Artist Scott Hepburn flashes to the future with Spidey and the Merc!

Big plans have been set in motion for SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL in 2018. On January 10, get a taste of the machinations in store with writer Robbie Thompson and artist Scott Hepburn’s SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #26! Jump into the future as 80-somethings Peter Parker and Wade Wilson realize they live in the same nursing home!

We spoke with Hepburn about moving the book’s stars down the timeline, Deadpool’s old man facial hair, and working with Thompson to bring it all together.

Marvel.com: This issue sounds like a lot of fun. How did you like working with Robbie Thompson to bring it to life?

Scott Hepburn: Robbie is the best. Super nice guy, but more than that, he comes from a TV writing room and encourages input and collaboration. When I met him at [New York Comic Con] for the first time in person, he asked me, “What do you wanna draw?” And that opened up a bunch of ideas for me, which will start to play out in the next few months.

Marvel.com: Spider-Man may be the most iconic Marvel character in existence—so what’d it feel like to figure out his 80 year-old look?

Scott Hepburn: I love character design, so having a chance at creating my own new versions of Spider-Man and Deadpool was very exciting. Editor Nick Lowe mentioned putting Spidey in a wheelchair so that kind of defined him as a more vulnerable, subdued, classic old man.

Marvel.com: And how about Deadpool? How does he look as an octogenarian?

Scott Hepburn: With Deadpool, I thought age would just break down barriers and filters even more. So his outfits and crazy mustache stand as a reflection of that.

Marvel.com: What challenges come from drawing super folks of such an advanced age?

Scott Hepburn: Their age changes everything about them, but “challenge” implies a problem—it’s actually just really fun. Through the story, we learn why Pete is in his chair and why Deadpool has aged so badly, but again, Robbie has made the choices I made integral to the story.

Marvel.com: Are Old Man Parker and Old Man Wilson wearing their classic costumes or did you play with those designs?

Scott Hepburn: My “redesign” of the heroes was simply to put their wrinkly withered old bones into their classic costumes and have the fabric hang off them creating a new silhouette and energy!

Writer Robbie Thompson and artist Scott Hepburn’s SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #26 shuffles its way into the world on January 10!

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Robbie Thompson jumps into the future with Old Man Parker and Old Man Wilson!

The future arrives on January 10, 2018.

Well, obviously, because January 10 exists in the future. But for Deadpool and Spider-Man, the far-flung future arrives on January 10!

In SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #26, writer Robbie Thompson and artist Scott Hepburn send geriatric versions of Peter Parker and Wade Wilson to a nursing home. But Old Man Pete and Old Man Wade won’t spend the issue going to pet therapy and eating soft foods, they (gingerly) jump into action like never before!

Or maybe they just go to pet therapy and eat soft foods. We asked Thompson a few questions to find out more.

Marvel.com: Besides Spider-Man and Deadpool’s ages, how have they changed in the future? How has the world changed around them?

Robbie Thompson: The biggest difference is that Spider-Man and Deadpool are super old! And totally retired! They’ve hung up their web-shooters and katanas and live in a retirement community, playing Bingo and working on their crochet skills. The world has changed because it’s seemingly moved on without these two heroes, but we’ll soon see they’re still needed in a big way!

Marvel.com: Did writing older versions of the characters surprise you in any way?

Robbie Thompson: That’s a great question. I have to admit, when I first pitched the idea, I thought the tone would be much lighter. More of a spoof, really. And there’s still plenty of the type of humor folks have come to expect from this team-up in our future story. But I was surprised to find the scripts were a lot more emotional. Getting to hear these guys talk at the end of their careers proved really fascinating. I also got really inspired by artist Scott Hepburn’s preliminary Old Man Wilson and Old Man Parker designs. They looked super fun and dynamic, but there was so much emotional weight to the faces he created. So much history. So much loss.

I just love these two old farts so much, and can’t wait for people to see them.

Marvel.com: As you mentioned, Scott Hepburn brings the story to life in issue #26. How did he help you realize your vision of the future Marvel Universe? How did his collaboration influence your approach to the story?

Robbie Thompson: Collaborating with Scott on this story has been a big bag of awesome. We’d met socially at a convention, but this is the first time I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with him. It started with the early designs I mentioned—he just clearly got the heart of the characters and the direction of the story. Then, with each issue he’s really elevated both the characters and the world-building. This future hasn’t necessarily been seen yet and Scott’s built it all from the ground up.

We hung out at NYCC this year and hashed out the details of the third chapter together—he has so many great ideas and put together some incredible character designs for some “future” Marvel characters we’ll be seeing down the road. We’re also collaborating with Ian Herring on colors—I had the great fortune to work with Ian on all of SILK, and his work here with Scott is outstanding.

Marvel.com: This story sets the table for a bigger arcperhaps the biggest arc of the book yet—which arrives in the summer of 2018. What can you tell us about that?

Robbie Thompson: Early on in pitching the book, editors Nick Lowe and Jordan D. White talked about building our first run into a larger story. I don’t know how much I can reveal, but from a plotting standpoint, we wanted to do what Gerry Duggan did in the flagship DEADPOOL book. That team flashed back and revealed untold stories of Deadpool’s past, then brought those stories to the present. In SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL, we’re flashing forward and the events of that book will tie back to our present day story. There’s a “big bad” that brings our heroes out of retirement in the future. The last page of issue #26 reveals our “big bad,” and it’s off to the races from there.

Marvel.com: From a creative standpoint, what appealed to you about the future storyline? What storytelling avenues does it open up to you?

Robbie Thompson: One of the things I found myself most drawn to in pitching on this book was trying to drill down on why Spider-Man and Deadpool are friends. I get why Deadpool loves Spidey—I mean, who doesn’t love Spidey? But Wade can be tough to love—he doesn’t make it easy. And yet, despite it all, Spider-Man does have Deadpool’s back. Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness created such an emotional story and we really wanted to build on that and test their friendship.

Then, the events of Secret Empire put Spider-Man and Deadpool into an even more emotional space. Peter down on his luck, Deadpool back to being a bad guy. So, in the present, it’s Spider-Man vs. Deadpool. But in the future story, we can see it didn’t all end in tears. And yet, they’re still up to their old bickering. Old Man Wilson and Old Man Parker started as a sillier idea, but the more we started to dig into this future dynamic, the more it felt like we could talk more about the strengths—and weaknesses—of their friendship and tie it all back to the present in an emotional way.

Marvel.com: If a fan dared to skip this issue, what will they be kicking themselves for missing out on?

Robbie Thompson: Who would dare? Who?! It’s Grumpy Old Men with Super Powers! “The Golden Girls” with boys? Uh…“Cocoon” without aliens, uh, but also there’s fighting?

It’s Old Man Wilson and Old Man Parker! ‘Nuff said! Don’t miss it, fam!

Jump through time with Robbie Thompson and artist Scott Hepburn’s SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #26 on January 10!

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Writer Robbie Thompson teases the arrival of The Chameleon!

On December 27, The Chameleon steps into the spotlight.

His chalky skin, his hollow eyes, his arrogant disposition…all of it will be familiar to Spidey fans. And he plans to take out the Wall-Crawler and the Merc with the Mouth with one big, brilliant plan in writer Robbie Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo’s SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #25!

We caught up with Robbie to get a peek inside the upcoming issue.

Marvel.com: Chameleon has been portrayed in a variety of ways over the years. What do you see as the key to Chameleon? How would you describe your “version” of Chameleon in this storyline?

Robbie Thompson: The Chameleon keeps you guessing. He constantly changes his appearance to get what he wants, but I think that deep down, he’s hiding from himself. He’s running from something and he’ll never escape it. That desire may be hidden, but it runs deep and in our story, and it’ll push him to try to pull off one of his biggest heists ever.

Chameleon sees what Deadpool sees in the absence of S.H.I.E.L.D.—an opportunity to steal weapons and sell them. But we learn pretty early on that this has been a disguise as well. He’s hunting for a much bigger payoff.

Marvel.com: What made Chameleon the perfect choice for this storyline? Creatively, how does having him in the story spark you as a writer?

Robbie Thompson: It’s made me paranoid! Chameleon could be anyone! He could be me! And all credit to editors Nick Lowe and Jordan D. White for suggesting Chameleon for our story. When we started talking about where Spider-Man and Deadpool would be at the beginning of the story, coming from their flagship books, we really wanted to have them go up against a familiar foe, as well as someone who could shine a light on our heroes and also mess with expectations.

He’s a classic, original Spider-Man villain and it feels great to play with that history. Chameleon was the perfect choice and really fueled our early conversations about how to shape the story we’re telling in the present, as well as the story we’ll be telling in the future, which starts with issue #26. That story features Old Man Parker and Old Man Wilson in a retirement home decades from now and it’s been ridiculous fun to work on with artist Scott Hepburn.

Marvel.com: How would you describe Chris Bachalo’s depiction of the super villain?

Robbie Thompson: Chris is a master storyteller and his work on this book has been incredible. I can’t say enough good things about his work. I’m an enormous fan of his and have been for years, and I feel really fortunate to be collaborating with him on this story.

With Chameleon, we have the opportunity to bring in a lot of different characters and looks—anyone could be Chameleon under that mask! Don’t trust us! Don’t trust me! Chris’s first reveal of Chameleon looks so fantastic and I can’t wait for folks to see what he does with the character moving forward.

Marvel.com: What about the combination of Deadpool and Spider-Man makes The Chameleon want to go for broke this way?

Robbie Thompson: Chameleon, a master manipulator, he sees a golden opportunity in the current landscape of the Marvel Universe—one that can really play to his strengths and one that has the potential to increase his strengths and powers tenfold. And also make him a ton of cash.

He’s messing with Deadpool for a very specific reason, which will be clear in issue #25, but because he studies human behavior, he’s going to detect conflict between Spider-Man and Deadpool and use it to his advantage as the story moves on. The more Spider-Man and Deadpool get at each other’s throats, the more it plays right into Chameleon’s plans.

Marvel.com: How does the Wall-Crawler view this new version of his old enemy?

Robbie Thompson: At first, it’s going to seem like Chameleon gets up to his old, thieving ways. Spider-Man feels like he knows this guy and his usual M.O. and that it should be easy.

It’s pretty clear from jump, though, that this is an amped up Chameleon. And as Spider-Man pieces together that Chameleon wants one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s darker secrets, he’ll have to up his game and put his feud with Deadpool aside to stop Chameleon before he goes too far.

Marvel.com: Last but not least, give the readers the elevator pitch on why #25 will be a can’t-miss installment.

Robbie Thompson: SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #25 is Part Three of “Arms Race!” Set in fabulous Tabula Rasa! Spider-Man vs. Deadpool vs. Chameleon! One of Deadpool’s crew loses their minds! Comedic dismemberment! And the next phase of Chameleon’s plan!

SPIDER-MAN VS. DEADPOOL #25, by Robbie Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo, drops on December 27!

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Spider-Man turns over every rock and looks behind every door in SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #24

 

By November 22, Spider-Man has just about run all out of patience. On that day, SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #24 hits stands and the Merc with the Mouth remains out and about. The Wallcrawler cannot take it anymore so he has decided to hunt down his former sorta-kinda partner.

We brainstormed some ideas for ol’ Webhead in the office and ran them by writer Robbie Thompson to see what he thought of them.

Patrol the whole of Manhattan via webswinging

Why it is a good idea:

“Patrol via webswinging is the perfect way to hunt for Deadpool,” agrees Thompson. “Deadpool is noisy, and likely to be less than conspicuous. So Spider-Man can cover much more ground this way, and check every nook and cranny for the Despicable Deadpool.”

Why it is a bad idea:

“What if Deadpool is in Jersey?” he wonders.

File a missing persons report with the NYPD

Why it is a good idea:

“Missing Persons report is a perfect idea,” the writer acknowledges. “Let the NYPD do their due diligence, while Spider-Man can use the free time catch up on Netflix shows.”

Why it is a bad idea:

“The NYPD have more important things to do, Spider-Man!” shouts Thompson. “Get off the couch and find this maniac!”

Consult one of Manhattan’s numerous psychics

Why it is a good idea:

“It can’t hurt,” shrugs the writer. “Plus, maybe they’ll give Spider-Man some winning lotto numbers. He could use the cash after his company went bust. Maybe just head straight to Dr. Strange’s and get this sorted straight away.”

Why it is a bad idea:

“What if the psychic actually ‘gets in the mind’ of Deadpool?” he says, outlining a worst case scenario. “Might not ever escape that circus.”

Ask Cable. They’re like best friends, right?

Why it is a good idea:

“Cable would definitely be a good resource for finding Deadpool…” nods the writer.

Why it is a bad idea:

“…in many pieces,” he adds.

Read the Daily Bugle’s super hero coverage to see if he’s mentioned

Why it is a good idea:

“The Bugle is the city’s most widely read paper with the best coverage of superheroes…”states Thompson.

Why it is a bad idea:

“…not named Spider-Man,” he continues. “Might be tough on Spider-Man’s ego. But maybe he could take out a ‘Missed Connections’ ad: ‘I was the super-hero, you were the anti-hero. The 7 express train last week. You were doing the Mad Magazine fold-in, I was hunting you down to bring you to justice.’”

Google him. It’s worth a shot.

Why it is a good idea:

“You could find his Facebook or Twitter page,” Thompson points out.

Why it is a bad idea:

“You could find his Facebook or Twitter page,” restates the writer.

Get the Spider-Mobile out of mothballs and take a road trip to try and find him.

Why it is a good idea:

“This is a great idea,” enthuses the writer. “I’m stealing this idea.”

Why it is a bad idea:

“There is no bad to this idea,” Thompson argues. “Hence: stealing it.”

Foster a bloodhound for a weekend, try to get him to pick up Deadpool’s scent

Why it is a good idea:

“Dogs are great trackers and make the best of friends!” the writer explains. “Spider-Man could use some friends right about now.”

Why it is a bad idea:

“Who will walk that poor dog when Spider-Man is not around?” he worries. “Who?! Okay, I’ll do it.”

Canvas the five boroughs with “Have You Seen This Merc” posters

Why it is a good idea:

“Hey, posters work for garage sales, why not finding Deadpool?” admits Thompson.

Why it is a bad idea:

“Wade would constantly call the hotline with false information, sending Spider-Man all over the city/country/world, to the most ridiculous places,” he states.

Reach out to a super hero friend who might be better at this

Why it is a good idea:

“Now this is a great idea which Nick Lowe and Jordan D. White pitched for the first issue we worked on!” reveals the writer. “So you’ll actually see this in SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #23. Spoiler alert: it totally works! Kinda.”

Why it is a bad idea:

“Perfect idea is perfect!” Thompson contends. “It leads to shenanigans and fun and near death experiences! Fun for the whole family!”

SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #24, by Robbie Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo, hits on November 22!

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Writer Robbie Thompson explores a new dynamic between Spidey and DP!

Fighting with your friends might just be one of the worst feelings in the world. When your pal has the proportional strength and speed of a spider or a nearly unmatched healing factor, well, then things can get really rough.

So it goes in SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #23, due out November 8. Writer Robbie Thompson took a breath to tell us all about the quarrel between these former buddies.

Marvel.com: Despite surviving Arcade’s death traps in SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #22, Peter and Wade are not, shall we say, great at the start of issue #23. What has ruptured their awkward partnership?

Robbie Thompson: Spider-Man and Deadpool’s lives are turned upside down post-Secret Empire. Spider-Man has gone back to basics, and Deadpool is wanted for murder—having killed Agent Coulson at the behest of St-evil Rogers.

When we pick up their story in SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #23, Spider-Man learns that Deadpool is back to putting the “Merc” in the Merc with the Mouth. With S.H.I.E.L.D. no longer around, Deadpool has exploited their absence to the max and become [an] arms dealer.

From his POV, he tried to be a good guy, but it just didn’t take. From Spider-Man’s POV, Deadpool has to be taken in once and for all; he’s gone too far this time and has to pay for what he’s done.

Marvel.com: What does each one want to do to the other? How clearly defined are each’s plan for the other?

Robbie Thompson: For Deadpool, it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. He’s going back to what he’s always been. And he does not care at all what anyone thinks about his decision…

…with the exception of Spider-Man. Spider-Man gets a pass! But of course, Deadpool has no interest in going to jail.

But jail isn’t all that Spider-Man wants for Deadpool. He wants to bring Deadpool in for all the right reasons, but he also wants to help him. It’s the Deadpool Reclamation Project to Spider-Man.

After everything that went down with Itsy-Bitsy, Spider-Man feels like he owes Deadpool—but he also feels that deep down, Deadpool has the capacity for good. He saw first-hand how good he could be. So, Spider-Man wants to rehab Deadpool…

…no matter how much punching and kicking that will take to make it stick this time.

Marvel.com: Besides one another, what antagonists are bedeviling the bickering duo in this issue?

Robbie Thompson: I don’t want to spoil the end of our second issue, but they will find out that they are both being antagonized by a very familiar villain from Spider-Man’s past, someone they can only stop by teaming up.

Marvel.com: Fights between friends can be no fun, but this book long has an established ability to balance the serious and the humorous. How are you making that balance work? How does new artist Chris Bachalo help you realize both sides of that tone?

Robbie Thompson: A big help in keeping it fun is the new status-quo in each of their main books. [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN writer] Dan Slott and [DEADPOOL writer] Gerry Duggan have done such an amazing job of placing these two in really new and exciting positions in their lives. Deadpool is in a dark place and Spider-Man is in a low point career-wise, and yes, they both have competing agendas in our book, but they’re going to [go] down swinging and quipping the whole way!

Early on, too, editors Nick Lowe and Jordan D. White had a great idea to give Deadpool a supporting cast in this book; he’s stolen a S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier, and it’s populated with some really bizarre characters from the Marvel Universe that have provided a lot of levity. If you’re a longtime Marvel fan, there will be some familiar faces and some new ones in Deadpool’s motley crew.

But the hero of this book is Chris Bachalo. He’s killing this thing with crazy action and a well-balanced tone. I’m looking at the art for #23 right now and it’s so much awesome! Chris has an amazing eye for design and detail, but what I love about what he’s done in this book is getting the most emotion out of the characters right from the jump. From the first time you see his Peter, you know exactly where Peter’s at in his life and you get a sense of his exasperation and annoyance later on when he’s in the Spidey suit. And it’s the same with Deadpool. He’s also brought our supporting cast to life with great performances, as well as new designs. Tim Townsend is inking and they are an absolute dream team.

Marvel.com: For fans of the duo, how much hope can you give them of these two making amends and reuniting? Is there any chance at all or is the end nigh?

Robbie Thompson: There’s always hope for these two knuckleheads! But it’s going to be a process; Spider-Man’s heart is in the right place, but Deadpool is pretty dug in. They may come to blows, but they’re also going to have to reluctantly team-up to beat a much bigger foe.

See what becomes of this dream team with SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #23, coming your way from writer Robbie Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo on November 8!

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See how Marvel's number one deathtrap builder got his start!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Arcade resurfaced this week in the pages of SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #21 by Elliott Kalan and Todd Nauk looking to test his brand new Murderworld on the title characters! This, of course, fits right in with his history of putting the Wall-Crawler through a series of deathtraps going back to his first appearance in 1978’s MARVEL TEAM-UP #65 and 66.

Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Arcade made his first appearance right after the Dean introduced Peter Parker to his new roommate, Brian Braddock, otherwise known as Captain Britain! 

Marvel Team-Up (1972) #65

Marvel Team-Up (1972) #65

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Back in England, representatives of the Commission inquired about hiring Arcade, a master assassin, to kill Braddock because they think he might be Captain Britain.

Meanwhile, in NYC, thanks to a misunderstanding, Braddock assumed that Spider-Man had done something shady to Peter Parker’s apartment, turned into Captain Britain and gave chase. After the requisite fight and origin swap, the heroes made friends just in time for a tricked-out trash truck to trap them both!

In the following issue, Spidey and Cap found out why Arcade charged so much for his hits. Instead of simply killing his targets, the murderer put them inside incredibly complex death traps. In this case, they awoke inside large clear balls that turned out to be part of an enormous, murderous pinball machine. 

Marvel Team-Up (1972) #66

Marvel Team-Up (1972) #66

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The implements of death proved more outlandish and dangerous from there. The heroes figured out how to work together in order to eventually escape Murder World, and also save Braddock’s girlfriend Courtney Ross, destroying what Arcade built in the process. Surprisingly, undeterred by the fact that his quarry escaped and that the people who hired him died, Arcade jauntily moved on to his next project.

Over the years, Arcade’s plied his wicked wares on everyone from various X-Men and The Thing to Hellcat. Luckily, he always leaves a small chance of escape to keep things fair, so our heroes tend to walk away relatively unscathed.

Flash Forward

One group of heroes who did not walk unharmed starred in the book AVENGERS ARENA. In that 18 issue series by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker, the bow tie-loving villain had 16 young heroes captured and brought to an elaborate island version of Murderworld. The captured young men and women – including X-23, Chase and Nico from RUNAWAYS and AVENGERS ACADEMY alums Hazmat and Mettle – found themselves dealing with a very serious version of Arcade, not averse to killing kids or releasing the footage he recorded of the event to the public in an effort to expose their actions to the world. Some of the survivors decided to go after their enemy once and for all in the follow-up series AVENGERS UNDERCOVER.

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Writer Elliott Kalan discusses his collaboration with artist Todd Nauck!

On October 4, SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #22 features an awe-inspiring twosome that cannot be missed. No, not the ones in the masks—writer Elliott Kalan and artist Todd Nauck!

Kalan and Nauck have sent Spidey and the Merc to face off against the mad game designer Arcade in a custom deathtrap known as Murderworld. At a time when Spider-Man and Deadpool’s partnership stands on shaky ground, this smart-talkin’ team-up will be tested like never before.

We caught up with Elliott to hear more about what lies ahead for the super duo.

Marvel.com: What made you decide to use Arcade as the newest enemy for the Wallcrawler and the Merc with a Mouth?

Elliott Kalan: You can never really predict or completely figure Arcade out. He’s a mostly amoral madman, but at the same time he’s very attuned to other people’s psychologies and weaknesses—and apparently has the massive financial resources to build, like, an entire personalized theme park of death.

So, for Spidey and Deady, the excitement came from figuring out how Arcade sets up his park to prey on their particular weaknesses and insecurities. And then finding out how Spider-Man and Deadpool resist and overcome that. Also, Arcade loves a good joke—just like our two stars. His sense of humor can just be a little off. A little homicidal.

Marvel.com: What made Madripoor the right setting for this tale?

Elliott Kalan: Madripoor is one of those places on the Marvel map that gives you a chance to escape the standard world of New York, for example, and get away with things you normally wouldn’t be able to.

I’d hoped to do a Madripoor story when I wrote SPIDER-MAN & THE X-MEN—I tried to hit as many X-Men locales as I could. But I only managed to fit the school, the Savage Land, the Mojoverse, outer space, Mr. Sinister’s laboratory, and the mental plane into my six issues…

Madripoor feels like a strange place for Spider-Man to find himself in; it’s so fundamentally criminal a place—as least as it’s been written. Yet what better place for Arcade to set up shop than a nation that’s never had the highest respect for the law?

Marvel.com: How did you come up with Arcade’s death traps? And how did collaborating with Todd Nauck bring that to life?

Elliott Kalan: It proved difficult for me to come up with death traps for Arcade—until I started thinking about it in game metaphors. Arcade’s work often takes the form of a game—a video game, a pinball game, and so forth—so I had like a mental block until I realized, “Oh, in issue #21, this can be like a board game, and one trap will lead somewhat directly into the next.”

And then in issue #22, I thought, “Okay, enough of that…now let’s just get super crazy.”

Todd was instrumental in making everything happen. There are a few moments where I wasn’t even sure how things would work out visually, then Todd said, “Oh, you mean like this?” And it felt like he reached into my brain and put it on paper—only a thousand times better. There’s a moment in issue #22 involving Deadpool, a fighter plane, and a dinosaur where Todd just went ahead and made my dreams come true.

Marvel.com: How was the overall collaborative experience with Todd? Were there elements in the script you knew you’d be able to pull off with him as your artist?

Elliott Kalan: Todd’s amazing. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time—and having recently learned he’s also a fellow fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I knew we’d get along. I fully trusted him to be able to take everything I handed him and tell the story as clearly, dynamically, and gorgeously as possible. He really made a bunch of my half-baked concepts shine. Todd gave me the freedom to get as big and crazy as I wanted, but also to not to be afraid of adding as much dialogue as I needed. I really I hope I get the chance to work with him again in the future.

Marvel.com: In your mind, what are the essential traits that truly bring Spidey and Deadpool to life on the page? And by personally revisiting Spider-Man with this story, did you alter your approach to him since writing SPIDER-MAN & THE X-MEN?

Elliott Kalan: My take feels essentially the same because I’ve been living with Spider-Man as a moral and ethical guidepost since I picked up WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #90 (with the hologram cover) at age 10 and began my tutorship in his philosophy.

To me, the essence of Spider-Man is having a strong moral and ethical code but struggling with them emotionally. He’s constantly in the process of striving to be the best—but he often fails because to choose one moral value means inadvertently turning your back on another. He is truly the greatest of all Marvel heroes because he’s humanly weak and his choices are difficult to make, but he makes them anyway.

And I see the essence of Deadpool as someone who decides to become Spider-Man after a lifetime of being the exact opposite of that. He strives to do better, but gets weighed down by years of sin and, frankly, a knowledge of how much easier life can be when you don’t follow the rules. It’s harder to navigate morality for him, and when he sees someone like Spider-Man he sees an impossible ideal—but he still finds the strength to attempt to get closer to that ideal.

Both Spider-Man and Deadpool are emotional and moral strivers constantly coming to terms with their failure to be perfect and refusing to let that failure stop them from trying. But don’t let all this heavy talk fool you, this story is basically about Arcade throwing killer robots at them.

Marvel.com: How might you pitch this storyline to readers who aren’t sure if they should pick these issues up?

Elliott Kalan: Face front, True Believers, this titanic two-parter is chock full of Mighty Marvel Milestones! Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth are pushed to the limits by the amusing atrocity of Arcade! Arcade as you’ve never seen him before—a glimpse of his private life, and with multiple different haircuts! A robo-wolverine! Tigers! Dinosaurs! Tidal waves! Thinly veiled satire! Plus, the first appearance of the Sensational New Marvel Discovery who’s sure to be everyone’s favorite Character Creation of 2017: the blade-wielding apex assassin who could only be called The Stinger! Don’t miss it, folks, this one has it all!

Marvel.com: Yup, that works.

SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #22, by Elliott Kalan and artist Todd Nauck, hits on October 4!

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Writer Robbie Thompson lays out his Legacy take on the Web-Head and the Merc!

The Wallcrawler and the Merc’s shaky partnership might not survive Marvel Legacy. With Spidey determined to get Wade Wilson to pay for his past discretions—and Deadpool simultaneously looking to make Peter Parker his pal, things look dire from the get-go.

However, fate—and writer Robbie Thompson—just can’t seem to keep these two away from each other. And on November 8, Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo throw down Marvel Legacy’s SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #23!

Thompson put on his matchmaker hat to give us his take on the characters, their partnership…and something about a retirement home.

Marvel.com: What are your visions for each character? What are the key components to making them feel as they should?

Robbie Thompson: They are the greatest duo in all of comics! Ever!

I think there are two keys to a Spider-Man/Deadpool book—and first is that it should be fun. Both of these characters are hilarious in their own right, but because they have such different senses of humor, putting them together can be ridiculously awesome. They bring out the best and worst in each other, and it’s important to honor each of their character’s histories—as well as their shared history of team-ups. The second key is making it an emotional story. I really loved what [writer] Joe Kelly and [artist] Ed McGuinness did with their last run. They had all the over-the-top action and humor you’d expect, but there was a very emotional story at the core of everything—and that’s something we’re very keen on holding up with this run.

Marvel.com: How about Spidey and Deadpool’s relationship to each otherwhat are the essential pieces there?

Robbie Thompson: Deadpool loves Spider-Man. And Spider-Man…tolerates Deadpool.

They both know how to push each other’s buttons (especially Deadpool). It’s the type of rhythm and chemistry you’d see in a classic buddy comedy—two opposites forced to work together. I think there’s also some classic sibling rivalry in their dynamic, too. So it’s essential that they’re both driving each other a little nuts, but they both also look out for the other…a quality that’s tested in the story we’re telling.

Marvel.com: How would you summarize your overall concept of the book?

Robbie Thompson: Spider-Man versus Deadpool!

Is their bro-mance over? After killing Agent Coulson, Deadpool is definitely on the outs in the Marvel Universe. And making matters worse, Deadpool really leans hard on the “Merc” in “Merc with a Mouth.” In the wake of Secret Empire, he’s become, well, a bit of an arms dealer. And Spider-Man can’t just sit and watch. This time, as you’ll see in the first issue, Spider-Man decides it’s time to bring Deadpool to justice.

Deadpool doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him or his business dealings…except Spider-Man, of course. Can they work this out peacefully? Will Deadpool go quietly? Not. Likely.

Marvel.com: How do you like working with Chris Bachalo? In what ways does he inspire your vision for the title? In what ways does he help you realize the tone and feel of the book?

Robbie Thompson: Chris is the vision for this title! He’s the best. I am a longtime, die-hard fan of Chris’s work. He’s one of my all-time favorite artists. At college when I was broke, I’d scrape together pennies just to pick up an issue of GENERATION X.

[Editor] Nick Lowe set up a fun meeting when we started working on this title—we all met at Disneyland and hashed out the first arc together while waiting for rides! Chris has incredible storytelling skills and it’s been a dream come true working with him on this book. He has such a clear sense of what he loves to create. He makes my job easy.

Working on DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME, I started writing looser scripts—and that’s the same process here; the scripts are the bare bones of the story in order to create the most space for Chris to weave his magic. And his work so far has been absolutely beyond expectations. He’s killing it and I cannot wait for people to see what he’s done.

Marvel.com: What’s happening in your first arc? Are there any recognizable characters, beyond Spidey and the Merc, that readers will encounter in the opening arc?

Robbie Thompson: I can’t give away too much detail without spoiling some larger things, but you’ll see in issue #1 that both Spider-Man and Deadpool are reeling from life post-Secret Wars. They’re both in really different places in their lives.

Spider-Man knows Deadpool killed Coulson—and he’s pissed. And when he sees that Deadpool has become a bit of an arms dealer, well, he throws down the gauntlet. Spidey knows he still owes Deadpool for making sure he didn’t cross the line with Itsy-Bitsy—but he also knows Deadpool finally has to pay for all of the bad stuff he’s done. Spider-Man feels like he needs to rehabilitate Deadpool. And Deadpool has zero interest in any of that.

Deadpool deals with some personal darkness at the top of our story and that’s going to give Spider-Man some pause. But he’ll remain determined to bring Deadpool to justice. Even though Deadpool wants to bring Spider-Man in to help with his latest enterprise.

So these two will be at odds from the start of the first issue, but there’s someone who’s going to get in the way of their shenanigans—someone that forces them to work together, even if only for a while. He’s going to be very, very familiar to fans as he’s one of Spider-Man’s classic villains.

Marvel.com: Beyond that, where do you hope to take the duo? Are there any other characters you’re excited to handle…or perhaps already have a plan for?

Robbie Thompson: We’ll be going to the future!

Taking a page from the flagship Deadpool book—where they’ve flashed back to untold Deadpool tales and brought those events to the present—we’ll be flashing forward into the distant future where Old Man Wilson and Old Man Parker are living in a retirement home. They are the two grumpiest old men in history—and were a blast to write. But something has gone horribly wrong in this future, especially for Spider-Man. Old Man Wilson is desperate to get Old Man Parker out for one last adventure, one last shot at redemption, and finds the perfect opportunity when someone from their past—our present—comes back to haunt them.

We’ll be flashing forward like this every two or three issues, until this future story ties directly into our present story, launching our second arc. Scott Hepburn is drawing the future issues and his art has been outstanding!

SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #23, by Robbie Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo, is available on November 8!

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Elliott Kalan opens up about Arcade’s latest deathtrap!

Some super villains like to take their opponents out with simple means: a gun, a knife, maybe even a bomb. But that’s not Arcade’s style. This baddie creates Murderworlds—death-themed carnivals of carnage. And on September 6, SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #21 will see the Webslinger and the Merc with a Mouth thrown headfirst into the master assassins’ bloody circus.

So, what kind of maniacal machinations will our heroes face in this Murderworld? We sat down with writer Elliott Kalan to find out.

Marvel.com: Murderworld is one of the most terrifying concepts ever. What inspired Arcade to create it?

Elliott Kalan: Arcade has three great loves in his life: showmanship, gamesmanship, and, of course, murder. It was only natural that he’d combine those things into an enormous deathtrap amusement park, which he consistently rebuilds and reopens despite the enormous cost involved and the almost inevitable likelihood that a super hero will destroy it. As for what was going on in his mind when he came up with it…probably calliope music?

Marvel.com: What goes into creating a Murderworld? It seems like it would require a fair amount of planning in advance.

Elliott Kalan: The most fun in writing Arcade was figuring out how this version of Murderworld would work, so I have to assume that’s where the real fun of it is for him, too. If he’s anything like me, then he starts with a theme—in this case, Madripoor—and factors in the people he’s going to be trapping—in this case, Spider-Man and Deadpool—and then thinks of increasingly complicated things that can be thrown in their path. It’s an incredibly complicated way to kill someone, but Arcade enjoys the game aspect of it more than the actual killing. He wants the chance to compete with his victims, not just take them out right away. He’s like a cat toying with a mouse. A cat who has an unlimited supply of money and robots.

The real question I have is: does he build it all himself or does he hire contractors and make them sign NDAs and everything?

Marvel.com: We all know Deadpool and Spidey for their senses of humor. So in a weird way, they might have an appreciation for Murderworld, especially Wade…

Elliott Kalan: Deadpool definitely has a certain admiration for Murderworld because it combines fun and danger in a way he can really get into. Spider-Man likes his humor without the violence. Something I hope I was able to get across in this story is each character’s moral limits when it comes to the “fun” of violence. Spider-Man is a true hero—violence is only a means toward righting a wrong and humor is how he makes it palatable for himself. Deadpool gets a certain joy from violence, but he doesn’t like to see innocent people hurt and he recognizes that sometimes enough is enough. Arcade is a madman who essentially sees the world as his toy box; Spidey and Deady aren’t so cool with that.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #21 cover by Will Robson

Marvel.com: Sowhile he does enjoy it a littleWade also thinks that Murderworld casts violence in the wrong light…

Elliott Kalan: Sometimes it can be hard for Wade to remember that violence isn’t fun for other people. He can regenerate pretty much any body part and it’s nearly impossible to kill him—he can sometimes forget that isn’t the way other people live their lives. Though ever since he became a family man, he’s had a better understanding of this. The younger Deadpool would have loved the idea of a place like Murderworld—but the older, more mature Deadpool has mixed feelings toward it. It’s almost like he’s okay with violence as long as everyone involved is a responsible adult with super powers, or at the very least, is obnoxious enough that he thinks the world would be better off without them.

Marvel.com: The Murderworld’s mainframe has demonstrated sentience in the past. Will we see more of that?

Elliott Kalan: Not in this one, but we’ve got plenty of other crazy things going on in the story. Basically, you might know where page one will start—they’re trapped in Murderworld!—and where the last page will end—they escaped Murderworld!—but I guarantee you’ll never guess the stuff that happens in between.

Marvel.com: Would you like to tease anything else?

Elliott Kalan: This story also sees the introduction of a bold, exciting new character to the Marvel Universe: The Stinger! But he may not make it out of this story alive. So…I guess don’t expect to see him in any of the movies.

Dive into the murderous mayhem with SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #21, by writer Elliott Kalan and artist Todd Nauck, on September 6!

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Joe Kelly brings his bromantic run on this buddy book to a close!

Warning: This article contains spoilers for SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL

In the past, putting Spider-Man and Deadpool together has been a kind of a light, funny affair. However, their relationship evolved a lot over the course of writer Joe Kelly and artist Ed McGuinness’ tenure on SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL, turning into a kind of emotionally fraught philosophical allegory—with butt jokes.

Kelly has worked on both characters extensively throughout his career, even writing their first team-up 20 years ago! As he concludes his current run with SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #18—available now—we quizzed him on lessons learned this go around and bringing the story to a suitable close.

Marvel.com: I noticed that, in a previous interview you said that this was a dream project you couldn’t say no to. Has it lived up to that expectation?

Joe Kelly: Yeah, it definitely has. The whole team is really outstanding. Working with Ed is such a pleasure but everyone—[inker] Mark [Morales] and [colorist] Jason [Keith] and all the editors and everybody—it’s been a really, really wonderful experience. It definitely lived up to my hopes and expectations for sure. Deadpool’s the cornerstone of my career and Spider-Man has always been my favorite super hero, so it sort of felt like coming home.

Marvel.com: So, I did a little research and I found out that you and artist Pete Woods actually wrote the first instance of Spider-Man and Deadpool interacting in 1997! You guys were the ones to trail blaze that fan favorite pairing! Having worked with them before, do you have a set paradigm you stick to with Peter and Wade or did you set out to go somewhere new with them in this project?

Joe Kelly: It was definitely a combination. I mean, having done so much work with those characters and especially Deadpool, there are certain things that I feel like you almost have to do and explore. But it was really important to me to make sure I wasn’t just rehashing things that we had done before; I knew the readers wouldn’t want that. Like, it’s not 1997. I never want to go backwards, you know? But there’s so much territory to play around in with all both of those characters. Deadpool is so layered now—he’s a 20-year-old character! What was the most exciting for me, and especially worked out in the pitch, was this idea that Deadpool—despite his current popularity in the Marvel Universe—had still been a killer and Spidey just would not reconcile easily with that. [We wanted] to see how that relationship was gonna play out with the moral high ground for Spider-Man and the sort of fanboy bro crush side of Deadpool, and then to [shift] that [dynamic] over the course of the story. I’m glad I was able to go back to the well, and who [knows] what the future will hold? If enough people ask, I’m pretty weak-willed; I could be suckered into saying yes again.

Marvel.com: This series has gone into some more serious territory for both of the characters which is interesting because generally in the past when the duo have come together it’s been more light-hearted and funny. You guys dive into their relationship in a big way that we haven’t really seen before. How has it been going darker with the characters?

Joe Kelly: I think the expectation was that it was just going to be a light buddy book, and that absolutely works—there’s reasons to do that and it’s fun, and there’s no reason not to do [some of] that sort of stuff—but to get too caught up in that [would ignore the fascinating dynamic]. Deadpool’s disregard for the universe and life, etc., runs really deep whereas Spidey has this sense of [duty] to all of that same stuff and feels a literally cosmic level of responsibility and guilt so integral to his character. I feel like the universe is out to get both of them, in different ways and for different reasons. Some of that stuff they bring on themselves, which is either [because of] their poor choices or their blind spots.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #18 cover by Ed McGuinness

Marvel.com: Aside from the jokes and silliness, both of them do have pretty troubled pasts. It makes sense that they’d come together to help each other through that with their friendship…

Joe Kelly: Right, I wanted to see if that friendship could evolve and what would happen if it did. With Deadpool it’s about “Can he be the person he wants to be? Is that possible in [this] universe? Is he doomed to fail?” Especially having someone like Spider-Man at his side, that makes for a really volatile combination that you know is not going to be pretty over the course of time. It is gonna start out as fun and light, but these guys have too much going on and so to shy away from that stuff would have been a mistake. For me, that was the opportunity I got excited about. Spidey has confronted his dark side before, there’s no question, but [it’s different] to do it with Deadpool who loves him so much and wants to be him. Ultimately, there would be sacrifices made [for both of them.] When we finally get to the end of the Itsy arc, you’re definitely getting a sense of [what each will choose] when they’re really boxed in…[but] it’s always about choice.

Marvel.com: People find common ground between them because of the comedy element and the costuming, but they’re actually pretty different philosophically. I wanted to ask you how they’ve been rubbing off on each other—literally, figuratively, and even narratively?

Joe Kelly: I think that the first arc where Spidey acknowledged that they were friends was when you could see them trading off some stuff. Not the dark stuff, but Spidey being willing to cut loose in the Thor issue and live life in a little more of a goofy way, and then Deadpool really trying to step up his game—even with the Mercs for Money issue where he’s saying “What we’re doing isn’t great but the world’s more complex than that”—having those counterpoints is what you want to see as [they’re] becoming friends. But then a question that is raised is can people change?

Deadpool aspires to be [something new] because he knows that the reasons people love [him as a hero] are false. Deadpool knows that, in his heart, he’s not the greatest guy on the planet. And Spidey really is this pure soul, but he gets pushed and pushed and pushed…will he break?

If Spidey was left alone, would he have killed Itsy Bitsy? Maybe. I mean, it’s possible, if Deadpool wasn’t there. And if Spidey hadn’t gone so far down the road with Itsy Bitsy, then would Deadpool have had to make that sacrifice and take a life, which, in our universe, he hadn’t been doing for a while. So for him to have to cross that line again morally…does that mean [Wade] couldn’t really change, even if he wanted to? The answers for both of them are left sort of ambiguous.

Hopefully whoever comes on after it will run with those themes and that’s the most interesting thing about these guys. Like you said, on the surface there’s a lot of reflections. [Deadpool character creator Rob Liefeld] has openly said many times that he wanted to do “Spider-Man with guns” and that was part of the Deadpool creation. But they’re very distinct [from one another now] and you want to make sure you’re giving them their due.

Pick up SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #18 to catch the end of Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness’ run, available now!

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