. #4 is all about the Black Cat. And, hey, #5 is over a quarter of a year away—you don’t really want me to spill the beans on everything, right?
But an important thing to know about this book—it’s not about the villains. It’s about the romp, the caper, the misadventure that’s lurking around the corner. It’s about Spidey & the Torch– and the unique way they play off each other.
TZN: Why did you decide to use set the tale in 5 different era’s?
DS: The toys. So many things have changed over the years, and so many of my favorite ‘pieces’ for both Spider-Man and the FF’s worlds have changed or been taken out of play. By spreading this mini across the breadth of all Spidey/Torch continuity I get so many FUN toys to play with: Kraven, Dorrie Evans, the Spidermobile, Johnny & Crystal, Captain Stacy & Gwen, FF era She-Hulk, the black costume… It’s a blast.
And don’t worry, this is all done with love and respect for the continuity. No startling revelations. No retcons. I promise you all, I’ll do right by these characters.
TZN: Both Spider-Man and The Human Torch are characters frequently featured in many books. Both have Ultimate, Marvel Knights and Marvel Age titles as well as the ‘mainstream’ books. Do you think that the characters ever suffer from overexposure? Do you blame the movies?
DS: Nope. When they’re done right, you can NEVER get enough of Spidey and the Torch. There’s a reason they’re still around, still beloved, and still relevant.
TZN: What was it like working with Ty Templeton again?
DS: Doesn’t feel like we ever stopped! Ty’s great– and a good friend. I can’t think of a stretch of time when we HAVEN’T bounced ideas back and forth… all the way back from when we FIRST worked together on THE POWDERED TOASTMAN SPECIAL of 1994! For example, in my issue of LOONEY TUNES #75, the Daffy Duck/Yosemite Sam “parachuter” joke? That was Ty’s. Conversely, some of the Wolverine/Batman Amalgam characters in his DARK CLAW ADVENTURES were mine. It’s a fun process—especially when working with someone as creative, funny, and quick-witted as Ty.
TZN: Any ambitions to take on either of them again?
DS: Dear God, yes. When I was in grade school, if I biked home as fast as I could, I’d make it home in time to catch this magical block of syndicated TV: the old 60’s SPIDER-MAN cartoon and the Adam West BATMAN show. These were my “gateway drugs” into the world of superheroes. And the first comics I EVER read were my cousin’s copies of the FANTASTIC FOUR.
I have so much damn love for these characters, you would not believe. Give me a Spidey, FF, or Batman book… and I swear I’ll stay on it all the way till you pull the plug on my respirator.
TZN: With the recent change to the Avengers roster, are you still scripting an Avengers mini?
DS: Yep. It’s a four issue mini starring everybody’s favorite losers, THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS. And the mini is coming about BECAUSE of the change in the AVENGERS roster.
I’ve been reading a lot of threads around the web where posters think that this book is going to be Marvel’s answer to FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE… And I gotta tell you, those guys are wayyyyy off base. And while I LOVE the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire JUSTICE LEAGUE—this new GREAT LAKES AVENGERS project… It’s gonna be it’s own thing.
Is it a comedy? Yeah. A sick, twisted, ethically impaired, DARK comedy. Very dark. This is one that I’m definitely not letting my nephews look at. Seriously, readers should know going in that it’s NOT going to read like my SHE-HULK run. If anything, it’s a lot closer to my ARKHAM work.
TZN: Will you ever reveal who the Red Hood was?
DS: You’re referring to the Red Hood we brought into the BATMAN ADVENTURES book back in ’03, right? Ah, I remember those days… BATMAN ADVENTURES #5 through #9 (also reprinted as BATMAN ADVENTURES DIGEST VOL.2, “SHADOWS & MASKS”). A new crime boss, the Black Mask, was trying to take over Gotham’s underworld… but he was secretly working for a mysterious new Red Hood.
We were going to keep building up the mystery of WHO was behind that darn Red Hood… and then, in a startling reveal, you’d discover that it was actually….
And then the book got canceled. And, man, it still hurts. So, nope. Not gonna tell. Maybe someday. Just not today. The wound’s still too fresh.
Fortunately, the mainstream BATMAN books have a story going on with Black Mask and a sinister new Red Hood. So I’m sure you’ll get to see a Red Hood unmasked soon. And I’m sure theirs will be somebody really cool.
TZN: What’s your opinion on the current state of comic books? Your work on She Hulk and Batman Adventures was refreshingly different from most of other books on the racks, as it was devoid of all the big ‘shock’ storylines. Should comics concentrate more on better stories?
DS: Boy, that’s a loaded question.
I think that between Marvel, DC, and other companies there are a LOT of titles out there telling GREAT stories month in and month out. I can’t speak highly enough of EXILES, MARVEL TEAM UP, MANHUNTER, DISTRICT X, FALLEN ANGEL, THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THE FLASH, SPIDER-GIRL, INVINCIBLE, JSA, CAPTAIN AMERICA, CONAN, BIRDS OF PREY, NEW THUNDERBOLTS, ASTRO CITY, GOTHAM CENTRAL… And the list goes on!
There is SO much good material coming out now—so much diversity, that I find it hard to complain about the state of comics. If there’s any kind of trend going on—or style of storytelling that you don’t enjoy—my advice is to look around. There are things out there that will amaze you to no end.
TZN: Your writing generally lends itself to single issues, rather than the general trade paperback approach. Do you think more books should have standalone stories?
DS: I think it’s important for comics to give you a full unit of entertainment. If it takes six issues to tell one story, I don’t have a problem with that—as long as each of those six chapters are chock-full of great moments, rich characters, and clever beats. I believe that when you put any comic down, you should feel that you’ve had a “full meal” and not a “light snack.”
Seriously, these things cost $2.99! That’s a lot! For the price of 3 comics, you could go to a movie. For the price of 6, you could take a date. (No popcorn, though). When you fork over your three bucks, I feel it’s my job to entertain you– but it’s my duty to make sure you don’t feel ripped-off. I owe you my all. Not to just put out a comic you’ll read—but one you’ll want to RE-READ too!
TZN: What’s the deal with She Hulk? Why did Marvel decide to re launch
the whole thing, instead of just promoting it? Will the re launch
affect the book in any way?
DS: The relaunch is the BEST possible thing Marvel could do for the SHE-HULK book. I am very grateful to Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley, and the rest of Marvel’s top brass for having so much faith in the title—and for taking action to ensure its longevity! From the get-go, this book had a lot of obstacles in its way: it featured a second/third tier character, a creative team most Marvel fans weren’t familiar with, and it launched in the middle of five to six other
titles. And those factors led to low orders out of the gate—before anybody had actually tried the darn thing.
Those initial numbers were something the book’s been fighting since day one. What’s saved us is support from both critics and fans. Word of mouth coupled with great reviews (from the NEW YORK TIMES, AINT IT COOL NEWS, WIZARD, and a zillion online sites) has created a lot of buzz. The sales of the first TPB have been GREAT! And when you add a new #1 and Marvel’s commitment to giving this relaunch a BIG push—I think we’ll have a monster hit.
It’s book that revels in what a cool place the Marvel Universe really is—its rich history—and its amazing cast of characters. It’s got weird ideas, old school action, a lot of done-in-one stories, and—most importantly—it’s FUN! C’mon! Where else are you going to see shrunken super-villains, androids playing board games, and J. Jonah Jameson in a chicken suit?! AND have it be in continuity?
Seriously—we’ve got a book where one month the Watchers are being sued for invasion of privacy, the next month She-Hulk’s boxing in outer space, the month after that Hercules sings you a ditty—and in the middle of all of this Howard the Duck goes after George Lucas, you have an audience with the Living Tribunal, and you get to see Adam Warlock die… again! And a zillion other things! That’s 3 average months for SHE-HULK. And in this day and age, it takes most characters 3 months just to cross the street! C’mon!
TZN: Any chance of a possible romance between Jen and Pug?
DS: Not telling.
TZN: Will we be seeing more of Awesome Andy?
DS: I sure hope so. He’s fun, ain’t he? Though one of the things I’m most looking forward to is ANOTHER Marvel U. character joining the firm. Will they be a new lawyer? Or will they be someone like Ditto (the shape-shifting process server), Awesome Andy (the office’s android gofer), or Whiz Kid (the super-speedster from the mailroom)—a being who uses their special abilities to help out in their own unique way? Hmmm…
TZN: And finally, anything else in the pipelines, besides more She Hulk?
DS: Well, I’m still hard at work on SPIDER-MAN/HUMAN TORCH and GREAT LAKE AVENGERS. In the near future there’s a really fun issue of TOMB RAIDER from TOP COW—with some stunning art by Francis Manapul and an awesome cover by Adam Hughes. And over at DC, I’ve got this mind-bending arc of JLA coming up—with knock-it-out-of-the-park artwork by Dan Jurgens. And finally the relaunch of SHE-HULK and the launch of a top-secret Marvel monthly… that it’s just too early to talk about. I’m such a tease.
Indeed you are! Thanks Dan!
There’s a 4 page preview of Spider-Man/Human Torch availale at PopCultureShock