This past weekend I traveled to Atlanta to be one of the over 85,000 attendees of this year’s Dragon Con. I got the unique opportunity to speak to a living legend in the comic book world that Saturday, Peter David. Mr. David is an award winning writer of comic books, novels, television, films and video games. He spent twelve years writing The Incredible Hulk for Marvel Comics as well as redefining characters like Aquaman, Supergirl and more.
He’s written episodes of Babylon 5, co-created the Nickelodeon series Space Cases, written for animated series like Ben 10: Alien Force and Young Justice as well as video games like Shadow Complex and Spider-Man: The Edge of Time. In the time we had, we discussed his upcoming Absolute Carnage tie-in as well as the legacy of the symbiote, what he would like to see from the Hulk’s next big screen adventure and his thoughts on what would make the upcoming She-Hulk series on Disney+ work in the MCU.
DG: This week is the release of Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man #1 from you and Francesco Mobili. What inspired you to return to this world and write this particular (Spider-Man) story?
PD: The editor asked me to (Laugh). He said we’re doing this Symbiote Spider-Man tie-in and I said ok. What would really make it interesting is that Spider-Man shows up nowhere in the actual comic book. So I had to come up with a story that would be interesting enough on its own so that by the end of it the reader would go “Wait a minute. Spider-Man didn’t show up, but boy that was a really good story.”
DG: That is interesting because the premise alone is different. A story about a side character that was wedged in between this bigger event…
PD: Exactly. A side character who was a throwaway character about 30 years ago and now we’ve got a whole issue about him.
DG: I’ve already pre-ordered it and can’t wait to read it. (You can find my review of Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man here). On the same subject, why do you think Spider-Man’s black suit has had such an enduring legacy?
PD: Well part of it is what the character eventually became, you know. He wore it as a costume completely oblivious to its true nature. Which I must admit is always something I’ve questioned. Peter’s a pretty bright guy. How did he not know what this thing was? Indeed, in the first issue of Symbiote Spider-Man, I have Black Cat looking at this thing as he’s describing it to her and she goes “It’s Alive.” He goes “No it’s not alive. It’s completely synthetic.”
She says; “It’s synthetic and it reads your mind?”. He says “Yeah” and she goes, “It’s alive.” The Black Cat was able to figure this out in two panels and Peter was still oblivious to this.
PD: Toying with the notion that the costume is affecting Peter’s reasoning and preventing him from figuring out what the real deal is and they wind up putting that into the next Symbiote Spider-Man story.
DG: Your run on Incredible Hulk is legendary. I’m sure you get told that a lot.
PD: And yet I never get tired of hearing it (Laughs).
DG: I love what Al Ewing is doing with The Immortal Hulk in the comics so I wanted to know what you would like to see happen to the character on the big or small screen?
PD: For the big screen I would love to see them adapt Future Imperfect. Now that they’ve created the merged Hulk, that’s the version that was in Future Imperfect. They could very easily do the Maestro.
DG: That’s perfect! They’ve already tackled time travel in the MCU and the Multiverse coming in Doctor Strange, they could absolutely bring the Maestro to the screen.
PD: I would love to do that. I’ve been thinking about it. I even know, even though Rick Jones isn’t part of the movie continuity, I know who I would have running the trophy room…..Natasha.
PD: Right! And when Bruce sees her, the elderly woman, and realizes its Natasha, he tells her “But you died getting the Soul Gem?”. Then she says to him; “No. Clint (Barton) died getting the Soul Gem.” That’s when he realizes that he’s in a parallel universe.
DG: Wow. (Yes, I did audibly say Wow.)
PD: How freakin’ cool would that be?
DG: That’s brilliant. They’ve already established that Bruce/Natasha relationship in the film universe. Even though it never went too far, it would be the perfect button to that whole thing. Shifting over to She-Hulk for a moment. With the announcement of a She-Hulk series, how do you think Jennifer can be successfully merged into the MCU?
PD: I don’t see why they can’t do the original incarnation where she’s an attorney. God knows there are enough characters running around the Marvel universe. You could easily have an attorney showing up to deal with the various situations the characters will find themselves in.
DG: I thought about that. They had to go to lawyers for things like the Sokovia Accords, Damage Control etc. They also aren’t averse to just having a character show up and telling the audience she’s been here the entire time.
PD: Yeah, exactly.
DG: My next question is about your writing process. You’ve written across multiple genres. What advice would you give to aspiring writers about how to put their passion on the page?
PD: Read my book on writing. I wrote a book “Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels”. The main reason I wrote it is because I’ve had so many people ask me for advice and I can talk about that for hours. So I figured the simplest solution was to put everything I know down in one place and recommend it to anyone who wants to know how to write.
DG: You’ve written so many characters in your career so my final question is; Is there a character or team that you wish you could write a series or one-shot for that you haven’t gotten to yet?
PD: No. I have written, at some point or another, for pretty much every freaking character that exists in the Marvel or DC Universe. I haven’t written all their titles, but I’ve written those characters. Pretty much everyone in the Avengers and everyone in the DC Universe I’ve written at some point or another.
DG: So there’s no character that would like to explore a little deeper?
PD: No. That’s a question I never answer and I have a very specific reason for that. The first time I answered that question and I don’t remember who I said it was, but let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s Thor. That became translated to; “Peter David really doesn’t like what the guy who’s writing Thor is doing and he wants to write Thor.” (Laughs) Suddenly I’m in a battle of words with someone who I have no argument with whatsoever.
My standard answer is usually if I had a dream project it would be The Phantom meets Tarzan. Then I got to write a Phantom limited series and I more or less did the Phantom meets Tarzan in that. It wasn’t actually Tarzan, but it was the exact same story.
DG: Well as a fan, I can’t wait for what you have next. Thank you for your time.
PD: Thank you.
Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man by Peter David with art by Francesco Mobili is in stores right now. You can purchase Peter David’s “Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels” from Amazon.com.