Tom DeFalco Interview

Tom DeFalco is perhaps best known for his writing on Marvel's Thor and Amazing Spider-Man. This month he introduces you to the Marvel Universe of the not-too-distant future in the MC-2 line of comics - Spider-Girl, A-Next, and J2. Worlds of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently spoke with DeFalco about the MC-2 line.

Westfield: What is MC-2?

Tom DeFalco: MC-2 is Marvel the next generation; the new generation of superheroes and villains for a new generation of readers. The new generation coming up is the Y-Generation, the first generation of fully wired kids. They take computers, email, electronic games, and multi-media for granted, where the generation before them had to adjust to these. Their sensibilities are a lot different from ours, and you have to deal with them accordingly.

Westfield: How did the MC-2 line come about?

DeFalco: Well, there's the truth and there's the PR version. The PR version is that it's a carefully constructed marketing and editorial plan. The truth is, Ron Frenz and I came up with a story which featured Spider-Girl. We pitched it to Kelly Corvese, who's the editor of What If?. We conceived it as a one-shot story, but we had to do a lot of development work so that her universe would be as real as the current Marvel Universe. We put a lot of work into it. Kelly seemed to like it a lot, the people in the office seemed to like it even more, and the readers seemed to love it. When #105 went on sale, it basically shipped and disappeared, as we were told. The office was bombarded with requests for a series based on Spider-Girl, which caught us all by surprise. In the old days, we used to put "by popular demand" or "because you demanded it" on the cover. Well, that's what happened here.

Westfield: You're starting out with three titles - Spider-Girl, A-Next and J2. What can you tell us about these titles?

DeFalco: What If? #105 has become the pilot for Spider-Girl. It's about the adventures of May "Mayday" Parker, the daughter of Peter and Mary Jane. She recently discovered that her father was the one, true Spider-Man and now she has started to come into her own and is developing powers of her own. She wants to continue the family business, but dad does not approve.

She looks at life very differently than Spider-Man did. Peter Parker learned that with great power comes great responsibility because he failed to save his Uncle Ben. Mayday learns the same lesson, but she learned it because she succeeded in saving her parents. In the first issue of Spider-Girl, she saves her father yet again. Peter Parker learned that when he failed to do his job, someone dies. May learned that when she does her job, people live. She approaches it from a whole different perspective. She approaches it without guilt, with a total pro-active, positive, optimistic attitude.

If you've ever liked a hoo-hah action book in the Mighty Marvel Manner, A-Next, which is the next generation of Avengers, is the book for you. It's fun and games and plenty of action. The main characters all have ties to previous groups of Avengers. We have Thunderstrike, who is Kevin Masterson, whose father, Eric, was the original Thunderstrike. Eric died in battle. Kevin, who has issues with the fact that his father died while he was still a boy, is now walking a mile in his dad's shoes. Cassie Lang, Scott Lang's daughter, is Stinger. Scott is the Ant Man. He's still around, and doesn't approve of Cassie following in his footsteps. It gets especially complicated when Scott helps out with some of the Avengers' work. J2, his dad was a super villain, so he's got plenty to prove to himself. And then we have the mysterious Mainframe and he's not telling us where he came from, although we have little clues popping up in each and every issue. We also have standbys, Jolt from Thunderbolts; Speedball from New Warriors, who's now a solo superhero; and Jubilee, who now runs her own team, the Uncanny X-People.

In J2, the smallest kid in the class suddenly gets the invincible, unstoppable power of the Juggernaut. Our main character is named Zane Yama, and he has a very special relationship with Cain Marko which we deal with instantly. Zane suddenly becomes one of the most powerful people in the universe, with all the attending problems. If you've ever had problems taking a comic book seriously, this is the one for you because nothing in this book is taken seriously [laughter]. The first issue has three complete stories.

Westfield: Did Ron Frenz work on designing all these characters since he did the initial What If? story, or is it the work of the artists drawing the books?

DeFalco: A lot of it is Ron. Pat Oliffe designed a lot of the stuff centered around Spider-Girl and Ron Lim designed a lot of the characters in J2.

Westfield: Do you have plans for more MC-2 titles if these prove to be successful?

DeFalco: I'm afraid to answer that and that's the question everybody asks me [laughter]. The people in the office have seen parts of the second and third issues of these books, and they keep saying, "What's the next book? Is it the Uncanny X-People or is it the Fantastic Five or is it Darkdevil or American Dream? Which one is it?" I don't know. What we're doing with each book is introducing at least one new concept because we have to flesh out this place. As far as I'm concerned, in the MC-2 Universe, there are just as many comic books being printed as there are for the Marvel Universe except we as readers only get to see a few of them. I'm sure Thunderstrike has his own series, but we don't get to see that. The readers pretty much dictated in the first place that we do these series and I have a hunch that if they want more books, they'll tell us and they'll tell us which of the characters they want to see. But please, not too many right away.

Westfield: Are there plans to tie MC-2 in with current Marvel continuity or is it off on its own?

DeFalco: Two of the characters who appear in every issue of Spider-Girl are Peter and Mary Jane Parker, and I've heard rumors that they appear in a book in the regular Marvel Universe [laughter]. Obviously, Mayday runs into Peter and Mary Jane every day of her life. If you're asking if Spider-Girl is going to meet Spider-Man, she may meet the Spider-Man of her era, but I don't know if she'll meet the one of our era. Actually, she probably will.

Westfield: I've read that the Days of Future Past future from X-Men is the future of the Marvel Universe. Do you see MC-2 as the actual future of the Marvel Universe?

DeFalco: It's a possibility of what's going to happen in the Marvel Universe. I would hate to think Days of Future Past is what's actually going to happen in the Marvel Universe. As a matter of fact, if I read the first story properly, that possible future is negated by the action of the story. This is a kinder, gentler, happier future, and I'm going to sleep better at night knowing that's where the Marvel Universe ends up.

Westfield: There are a lot of dark future stories, but this sounds like a very positive future. Why did you decide to buck the trend?

DeFalco: Because everybody else is going the other way [laughter]. If you want to read dark and depressing, you have so many choices; but, to be honest, I don't buy these dark and depressing stories. When I go to a movie, I want to watch something that's going to make me feel good, make me feel happy that I spent my money on it. When I pick up a novel, I want to know that everything turns out alright in the end. If I want to get depressed, I just turn on the 6 o'clock news. So for my entertainment dollar, I want to see good things happen. Life itself is depressing enough. I feel that way, most of the creators that I'm dealing with on MC-2 feel that way, and maybe some readers do too. Heroism has its price, and we want to know it's worth the price. We want to know that the good guys win in the end, at least in fiction. It may not happen in real life, but in fiction they can win.

Westfield: Do you have any closing comments you'd like to make about the MC-2 line?

DeFalco: A couple of things we're doing differently from other comics is we're taking pains to make sure each issue is accessible. You missed the first two issues? Don't worry about it, you can start on the third. We're not planning any crossovers. We're going to try to wow everybody with good, fun comics. Try it, you may like it. We figure we've got the best gimmick of all which is: Hey! It's fun! I just hope everybody has as much fun reading them as we had putting them together. Thanks for being there!