C2E2: A Spider-Man Retrospective with C.B. Cebulski and Ryan Stegman

Marvel Comics was at C2E2 this past weekend and held several panels Spider-Man celebrating the character’s 60th anniversary. During the Spider-Man Retrospective, Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski and artist Ryan Stegman sat down with fans to discuss our favorite wall-crawler’s past and future.

Play-by-play of the panel:
CB welcomes everyone to the panel. He says it still amazes him he’s the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel. 7-year-old CB is still pinching himself over that.

They have some slides and announcements to go through, but first, they want to discuss 60 years of Spider-Man comics.

One of the things that have always defined Spider-Man is the artists who drew him. They run through examples from Ditko to the Romitas to McFarlane to Ramos.

Stegman says his first Spider-Man was by McFarlane, but he didn’t know it at the time.

It was the Spider-Man story with the Wendigo.

After that, he went and bought the McFarlane Spider-Man run. His dad saw that interest and got a bunch of his own old Spider-Man comics out of the attic.

Other than Todd, who else impacted Stegman? Cebulski asks.

Stegman always loved Michael Golden’s Spider-Man in Marvel Fanfare. He says Zeck is also underappreciated. And Ross Andru.

Cebulski notes that it’s funny you hear Zeck’s name, and he’s more associated with Punisher. But he and Stegman both say Zeck was good at drawing ALL the characters.

Cebulski notes that in a pre-Amazing Fantasy 15 story, Ditko created characters named Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Somehow, those names stuck around.

Cebulski, say it’s fascinating to see how artists drew Spider-Man over the years and the art process.

He asks people to yell out their favorite artists. Among them: Marcos Martin, Gil Kane, Ron Frenz.

The Clone Saga comes up.

Stegman says he hadn’t read it when it came out, but he remembered it being made fun of in Wizard a lot.

He said, in retrospect, it wasn’t that bad but was too long,

Cebulski says it’s important to remember at that time that the EIC of Marvel wanted to kill Peter and make Ben Reilly the new Spider-Man because it had been decided Peter was old news and not relevant anymore.

They had to pivot halfway through because of all the outcry they received. They didn’t want that to happen.

But at the time, they were very deeply invested in Ben Reilly as Spider-Man being the new long-term direction.

Cebulski recommends that people track down “101 Ways the Clone Saga Should Have Ended” because it’s a fascinating read.

Cebulski adds there are no bad characters, there are only characters that haven’t been written well yet.

He cites Bullseye, who was almost a joke when he was created. But then Frank Miller came along and made him what he is today.

Likewise, The Clone Saga produced a lot of characters like Scarlet Spider who had longevity and are still used today.

Additionally, it’s also been so long now that The Clone Saga is looked back on fondly.

They pivot to Stegman’s 2011 Scarlet Spider series with Kaine as Scarlet Spider. He says Skottie Young helped him a little with the Kaine/Scarlet Spider II costume design

Cebulski flags this as a “Secret of the Spider-Panel”

Superior Spider-Man is talked about next. “Steve Wacker made this happen for me,” Stegman says, noting the first issue is the highest selling book he’s ever had.

Cebulski said they were worried about Superior early on in regard to whether it would be another Clone Saga, because people HATED it.

They found out that “the people who were complaining about it and were the most vocal hadn’t even read the story,” Cebulski said.

Come issue 3 or 4, a lot of people changed their tune.

Stegman says the people he hears say they hate it most are still people who say they won’t read it.

After Superior, Stegman “constantly begging to work on more Spider-Man” landed him a role drawing and then later writing the “Renew Your Vows” series.

Cebulski asks Stegman who his most inspirational cover artists are. He says McFarlane and “all those Image guys”

He’s super proud of his Superior Spider-Man 1 cover. “It’s hard to do anything as iconic as that ended up being.”

Stegman says when he did his first Marvel Adventures Spider-Man series early in his career and then received a check with Spider-Man on it, he looked at his wife and said, “I guess I did it.”

Cebulski says when he got his first check from Marvel with Spider-Man on it, he almost didn’t want to cash it.

Stegman’s first time doing Venom for Marvel was the Venom Inc. crossover written by Dan Slott and Mike Costa.

Then he did the Venom series with Donny Cates — their first time collaborating.

Stegman was thinking about doing a creator-owned story before editor Devin Lewis contacted him about doing the Venom series with Cates

Donny called him and told him his idea about the necrosword and the symbiote dragons, and he was sold.

That series went about 33 issues, not including Absolute Carnage and King In Black.

He says the way he and Donny works is all Marvel style. There are times Donny gives him 15 pages that are the overall plot and tells him to go crazy.

Cebulski explains there are versions of that, and then the alternative is screenplay style written like a movie script with exact specific descriptions.

Most comics now are written screenplay style, but some teams still prefer working Marvel style.

They pivot to talking about Amazing Fantasy 1000, coming out this month.

Stegman has a story in it written by Armando Ianucci, who worked on Veep.

C2E2: A Spider-Man Retrospective with C.B. Cebulski and Ryan Stegman

Stegman also has an “X-TREME MARVEL” variant to Amazing Spider-Man 13 as part of the launch of X-Treme X-Men by Chris Claremont.

He said when he turned that cover in to Spider-Man editor Nick Lowe, he joked he had a pitch for him for “Gun Spider-Man.”

Dark Web is a Spider-Man and X-Men crossover coming up at the end of the year. Chasm (who is Ben Reilly) is teaming up with Madelyne Pryor — the two best-known clones from each of their franchises.

“Spider-Man and X-Men are going to get involved in all kinds of hijinks, a la Inferno.”

C2E2: A Spider-Man Retrospective with C.B. Cebulski and Ryan Stegman

Dark Web runs in November and December and carries over into January.

Fan question time

First is a little girl. She asks Cebulski and Stegman who their favorite live-action Spider-Man is.

Stegman says he likes them all, but he was even more impressed with Andrew Garfield after the last one.

Cebulski says he was never a fan of Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. His favorite Peter Parker is Tom Holland, and Andrew Garfield is his favorite Spider-Man.

Next fan question is from the girl’s dad.

He says he isn’t sure a comic has made him more mad recently than when Ben Reilly was made into Chasm. Should he give up hope or is there more to the story?

Cebulski says there’s a long road ahead of Ben that they’ve had planned out for a while, so wait and see!

“You can always find hope or some good in the villains.” As the story progresses, fans will see that, Cebulski says.

Cebulski says he had a guy come to his table at a con last week in Connecticut and unload on him about Ghost Rider being “terrible” and not good in the last 15 years.

The guy told him the last good Ghost Rider was by Howard Mackie

The guy came back to his table the next day and told him he had the best night’s sleep the night before and he was glad he got to tell someone everything on his chest.

Then the following day, the guy came back and told him all the other things he LIKED about Marvel’s comics now.

Next guy says his first issue of Spider-Man was when Ben was revealed as the “real” Peter Parker. Does Cebulski know if the plan all along was to make Norman Osborn the ultimate mastermind behind the Clone Saga?

Cebulski says if they hadn’t pivoted on Clone Saga, Norman probably would have stayed dead much longer.

Maybe someday the storylines will pop up.

Next fan says it seems like there’s a large percentage of the fanbase that wants Peter to have a family. Does Cebulski ever worry about Peter’s perpetual arrested development?

Cebulski says they have these discussions all the time. Peter has had various marriages, relationships, families, fake families, etc. But giving a character marriages, families, and kids really starts dating them — especially in younger fans’ eyes.

Part of the challenge is navigating the line between what’s most relatable for new readers and what keeps old readers satisfied.

They have to handle those decisions “very delicately” as a result.

Next fan says he really loves how Chip Zdarsky does Spider-Man. Stegman jokes, “You know he’s my enemy, right?”

The fan then asks how do Cebulski and Stegman define Spider-Man.

Cebulski says to him, the lesson of Spider-Man is “Get knocked down, get back up.” Stegman says it’s the same for him.

Next fan asks about Japanese Spider-Man and whether it will officially come over. Cebulski says for years, the whole series was available on Marvel’s YouTube channel, and there’s also an episode about the series in the Disney+ 616 docuseries.

Dan Slott’s upcoming Spider-Man series that wraps up the Spider-Verse saga will also feature Japanese Spider-Man.

Dan Slott’s upcoming Spider-Man series that wraps up the Spider-Verse saga will also feature Japanese Spider-Man.

Cebulski says Mary Jane will always be Peter’s true love, but true love doesn’t always find a way. But they’ll always be best friends. He also says “Zeb has so much planned for them.”

There’s also a Mary Jane and Black Cat book launching later this year that will explore their relationship.

Cebulski says “Love is a battlefield”. They will never disregard or disrespect Mary Jane, but Peter and MJ might not end up together.

The panel wraps up.

What did you think of the panel? Hit us up on social media to continue the discussion.

Roger Riddell
Roger Riddell
Essentially Peter Parker with all the charm of Wolverine, he's a DC-based B2B journalist who occasionally writes about music and pop culture in his free time. His love for comics, metal, and videogames has also landed him gigs writing for the A.V. Club, Comic Book Resources, and Louisville Magazine. Keep him away from the whiskey, and don't ask him how much he hates the Spider-Man movies unless you're ready to hear about his overarching plot for a six-film series that would put the Dark Knight trilogy to shame.