Fridays on CBR mean Axel’s In Charge.
Welcome to MARVEL A-I-C: AXEL-IN-CHARGE, CBR’s regular interview feature with Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso!
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!
This week, Alonso talks the newsworthy week for Ant-Man, sharing his thoughts on both the recently released teaser trailer for the upcoming Marvel Studios film, and this week’s “Ant-Man” #1 by writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas, a series Alonso said had been percolating for years. Looking at this week’s announcements, Alonso provides some insight on the alleged death of Deadpool and the new “Uncanny Inhumans” ongoing series from Charles Soule and Steve McNiven. Alonso also talks the big week of new releases — including “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” and “Operation S.I.N.,” starring Peggy Carter — and answers your questions, directly from the CBR Community.
Albert Ching: Axel, the first full week of 2015 has been an eventful one for Marvel on several fronts. Let’s start out from outside the world of publishing, and the “Ant-Man” teaser trailer that debuted on Tuesday night during “Marvel’s Agent Carter.” Simply put — what were your first impressions on seeing Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym?
Axel Alonso: Love the casting. Paul Rudd is one of those actors you’ve seen in a billion movies who comes across as being a normal dude. Smart. Funny. Pretty, but not too pretty. He’s likable and flawed, like Scott Lang. And Michael Douglas has gravitas, but you can hear traces of pain in his voice, like he’s survived some stuff in his life, and maybe has some regrets. Like Hank Pym.
The teaser trailer and the first issue of the new “Ant-Man” series were both released this week and both included common themes: That Scott Lang is kind of a screw up, a single dad, and attempting to make the most out of a second (or more) chance. Those aren’t stereotypical superhero traits, which is not unlike, say, Star-Lord — a character who has hit the mainstream in a big way. How much potential do you see in Scott Lang connecting with a much broader audience this year, both on screen and in print?
Alonso: Hey, if Marvel Studios was able to make people connect with a ray gun-toting raccoon, I like their odds to make people relate to an ex-con, single-father superhero with an underwhelming name and super-powers.
Zooming in on the new “Ant-Man” comics series by Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas specifically, it feels like much how “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” was Spencer really clicking with characters and concept in a way that maybe we haven’t seen from him before at Marvel, this is a chance for him to do something similar on a bigger (so to speak) scale. What do you like about this match between creative team and character?
Alonso: My conversations with Nick about this go back two-three years. It was his performance on “Superior Foes” that convinced me — and series editor Wil Moss — that he was the right guy to give this series the balance of adventure and laughs it needs.
As for Ramon, he’s a wonderful storyteller who never takes a panel off. His attention to detail and ability to create environments that live and breathe were big factors in him getting the gig. Yeah, I think they’re the perfect creative team, and people seem to agree. “Ant-Man” #1 has been one of the year’s best-reviewed books, and it sold out in two days. We’ve already gone back to a second print — I mean, secANT print.
Another new series launched this week is Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” which doesn’t really read or feel like a typical Marvel superhero comic, in some very fun and unique ways (I didn’t notice the text on the bottom of the pages until about halfway through the issue). What kind of expectations are there for this book to, like some other recent new series, reach beyond “traditional” Marvel readers, and speak to something of a different crowd?
Alonso: Let’s see… Squirrel Girl talks to squirrels… so first and foremost we wanted a fun series that would appeal to both regular Marvel readers and people looking for some laughs in their comics. That’s why editor Wil Moss tapped Ryan and Erica. Ryan, because he’s an inventive and funny writer who impressed us with his “Adventure Time” comics and his “To Be Or Not To Be” Choose Your Own Adventure book; Erica, because, well, her expressive style seemed just right for the character and the tone we’re going for.
“Wolverines” also debuted this week, setting up some big things for the Logan-connected characters (and a rather bloody cliffhanger for one of them). It’s a weekly series, which is rare for Marvel (“Amazing Spider-Man” came close when it was out three times a month during the “Brand New Day” era) — what went into the decision of that accelerated release schedule for the book? Was it at all influenced by the number of weekly series DC Comics has been putting out?
Alonso: It was a creative decision based on the type of story we had to tell. Plus, editors Mike Marts and Katie Kubert have some previous experience setting up and running a weekly series. Working with a large cast and multiple, interweaving storylines, we knew we were looking at a classic serial structure. And the more we talked about how we wanted to pace it, the more we realized that readers would benefit by a rapid-fire release schedule.
The fourth new #1 of the week was “Operation S.I.N.” #1 by Kathryn Immonen and Rich Ellis, which stars Peggy Carter and is out the same week “Agent Carter” debuted on TV. It’s a five-issue miniseries, but the TV show certainly seems well-received and the time period of the book seems like fertile (and relatively unexplored) creative territory — how much room do you see for more from the character at Marvel publishing?
Alonso: Well, if the demand is there, we can easily follow up on Peggy and “Operation: S.I.N.”
Looking at a couple of the announcements from this week — it’s been clear that Inhumans are becoming a very big deal both in comics and in live-action, and this week helped cement that notion with “Uncanny Inhumans” announced from the “Death of Wolverine” team of Charles Soule and Steve McNiven. Why is now the right time to broaden that franchise with a second ongoing series, alongside “Inhuman?”
Alonso: This was always the plan. If you’ve been reading “Inhuman,” you know how wide-reaching Charles’ story is and this is the start of Phase 2. “Uncanny Inhumans” gives a new status quo and jumping off point for readers to meet the Inhumans and see where they fit into the Marvel U. And the #0 issue, like the #0 issue of “Guardians,” gives you a taste of what the series will be, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Also announced is “Deadpool Number 250,” which will gather a ton of creators and is also billed as the death of Deadpool. That’s a character you’ve been very close to during your time at Marvel — what can you share at this point about what’s being presented as at least a temporary sendoff?
Alonso: It’s a huge celebration of the character — 250 issues is a pretty big run for a character created in the ’90s. Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn have two big stories in the issue — one oversized tale wrapping up this run on the title, and the other an “Infinity Gauntlet” tie-in. Then we’ve got backup stories from some of the funniest writers out there — Ben Acker and Ben Blacker from “Thrilling Adventure Hour,” Nick Giovannetti and Paul Scheer from “The League,” Mike Drucker from “The Tonight Show,” Jason Mantzoukas from “The League,” and Scott Aukerman from “Comedy Bang Bang,” to name a few.
As for Deadpool dying… good riddance.
Let’s get to some fan questions for the first time in a couple of weeks. Owain asks about a comic that hasn’t yet been announced, but does seem likely: “Can you give us any info about the Doctor Strange ongoing? The ‘New Avengers’ Annual by Frank Barbiere and Marco Rudy was amazing, and I’m hoping for something even greater with the new team.”
Alonso: I’m very excited about the creative team — that’s all I can say.
marvelprince is curious about a character that played a major role in Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney’s “Fearless Defenders”: “I thought that ‘Fearless Defenders’ helped turn Hippolyta into a compelling and strong superhero with her turn to Warrior Woman. Are there any plans for this character to make more appearances?”
Alonso: We have no immediate plans for Hippolyta.
Spidey616 follows up on this week’s “Ant-Man” #1 and asks, “Now that Cassie Lang is back any chance of a reunion with her Young Avengers teammates? Any YA plans in 2015 that you can tease?”
Alonso: Right now in “Ant-Man,” we’re just focusing on Cassie’s relationship with Scott and her mom and their new life in Miami. Cassie went through about as traumatic experience as anyone can go through, and now that they’ve got her back, her parents want to keep her safe. That’s a large part of the reason why they left super hero-heavy NYC for Miami. Trouble has a way of following Scott, though…
As for any YA plans for 2015, we’ve definitely got plans for several of those characters in the second half of 2015, but that’s all I can say right now.
Passing this one along as I believe last month marked 11 years since the character was killed off in “New X-Men”: solitaire asks, “Is adult Jean Grey from MU-616 ever coming back?”
Alonso: One never knows for sure when it comes to Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force, but for now there are so many plans afoot with young Jean Grey that there might not be room for adult Jean!
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!