Mike Costa and David Baldeon reunite the multi-versal Spider-team!
Oh what a tangled web Mike Costa and David Baldeon weave in WEB WARRIORS. The November-launching ongoing brings together a variety of alternate reality Spider-Heroes to safeguard those who cannot protect themselves across multiple universes.
Following the Earths-shaking events of Spider-Verse and Secret Wars, some dimensions find themselves without an arachnid-themed hero to keep them safe. That’s where Spider-Gwen, Spider-Girl, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man India, Spider-Man UK and Spider-Ham come in.
The team’s first mission will pit them against a villain that Costa says hasn’t quite gotten his big time story arc and will prove to be more than a threat: Electro. But don’t expect the green and yellow wearing criminal to run around zapping people; this time around, he’s threatening all realities.
We spoke with Costa and Baldeon about bringing this diverse group of characters together, their mission and the fun of working with so many Spider-Folks.
Marvel.com: Mike, you’ve been working on Spider-Verse books like SCARLET SPIDERS and the Secret Wars series. What makes this a concept or idea you keep coming back to?
Mike Costa: Super hero comics emerged from a proud tradition of relentless optimism, unbridled imagination and—the part most often forgotten today—deep and abiding joy. And there is no more powerful joy-delivery system in super hero comics than Spider-Man. The entire core of the character is taking tragedy and fear and turning it into laughter and victory.
What appeals to me about the Spider-Verse concept is that it’s the kind of concept that can exist only in super hero comics. It distills the wild, spinning galaxies of continuities and complications into a single idea, as easy to understand as it is bugnuts insane: there are an infinite amount of Spider-people protecting an infinite amount of worlds and we’re going to try to have adventures with as many of them as possible. As far as I’m concerned, I am writing the platonic ideal of super hero books here. If I can make each issue even half as fun as that concept sounds—and a fraction of the fun David makes it look—then I’ll be doing something really special.
Marvel.com: What do you think it is about the Spider-Man mythology that makes it so versatile as to spawn an entire series of multi-dimensional versions each with their own interesting twist?
Mike Costa: Everybody loves Spider-Man because, ultimately, Spider-Man is you. He’s anxious and unsure and worried about his family and whether the person who he likes likes him back and how he’ going to deal with his jackass boss, and every other mundane problem that feels, day in and day out, like an epic battle. And those are the real battles in Spider-Man’s life, the super villain fights are just window-dressing. The story of Spider-Man is a person who, despite having a lot of problems he can barely manage, tries to be better because he knows he has to be. He’s our best self.
It’s an indestructible concept, because it’s fundamentally honest. Like Shakespeare, it can be recast and restaged in countless ways because it’s unbreakable. There have been lots of Lears and a hundred Hamlets. Of course there billions of Spider-Men, there are billions of us.
Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the Web Warriors as a team? Do they have a specific goal in mind?
Mike Costa: Their goal is pretty simple: they’re a collection of heroes watching over worlds that have lost the heroes of their own. But their job ends up being a lot bigger than they anticipated and most of their adventures will take them across multiple worlds. Good thing there’s a lot of Spiders to call in as cavalry.
Marvel.com: In WEB WARRIORS you’re dealing with Spider-Gwen, Spider-Girl, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man India, Spider-Man UK and Spider-Ham. Can you say a few words about some of them and why they were so well in the framework of this team?
Mike Costa: Spider-Man UK functions as the team leader; he’s the one with the most training and the tactical skills. But he’s also the one most invested in the mission [since] his own world was destroyed during the events that lead to Secret Wars, and so he is literally a man without a home. This team he’s created is, literally, all he has, and that’s going to create some interesting emotional dynamics going forward.
In the broadest strokes, India is our genius and Noir is our resident “scary guy,”—the kind of guy who can make morally gray choices—and the fun will be to deepen those characters, characters who have only really had a dozen issues between them, beyond those brief sketches. They both come from very different worlds than the rest of the team—except probably Ham, but he’s just a bizarre wildcard—and their points of view are deeply informed by their drastic differences. Each has their own problems fitting in.
And finally, Spider-Gwen is the closest thing we have to a POV character. Out of all of them, she’s the most “traditional” super hero: a girl who puts on a suit and goes out to fight crime, then goes home to live her life. In the first issue, she bonds with Mayday Parker of the MC2 universe over that shared experience. In a very real way, the two of them have the most in common on the team, even as their personalities are incredibly different. Mayday isn’t entirely sold on the idea of the team, and going forward their relationship will be one of the most crucial in the book
Marvel.com: David, how is it putting your own spin—no pun intended—on these characters that already have such specific looks?
David Baldeon: It’s actually easier that it would seem, because there’s such a solid design base there. Not only [do] they have specific and well recognized looks, but they have had a lot of exposure lately with Spider-Verse and Secret Wars, so they’re pretty fresh in the minds of the readers. And they’re fantastic designs! Luckily, there’s still a lot of wiggle room to play. Little nuances like the shape of the eyes in the masks for instance, or bigger nuances like the bodies’ shape and form, can do the trick when it comes to getting the handle of the characters, design wise.
Web Warriors #1 cover by Julian Totino Tedesco
But the real thing, like most of the times, comes from the script. Mike is giving each one of the Spiders very distinctive flavor. His dialogue, particularly, talks worlds about how each one of these characters are their own person. So my spin, really, is to get those flavors through to the readers and make them behave as they talk. And the book itself is so fun and flexible that, even within the “limits” of the characters’ looks, there are so many things to be done, down to toying a bit with the art style for each of them to body language to those little design nuances.
Marvel.com: You two are dealing with alternate realities galore. How has it been designing some new versions of familiar characters and places?
David Baldeon: It’s a lot of work, but it is so much fun! I get to go crazy on some of the best designs and characters in the Marvel Universe! Plus, I’m a sucker for reference work and every now and then you find a little gem that you really, really want to use and that you would not be able to with the [Marvel Universe] versions of the characters. A traveler’s cloak from the 15th century that looks like it was designed for the Hobgoblin, for instance. It is such a huge playground and I’m looking forward to trying out as many crazy cool ideas as I can, even if it’s just in one little panel.
Mike Costa: Honestly, I leave that up to David. I can only wish I had his visual imagination. In issue #1, we visit the “Forever Yesterday” universe [from the original run of NEW WARRIORS], in which ancient Egypt was the power that colonized the world. I did hours of research, pouring over back-issues for reference, reading up about what various colors represented in Egyptian antiquity to build out the world, generally trying to look really deep and impressive. Then David comes in and brings so many ideas to the page, and develops them so effortlessly, that I enter into a shame-spiral, and retreat from friends and family while I question my value as a writer and a human being. Then I begin a research project on the next world I want to introduce and that is the punishing cycle of the professional writer.
Marvel.com: The Web Warriors find themselves facing off against a wildly popular version of Electro. How does he threaten reality?
Mike Costa: Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but my point with making Electro “wildly popular” is because he’s never really felt that way in the comics. But I’ve always loved that character, both because I think electric powers are cool and also because I love the fact that Max Dillon is, at his heart, just a dumb criminal. He won the lottery getting his powers, but he’s not trying to take over the world, or exact vengeance on people who wronged him, or attempting to better himself in any way. He just robs banks like a numbskull, yet somehow he’s in the upper-echelon of Spidey’s rogues gallery. By all rights, he should be down there on the D-list with Boomerang and the Trapster.
There’s never really been a truly great, classic Spider-Man story built around Electro. He’s in a weird twilight zone where he’s too uncomplicated to have his own “Kraven’s Last Hunt” or “Death of Gwen Stacy,” but too big a name to have been included with the losers in the awesome SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN book. So I’ve decided to plant my flag here. For better or worse, I’m telling the ultimate Electro story; the only story, probably ever, where Electro actually does stand to threaten reality. I don’t want to reveal too much more, other than it’s a story that could only be told in WEB WARRIORS. It’s just that crazy.
Marvel.com: Will WEB WARRIORS pick up any other themes and threads from the overall Spider Verse story?
Mike Costa: Obviously, Spidey UK talks about his plans to put together a team to protect the Web of Destiny in the final issue of the Spider-Verse event that ran through AMAZING SPIDER-MAN last fall. So that’s definitely our launchpad.
But one of the things that [editors] Nick [Lowe and] Devin [Lewis] and I have talked about is that we want this book to look forward. If you can grasp the concept of a bunch of alternate Spider-heroes protecting the multiverse, that’s all you really need to know. No back-issues necessary.
That said, the inciting incident of our first story does have its roots in the Spider-Verse crossover. Specifically, we see a previously-published scene from a new character’s perspective. But it’s a subtle thing, and if you haven’t read the Spider-Verse crossover—though, really, you should, because it’s awesome—you won’t be lost. It’s just a fun little Easter-egg for those who have.
Marvel.com: Do you have particular favorite alternate versions of Spider-Man you’re hoping to work into the series down the line?
Mike Costa: The weirder the better, really. I’ve always loved the Japanese Spider-Men, particularly the one from the Tokusatso TV series with Leopardon, the gigantic robot. But I’d have to find a really good reason to bring him in. Much as ‘’d like to make the comic an endless parade of random Spider-Men, without solid plot of character reasons it would fall apart pretty quick. We’re definitely going to be visiting a ton of different worlds and meeting a lot of different Spider-Men—and –Women—but we want to make sure we’re always doing something new and interesting with them, and using them in the story in unexpected ways.
David Baldeon: There’s not a single character in this book that I’m not a fan of. I was looking forward to using Spider-Ham in the book, for instance, but then I found out that one of my favorites to draw is Gwen Stacy when she’s in her civvies. Mike writes her so well that getting to make her act to those dialogues is a pleasure So I’m in for the surprises, which is one of the best things of a book like this: the certainty that just any of the alternates—heroes or villains—is going to spring out of anywhere and get to be a favorite to draw. Or well, you know, Samurai Spider. That would be awesome.
The November-launching WEB WARRIORS #1 by Mike Costa and David Baldeon pits Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man UK, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Man India against Electro! Swing back to Marvel.com and our social channels for the latest news on All-New, All-Different Marvel!