Nrama: And what's Sandman's new status in your story?
Fred Van Lente: Sandman is one of these characters who has gone back and forth for awhile from, is he a villain? Is he a hero? He was an ally of Spider-Man the last time he appeared in a Spider-Man comic, which was in Peter David's Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and he and Spider-Man were working together.
In "The Gauntlet," we're not quite re-imagining the villains, certainly not anywhere near as radically as the Chameleon got re-imagined here, but they're definitely establishing new status quos for them. And the Sandman of Gauntlet is going to be a villain. And what sets him back on the purely villainous path is, unfortunately, Spider-Man. So tune in to #615 and #616 to find out more.
For those who don't know, Sandman redeemed himself and became a superhero during the 80s and 90s. John Byrne, who hates the idea of villains redeeming themselves, made Sandman a villain again with little explanation when he wrote Spider-Man during his disastrous reboot. Tom Brevoort later revealed that the Sandman's return to villainy was due to the Wizard brainwashing him, and after Byrne left Sandman began to be portrayed more sympathetically again by Paul Jenkins, Zeb Wells, and Peter David.
Sandman appeared in Dan Slott's Thing series, where the Wizard's brainwashing was addressed again. It was because of this that I was hoping that plot point would be dealt with now that Slott's one of the writers on ASM, but I guess that's not the case now. :(