Fridays on CBR mean Axel’s In Charge.
An editor with years of experience in comics receiving 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 a big week for all things Marvel — you may have heard a certain Marvel Studios film titled “Captain America: Civil War” is now in theaters. Given that, Alonso shares his thoughts on the film, and looks back at the 2006-2007 event from Mark Millar and Steve McNiven that inspired the movie. Of course, this Saturday is also the 15th annual Free Comic Book Day, and Alonso talks Marvel’s two releases available tomorrow — which preview “Civil War II,” “Captain America: Steve Rogers,” “Amazing Spider-Man” story “Dead No More” and the all-new Wasp, who is coming to the pages of “All-New, All Different Avengers.” Read on for all that and more, including Alonso’s take on the ultra-violence of this week’s “Punisher” #1 and the two freshly announced, highly classified, “Civil War II” one-shots.
Albert Ching: Axel, another Free Comic Book Day is upon us — for the 15th time, believe it or not. This year, Marvel’s two releases offer a taste of “Civil War II,” “Dead No More,” “Captain America: Steve Rogers” and the all-new Wasp. It’s another year of original, FCBD-exclusive material, in a time when not a lot of publishers are doing that — how much of an annual priority do you view FCBD, as a continued opportunity to reach new readers?
Axel Alonso: We take FCBD very seriously. It’s a great opportunity to bring new foot traffic into stores and create new fans for our medium, so we always do our best to produce stories that are accessible and exciting and relevant to what we’re doing at the time. Like our latest offerings — well, two offerings.
Another clear pattern in Marvel’s FCBD strategy in that rather than releasing stories that are aimed specifically at a more strictly casual or general audience, these are all stories — as is usually the case for Marvel — set directly in current continuity. How important is that distinction to you?
Alonso: It’s possible to achieve both objectives. I think our FCBD offerings this year should be appealing to current readers and people that just walk in off the street.
Let’s talk a bit about the comics itself — given that “Captain America: Civil War” is out today, obviously a “Captain America” story and a “Civil War II” story are natural fits. But what should readers conclude about the stature of “Dead No More” and the new Wasp that those stories were chosen to get this unique spotlight?
Alonso: The backup stories are there for a reason: “Dead No More” is a huge Spider-Man story that everyone is going to be talking about — I mean, Spidey’s loved ones and foes back from the dead!? — and the all-new Wasp factors into our plans for 2016 in a big way.
This was a big week for the Punisher, as along with the news that Netflix has ordered a “Punisher” series spinning out of “Daredevil,” readers also saw the release of a new “Punisher” #1 from Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon. Though you’ve spoke about the content of the book before, it is still surprising to see just how brutal the violence can get in the first issue, given that it’s not a MAX release — that last page being a prime example. How much freedom were Cloonan and Dillon given in terms of pushing that envelope?
Alonso: We gave them a lot of slack. I’m kind of waiting for someone up the food chain to say, “What the #$@#, Axel!?”
Yeah, we are pushing the envelope. “Punisher” is going to earn its “Parental Advisory” and then some. Frank Castle is a brutal character, and this is going to be a brutal book.
This week also saw the announcement of two new “Civil War II” tie-in one-shots — “The Fallen” and “The Accused” — but no further information yet, as it’s all been deemed “classified” for now. Let’s just ask this for now: How big of a part of the main “Civil War II” story are these two one-shots? Given that they’re coming out in August, I’m guessing they take place during the story, not a post-script like “Civil War: The Confession” from the original “Civil War” event.
Alonso: “Civil War II” — the core series — stands on its own two feet, so if for some crazy reason, you choose to only read it, you will be fine. What these one-shots do is provide a deep-dive into certain big events within the core story — they’ll add depth and meaning.
On Tuesday, Marvel released the first video — with one planned for each issue — of series writer Ta-Nehisi Coates talking “Black Panther,” aimed at bringing new readers up to speed. Given Coates’ profile and wide audience, it makes a lot of sense for “Black Panther,” but are there plans for similar videos for other major Marvel series?
Alonso: Based on the reception to this video, I wouldn’t be surprised if we did more with our other books. “Black Panther” is a breakout series that’s reaching a new audience, and we want to add fuel to fire. A lot of folks want to know what’s on Ta-Nehisi’s mind when he’s writing this book, so he made time in his busy schedule to talk about that with the production company that created the video [Bow & Arrow]. It’s compelling viewing. Oh — and this video isn’t all we have planned. We’re dropping something else very soon so keep your eyes — and ears — peeled.
Of course, today is the big release of “Captain America: Civil War,” a loose adaptation of the 2006-2007 event by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. Looking back at the comics series, it’s striking how much of an impact it had for years of storylines — Spider-Man revealing his identity, Captain America dying, Iron Man’s ascension in profile in the Marvel Universe — and obviously it was a major sales success. As someone who saw it all come together a decade ago, what do you see as the biggest legacy of that original story?
Alonso: The legacy of “Civil War,” in my opinion, is that we — Marvel’s editors and writers — discovered what can happen when we tell a story that’s especially relevant to its time. “Civil War” tapped into post-9/11 anxiety and asked the question on everyone’s mind: How much of your freedom are you willing to give up for more security? The “Super Human Registration Act” provided a compelling metaphor to drive a story that divided the Marvel Universe and challenged readers to think hard about complicated, real-life issues. “Civil War” was a big story, an important story, and it wasn’t just relevant to its time, it continues to be relevant. “Civil War II” — which taps into the key questions we’re asking ourselves today — has comparable scope, and I think it’ll have the same impact.
Finally, we’ll end the week with the obligatory question: Have you seen “Captain America: Civil War” yet?
Alonso: I saw it a couple months ago — an uncut, about 95-percent done version. I loved it. Great character dynamics, incredible fight scenes and, in my opinion, the best Spider-Man we’ve seen on the big screen — Tom Holland nails the awkwardness and humor of young Peter Parker. And the Black Panther!? Chadwick Boseman is amazing. After this weekend, the Panther is going to be a household name.
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!
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