W.E.B. of Spider-Man Writer Kevin Shinick Had No Idea They Were Making Harley Keener's First Comics Appearance

W.E.B. of Spider-Man, a new graphic novel collecting the issues originally intended to launch with the Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure attraction at Disney California Adventure, features the first canonical comics appearance of Harley Keener, the kid from Iron Man 3...but writer Kevin Shinick didn't actually know that when he chose the character to use for the story. Speaking with ComicBook about the project, Shinick said that the creative team was originally presented with a list of characters they could use, and he chose Harley before realizing that by doing so, he would be staking out a little piece of comic book history.

Originally announced in March 2020 and planned for a June 2020 debut, the pandemic changed everything, and it was a long time before either the attraction opened or the comic came out. Still, Shinick said that they kept their head down and stayed true to the original vision for the story.

"We actually started it pre-COVID, and the objective was what we actually wound up doing, which was to have a nice companion piece to the Marvel experience at Disneyland," Shinick explained. "So they brought me in, they showed me around, they showed me what the campus was like, and what W.E.B. would look like when you were there and stuff and it was really exciting."

Shinick, a TV and comics veteran who also wrote the recent Beebo Saves Christmas special for The CW, will be signing copies of the W.E.B. of Spider-Man collection tonight at Comics Factory in Pasadena, California. You can get more details about that event here.  

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"In the beginning they were like, 'Pick whoever you want,'" Shinick shared of the creative partnership between the parks and the comics. "There was a large list of things to choose from, and so I picked a bunch, and Harley was definitely one of them. I chose him because I thought it was a great character to have there. I wasn't conscious at the moment that it was going to be the first time he was going to be in print. It was only later that I was like, 'Oh wow. I didn't even think about that, really.' We had one or two changes based on the Marvel event, in terms of characters and where we could go, and where we couldn't go. But other than that, we set out to do exactly what I said, make this a companion piece for the Marvel event, and also an extension of where the story could go, and do things that you couldn't necessarily do just in the event alone."

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Keener, played by Ty Simpkins in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first appeared in Iron Man 3 as a kid who was present for the Extremis attacks, and helped Tony Stark get himself back up and running after he crashed down in Tennessee. The character disappeared from the movies for a while, but reappeared in Avengers: Endgame at Tony's funeral.