‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ was a reboot of the classic Marvel Studios character Spider-Man that retooled the origin for the web-slinger apart from the mainstream universe. Though the “Ultimates” would come to an end, elements of the series would make their way into the traditional Marvel Universe.
Comic book artist Mark Bagley worked on ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ for a majority of the series and he joined Marvel’s Pull List podcast to discuss it and what inspired him.
“So Spider-Man is my favorite character,” Bagley said. “I love the John Romita stuff and Gil Kane came in for – he didn’t do that many issues when you look back on it. I think he made maybe a dozen issues over the course of a couple of years, and I’ve got reprints of all of them! I gave away my comic collection years ago, but they were all dog-eared and used. I mean, I used to pull out carbon paper and trace over some of the figures, just, ‘How did he do that?!’ But it was my version of Photoshop. It was just a great time to be reading comic books if you were into it.”
“The Gil Kane issue, the ‘Death of Gwen Stacy’ issue, came along… and it was so shocking the way it happened,” he continued. “Harry Osborn is going through the drug thing and Peter is freaking out about that. Green Goblin is coming in and out of his life like every couple of issues, it seems like. Then he kidnaps Gwen off-camera. You don’t even know that he’s done it. He just leaves a pumpkin bomb sitting in her apartment. It was so out of the blue… and it was so violent!”
Bagley went on to explain how that inspired his own work on the web-slinger. “I hear that when I go to a con quite often, either ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was their first comic and got them into comics, or the fact that I’m their Spider-Man artist… I’m always humbled by it, because I would walk up to John Buscema and say the same thing, the exact same thing.”
He noted, “I’d go, ‘Your stuff is what got me into comics,’ or Jack Kirby or Gil Kane. I always thought I’d get into this business and I’d make a lower middle class income… The 90s hit and… we became these redheaded stepchildren rock stars! It’s like conventions and they’re paying us royalties… I’m a real fortunate guy, and I don’t take that for granted for a second.”
“The nice thing about ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was I could make these guys mine and not have to worry about what had gone on before and not have it feel like any kind of pressure. That was really kind of liberating,” he added.
Bagley will return to Peter Parker’s world as the artist for ‘Spider-Man,’ joining writer Dan Slott in October 2022.