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Writer Robbie Thompson continues to kick it old school with SPIDEY, the ongoing series set during the arachnid hero’s high school days. Thompson teams with artist and Marvel newcomer Nathan Stockman to tell stories featuring the likes of Electro, Kraven, and Captain America!
A huge fan of Spider-Man, Stockman enjoys the often weighty challenge of drawing the hero in and out of costume, not to mention all of the classic characters and their interactions with one another.
We talk with Stockman about accurately drawing the teen hero, how he differs from Captain America, and his own love for the one and only Spider-Man!
Marvel.com: You started out at Marvel by drawing its most famous characters of all time. Did you feel pressure after getting the SPIDEY gig?
Nathan Stockman: No pressure whatsoever at all. Like you said it’s only some of the most famous characters in all of comics. What could go wrong?
Honestly I think my excitement numbed my nerves initially which helped. Spidey is my all time favorite character in comics. I think the most pressure I felt was from myself because I wanted to do justice to the characters I grew up reading and fell in love with.
Marvel.com: Making teen characters look right can be tricky. What are the key elements that set apart this version of Peter Parker and Spider-Man from the older model?
Nathan Stockman: Teen characters are hard to get right! This Spidey is in his first year on the job putting him around about 15-16ish. He’s slim, but not scrawny. But not as well built as grown-up Pete. His features aren’t as sharp either. His posture is different. He slouches more. He’s probably moodier and smells worse too.
Marvel.com: Aside from posture and BO, what do you think sets this younger version of Spider-Man apart from the version seen elsewhere in the Marvel Universe?
Nathan Stockman: I think a lack of confidence. His attitude and quips give the impression he knows what he’s doing, but his body language can betray him with its awkwardness. Adult Pete carries himself with experience that he's earned while this Pete is still learning the webs...
Marvel.com: You also get to draw Captain America in this! Aside from the obvious age and costume differences, how do these characters carry themselves differently from one another?
Nathan Stockman: This is a good example of the confidence issue I was talking about. Cap has tons of experience before and after being a popsicle. He’s the living legend after all! So Spidey is a bit star struck. He hunches or backs off from Cap at first because he doesn’t think he’s in the same league.
Cap on the other hand is comfortable in his own tights. He knows his place and his duty. Personally I always thought Cap enjoys being a hero. I tried to show that in his interactions with people. He smiles and is personable. He’s not scowling and driven out of revenge or guilt or whatever to do the things he does. Just out of his desire to do the right thing.
Marvel.com: What brings these two iconic characters together in SPIDEY? Are they facing off against any familiar faces?
Nathan Stockman: Well Peter thinks Aunt May should start dating again and figures Captain America would make a really good new Uncle. He gets Iron Man to arrange a blind date but things go awry when it's interrupted by a Hydra strike. Spidey is annoyed that Cap ditches Aunt May to fight stupid Hydra again and they end up in a 16 page fight scene.
I think that’s how it goes anyway. I can’t remember exactly. I might have made that up. I guess you’ll have to read issue #10 to find out.
Marvel.com: How has it been working with Robbie and the rest of the team so far?
Nathan Stockman: Without sounding too hyperbolic I think Robbie is the greatest American that’s ever lived. I can’t say for sure that he’s the greatest that will ever live but it’s going to take some sort of eagle-man hybrid that saves all of humanity while wearing a star-spangled bandanna to beat him.
So naturally working with him is quite a treat. He’s literally making all my Spider-Dreams come true. Crafting classic interactions for me to draw like Jameson chewing Peter out or Flash Thompson acting like a jerk. His stories are really great too. He’s got such a good handle on the Spider-Verse that every character feels right! I’m always crazy excited to get to drawing the issue after reading a new script. I hope someday to talk or email Robbie directly. He insists I only communicate with him through his agent—who is very nice.
Darren Shan our editor is instrumental in putting each issue together. Through art notes, suggestions, and encouragement. Each issue is improved greatly by him. This is my first time working with an editor and the whole thing has been really eye-opening. I have a whole new respect for editors everywhere because of him. Also Darren said if I miss a deadline for any reason that he will personally destroy everything I hold dear. He certainly knows how to motivate!
Jim Campbell on colors does an incredible job of bringing the book to life and setting the tone of each issue. I’m very lucky to be working with him. A good colorist makes you look better than you are and I need all the help I can get!
Travis Lanham does fantastic work on the lettering too. It’s an often overlooked part of the process but should be appreciated and given the due it deserves!
That concludes my big love in for team SPIDEY. It’s been an absolute joy since day one and the whole crew make this one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever had the good fortune of working on. I hope people have even half as much fun reading the book as I have drawing it!Read More »
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Redemption remains one of the hardest goals in all of comics, especially for super villains attempting to make right with the world. Brian Michael Bendis began working on this idea with one of the more nefarious characters in all the Marvel Universe with the launch of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN last year and the attempted redemption of Victor Von Doom. That journey continues in the upcoming INFAMOUS IRON MAN series which stars the one-time world-conqueror as none other than Iron Man.
Appearing at various times to help Tony Stark and specifically tell him that he intends to turn over a new leaf, Doom has strived to change himself after Secret Wars. During that event, he became a God Emperor, but eventually lost the final battle. When Black Panther used the Reality Gem to rebuild existence, Doom found that his face had been healed.
In the wake of Civil War II, INFAMOUS IRON MAN launches alongside INVINCIBLE IRON MAN which stars 15-year-old Riri Williams. Both books will be written by Bendis with art by Alex Maleev and Stefano Caselli respectively. We talk with Bendis about Doom's intentions, his past and his new armor.
Marvel.com: Was having Doom take over for Tony something that was always part of your Iron Man plan or did it kind of develop as you were writing those books?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, certain parts of it were always the plan and certain parts of it developed in the books themselves and in the planning of [Civil War II]. There was always a plan to make Riri a very important part of Tony’s life—only that Tony’s life, which people will see, reveals itself to need Riri more than we had originally planned which is cool.
It’s like life. Sometimes you have a plan and things happen and choices have to be made and the same thing with Doom and the idea of this weird partnership that may mean more to Doom than Tony or more to Tony than Doom or mean different things to the two of them was always the plan. Doom taking it farther because of the way things shake out that was one of those “Oh, if we do this, we get this and if we get this, we get this.” That’s always the best stuff.
It’s funny because usually after a big event, after you’re done with like Secret Invasion, let’s take a Skrull break and then slowly over the years, the Skrulls find their way back into the Marvel Universe. You feel like you’ve hit peak Skrull, right? And the same thing with Doom after Secret Wars. There was some feelings that we’ve hit peak Doom so let’s take a Doom break. And I go, “No, I think he just got interesting.” So I was able to grab him for my book without much push and pull because everybody else had thought, “We’ve seen enough of him.” But Doom being so interesting of a character in so many different ways that putting him in this situation was just super sexy.
Marvel.com: Ever since you brought him back in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN there’s been the question of whether he really means to be a good guy, but also why he’s so specifically interested in getting Tony of all people to understand that he’s good now.
Brian Michael Bendis: Yes and all of that will be revealed in INFAMOUS IRON MAN. Really sooner than later because not only is he carrying around a bunch of secrets, [but] those secrets will propel the next chapter of his story in what I think is a really interesting way. Now, on top of revealing his secrets, he’s also revealing himself to the world at large.
Right now, only Tony and a few other people know what Doom is saying, [what] he’s attempting and once Doom takes the mantle as it were or a public mantle in a more heroic stance than he’s ever done before, there’s going to be a lineup of people ready to beat his face.
Marvel.com: Oh yeah, just about everybody I’d imagine.
Brian Michael Bendis: I mean, issue two has Ben Grimm on the cover. We get right to it. All Ben needs is one phone call, one tweet, one text: “Doctor Doom is a super hero? Alright, I’m gonna beat him.”
Marvel.com: Is there anything you can say about what, at least even motivates Doom to take on this new role as a hero?
Brian Michael Bendis: What I like about Doom, and I’ve said for many years about him and Magneto, is that you know what they want. When they’re written well, you know what they want. Jon [Hickman] has an amazing hook on him and there’s other things about him that are well-defined in continuity from the early stages of FANTASTIC FOUR to Ed Brubaker’s BOOKS OF DOOM. There’s so many things that you know what he wants, you know what drives him.
He has basically touched the sun as far as what he thought he wanted or what he thought was the best move for him and that revealed maybe something else about himself that he didn’t realize and that’s what we’re going for coming up. So what people have to look forward to is a character with a very rich history; that history will be well, well revisited and at the same time propel the character forward in ways that we’ve never seen him do before. And that’s cool. That’s exciting.
And I know some people are like, “Well, isn’t this like when Norman Osborn wore the armor?” And, no it isn’t. Because what Norman was doing was trying to corrupt or repurpose an image for himself and it’s arguable what side he was on other than his side. Doom has clearly stated that he is looking for some hardcore redemption and knows that he has to make some move. Now I don’t remember if this issue is out yet but Amara, a friend of Tony’s, says to Doom, “Why don’t you do anything with the same flourish and extravagance with which you tried to murder us all? If you were truly trying to redeem yourself, where is the creativity, flourish and bombast that you showed when you were looking to control us? Why don’t you do that to protect us?” And this is it.
Marvel.com: One of the things that must be fun for you to play with is as a writer is that even if Doom’s intentions are pure and good, characters and readers aren’t necessarily going to believe him. Is it fun balancing his seemingly good aims with the character's more dastardly past?
Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah. Number one, his version of good may not be our version of good. And his version of heroic may not be our version of heroic and maybe he’s the hero we need right now or maybe he’s the opposite. Doom is very good at a lot of things. He’s very smart, learned, studied; a sorcerer and a scientist. But there are things he’s not good at such as intimate communication, selfless acts of heroism. These are new things in the context of his life and it’ll be interesting to watch him maybe mess up and have Doom handle that. Not well. I’ll tell you that.
And also, there’s this thing, you know sometimes people—you see it on the Internet. You can’t apologize. You can’t make restitutions. It’s a very interesting thing that goes on, people won't allow second chances anymore and it’s a weird thing I’ve seen popping up. Not everyone deserves one and maybe Doom doesn’t deserve one but if he’s truly attempting to better himself and the world and there will be people standing in his way because of his past sins, he’s going to have to deal with that.
Marvel.com: And how he deals with that will also show his motives.
Brian Michael Bendis: Yes.
Marvel.com: Doom has had armors of his own in the past and Iron Man has had quite a few. When it came to designing his look as Iron Man, was there a kind of specific idea that you had or was it a back and forth with Alex?
Brian Michael Bendis: It was a back and forth with Alex but not too much because Alex understands. I know this will sound weird, but in all of the projects we’ve done together, all the characters we've worked on together, Alex is more like Victor Von Doom than any other person. Not only with the accent but there’s a regal air about Alex that is just the way he’s wired and I love that about him. I think that’s why we’re so fun together because I could not be less like that. It’s just fun hanging out with him.
So he knows how to do this. I gave him what I’ve just described to you plus some things that you will find out and it seemed like the design came together very quickly. That’s of course, him just showing us the best version of what he came up with and we all loved it but this came together very quickly which was an homage to Tony and at the same time, very much Doom being Doom. Doom isn’t someone who would give up his own identity for somebody else.
Marvel.com: He had gotten out of the armor he felt he needed to wear and now he's putting another one on. Does that play with him at all or is he above that kind of thing?
Brian Michael Bendis: No, I think this thing with why he wore the armor, there’s the reason that’s obvious and like Tony himself, a reason that’s maybe not so obvious. And I do find that fascinating. Tony had to wear that armor to keep himself alive and then he didn’t anymore but still went with the armor and both Riri and Victor have reasons for that armor and that will be revealed, some very obviously while others will be dished out at; I’d say more—I won’t say vaguely, but not as obvious so the audience can kind of interpret stuff which I quite like. That’s the stuff I get yelled at the most for.
Marvel.com: “We demand that you just lay it all out right away.”
Brian Michael Bendis: “Tell me everything you’re gonna do right now!” I literally get this question four times a day on Tumblr with no irony and I answer every once in awhile and I say, “Well, you’re asking me to spoil my book and other people’s books.” I can’t do that. The deal is you buy the book you get the story. But it’s very interesting.
It’s a very new thing, too. It’s a very interesting thing we’re going through with people. “Tell me right now! I’m not asking for spoilers but what happens at the end of Civil War?” I swear to God I get this question without a smiley face on it. “I don’t want a spoiler but does Tony die?”
Marvel.com: We'll get back to Tony in a minute, but you also mentioned Riri. Will her book interact with INFAMOUS IRON MAN or are they just going to go off on their own for a little bit?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, Doom’s landscape will be much larger. It will be continuing the INTERNATIONAL IRON MAN motif, like he’s going to be all over the world. Doom knows where a lot of stuff is and where a lot of bodies are buried. There are just things that Doom knows about the Marvel Universe that are just, you know, and also he’s a sorcerer. There’s just stuff going on. Whereas Riri is at the ground floor, at her origin story. You’ll see. She’ll be training on the job and inventing herself issue by issue and Doom will be reinventing himself issue by issue. They do clash very quickly. There’s no way that he’s not a target to her. This will not stand. And that battle will happen very quickly. An interaction between them wouldn’t be surprising.
Doom can be very persuasive. Can he convince this young woman [of] things about himself and herself that she may not have thought? Sometimes, this has happened in my life. You get a life lesson not only from the last place that you expected it but the last place you wanted it from. I’ve had people who I did not like say something to me that stuck with me and it was true and just because I didn’t like the source, it would take me a while to admit they were right. I know people can relate to that, but Doom really is the king of that. He really is the king of telling you what's wrong with you and you going, “Oh my god, shut up! Oh.. he’s right.” And let me just add, it’s been a long time since there was true emotional romance in Victor Von Doom’s life and that’s what Howard the Duck is here for.
Marvel.com: I hope that’s not a joke. Alright, one last question, does Tony Stark die at the end of Civil War II?
Brian Michael Bendis: [Laughs] That’s very, very funny. I will say that there’s a lot of assumptions based on, oh, we talk about Tony in past tense? Is Tony in these books? Is Tony alive? Did Carol Danvers murderball him? What happens? And the assumptions that I’ve seen online that haven’t been correct. I’m not going to reveal anything until [the end] of CIVIL WAR II.
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