Fridays on CBR mean Axel’s In Charge.
An editor with years of experience who’s brought out comics to both critical acclaim and best-selling status, Alonso stepped into the chair at the top of Marvel’s Editorial department and since then has been working to bring his signature stylings to the entire Marvel U. Anchored by regular question and answer rounds with the denizens of the CBR Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!
It’s been a rather big week for Marvel, as the publisher provided fans and industry observers the clearest look yet at its post-“Secret Wars” plans. An “All-New, All-Different Marvel” is on the way, with 50-60 new #1s scheduled to launch in a three-to-four month span this fall. It’s not a reboot, Alonso makes clear — but it will add new elements to the Marvel Universe that fans recognize; “a few new toppings on the pie,” as the Editor-in-Chief puts it. Two new teasers accompanied the announcement, both by David Marquez and Matt Wilson — and while some elements are clearly familiar (Iron Man and Spider-Man look relatively classic; Sam Wilson is still Captain America and Jane Foster is still Thor; newer favorites Spider-Gwen and Ms. Marvel are represented), there’s a lot that’s, well, new and different. There are two Wolverines — X-23 in a classic Wolverine costume and Old Man Logan — the Thing appears to be a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Daredevil has a dark new costume, Doctor Strange is wielding an axe and Citizen V, from early “Thunderbolts” stories, has returned.
In an extra-sized edition of AXEL-IN-CHARGE, Alonso talks in-depth about the philosophy behind relaunching every series with a new #1, drifting toward a “seasonal model” for comic book release and how “All-New, All-Different Marvel” differs from past line refreshes, plus provides insight into both teasers. Plus, discussion of the major reveal from this week’s “Star Wars” #6 (spoilers ahead!). Your questions, straight from the CBR Community, will return next week — and surely you’ll have plenty to ask about!
Albert Ching: Axel, you’ve been a busy guy this week — I think I’ve read about six or seven different interviews with you about “All-New, All-Different Marvel” in the past few days.
Axel Alonso: Yes, I have been busy. A fun week.
Some of the articles on “All-New, All-Different” have used the word “reboot” to describe what’s happening. Yet I notice that’s not the language Marvel is using. I wanted to hear from you in what ways this isn’t a reboot, and in what ways is that distinction important to you?
Alonso: This is not a reboot. We are not erasing our history, or throwing away any old stories; we are building on our history. The Marvel Universe that greets readers in “All-New, All-Different Marvel” is going to be the Marvel Universe that you know and love — and recognize — but it’s also going to include some new stuff — new characters, new places, new things, new artifacts of great importance — that should make it even more interesting. Going back to my infamous pizza analogy: there are going to be a few new toppings on the pie. [Laughs]
This does sound like a big thing for Marvel — dozens of new #1s are on the way, and it’s coming out of a very big event. But readers have seen a few fresh starts or new jumping-on points from Marvel recently. There was Marvel NOW!, All-New Marvel NOW! — back in 2010, the Heroic Age brought a few new #1s. Internally at Marvel, how is this seen as being bigger and more definitive than some of the other line refreshes Marvel has had recently?
Alonso: I think it provides the biggest platform we’ve had for new stories and new directions. Marvel NOW! was a line-wide game of musical chairs that spiced up our core line, giving us “Uncanny Avengers,” Brian Bendis on the X-Men, Jonathan Hickman on the Avengers. Every creator treated their book like it was a jumping-on point; a new chapter. And it was extremely well received by fans and retailers. All-New Marvel NOW! expanded the line, adding new series like “She-Hulk,” “Black Widow,” “All-New Ghost Rider,” “Squirrel Girl,” “Howard the Duck” — also well received by fans and retailers. All-New All-Different Marvel combines the recipe of both those initiatives — and it’s possible because of “Secret Wars.”
All of this grows out of our larger philosophy that the comic industry is moving into a seasonal model, that isn’t too unlike what you see with your favorite binge-worthy TV shows. Every year or so, you offer a new story or direction that provides an accessible entry point to new readers that builds on the experience you’ve been providing current readers. Sometimes that change is subtle; sometimes that change is seismic — depends on the character or where the story is going. Each year or so of publishing provides a wild ride that offers some sense of completion, but, of course, doesn’t finish the story. That’s where the next “season” picks up.
Picking up that thread of the seasonal model — it’s something I’ve heard you discuss before, but it’s coming up more and more now regarding the general philosophy of Marvel moving forward. Is this more of a goal Marvel is working towards, or a definite plan for the future?
Alonso: While our collective gut says this is the direction the market is moving, we are always willing to live and learn and pivot where necessary. That said, in our minds, nothing is more inviting than an issue #1. Nothing says more clearly to readers new and old that this is a place you can jump on. Let’s say that a fan is reading books like “Daredevil” and “Black Widow” and “Punisher” — street-level books are their taste — but they’re becoming curious to sample something on a different scale, like “Avengers” or “Inhuman,” or they’ve heard good things about “Howard the Duck” or “Spider-Gwen,” that’s where an issue #1, with a great hook and a cool creative team, comes in. And in an era where fans oftentimes follow creators, a new #1 by a new creative team might be just the thing to have them sample a character or team they hadn’t previously.
Speaking of those new #1s, as a point of clarification — it’s established that there are 50-60 new #1s coming starting in the fall, but is everything getting a new #1? Even the newer titles, like, say, “All-New Hawkeye?”
Alonso: Every series is getting a new #1, and the rollout will span three to four months. And to help invigorate each title and aid in its accessibility, each creative team will set their first issue eight months after the culmination of “Secret Wars,” and establish that during that gap, something big happened to the life or world of the title character that spices things up in a meaningful way. Could be subtle, could be a huge. Maybe the title character exhibits a new approach to life because of something that happened to them during those eight months. Maybe a key relationship in their life has changed, for better or worse. Maybe they moved to a new place. Maybe they hung up their tights for some reason and someone else has picked them up. Maybe they’re pregnant. The sky’s the limit.
The key thing is we want each issue #1 to be exciting and accessible. And I think our track record for doing just that has been very good over the past few years: providing new reader-friendly stories that build upon the stories that came before them.
The names of some of the creators that are going to be involved have been revealed, and it’s the big Marvel names one would expect. As has been seen with All-New Marvel NOW!, does it remain a priority to get new names in the fold who haven’t been seen at Marvel before?
Alonso: Of course. I’m not sure I would label it as a “priority” — it’s just sort of inevitable. We’re constantly engaged in a dialogue with the creative community, and new relationships emerge. My editors have broad-ranging tastes, and we find new people; both writers and artists. That’s how we keep the medium fun and vigorous.
Something we’ve talked a lot about with “Secret Wars” is the different genres being explored — will this also continue into All-New, All-Different Marvel?
Alonso: Absolutely. You’ve seen some of the offerings just from the two teaser images. We’ll have lots of different styles and approaches and genres, and fusions of genres.
Let’s look at those two teaser images a little more closely. The biggest surprise from the first teaser is likely the inclusion of Red Wolf — what can you about the significance of seeing him here?
Alonso: I’d say, read “1872” by Gerry Duggan and Nik Virella. Red Wolf is a key character in that series, and the fact that he’s included in the teaser means he’s pretty darn important to us. If you are at all curious to see your favorite Marvel super heroes and villains — Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, Dr. Strange — through the lens of the classic Old West paradigm, that series is for you. It is so much fun. This is not a straight Western.
There’s been some reaction online critical of the image of Red Wolf, a relatively rare Native American superhero character, seen in what’s been described as a stereotypical depiction. Do you have a response to that reaction?
Alonso: “1872” is set in a part of Battleworld that looks like the Old West, not contemporary times.
The teaser establishes, as hinted before, that Sam Wilson is still Captain America, and Jane Foster is still Thor. Those feel like moves that could have been undone by a big event like “Secret Wars,” but weren’t. What does it mean to you for Marvel to stick by those two bold moves, and continue them going forward in this launch?
Alonso: Well, it means people like them. [Laughs] Look, you can’t force fans to embrace female Thor or Sam Wilson Cap. They have to do it themselves. When we released the first image of the female Thor, some people acted like the sky had fallen. Some said it was a PC move, or it was a stunt. It was our job to turn them around, and we did by providing a great story. And that’s because the character was always rooted in a great story that was concocted by the writer, not editor edict.
When we unveil some of our new plans for the future, I have no doubt that some of the same people will again say the sky is falling. And once again, it’ll be our job to turn them around. I cannot wait to unveil the new Hulk, another character that’s bound to create controversy, but is deeply rooted in a story that will force you to reexamine what you think about the character. Whether you’re a longtime Hulk fan or not, you will want to read this series.
Any word on when we’ll get a glimpse of that new Hulk?
The first teaser also shows two Spider-Mans, and you’ve been saying there’s a “new” Spider-Man coming — yet the non-classic one in the image certainly looks like Miles Morales, from the Ultimate Universe. Is that something readers shouldn’t necessarily assume?
Alonso: [Laughs] You want me to spoil it already? It’s safe to say that there will be a new Spider-Man swinging through the streets of New York. What does that mean for Peter Parker? That’s part of the story.
Then there are two Wolverines in the second teaser — Old Man Logan and X-23 in a fairly classic Wolverine outfit. What can you share at this point about the decision to make X-23 the successor to Wolverine?
Alonso: There will be two Wolverines. [Laughs]
Beyond the two Wolverines, though, there isn’t any other X-Men representation in the two teasers. Does that reflect at all on the presence of the X-books in the new line?
Alonso: Wait and see.
It looks like the Thing has joined the ranks of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He certainly has a lot of experience being in space, but given how much people have speculated about the future of the Fantastic Four, what does it say to have Ben Grimm in this new context?
Alonso: Ben was a pilot, right? [Laughs] Hey, look, we just think it will be a lot of fun to put Ben out there with those guys and see what happens — should make for some very interesting character dynamics. And Ben provides a great earthbound perspective on the Guardians.
The biggest head-scratcher in the second teaser is likely Citizen V. It delighted me as an old-school Thunderbolts fan, but a lot of newer readers likely aren’t familiar with the character — can you share any insight on Citizen V’s significance to that teaser, and in Marvel Comics going forward?
Alonso:: Let me bring in Executive Editor Tom Brevoort to help answer this one…
Tom Brevoort:: The original Citizen V, and the Thunderbolts, represented something mysterious and unexpected mixed into the Marvel Universe of 1997– it was a huge surprise for most readers when he was revealed to secretly be Baron Zemo, and that the Thunderbolts were really the Masters of Evil in disguise. And so, Citizen V represents the same sense of mystery in the All-New All-Different Marvel. Who is he beneath the mask? Where will he appear? And what is his story all about? All will be revealed in time!
To get to a non-All New, All-Different issue, this week’s “Star Wars” #6 established that Han Solo has a wife, Sana Solo. That’s obviously a big deal — what does it mean to you to see something with that amount of relevance to the Star Wars universe revealed in a Marvel comic?
Alonso: Well, it means exactly what we said it meant when we started to do “Star Wars” comics. Our stories are as relevant to canon as anything on the screen. That’s part of the reason that we make quarterly trips to Lucasfilm headquarters to talk story, learn about what’s going on in the movies, and concoct stories that get the kind of reaction that this one did. Plain and simple. We appreciate the trust and faith that the Star Wars Story Group has in us to take these kinds of chances with their characters.
Have some questions for Marvel’s AXEL-IN-CHARGE? Please visit the AXEL-IN-CHARGE Q&A thread in CBR’s Marvel Comics community. It’s the dedicated thread that CBR will pull questions for next week’s installment of our weekly fan-supported question-and-answer column! Do it to it!