Greg Weisman is a storied name in multiple fandoms - from Star Wars to DC and his own as creator of Gargoyles. But he's right now in the middle of return to another familiar place - Spider-Man. Weisman, who was showrunner of the beloved 2008 animated series Spectacular Spider-Man, is returning to Marvel this March 2024 for a spiritual sequel titled Spectacular Spider-Men. The book, co-starring Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Spider-Man (Miles Morales), is intended to be a light-hearted buddy book inside the Marvel U. And for Spectacular Spider-Men, Weisman is working with iconic Spidey artist Humberto Ramos.
We recently had a chance to sit down with Weisman to chat about his return to Marvel, working with Humberto Ramos, the tone of the series, and its cheeky title.
Popverse: I think you've been away from Spider-Man since that Flash Thompson short story around 2010 (Amazing Spider-Man #622) . How did this return come about?
Greg Weisman: That's kind of a question for Nick Lowe. As I understand it, Kaedan McGahey, his assistant, had been reading the Gargoyles comics that I've been doing for Dynamite. They liked them, and mentioned that to Nick, and Nick remembered, I think, with some fondness I assume, the Spectacular Spider-Man show. He contacted me to see if I'd be interested in doing this. And it was such a hard sell. Humberto Ramos doing both Pete and Miles, it's like, 'Oh, yeah, twist my arm. That's a tough one to say yes to' [Laughs]
Honestly, he was kind of really trying to sell it to me, and I was kind of saying, you had me at hello. It's not hard to see why I'd say yes.
How much of the concept was already in place when Nick came to you?
The main thing is we're doing a book where both Spideys are equal partners. Nick and I started talking about it, and we started talking about the idea of making the main setting for the book the Coffee Bean on the Empire State University campus. I think Nick suggested the Coffee Bean. I didn't think that was a name we could use, but apparently Marvel has been using the Coffee Bean since before the Coffee Bean existed in real life.
I suggested doing it on the campus because it's Pete's alma mater, and it's a school that Miles is really interested in at least applying to. There was a sort of logical 'this is a good meeting place for us.' Both Pete and Miles have their own books. And so, this is not a title that's going to be dealing with the kind of, and I don't mean this pejoratively, but the kind of soap opera of their lives. That's the role of their individual titles to sort of focus in on their personal lives. This is going to be a little more about fun adventures.
And the idea is that, we're going to get together, we're going to meet for coffee once a week here at the Bean. And no costumes, no supervillains, and no team-ups. This is just friends getting together, checking in. And then of course, you know, best laid plans, right? This giant Jackal runs by, I guess we're going to get in costume, and I guess we're going to have some team-up action and stuff here. But, from their point of view, this was like, let's be human beings for a change. Let's hang out and just talk. The first issue covers a week's worth of time. And so, you get a bit of a sense of what it was all supposed to be before the proverbial shit hit the fan, so to speak.
You've had an extensive history with Peter Parker, between the previously mentioned short story and Spectacular Spider-Man. This is your first time writing Miles Morales. How did you approach the character?
I'm probably heavily influenced by the two Into the Spider-Verse movies, both of which I love. I've read a lot of Miles comics, although I won't pretend I've read them all. I just sort of got in my head that what Miles is trying to do with Peter, who's always been kind of a mentor to him, is sort of show him that he's mature. Miles is about 16, and Peter is about 26 or 27, somewhere in that range. What we've got here is Miles trying to act a little more adult because he wants to be on a more even footing with Pete than mentor and protege.
And yet at the same time, from Pete's point of view, the idea is that, hey, I'm hanging out with this teenager, I can let my inner 16 year-old out. I don't have to act super mature. We can just have a good time and relax. So, you've got a sort of strange role reversal here as I saw it, which is that Miles is the one who's acting a little more mature than Pete, at least in these early issues of the book, because Miles is trying to attain something, and Pete is relaxing.
That dynamic interests me and I think it is a little unexpected, but I think it's working really well. I also think that what Humberto is doing on the book is so stunning that even if I were a horrible writer, it would still be worth getting the book because it looks so good.
If you ask Twitter, they have a lot of good things to say about your writing because almost every comment after the announcement was 'Greg Weisman?! Whaaat!'
Twitter is a mixed bag. I love Twitter, I hate Twitter. For every 10 cheers I get, I get at least one jeer. And of course, even with a percentage like that I always focus on the negative, because that's just the way I'm built. But yeah, I think that Humberto and I are a great team on this, and it's been a lot of fun working with him, working with Nick [Lowe], Kaeden, Victor, and Edgar [Delgado], and everyone on the book. I'm really psyched for people to see this. I think it is a ton of fun, and it's gorgeous to look at.
I'd love to hear about your working relationship with Humberto Ramos. What has that collaboration been like?
It's been fantastic. I mean, the thing that Humberto does that not a lot of comic book artists that I've worked with have done, every time he finishes his page, he sends it. So, I'm getting them like, a page a day, more or less. I write full script, but he can take some liberties on things and it can still work. I just get to see this stuff every day practically, and it knocks me out. Literally today, I saw the last page of issue 2. He had sent me the pencils on that, and it's great.
This is a written interview, so your readers won't be able to see my expression, but I'm gleeful! If I have a note, like there's one scene a couple of days ago where he had Pete in a panel, and I really felt like it needed to be Miles. I said, 'Hey, sorry, but could we make this Miles instead of Pete?' And the next day, he's turned it around.
It's been nothing but a pleasure to work with him. Humberto and I have only met once briefly. Nick introduced us at Comic-Con this past summer. But over email, it's just been terrific. And for the most part, I just get to chortle with every page that comes in because they're so fantastic. And I have zero issues with what he's drawing, it's so great.
We need to talk about the title of the series. After years of seeing you reminding fans that rights issues and corporate issues mean that you don't have the power to bring back Spectacular Spider-Man, you went ahead and called this series Spectacular Spider-Men. It feels like a fun way of giving people sort of what they asked for. If this is a monkey's paw wish, give me more of them.
(Laughs) That was actually my suggestion that we title it Spectacular Spider-Men. I think the original title was Spider-Man and Spider-Man. And I said, you've gotten to the trouble of getting me, I think this title will sell more comics. [Laughs] With my name attached, I think it's got a little bit of added value. This is the main Marvel Universe. I don't want to mislead readers into thinking this is a continuation of the TV show, it's not.
On the other hand, there are some characters from the main Marvel Universe, some of whom I've used before in Starbrand and Nightmask. Characters like Kenny Kang, Sha Shan Nguyen, and Professor Warren. Characters that I used in Spectacular, and some of which I also used in Starbrand and Nightmask. Though it's not at all a continuation of the TV show, there are touchstones to that show that I think fans of that series will want to check this book out. And that's on top of the fact that I'm writing Pete again, for the first time in a while.
My particular interpretation of Peter Parker, both in street clothes and as Spider-Man, is going to be fairly consistent with the Peter that hopefully they enjoyed on the TV show. I think in that way, the title is a bit of a nod, a wink, or however you want to put it. But there's also a little element of, if you like that, I think you're gonna like this too.
I'm glad that you mentioned Sha Shan, because I'm excited to see her again. When the announcement for this series came, I said I bet that we're going to see Sha Shan again, because I remember you also included her in Starbrand and Nightmask. You rescued her from obscurity.
Sha Shan was a character when I was a teenager who had a huge effect on me. I'm a big Sha Shan fan. She winds up in Spectacular, she was in the one Spidey story that I wrote for Steve Wacker, and she was in Starbrand and Nightmask. Any opportunity to use Sha Shan, I'm probably going to do because I really like the character a lot.
And she fit here, I mean, I'm not trying to wedge characters in just for the hell of it. They had to fit the setting, and this seemed to work. I have a nice group of regulars at the Coffee Bean, both behind the counter and in front of the counter. They had to mesh. The idea is to sort of create a Cheers like environment for Pete and Miles. A place where they can go where everybody knows their name, and knows their coffee order, and they can just hang out and relax as human beings, not as superheroes.
So, you needed a group of regulars and you needed a couple of people behind the counter who are the regular baristas there. We have a nice group. I had to find a group of characters that sort of meshed for that, and I think we've succeeded. Again, I can't praise Humberto enough, because he then takes these characters and he just imbues them with so much life. Literally every panel, it's kind of stunning.
Talking about supporting characters, one of my favorite things about your work is the way that you deep dive into the vaults of obscure supporting cast members. Don't think I didn't notice Coach Smith in Spectacular Spider-Man, that was a deep pull. And Bash Basford in Young Justice! Are we going to be seeing similar touches like that?
Yeah, I think so. One person's obscure is someone else's heavily influential character. We talked about Sha Shan, Kenny, and Professor Warren. All three of those are showing up. For some people, maybe because of Spectacular or other things, they might be like they're not that obscure, because they'd been in a TV show. But if you went before the TV show, they were kind of obscure.
And then I pulled some even more obscure characters that I used in Starbrand and Nightmask because of the college setting of that book. And now we're still at Empire State, so I've got a couple of deep cuts from a book that, to be honest, much as I hate to admit it, very few people saw (laughs). We're going deep with our villains and other characters too. Whether they qualify as obscure, I don't know, I think that's sort of in the eye of the beholder. I don't hesitate to go deep because the characters that matter to me may not be the ones that matter to a more modern reader, but we're going to reintroduce them to that reader.
They don't need to go back and reread 40 year-old Sha Shan stories to understand who Sha Shan is in this story. We will tell them all they need to know. And we'll explore more as the series progresses. It's great. We're ongoing, and we actually have a shot here at a longer haul which will give us time and energy to get deeper into these characters, and I'm looking forward to that.
I know that you keep spoilers close to the chest, so I ask this very carefully... is there anything you can tease about some of the heroes or villains that might show up?
I can definitely tease Peter and Miles, we've definitely got two Spectacular Spider-Men in the book. I feel pretty safe in saying that. For villains, we've got the Jackal returning, not necessarily in the way people might expect. And we've got another couple of villains on the horizon. I think we've got some unexpected surprises coming particularly in issue 3. I think it's going to sort of upend everything a bit. I'm not going to give you any more spoilers than that. [laughs]
Final question, you're in an elevator and you have 30 seconds to sell a potential reader on this book. What do you tell them?
I think what you tell them is that this is a real opportunity to explore the relationship between these two Spider-Men. Their friendship is evolving out of the mentor and protege relationship into a true friendship. And then I would just go on about Humberto's work for another 25 minutes.
I've been in this business for a long time. I started in comics in 1983, and I'm giddy about this artwork. I think that what I'm writing and what Humberto is drawing are really in sync, and we're really getting so much personality, and so much character into these pages. I'm sincerely happy with my dialogue, but I'm really happy with the faces those words are coming out of. I am thrilled. And so, if I'm this excited, I'm hoping that the fandom will be as well.
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If you’re a Spider-Man fan, then this is a dream team. Ramos has been illustrating Spider-Man for over 20 years, and like a fine wine, he keeps getting better. Ramos has penciled memorable images in some of Spider-Man’s most iconic storylines, including 'Death in the Family' and 'Superior Spider-Man.' Greg Weisman was the producer of Spectacular Spider-Man, a popular animated series that launched in 2008. The series ran for two seasons, before being cancelled due to a series of tangled rights issues associated with Disney’s purchase of Marvel.
Since the end of Spectacular Spider-Man, Weisman has been busy. He produced Young Justice, an animated series set in the DC Universe, served as a producer for Star Wars: Rebels, and began writing an ongoing series based on Gargoyles, an animated series Weisman created for Disney in the '90s. Now he’s returning to Peter Parker, and this time Miles Morales is along for the ride.
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