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 Message Boards, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!
This week brings the arrival of a special CBR TV edition of AXEL-IN-CHARGE as Albert Ching caught up with the Editor-in-Chief on the CBR Yacht during Comic-Con International in San Diego, talking everything from pre-show announcements like Avengers NOW! to the bombshells dropped during the con. Alonso gives his take on the mainstream press taking notice of Marvel’s recent announcements, how the big changes coming to the Avengers are all writer-driven rather than mandates from editorial and the company’s philosophy behind pushing more than just its A-list characters during Avengers NOW! The conversation then turns to the recently announced trio of “Star Wars” books featuring top tier talent like Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, Alonso’s history with the franchise and dealing with a very specific but not very explored time in the mythos. Things wrap up with an overview of Mark Waid’s recently announced “S.H.I.E.L.D.” title, something Alonso says he’s wanted to get going for years, and how now is the time to expand the agency’s ranks within Marvel Comics given how many people now know about it thanks to “The Avengers” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
On Marvel’s recent announcements getting such mainstream media attention and the message being delivered to the masses: It’s great. The Avengers — Thor, Cap and Iron Man — have never had a higher Q rating, you know, they’re globally recognized at this point. I love the fact that we’re taking a chance like this and we’re tilting everything, twisting everything like putty and all this is writer-generated. None of this was editorial edict, this was all stuff that was generated by the writers. In the case of the female Thor this was an idea that Jason Aaron had. In the case of the Superior Iron Man and the All-New Captain America, writer Rick Remender had ideas that transformed both of these characters. What we saw was this moment of overlap — we had the three core Avengers all substantially transformed so we wrapped a red ribbon around it, positioned it to come out in a certain window of time and the result has been seismic. People really seem to like it.
On Marvel’s plans for “Star Wars” given the property’s lengthy comics history: This has really been a partnership with Lucasfilm. They’ve been invaluable to the process. We’ve gone down, a small group of us — myself, C.B. Cebulski, Jordan [D.] White, and even SVP of Sales David Gabriel — to meet with them in San Francisco and chat with them about the overall goals. We’re working with their story group — just like we’ve got our story group, they’ve got their story group and they’re helping us. Our stories take place in a very specific moment in continuity — we call it the sweet spot in continuity — which will allow us to tell stories with the classic characters sort of at their zenith in a really important moment in the mythology. I think that working with them, we brought to them the creators that we thought would be appropriate, they responded very positively to our list. We talked generally about story, and then we just went back into our cave, so to speak, and let our talent take the lead, which we brought to them and they loved.
On pairing Jason Aaron and John Cassaday on the “Star Wars” ongoing and stretching the limits of nerddom: Jason is a very versatile writer, and he’s got dibs on Goofy if and when we ever do that. “Star Wars” wasn’t as big a shock to me as Goofy. It was well known to that he was a big fan of the characters, a big fan of the overall mythology, and he’s written an incredible story. Of course the artist is the incomparable John Cassaday, and I gotta say, I’ve seen John stretch the limits of nerddom with his knowledge of “Star Wars.” I pale in comparison to him and Jordan White and C.B. Cebulski with his understanding and his passion for this universe. These two have a really great story to tell, it takes place, again, in the sweet spot of continuity with all the core characters all at the height of their powers and I can’t wait to unleash it on you guys.
On how they decided to do spinoff titles to the main “Star Wars” series: What we thought is, we knew we were going to tell a core story, we knew we would put out a “Star Wars” book and it would be the core title, so really the question was, “How can we complement this? Who are the characters that people want to take deep dives into their stories?” And we concluded that the first one would be Darth Vader, one of the greatest villains of all time. … We thought that it was really important that we have a series featuring female leads. [Princess Leia] is an incredible character, incredibly strong, and we thought that this really sends a statement to readers about our commitment to diversity and also diversifying that line.
On the recently announced “S.H.I.E.L.D.” comic by Mark Waid and a rotating cast of artists: It’s high time. I’ve wanted to do a “S.H.I.E.L.D.” book or a “Nick Fury: S.H.I.E.L.D.” book since the moment I walked through Marvel. What better time now than when we’re looking at a successful “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” [TV] series, their Q rating has never been higher. Obviously Marvel Studios will have dibs on what they want to announce and where they’re headed in the future, but it’s an expanding universe that they’ve got there on the TV screen and we want to take advantage of that. Our book will be very much a book that — this is not an adaptation, this is not a tie-in book to “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, but it’s definitely friendly. We will have characters from that series appear in both lead and supporting roles, there will be new characters and there will be, let’s just say, countless cameos by major Marvel super heroes and super villains. We have an unlimited special effects budget in comic books — we intended to use it. So if S.H.I.E.L.D. sees fit to deploy the Hulk, so be it. If they need the help of Ant-Man, so be it. Really the sky’s the limit with what you do. The overall plan of attack now is we’ve got one writer, Mark Waid is the writer, and what we’re gonna be doing is each issue is going to be a self-contained mission by a new artist. The first issue will be drawn by Carlos Pacheco, and we intend to have some of our best and brightest artists out there telling these stories. Look for told-in-ones that our satisfying adventures issue after issue after issue.