Casting a Vote for Loki, “Han Solo’s” Solo Spotlight

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Casting a Vote for Loki, “Han Solo’s” Solo Spotlight

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 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!

RELATED: “Han Solo” Lands Miniseries at Marvel Comics

With multiple presidential primary elections taking place this week — and many more still to go — Marvel looks to enter the election season fray with “Vote Loki,” a series from an as-yet unnamed creative team that positions the Trickster God as a presidential candidate. Alonso discusses the series, and the creative opportunity for comics publishers granted by a presidential race. In more big Marvel news from the past week, Marvel’s latest Star Wars series is a “Han Solo” story from writer Marjorie Liu and artist Mark Brooks. Alonso shares behind-the-scenes insight on how that book came to be, and Brooks’ return to interior art after many years focusing solely on cover illustrations. All that and more, including talk of the latest “Civil War II” teasers and the “Astonishing X-Men” duo of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday‘s reunion for a “Captain America” anniversary story.

Albert Ching: Axel, this week saw the announcement of the “Vote Loki” series; news that hit, appropriately enough, on Super Tuesday. There’s something of a tradition of comic book publishers releasing stories that tie into election years — as recently as Marvel making Captain America president in the America of the Ultimate Universe in 2012. What do you find worthwhile about the opportunity — the added relevancy? The chance to do some satire?

Axel Alonso: The key words are “added relevancy.” Hey, we can all agree this is a particularly vicious election year. The tone and tenor of the campaigns has been extremely shrill. Whether you’re Red State or Blue State, Republican, Democrat or Independent, you probably agree that there is something in the air, something toxic, and it’s being fueled by the media and, of course, social media, where the line between lie and fact has never been thinner. It’s gotten to the point that the average voter doesn’t even seem to care that they are being lied to — they actually embrace the façade like the candidates are stars in a reality show.

We figured this election is a great backdrop for a Marvel story, and who better to star in it than the Alpha Dog trickster? This is going to be a fun ride.

What can you share about the development process? Was Loki always the choice to star in this story?

Alonso: Wil Moss, who edited the previous Loki titles, developed this, and yes, Loki was always the star of the show. We thought it was a very cool idea. He brought the tagline — “Vote Loki” — to a creative team and they ran with it. We will be providing details about that creative team soon.

This week saw the debut of new “Civil War II” teasers, starring Thor, Black Panther and Jean Grey thus far. The original had a very distinctive marketing campaign — “I’m with Captain America,” “I’m with Iron Man” — what are you hoping readers get out of these teasers for “Civil War II”?

Alonso: We just want to get people talking. As time moves along, we will reveal more and they might even reassess their assumptions. Like “Civil War,” “Civil War II” is a huge story that is extremely relevant to our times. It deals with some of the most topical issues — plural — of the day, and it’s going to resonate not just with comic book fans, but the outside world.

The story presents the Marvel heroes with a choice: Allow the future to unfold naturally, or take action against it? It’s a moral, ethical and spiritual choice — and you’ll be surprised by the choices some characters make, as well as the alliances that form. And, of course, there will be twists and turns that will force heroes — and readers — to reassess their positions and their alliances, and a couple of developments are going to break the Internet. As in “Civil War,” battle lines will be drawn, but they’ll be drawn in sand, not stone.

And is it fair to say all the characters seen on the teasers thus far are major players in the main story?

Alonso: Yeah.

Makes sense. Marvel closed out the week with some very big news — a “Han Solo” series on the way from writer Marjorie Liu and artist Mark Brooks. I know a lot goes into the conception of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, and a series starring a character as big as Han Solo wouldn’t happen without plenty of dialogue between Marvel and Lucasfilm — what made this the right creative team and the right take on the character?

Alonso: Well, there are few characters who were top of the list for solo series, and Han was way up there. We started talking about telling a Han story way back at the beginning of our relationship with Lucasfilm. We held off on scheduling it until after “The Force Awakens” because of the huge impact that movie had on his character. Now that everyone’s seen that pretty huge chapter of Han’s story, we’re ready to go back and show a little more of his past, specifically, the period when Han has signed onto the forces of good by joining the Rebellion but he still feels the pull of his scoundrel past.

Marjorie was actually one of the first writers we spoke to about working on a “Star Wars” miniseries — [“Star Wars” editor] Jordan [D. White] reached out to her very soon after signing on Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, and Mark Waid on the launch books. She pitched a couple different story ideas for a few different characters and the story she pitched for Han really grabbed us. We’re thrilled that we’re finally able to share it with everyone.

And Mark is a huge “Star Wars” fan and he’s just plain great, so…

Yeah, this is the first time Mark Brooks has drawn interior pages in a story of length for what, seven or eight years?

Alonso: Yeah. Mark has been doing covers for the “Star Wars” books regularly since we launched — some main covers, some variants — and he’s really impressed Lucasfilm a lot. He’s one of their favorite cover artists we’ve used. So we didn’t need to sell them Mark doing interiors, we just needed to provide him with sufficient lead-time to do it, which we did.

Also significant Marvel news: The “Astonishing X-Men” team of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday are reuniting for a story in the “Captain America” anniversary issue. Obviously they stand as one of the highest-profile creative duos in recent Marvel history — what does it mean to you to see the two back together again? I know you were the editor of “Astonishing X-Men” for some of their later issues together.

Alonso: It’s fantastic. Joss and Cass have a very special chemistry and their story in “Captain America: Sam Wilson” #7 is a beautiful, almost lyrical meditation on what Cap stands for. It says something.

Wanted to wrap by talking about the latest issue of Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s “Spider-Man,” this week’s #2. It’s clear that this series is really taking on issues of race and the media in ways that readers haven’t yet seen in Miles Morales’ five-year history. What made this the right time — and this book the right place — to explore those issues with the character?

Alonso: When you bring a character like Miles Morales into the Marvel Universe, it’s a seismic thing. You’re no longer playing in an alternate reality, you’re playing in the Marvel Universe, which is supposed mirror the world in which we live. We want Miles’ experience to reflect reality, the reality of our world, and in our world, race is an issue. Just look around. Racism is a scar on the American soul and we want to examine it from all angles. A Black/Hispanic in a Spider-Man suit is going to have a different experience than Peter Parker.

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!