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Kathryn & Stuart Immonen Discuss Their Upcoming ‘Avenging Spider-Man’ Issue

A deliberately over-the-top, bombastic title designed to team up Spidey with other heroes from the Marvel Universe, the popular Avenging Spider-Man series has been written so far by Zeb Wells and drawn by artists Joe Madureira and Greg Land. As revealed in Marvel Comics’ solicitations for May, 2012, issue #7 of Avenging will be come courtesy of guest star creators Kathryn and Stuart Immonen. Kathryn has written such well regarded Marvel books as Patsy Walker: Hellcat and Wolverine and Jubilee, while Stuart’s ever evolving and versatile artwork has graced the pages of Nextwave, Ultimate Spider-Man and Fear Itself. The Immonens are also collaborators, and the fruits of those labors — the superhero story Hellcat, the World War II drama Moving Pictures and their webcomic Never as Bad as You Think — are top notch comics.

ComicsAlliance spoke with the Immonens about their Avenging Spider-Man one-off, and you can see what they had to say after the cut.ComicsAlliance: Who decided on the guest star for your particular issue? Did Marvel want She-Hulk in Avenging #7, or did you guys pick her? Do either of you count her as a particular favorite?

Kathryn Immonen: No, that was us. We both wanted a female co-star and, more than that, someone who has a very different physicality than Spider-Man. Someone like the Wasp would have been perfect. But She-Hulk is also pretty perfect. I’ve also got this notion that Spider-Man kind of needs some tacit parenting and that She-Hulk doesn’t have a parental bone in her body. I’m not sure that has anything to do with where we ended up, but it’s where I started.

Stuart Immonen: Yeah, they complement each other in terms of powers and abilities, but there’s also a personality frisson that makes for entertaining and unexpected situations… like, uh, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. With fists.

CA: What can you tell us about this particular issue? Is the old-school Marvel fight then team-up formula in effect, or are Spidey and Shulkie friendly enough at this point that they need not fight first in order to team up? Will there be a villain involved?

KI: I wouldn’t say they’re exactly friendly. I think even in the best case scenario, they’ve got very different personal styles and tolerances for a variety of nonsense. I can tell you, with a fair amount of confidence, that we’ve got She-Hulk facing a problem she’s never had before and Spider-Man is simultaneously the best and worst person to be sharing it with. It’s not a straight-up villain fight either, but there is an individual whose goals and desires threaten law and order and general good governance. It’s creepy, it’s weird and it’s funny.

CA: You’ve worked together on comics before; how does being married to your collaborator change the creative process? Is it different in particular when you’re working on a superhero book like Avenging Spider-Man, as opposed to your indie work on Moving Pictures?

SI: I think marriage is a factor insofar as we spend a lot of time together and have a communicative relationship; that being said, that doesn’t describe a lot of marriages, I guess. In the studio, we can refine ideas or run things by each other to make sure we both approach the work from similar vantage points — there isn’t the mediating influence of email or the phone. It’s more amorphous for our non-mainstream work, but that has more to do with the rigidity imposed by a 20-page story structure than how we interact with each other.

KI: We argue about a lot of stuff but work isn’t on that list. I’m not sure being married affects anything but we have known each other for a very long time, have (mostly) the same or highly intersecting sets of references which, in turns, helps to promote a kind of shorthand. Having said that, though, we don’t… uh… collude.

The process, editorially, is the same as with any other project, maybe even more so in this case as neither of us have yet had the privilege of working with [Avenging Spider-Man editor] Stephen Wacker. With the Thing vs Namor ten-pager we did for [editor] Nick Lowe, I was able to give Nick a page by page description and then asked if I could just do the panel breakdown for Stuart and then dialogue it after. He was fine with that for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Stuart. But also we’ve all done a fair amount of work together.

Ultimately, I think we have a less collaborative process than a lot of other teams mostly because once I write it, I don’t feel like it’s any of my business anymore unless there’s an issue of clarity, which I always assume is my fault and I work to correct it. The second part of that is that Stuart can make anything look like a million bucks.

CA: I suppose you can’t tell us much about books that are potentially even farther far away than Avenging Spider-Man #7, but is this a one-off for you guys, or is there a chance you’ll return for future issues?

KI: There are no plans beyond this issue but man, I love the world of Avenging Spider-Man and would come back in a heartbeat.

SI: Oh, me too. I’m sure Wacker has a full dance card, but we ought to be able to convince him.

CA: There was a fair amount of fanfare for this title when it was announced, particularly since it marked Joe Madureira’s return to comics. How does it feel to be stepping in on the title, and what do you hope that your collaboration on this issue will bring to the series?

SI: Following someone else is built into serial storytelling. I’m constantly following fan-favorite artists; Jason Pearson on Legion of Super-Heroes, Tom Grummett on Adventures of Superman, Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man… you can’t carry that baggage and do your own best work, too.

KI: I don’t feel like I’m stepping in on anything, more like slipping into the deceptively warm but terrifyingly swift waters of a title that’s got a crazy amount of forward motion. I think we’re just going to keep our heads down and try to produce one hell of a 20-page story.

Avenging Spider-Man #7 goes on sale in May from Marvel Comics.

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