EXCLUSIVE: Stuart Immonen, Norman Osborn Return To Spider-Man
It is an exciting time to be a fan of Marvel Comics' Spider-Man. Spidey is in the midst of an epic event, The Clone Conspiracy, which already featured the return of the major character from Spider-Man's history.
How does Marvel Comics follow up such a huge event? By bringing critically-acclaimed, fan-favorite artist Stuart Immonen on board as the news Amazing Spider-Man artist beginning with the 40-page Amazing Spider-Man #25. The issue begins a brand new story arc that sees Spider-Man squaring off against one his oldest foes, Norman Osborn.
But before that Immonen will draw one of the stories in The Clone Conspiracy: Omega, the recently announced title that deals with the immediate aftermath of The Clone Conspiracy. ComicBook.com spoke to editor Nick Lowe for details.
Be sure to check the gallery below for Immonen's variant cover and interior art for Amazing Spider-Man #25, plus Alex Ross's cover to the issue.
Stuart Immonen has been away from the Marvel Universe for a little while now. How did he end up on Amazing Spider-Man?
Nick Lowe: Stuart is one of my absolute favorite collaborators. He and I have been working off and on together since 2003, when he came over to do Ultimate Fantastic Four with Warren Ellis. That's when we met and he is, for my money, the best working artist in comics. I think he can draw absolutely anything. He's a chameleon. His stuff is exciting. It feels like a blockbuster movie unfolding in front of you. He's such a pro. He's an editor's dream. I almost never have notes for him because he's such an intelligent artist and his stuff excites me and I get super pumped up anytime something comes in.
Stuart and I are always looking for opportunities to work together. We did Ultimate Fantastic Four with Warren Ellis. We did Nextwave with Warren Ellis. We did Ultimate X-Men before that, and then on covers from time to time. We worked together more on some Hellcat covers and some brief X-Men stuff, and then heavily on X-Men with All-New X-Men. We basically try to work together at all times, and so when I knew we had this big Amazing Spider-Man #25 opportunity coming up and when it looked like he could come free for a regular gig, I leaped at the opportunity. I'm so glad I did because already he's working on Amazing Spider-Man #26 and a little surprise story that will be in The Clone Conspiracy: Omega right now.
Amazing Spider-Man #25 is huge and gorgeous. It's a 40-page story that he and Dan Slott did together and it looks absolutely amazing. Spider-Man looks amazing. Peter Parker looks incredible. There's some stuff in there that is so charming and fun and exciting and action-packed, and the fact that Norman Osborn is going to be our main villain for this arc, and Stuart draws terrifying villains with these kind of cold eyes I cannot wait for people to see what he does with Norman. But yes, we are so stoked to be working together, and he and Dan are working really well together, too. It's got me super pumped up about this new era of Spider-Man.
Dan Slott has been working on Spider-Man for a pretty long time now and he's worked with a variety of artists. How is he tailoring his stories to best match Immonen's style and strengths?
NL: First of all, Dan has been so spoiled on Amazing Spider-Man. When you have Humberto Ramos and when you've got Giuseppe Camuncoli and you've got Ryan Stegman and Stefano Caselli and Steve McNiven on Brand New Day and John Romita Jr., he's been so spoiled and he's risen to the occasion with every one of these people, and so I don't want to undercut that at all, but it's interesting when you have a writer and a penciler working together who haven't worked together before and you get to see what kind of magic they can make together. Having this new collaborator come in, I think it has challenged Dan in some interesting ways that he hasn't been challenged in a while.
I'll tell you that already there are some major plot things that we were going to do with Peter Parker's personal life that Dan completely changed course on once Stuart started turning pages in because he's like, "Oh, this is great. We need more of this." We're like, "No, no, no, we should do something with this character as opposed to this character," and Stuart was just knocking it out of the park and was like, "Oh, we can do this. This is cool." There's that new car excitement - not that Stuart is a car, he's a living breathing person - but just seeing this new collaboration.
It's just going to be so neat to see this different side of Dan because the stuff that Dan would do with Humberto is different from the stuff that he would do with Giuseppe and different than with Stegman and it's neat to see him stretch these different muscles. I think the fans are going to benefit from it, as well. I think it's just cool to see these different opportunities that come up.
What do you see as Stuart Immonen's greatest strengths as an artist? What is it that he does so well?
NL: Blockbuster action feels like blockbuster action. It's got a punch to it. It's got energy. It's got the scope. He can draw anything. His characters look heroic. They look exciting. They look glamorous.
The thing that I think that he does incredibly well is the acting, the character acting. I love looking at his Tumblr and seeing the reference pictures that he puts up that he takes of himself with the different facial expressions and the acting that he gets out of his characters. They feel real and they feel like there's a life behind those eyes that he draws, and that's so cool to see. He draws a smile, like a sly smile, better than anyone else that I know. There's that spark in everyone and I really love that.
He's also an incredible designer. One of the biggest things that is going to be going on here is there's a lot of spider tech in this art coming up, and I don't want to get too much into that or too ahead of ourselves, but there's going to be a lot of spider tech coming up in this thing and Stuart is a techie, and I don't mean Trekkie because he's way more Star Wars than Star Trek. He's a techie and he loves to design things. This is a guy who builds lightsabers out of Legos and other things but also he designs the coolest ships. The ship in Nextwave is one of my favorite comic book vehicle designs ever. If you look to his Shock Rockets book that he did with Kurt Busiek, you can see it on display there, too, so we really wanted to go nuts as soon as we knew we had Stuart there on the ships and vehicles and things like that to really squeeze as much genius out of Stuart as we possibly can.
Will he also be drawing a lot of Goblin-tech?
NL: Oh yes. We've been setting up this story since I think we got the first taste of it in Amazing Spider-Man #2 and we touched on it more with Amazing Spider-Man #4. Norman doesn't have the Goblin serum anymore. Peter cured him of that, so this is a sane Norman Osborn. This is a Norman Osborn who doesn't have to worry about this Goblin craziness bubbling up and taking him off course. He's at full mental capacity. He's been re-raising his fortune by selling arms around the world, Goblin tech, Goblin arms, Goblin gliders and weapons and stuff like that all around the world.
What is he up to now is the biggest question, and what does he look like, because the last two times we saw him, he didn't look anything like himself back in the end of Superior Spider-Man. Then, in Amazing Spider-Man #4, he was wrapped up with bandages. So, "What will Norman look like?" is a big question. There will be a lot of tech and you are not wrong in your assumption that if we're seeing a lot of spider tech, we'll be seeing a lot of Osborn tech, as well.
Is it fair to say that a sane Norman Osborn is at least as dangerous as an insane Green Goblin?
NL: Oh yes. I think that's definitely true. He's got his full genius on display and Spider-Man better watch out because this is a guy who has been alive way longer than Peter has and he's withholding his mental genius and now without that craziness, I think he's a lot more dangerous.
How an artist draws Spider-Man is something that can really define that artist for fans. What are the characteristics you see in Immonen's Spider-Man?
NL: I think I would say that his Spider-Man is more in the John Romita Sr. school of Spider-Man, whereas if you look at the Steve Ditko stuff versus the Romita stuff back in the day, the Ditko stuff, he was a little more cartoony, exaggerated, that sort of thing, whereas anything Stuart draws, it looks kind of real. It looks like it could be real and it's a costume on top of a body, whereas in Ditko or Todd McFarlane, there's less reality in what they drew with Spider-Man. Stuart's, he feels solid.
His Peter Parker, I think he's even more expressive in the way that Ditko was. His Peter Parker was so great. He was skinny and nebbish in some ways, whereas what Romita drew, it looks in a lot of ways like this handsome model walking down the street, whereas Stuart's, he feels more like a skinnier guy. He's got floppy hair. He doesn't look perfect like what John Romita Sr. would draw, but he's got a lot of character to him and a spirit to him.
It's neat to see that very different mix, that it's not the Spider-Man I'm used to, and that in and of itself is very exciting. He's drawing the Alex Ross costume that we've been using in Amazing Spider-Man, and that looks great when Stuart's drawing it, but he's got a cool balance and very classic look but it looks like it's what you would see if he were swinging down the street. He looks like a person in a costume, which is really fun.
Has there been a conscious effort to differentiate how Immonen draws this Spider-Man from his work on Ultimate Spider-Man?
NL: Yes. I think he's a little fuller bodied because I think his Ultimate Spider-Man probably looked more Ditko-y than Romita. I think that was a conscious choice that Stuart makes here and he definitely looks like a full-grown adult.
At this point, what can say about the story Immonen is drawing for The Clone Conspiracy: Omega?
NL: It pays off of the subplot from The Clone Conspiracy #3 with the Kingpin, where there's a scene with the Kingpin where he comes in and talks to Spider-Man and he says, "Well, you owe me a favor," and Spider-Man says, "No, you owe me a favor." The story in The Clone Conspiracy: Omega plays off that and it sets up the events of Amazing Spider-Man #25 in a really cool way.
Can you say anything about Amazing Spider-Man #25?
NL: There's a good amount of Aunt May in it. Harry Osborn plays a good role in it because when Norman is involved, Harry will probably not be too far behind that. It's really exciting. There's a mystery going on. The only other thing I'll say about it is Mockingbird plays a big role in it as well, and I really like what Dan's done with her and I love the Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk Mockingbird series. I think it's going to be a lot of fun to have Mockingbird come back into this book in a big way.
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