"I've said everything I've ever wanted to say about Dr. Otto Octavius." Writer Dan Slott reflects on Superior Spider-Man and why he's done writing for Doc Ock

Cover art from Superior Spider-Man #8
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Marvel's Superior Spider-Man came to an end, perhaps forever, late last month with the publication of SSM #8. Dan Slott is inarguably one of the most important Spider-Man writers of all time and this 10th anniversary return to one of his most famous creations was a delightful – and frequently wildly surprising – reprise of the concept.

In the original Superior, Doc Ock swapped minds with Peter Parker, becoming for a time the self-proclaimed Superior Spider-Man. Of course, Peter got his body back eventually and Otto Octavius lost his memories of being a hero. 

In the follow-up series, which launched last November, Doc Ock got his memories back, faced a new foe, and then found himself forced into an uneasy alliance with Parker. The series was enormous, cliffhanger-fuelled fun that took many twists and turns over its eight issues. 

In this exclusive interview reflecting on the series, Dan Slott tells us about his original plans for a Superior sequel, the impact that Spider-Boy's arrival had on the comic, and why he thinks he's said all that he needs to say about Dr. Otto Octavius.

Cover art from Superior Spider-Man #8

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Newsarama: Dan, I recall when Superior Spider-Man first hit, you said something along the lines that after it was over, there would come a time when people would be asking how to bring the concept back. How much of the seeds of this story and its big finale did you have in mind even back then?

Dan Slott: Honestly? This whole project was a fun surprise, completely out of the blue. Marvel approached with a challenge. They said the 10th Anniversary of Superior was coming up and they wanted to celebrate it by releasing an Omnibus and having an all-new Superior Spider-Man project.

My initial pitch was for three over-sized What If…? issues, all focused around Superior. One would be the story of Doc not relinquishing Peter's body in SSM #30. The second would be a story of what if a different Spidey villain took over Peter's brain – that Chris Gage and I would co-write. And the third would've been Chris telling a What If…? tale set during his solo run of Superior.

Marvel came back and said that they wanted an arc set during the present day. They wanted the story to "count". So I had to go back to the drawing board and come up with an all-new take on Superior. Something that could be set today, and yet not step on the toes for what Zeb was doing with Doc Ock over in ASM. On my side, I didn't want to rehash what we'd done before: I didn't want Doc to just take over Peter's mind again and I didn't want to put Otto's mind into any kind of Superior/Clone body. We'd seen all of that before. Those are tricky raindrops to dance through! That said, I had a blast working on it! And the biggest reason for that was because I was working on it with the great Mark Bagley! The man's a legend! The energy he brought to every page!

You ask me what I was going for with this, and I'd tell you that my north star for this was trying to tell a Michelinie/Bagley era romp! Big, fun action throughout the issue – and a big cliffhanger surprise by the last page! Which was a blessing and a curse. That made it a really hard book to promote, because you couldn't tease what was coming up next without spoiling the twist at the end of each issue. This is one of the only interviews I've given about this book – and it's because we can talk about it now that it's all done! How frustrating is that?

Art from Superior Spider-Man #8

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Speaking of breakout ideas, Spider-Boy has really taken off, and he plays an important role in this story. Was that, to quote the script, a "happy accident?" Where did you see Bailey Briggs going as a character when you first introduced him?

Slott: Bailey was a last minute idea when I was plotting Spider-Man #7. We'd erased Jessica Drew and Peter Parker from existence in the previous issues and we knew we were bringing them back. But just bringing them back felt obvious and anti-climactic. I really liked adding a surprising extra note to that. Like: Here's Jess. Here's Peter. And here's the third character we're bringing back too. And the reader would be like, "What?! Who's this guy?! He was never there in those first issues! What's going on?!"

You play around with all the ideas you have planned, and suddenly a new thing pops up – and they become the fun, shiny new penny! That unplanned-for-thing starts taking on a life of its own. That makes the Spider-Boy book the anything-can-happen comic. We're throwing everything and the kitchen sink into that book! This is a title that I'm having SO much goofy fun with – it feels like a throwback to my days on She-Hulk. I'm over here with Paco Medina and we're just taking big silly swings every darn month! We're making up all-new rogues – like a guy with a bowling ball for a head, someone who attacks you with balloon animals, a sentient action figure with the power of practically every superhero. It's crazy. We're nine issues in, and Spider-Boy's already got a full-fledged Rogues' Gallery. And he's already teamed up with Spider-Man, Squirrel Girl, Captain America, Thor, Miles Morales, and Santa Claus.

Art from Superior Spider-Man #8

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Mark Bagley, John Dell, and Edgar Delgado are a modern Spider-Man dream team when it comes to art. How much do you put in their hands with the storytelling, and how much is there in the initial plot?

My plots break everything down by page and panel. But if Mark wants to add panels or smoosh panels together or try something different – I'm listening to Mark Bagley! Because he's Mark freakin' Bagley, one of the greatest damn Spider-Man artists of all-time! The man is on the Mount Rushmore of Spider-Man artists! And John Dell kills on inks! And Edgar is one of my favorite colorists ever! I love these guys!

Given Doc Ock's fate in this story, do you feel that Superior Spider-Man #8 closes the book on the saga as we've seen it over the last decade?

It does for me. I've said everything I've ever wanted to say about Dr. Otto Octavius. And I've left him exactly where Zeb needs him for his Doc Ock stories. If anyone ever wanted to do the old-school Norman Osborn/Green Goblin gag of conking Doc on the head and having him suddenly remembering he was Superior, I'd be totally cool with that. I'm also good with Doc Ock being his regular self – or going off in all-new directions. The key thing here is – this is a great toy for other creators to play with now. I've more than had my say – and I am completely content with that.

The only way I could possibly see myself writing Doc Ock again would be if I did some kind of Sinister Six story where he was one of six guys. Because the Sinister Six feels wrong without Doc there. But as far as stories where Doc is the main baddie? I'm good.

Variant cover art for Superior Spider-Man #8.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

On that note, how will this carry forward into what we see next in Spider-Boy? You dropped some pretty big hints with a few characters that we might be seeing the ramifications of this story sooner rather than later.

Slott: During the course of Mark and my Spider-Man issues we set up threads that have almost all paid off over in the Superior Spider-Man issues. There is still a really big thread that pay off over in Spider-Boy. I don't want to spoil anything. You'll just have to keep reading. (But it will happen fairly soon.)

Art from Superior Spider-Man #8

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

You've written more Spider-Man than anybody, and you've told and touched on so many great Spidey stories. Do you feel like Superior Spider-Man, as a saga that stands the test of time with its own spin-offs and sequels, is your definitive take on Peter Parker and Spider-Man as a character?

From Brand New Day to Big Time to Superior to Spider-Verse to Renew Your Vows to Worldwide to Legacy to Spider-Man to Superior Vol. 2... That's been over a 12 year journey with my favorite character in all of fiction! That's 200+ monthly issues of Spidey comics. Slap another 40 onto that total if you're counting mini-series, one-shots, and specials. With many of those coming out two-to-three times a month! (And THANK YOU, Chris Gage, for co-writing over 30 of those with me, or else I would've died!)

I've been lucky enough to work on Spidey cartoons, video games, and even a movie! And I've been fortunate enough to work with the greatest Spidey artists, creators, and editors! It really has been a dream job and I am eternally grateful for everyone who's been supporting my work! Thank you!

Everything from here on out is gravy. I'm never gonna quit Spider-Man. I've been a fan since I was 7 years old. As long as I'm with Marvel, he'll show up in whatever I'm doing – going all the way back to Ren & Stimpy #6 in 1993 to the issue of Spider-Boy #11 that I'm scripting next week. I could happily see myself doing Spidey minis and one-shots from time-to-time. But when you go past the 200 issue mark, I think it's okay to sit back and enjoy the monthly Spidey books as a reader.

I am thoroughly enjoying the new Ultimate Spider-Man book, loving Spectacular Spider-Men, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, and Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider books, my hat's off to Zeb and his team as they wrap up their run on ASM. I've heard Joe Kelly's plans for ASM, they are wild and I can't wait for people to see them in print! And I'm really looking forward to Steve Foxe and Arianna Florean's Spider-Man: Homeroom Heroes book! And so many minis and specials coming out from the Spider-Office! It is a great time to be a Spidey fan!

Superior Spider-Man is out now from Marvel Comics, with the first half of the series also available in trade paperback.

Stay up to date on all the new Spider-Man comics Marvel has planned.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)

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