INTERVIEW: Spider-Gwen Faces Holiday Horrors & Cross-Dimensional Romance

Gwen Stacy, the Spider-Woman of Earth 65 and the star of Marvel Comics’ “Spider-Gwen” by writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez, is an adherent of the classic spider-mantra of “with great power must come responsibility.” Shouldering that responsibility can be extremely difficult and lonely though, especially when your personal and costumed lives collide, leaving you under the thumb of crime lord and without a person to confide in. That’s the situation Gwen found herself in at the end of the series recent “Weapon of Choice” arc, where her father, retired Police Captain George Stacy, turned himself in to the police to protect his daughter’s secret identity, and Matt Murdock (who is the Kingpin of Crime on Earth 65) offered to use his legal acumen and underworld connections to assist her in freeing her dad. On top of that she’s had to find a way to deal with her waning powers.

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In “Spider-Gwen” #1,3 Gwen got a break from her troubles as she and her bandmates in the Mary Janes embarked on a Halloween adventure that saw them facing off against Earth 65’s Mysterio. Now, the winter holidays are looming, and the Kingpin expects payment for his help. So how will Gwen handle what’s sure to a turbulent Thanksgiving and a chaotic Christmas? And what events await her in the New Year?

For the answers to these questions, and more, we spoke with Latour about the role the holidays will play in the series’ current arc. We also delve into the January crossover between “Spider-Gwen” and “Spider-Man,” and the possibility of Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales becoming a cross-dimensional power couple.

RELATED: Spider-Gwen Miles’ Romance Blooms in Marvel’s January Highlights CBR: You’ve made it apparent in recent months that while Gwen still has her friends/band mates in the Mary Janes, she’s pretty isolated and alone with her father in jail, since she can’t really talk to anyone else about her life as Spider-Woman. How is she feeling when you pick up with her in issue #14? The cover suggests the story takes place at Thanksgiving, which can be a horrible time to feel alone.

Jason Latour: Yeah, the holidays can be pretty lonely for anyone, but especially so when you’re dealing with the kind of major drama Gwen is. That said, it’s a great opportunity to explore her relationship to some of the supporting cast that may have slipped into the cracks a little bit.

From the outside looking in, lots of folks probably see “Spider-Gwen” as the sugary bubble gum kind of book, but I always feel like this comic works best when it’s more bitter sweet. Balancing the fun, Saturday morning cartoon stuff with an attempt to say something real. So these holiday issues, are really an exercise in doing that. Every now and then we need to spend quiet time with Gwen on the ground in the same way we do with Spider-Woman swinging around in action.

The cover to issue #14 also suggests that her deal with Matt Murdock is about to come back to haunt her in a big way. What can you tell us about Murdock’s plans for Gwen and her father? Does he know about Gwen’s predicament with her powers?

In both universes, Matt Murdock is a dangerous and calculating man. So taking a page from him, don’t expect us to come out and just say his plans for Gwen right away.

That said, at first glance it looks like he’s manipulated things so that he’s got his Spider-Woman in his pocket. But it’s still a balancing act for him. He’s made a deal with Gwen to help her father, to defend him in court. But what if Captain Stacy doesn’t want his help? What happens then? And what happens if Gwen’s power loss means she can’t be Spider-Woman for Murdock? These are all things the next couple of issues will begin to delve into.

What other teases can you offer up about the Kingpin arc?

These three holiday issues running from 13-15 became kind of a loose arc of their own. Without just washing away all the stakes, I just felt like we needed to shift gears a little bit after a kind of downbeat ending to “Weapon of Choice,” and the calendar just happened to be right. Let’s face it: a lot of people fake smile their way through the holidays. Gwen’s no different – she’s really trying to put on a brave face.

As I said, issue 14 takes a look at how the fallout from “Weapon of Choice” has affected Gwen’s extended “family.” Then, in 15, we get our first real peek at the iceberg below the surface of Matt Murdock. By now everyone should realize that he is, in fact, the Kingpin of Crime. That makes him very much a global player and conspirator, and in 15, we’ll get a glimpse of just how deep those connections run. We’ll also reveal how much he knows of Gwen’s power situation, as it seems he has a very devious plan to return Gwen’s full powers to her.

In January, you kick off a crossover with “Spider-Man.” What inspired this crossover? What’s it like working with Brian Bendis on this story?

Well look – it isn’t lost on me that Bendis is one of those rare writers who’s had the talent and drive to sustain a camp atop comics mountain for a long time. Yes, I’m calling him old.

Seriously though, I mean, I wouldn’t call us an odd couple, but we are very different writers and storytellers in a lot of ways. It really does turn my key a little to get an inside look into the guy’s process. Hopefully the collaboration brings out something unique and surprising in us both. Like some kind of weird foodie sandwich. Pork Belly and Apricot Jam, or something.

[Laughs] This will also be a pretty fantastic looking story, with both Robbi Rodriguez and Sarah Pichelli on art.

That odd couple analogy definitely extends to the art, I mean, I love Sarah. She’s just great. She’s a very classical artist in a sense, always with both feet dynamically and elegantly in synch. Meanwhile, Robbi and [colorist] Rico [Renzi] are really out there on the ledge doing some death defying break dancing. I think that sums up the differences in these two characters, and to tell their stories you need both approaches.

What do you enjoy most about writing Miles? Which of his qualities do you find most interesting?

Miles is Spider-man. And not just in name. He’s got all the heart and soul that made Peter Parker so resonant but is also uniquely modern. And I’ve always really admired the fact that Marvel pushed him forward and gave him the stage in the way they did.

I mean, “Ultimate Spider-Man” in all its forms helped set the stage for a book like “Spider-Gwen.” Never would I have ever thought growing up that there would be a whole line of Spider-books that don’t involve Peter. But that’s why I like it so much; the core foundation of what Spider-Man was always built on is so fruitful and rich. I just feel like you see in characters like Miles, Gwen and Silk that it’s got this really adaptive, universal power. Now that those characters have lives and stories of their own, I’m really excited to see the impact those stories can make on each other.

Can you talk about the dynamic between Miles and Gwen at all? The covers to “Spider-Man” #12 and “Spider-Gwen” #16 suggests that there will be some romantic feelings involved.

Well, these are two characters who have a lot in common. They have similar values and circumstances. Tremendous burdens of responsibility…

But they’re also two teenagers who, at times, feel very alone. And a big part of a normal life for a lot of people is romance and finding a partner. That’s hard for everyone, especially for young people who aren’t quite as adept at sorting through their emotions. So part of what this story is about is exploring the worth of that idea.

Who is the kind of person they’d be interested in? Do they even need someone at all? Maybe they’ve found someone who could be that? If not today, then maybe tomorrow… 40 years from now? Or maybe they haven’t. We’ll see…

What can you tell us about the adventure that brings Miles and Gwen together?

It all starts with Miles Morale’s dad, Jefferson, who has been keeping a very important secret. A secret mission of sorts. This mission leads him to Earth 65, and a lot of trouble. Miles sets off searching for his dad, being very fearful that Jefferson is in trouble because of him. And, of course, Gwen gets involved, and it’s very obvious that Miles needs help. She knows very much what it’s like to worry about Spider-Life harming the ones you love, so she’s all in.

From there, we throw these two straight through the funhouse mirror. As we saw with the “Spider-Women” crossover, the mirror that is Earth 65, can be pretty twisted. They’re going to see parts of themselves that they kind of didn’t want to face. Thankfully they have each other. Right? Hmm…

How big a role will Miles and Gwen’s supporting casts have in this story? Will there be room and time to bounce Gwen and Miles off of characters like Ganke and Goldballs, or the Mary Janes and Captain Stacy?

You have no idea how hard it is not to be completely self-indulgent and have Bodega Bandit or Koala Kommander fight every superhero who comes over to Earth 65. But you know, that’s what I think makes seeing Spider-Gwen interact with the Main Marvel U so fun. Sometimes I think we all get caught up in thinking the tone of the Marvel U is one thing, but there are tons of fun, absurd Marvel characters that have transcended yet embraced some goofy initial idea. In fact, that’s what makes them so important.

When you can take a silly idea and make it transcend, and actually resonate with people – man that’s what’s fun about telling superhero stories. That’s always what we’re trying to do with “Spider-Gwen.”

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