With great power, there must also come great responsibility – even if you’re a preteen. Meet Bailey Briggs, the newest addition to the Spider-Verse. Bailey patrols the streets as Spider-Boy, sidekick and pal to Spider-Man. What makes Bailey different from the other Spider-Verse characters? To start with, he’s only ten years old. Oh, and sometimes he’ll turn into a spider-monster with fangs. You know, typical preteen stuff.
The world first met Spider-Boy during the final chapter of Dan Slott and Mark Bagley’s End of the Spider-Verse. The character immediately exploded in popularity, which caused his follow-up appearance in Edge of Spider-Verse #3 to get a second printing. Now Bailey is striking out on his own with an ongoing series by Dan Slott and Paco Medina.
The staff at Popverse was captivated by Bailey’s debut, so we reached out to Dan Slott to get the skinny on his new series. If an author’s enthusiasm could sell a title, then Spider-Boy will top the sales charts. During our conversation, Slott’s excitement for the series was impossible to ignore; he said it was one of his favorite things he’s ever worked on, and he can’t wait to share it with us.
From Bailey’s editorial origins to his wider Marvel Universe connections, keep reading and discover some reasons to get excited for Spider-Boy #1.
Popverse: You have two Spider-Man projects right now, Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Boy. I am looking forward to both of them, but of the two, guess which one I'm the most excited for?
Dan Slott: Superior?
Way to go!
I'm excited for both of them, but I love Bailey.
I love Bailey. He stole my heart in Edge of Spider-Verse #3 when he takes off his mask and tells that girl, "I just want someone to know who I am." Bailey! You're a fictional character and I want to hug you so badly.
Did you know that Spider-Boy was going to be coming out of End of the Spider-Verse when you started breaking that story?
When we originally broke down the story, no. But as we started working on it, and the closer we got to the ending, it felt weird to me that we were just going to erase Spider-Woman and then erase Spider-Man. It felt like it should be in threes. I could already tell in the end story, it was going to be a weird beat. A lot of fans were complaining, why aren't you using Kaine? I went 'Okay, I know how to swing this.'
When Arana is bringing everyone back, she'll bring back Kaine. Kaine wasn't erased, but he will go, "Don't you remember, I was in issue 1. I was helping you!" and then they'd be like, "Wow, you must have been away too long from the Web of Destiny. It's a good thing you weren't gone much longer, we would have forgotten you completely." And then once I set up that, I realized now we've got to bring back a guy or gal who everyone will have forgotten. That idea immediately spawned the other idea.
I had to fight my editor on it. They're like, 'Look, we're bringing back Kaine. That's your fan service.' And I'm like, 'No, no, this is a great beat. They'll be this one guy who no one will know who he is. And now we have an extra mystery Spider-character.' And then we started battling ideas back and forth on what kind of character that should be. I wanted it to be somebody we've never seen before in the whole Marvel 616 Spider-Man world, and the thing that struck me when I was looking at all the characters, everyone kept getting their powers as teens or adults.
I had so much fun writing Anna-May in Renew Your Vows, so I was like, 'I want to see a pre-teen spider-character. I want to see a kid. Let's have an actual kid.' That was the idea. There was going to be a number of issues where he was going to tag along and be a sidekick for Spider-Man. That was going to be an ongoing storyline in the Spider-Man book. And then Spider-Man #7 just sold out like a mother! It just kept getting more printings, more people were buying, and more people were freaking out over it.
Then every time we put him in a book, every single thing kept selling out. And then there came the point where marketing came to us and said, 'Are you doing a spin-off?' I said, 'We don't have plans. He is going to be a regular character in the book.' And they were like, 'No, you're doing a spin-off, and you're doing it now!' And then we're like, 'Wow, how do we do a Spider-Boy book? What kind of book is that?' And we started bouncing around ideas. and it is now my favorite thing I'm doing forever.
It is so much fun. It is a complete blank canvas into the Marvel Universe where we get to introduce this new character, and new villains, and new setups, and do all kinds of weird stuff. Whenever you have a character that's so new, it's fun to put them up with other Marvel characters, because it's kind of like you get to meet them for the first time. Yes, we set him up as Spider-Man's sidekick, but I want him to meet the whole Marvel Universe.
In Spider-Man #11 you find out that Daredevil trained him, and that the Fantastic Four gave him his suit. In Spider-Boy #2 he is teaming up with Captain America. In Spider-Boy #1 he's hanging out with Squirrel Girl along with Spider Man. We're going to keep seeing him interact with new characters and other characters in the Marvel Universe. We are going to keep it in the spider-side a lot. We have an issue coming up where he'll be teaming up with Miles. It's going to be fun.
The excitement about Spider-Boy was there from the start. The week Spider-Man #7 came out, I read every Marvel book, and sent my editors the highlights of each release. They looked through that to see what I should write about, and of everything Marvel released that week, they said the introduction of Spider-Boy was the clear winner.
We have so many fun plans for Spider-Boy. We're doing a lot of issues in a row where you're getting a full unit of entertainment. You're getting a story, and then a backup story. One story is always teeing something up that the other story is paying off. It's not going to feel like something's being written for the trade. You're going to get a lot of content, a lot of new characters, a lot of new setups, fun things in the Marvel Universe that you know and love but seen with a fresh pair of eyes. I'm dying for people to see this.
With the success of Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, and the Spider-Verse movies, has Marvel been looking for more Spider-Man variants like Bailey?
No, it all comes down to what the creative teams feel passionate about. Like, do you have the idea for this thing? Is this something you want to do as opposed to let's pop out another one? I think everyone approaches it where they get really possessive about their guy. Like the team that created Web-Weaver, they will kill for Web-Weaver. Everyone is like that. I'm feeling that way about Spider-Boy. I want to do this book forever!
I want there to be this kind of book in the Marvel Universe. When I was working on Silver Surfer with Michael Allred, one of the pleasant surprises about working on that book was all the people who came up to us. I don't want to say it was a safe book because that implies boring. But it was a book that people would go, 'This is my partner. They don't read comic books. I gave them Silver Surfer. Now, it's the only book they're reading, and they want to know what happens next.'
Or, 'I'm a parent, and this is a book I can read with my kid every night before they go to sleep.' We kept getting that a lot. 'This is a book I can share with a member of my family. This is a book I can share with my partner. This is the book I loaned to my friend.' And a lot of times, someone who doesn't read comics, and this is now their entry. We got that with Silver Surfer so much, and we weren't trying. And now with Spider-Boy, I'm kind of trying that.
I want this to be a book you can share. I want this to be a book that anyone can pick up. If you went out and you saw the Spider-Verse movies, here's a new spider that you can jump in with. And we're doing stuff that's different and weird. I'm really aiming this for the kid that I was. What would I want to read about this hero that's my age if I was that kid?
I love the fact that there are some things that are denied to him. Spider-Man does not trust him with web-shooters because there was some incident that happened when they tried this in the past. I like that. When you're a kid sometimes they just don't trust you with things. And eventually we're going to see Bailey with web-shooters. That will be fun. And I like the idea that one of the aspects of his powers is he can monster-out and grow the extra eyes and fangs.
There's something fun about that. This is a spider-character who gets to be a monster sometimes. There's something cool about that. If I was a kid reading that I'd be like, 'Oh, that's awesome!' There's a very famous character from our 'distinguished competition' who has a sidekick. One Halloween, my godson didn't want to be the hero. He wanted to be the sidekick character.
He didn't want his dad to be the hero, he just wanted to be the sidekick character. And he put that costume on weeks before Halloween, and they could not take it off him. And by Halloween, it was in shreds. And it got me thinking, I was never the kid who liked the sidekick. But there are kids out there who liked that character more than the main hero.
That was me as a kid. I liked the sidekick more than the hero, because I could be the sidekick. They were my age.
Miles is Spider-Man. Peter is Spider-Man. Bailey is Spider-Boy. Bailey has no illusions. Bailey doesn't want to be Spider-Man. Bailey is a kid who knows he's a kid. Sometimes villains are hitting him and part of him goes, 'I'm just a kid man!' Which is what you would say if someone was picking on you when you were a kid.
This isn’t your first Bailey Briggs. Is there any connection between Spider-Boy and the ghost Bailey Briggs from your She-Hulk run?
If there was, I wouldn't mention it in an interview to Popverse.
Now an even deeper cut. When the name Bailey Briggs was revealed, I dove in. There is a random mobster named Briggs in the Steve Ditko era. Any connection there?
No. What issue?
I think it was around the Crime Master story. At the time I thought it was trademark Slott, because you love mining the Lee/Ditko run.
(Note: It was Foxy Briggs, a robber seen in Amazing Spider-Man #31)
Now that you've said that, I'm going to go read that issue and I'm going to be thinking really hard now.
You once said that doing the Spider-Man main title was very hard because there is always an extra issue, a tie-in, or a point one issue or something. You said doing the last Spider-Man title was easier, because it was a satellite title, and only once a month. Now you're doing two books.
I'm doing two books, but it's completely different. I would never do Amazing Spider-Man twice a month ever again. You have to keep all the trains on the track. The speeds that artists can draw is a factor. So, you are always writing like three stories at the same time, that all have to line up, and the subplots all have to thread through, which tees up the next thing. And if they're multi-part stories, you're writing them all out of order.
So, you're writing chapter two of that story, chapter four of that story, chapter one of this story. And you have to track all that. And then people will come to you and go, 'We're doing an event book in this month.' And then your brain just pops. And you also have to read all the other Spidey books to make sure everything's falling in place. You're almost like a junior editor on the team as well. And I don't want that responsibility, and I don't want that schedule. It is crazy.
But if I'm doing Spider-Boy, and I'm doing Superior Spider-Man, those are two different stories that are all tracking at the same pace. They're on different train tracks, and that's wonderful. That said, in Superior Spider-Man #1 with me and Bagley, it's a full issue, but you get an extra 10-page story by me and Nathan Stockman. And that story is what was Spider-Boy doing during the Superior era.
Oh, that's right, because he's been around since Big Time! Otto was probably so mean to him! No!
What was Bailey doing? It will answer that question, when you see Bailey Briggs teamed up with Otto Octavius on an adventure that's in a done-in-one complete story as a backup in Superior Spider Man #1.