Tuesday Q&A: Mark Waid

Posted: 18th August 2010 by admin in Marvel Comics
Tags: ,
Comments Off on Tuesday Q&A: Mark Waid

By Kevin Mahadeo

Over the past year, the amazing Spider-Man swung through a Gauntlet of his most infamous foes before going on the run as the family of another sent him on a “Grim Hunt.” But none of that compares to the upcoming “Origin of the Species,” where writer Mark Waid and artist Paul Azaceta take those two concepts, smash them together and send Spidey soaring through the streets of New York as every villain in his rogue’s gallery hunt him down to get to the baby he’s trying to protect.

The upcoming “Origin” features the return of the very villainous and very pregnant Lily Hollister, most notably known as the goblin-chemical-fueled Menace and former fiancée of Harry Osborn. Needless to say, the engagement fell apart once Lily left Harry and to start a relationship with his father Norman. The character last appeared during the “American Son” storyline, where she revealed to Harry her pregnancy at the hands of his father. With “Origin,” Lily finally gives birth to what quickly becomes the most wanted baby in the world, as every villain in Spider-Man’s universe wants the child.

Waid took some time out of playing chess with Spider-Man’s haggard life to talk about the upcoming arc, writing a character he had never before tackled in his two decade career and the possibly of the amazing arachnid ever getting a moment’s rest.

Marvel.com: So, Mark, we know this arc is about the return of Lily and the birth of her baby. But at the start of the story, what exactly is her situation? Has she already given birth? Is she about to give birth?

Mark Waid: She’s about to give birth when we see her. She storms into the Coffee Bean like a wrecking ball looking for Harry. She’s half-crazed with pain and the birth is not going well-there are complications. And that’s really only the beginning of our story because once that baby is delivered, then it becomes one of the biggest hot potatoes in the Marvel Universe because that baby is a whole new breed of being. It’s got goblin blood and Lily’s blood, which while altered by the Green Goblin’s blood is not the same as Norman’s blood. What does that give you? What sort of DNA do you have to work off of? What is there in that baby’s blood that could be a panacea to heroes and villains alike?

Marvel.com: On that, I now have to ask: is this baby coming out green with horns and holding baby pumpkin bombs?

Mark Waid: [Laughs] In fact, while there is a little hint of horn on its head,  a little tiny touch; we really needed him from a story point of view to look like a newborn because that’s part of the panic of the middle of the story, that’s part of the freak out from New York. From their point of view, all they can see is, “Holy crap, Spider-Man has stolen a newborn baby and now he’s running around the city with it! He’s a kidnapper!” So, from the New Yorker on the street point of view, that baby is the new baby Jessica in the well. It’s the focus of the nation. All the media knows is that Spider-Man is swinging around New York like a crazy man with a baby under his arm like a football.

Marvel.com: You know, Spidey has already had a pretty crazy year. Now he’s going to be seen as a babynapper. How’s his mental health looking here?

Mark Waid: Not good. His morale is not high because he has been hammered over and over again. Ever since the beginning of the Gauntlet, he’s been just walloped with one thing after another that’s gone wrong for him. Even by Peter Parker standards he’s having terrible luck. And now, as if things aren’t bad enough, he’s suddenly being pursued by every villain that he can think of and they’re all coming at him at once and they all want that baby. They’re coming at him in twos and threes and there’s not much he can do to fight because he’s got a baby under his arm. So, he’s just getting it from the right and left. His Spider Sense won’t stop tingling and all he needs is one small victory. At this point, all he wants is to get this baby to safety. That’s all he wants and it seems like the entirety of the Marvel Universe rogues gallery is out to stop that from happening.

Marvel.com: You mentioned that a lot of villains will be appearing in this and we’ve already heard a few names like Electro, Doc Ock and the Rhino. So, it sounds like this will be featuring every one of Spider-Man’s mainstay foes.

Mark Waid: Yeah. Part of the original concept way early on was that if we should do a new manifestation of the Sinister Six, we thought, “Well, why limit ourselves to six? Let’s pick up all these villains and give them all a reason why they’d be interested in that baby.” Why would Sandman want that baby? Why would Electro be interested in that baby? Why would Doc Ock? Everybody has a good reason that’s very character-specific as to what that baby can do for them.

Marvel.com: What’s it like writing this massive story with all these villains? Obviously you’re not unfamiliar to comics as you’ve been writing them for quite some time, but you’re writing everyone here. What’s it like juggling all these characters?

Mark Waid: It’s a big, daunting responsibility, but it’s also fun. I literally use scorecards and props. My desk, at any time when I’m writing these issues, [has] index cards with pictures of the villains and so forth that I can move around like chess pieces so that I make sure that no one is being left out or that everyone has something to do and when they start ganging up in twos and threes, it’d be for reasons that made sense. Clearly, Lizard and Electro don’t really have that much in common and can’t really share the stage, but someone like Electro and Sandman, their motives are a little more complimentary, so they’re a little more willing to work together. That’s really what it’s like. It’s about looking at the whole chessboard and making sure that all the pieces come into play.

Marvel.com: You know, I read something interesting and couldn’t believe it was true, but you haven’t written Doc Ock before?

Mark Waid: Nope. Never written him before. Somehow that has eluded my grasp over the last 20 years. And I’m having a blast with him, especially because the stuff that Dan Slott and John Romita Jr. did to remake him in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600 makes him much creepier than he used to be. I always had a soft spot in my heart for Doc Ock, but I’m even more intrigued now that he is just eerie and dark and even more of a schemer than Spider-Man remembers him being. There are things in the first couple of parts of the story that Spider-Man doesn’t realize might actually be one of the many hands of Doctor Octopus working behind the scenes.

Marvel.com: Now, you said earlier that we might be seeing other villains beyond the usual Spidey crew appearing in this story?

Mark Waid: Yeah. I mean, we have to be careful because I don’t want to open up the world to a ton of villains who don’t have a motivation or a tie to this baby. We talked about Diablo. We talked about a couple of other villains who aren’t necessarily Spider-Man villains but who have shown up in the Spider-Man book over the last hundred issues. There is still a little bit of room for [Paul Azaceta] and I to sit down and play with some other characters in parts four and five, which have been written but not drawn yet. So, that gives us room for your favorite villain. So, if you’ve got one, don’t forget to post it. [Hey fans, post on the Marvel.com Spider-Office Blog or tweet @MarkWaid with your suggestions!]

Marvel.com: You brought up artist Paul Azaceta and you two worked together previously on the Electro and Vulture stories as well. What’s it like working with him here and what about his style lends itself to your writing?

Mark Waid: His storytelling is just exemplary. Paul Azaceta is just truly a gifted storyteller. His art is terrific, his sense of character is really good and the grit he gives to New York City is just phenomenal, but what I really gravitate to, all that aside, is just that Paul can tell a story. We work plot and dialogue. I give him a detailed plot with suggested dialogue and ideas where to break the scenes, but I leave him room to choreograph it and bring his own storytelling sensibility to it. And every time I get pages back, where I had intended to put in more dialogue to cover stuff, I look at the panels and I’m like, “These guys don’t need to say anything at all because it’s so clear in the art. I don’t need to flood it up with word balloons.”

Marvel.com: Now beyond Spider-Man and the villains, there are other people I want to ask about, most notably Lily herself and Harry. Where is Lily mentally in all this? And what about Harry? What are his thoughts when Lily comes running in?

Mark Waid: His head just explodes in a big, wet splotchy burst because on the one hand, he had feelings for Lily. He can’t just turn his back on this woman and her plight. At the same time, he feels betrayed by her. But he knows that it’s not the baby’s fault. That’s his half-brother out there now being run all over Manhattan. Is there a sense of responsibility? That really is Harry’s big question in this story: what is my role in this situation and how do I deal with this? Meanwhile, Lily is just losing her mind because not only has she been separated from her newborn baby and wants it back, but she also knows that she’s being hunted because the people after the baby are also after her.

Marvel.com: Is there any other character readers should be paying attention to in this story?

Mark Waid: Yeah. Carlie. Carlie gets a lot of play in this story. It begins with Peter and Carlie’s first real date and it goes horribly awry as things do when a super villain about to give birth comes crashing into a building. That tends to throw a wet blanket on a date. Carlie’s thought process in this whole story is that on the one hand, Lily had been like a sister to her. They grew up together. They were best friends. On the other hand, Carlie is a career cop with a very, very strong sense of wrong and right and a very strong ethical sense when it comes to her obligations as an officer. Lily is a crazy super villain who has killed people and this is hard for Carlie to reconcile.

Marvel.com: To close out the interview, I just have to ask: after a year of complete madness, is Spidey ever going to catch a break?

Mark Waid: Oh come on. If Spidey gets a break, he’s not Spidey anymore. Maybe we’ll ease up on him a little bit, but I just felt like we really needed to crank up the heat on Spidey in this last chapter. That said, anybody who has read my work knows that I not really capable of not giving the hero a happy ending, so it’s not all doom and gloom.