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J.J. and Henry Abrams unpack that world-changing death in Spider-Man #1
No one knew quite what to expect back when Marvel first announced that J.J. Abrams and his son Henry would be co-writing a new Spider-Man miniseries. After all, Abrams famously plays things close to the vest, whether it's Lost, Cloverfield, Star Trek, or Star Wars. But even by the Abrams standard of not knowing what to expect, no one really knew what to expect from Spider-Man #1. Now in the aftermath of that first issue's events, we're getting a clearer picture, as the father/son writing team sat down with Entertainment Weekly to talk about their big plot twist, a new villain, working together, and how this tale might be thematically similar to another from a galaxy far, far away.
**SPOILER WARNING! If you haven't read Spider-Man #1, turn back now!**
The big development of the first issue, of course, is the death of Mary Jane at the hands of new villain Cadaverous. While the writers acknowledge the trope of a woman's death being the catalyst for a male hero's journey, they add that they wanted to examine the consequences of the loss on more than just the lead character. Henry wonders, "How do you recover from a tragedy that’s so immense? It just doesn’t affect one family, it affects a whole city and world who feel the absence of this iconic superhero.” While you might still call "Fridging," the Abrams' are at least thinking on a larger scale.
Speaking of Cadaverous, get ready for a patented J.J. Abrams tease. He says that "what I like about this character is the notion is he was named by the news, in the spirit of classic heroes and villains, but he’s this real mystery, and no one quite knows what he’s about or where he came from... Where we go ultimately takes Cadaverous to places you would never expect when you first meet him.” There's little doubt they'll follow through on that last promise, as it's already proven true from just one issue.
The conversation next turns to the idea that the Abrams are some kind of "intruders" in the comics world. J.J. points out that this series is "a story that [editor] Nick [Lowe] and I have been talking about for a long time." But he adds that "because of Henry’s love of comics and Spider-Man, plus the fact he’s got some incredible ideas and is a promising writer, the fact that I got to collaborate with him was a completely selfish thing and fun for me. Because the story for me is this generational story, it felt like a perfect opportunity to collaborate with Henry on something that was meaningful to both of us in different ways.”
Indeed, the story fast forwards 12 years after the death of Mary Jane, and focuses on her and Peter's teenage son, Ben, who was born with some recognizable spidey powers. Which is where Marvel's web-slinger and Star Wars' Skywalker saga find commonality. "On the one hand it’s a story of history repeating itself, but on the other hand that does not obviate a new story with something interesting to say about what it’s like to be in the shadow of what’s come before, and I’m already seeing it working with Henry, being better than the generation that preceded it," says J.J.
He then points out the sort of questions that arise from this type of storytelling: "It’s a fascinating thing to tell stories like this about a character who is living in a world where their history is the books we’ve read and the stories we know. What does that mean? How do you reconcile being a human being who exists in the world when you’re also saddled with the baggage of being the son of a superhero, in this case?" As such, when J.J. mentions "fertile ground for new revelations, new relationships, new challenges, and new villains to overcome," he could be talking about either franchise.
You can read the whole conversation over at EW. Then get ready for more of the undoubtedly unexpected when Spider-Man #2 arrives in comic shops Oct. 16. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, directed by J.J. Abrams, opens in theaters Dec. 20.