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 overseen both critically acclaimed and best-selling comics, Alonso stepped into the spot of Marvel’s editorial department in early 2011, and has since worked 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!
With “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, Alonso talks the impact of Marvel Studios films on Marvel’s comics, and the legacy of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting‘s time on “Captain America.” With impending event series “Original Sin” a month away, Alonso also talks the unique nature of that story, and the impact it’s planned to have. Plus, discussion of the major “Amazing Spider-Man” #1 initial retailer orders, Brian Michael Bendis hitting 200 issues of “Ultimate Spider-Man,” the long-percolating launch of “Inhuman” and more — including your questions, straight from the CBR forums!
Albert Ching: Axel, it’s release day — did you get to see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” yet?
Axel Alonso: A schedule conflict prevented me from attending. But I’ve read the movies script three or four times — it was probably my favorite movie script — and I saw lots of raw footage so I’m dying to see it.
Of course, the movies take inspiration from the comics, and we’ve definitely seen the comics take cues from the movies, like Phil Coulson becoming a character in “Secret Avengers” and beyond. How often do you see something in a Marvel movie and think to yourself, “that’s an approach I never thought of,” or “that’s something that would be cool to see in a comic”?
Alonso: One thing that’s inspired me in the Marvel movies is the way humor perfectly punctuates the drama. The snappy line delivered by the hero at the moment of high tension — that never fails to please, and it’s something I’ve encouraged our writers to consider as part of their process. Comics are meant to be fun. They should inspire a range of emotions. They should make you laugh.
And another thing that’s inspired me is the cinematic visuals. The scale of everything. After seeing a Marvel Studios film, it’s hard not to think in widescreen!
In a clear way, the film cements the legacy of some of the very bold and successful things that Ed Brubaker did on his time on “Captain America” — it was a risky proposition to bring Bucky back, and now the Winter Soldier is not only still a major part of Marvel’s publishing line, but in a movie with his story portrayed on screen. For you, where does the “Winter Soldier” story rank in the halls of Marvel’s all-time greats?
Alonso: It’s definitely a seminal story. As absurd as it sounds now, when we first contemplated bringing Bucky back from the dead, it was the subject of heated internal debate. Bucky was a no-fly-zone character. Some editors, argued vigorously — and pretty persuasively — that it was sacrilege to resurrect Bucky, let alone suggest that he’d traveled a dark path in the years we hadn’t seen him. So it’s exciting — and validating — to see the Winter Soldier up on the big screen. I mean, I remember when the first Winter Soldier sketches came in! Now he’s the size of a five-story building!
Currently, Rick Remender is on “Captain America” and has taken the book to unconventional places, starting right out the gate with the “Dimension Z” story.” You’ve been a long-time supporter of his work — what do you like about the approach that he’s taking on the book?
Alonso: Rick always thinks big and outside the box, and what he’s got planned towards the end of the year is going to make major headlines. It’s daring… and long overdue, in my opinion. I’m going to shut up before I say too much because it’s so damn cool.
Moving beyond Cap, between Tom Brevoort giving fans a chance to read issue #0 and #1 this past weekend at Emerald City Comicon, the teasers released this week, the “Original Sins” press call and you personally tweeting out several pages of Mike Deodato art — it’s all reminders that “Original Sin” is arriving soon. Early details have been out there for months now, but do you feel that fans have truly received the message behind this event story, or are you seeing some misconceptions out there about what this book truly is?
Alonso: I guess some retailers and fans are asking if this is an Avengers event, an X-Men event or a cosmic event. The answer is: all of the above. It’s a Marvel Universe event that involves everyone — the Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man cosmic characters and a number of cool characters you might not expect to play big roles in an event of this scale, like Dr. Strange, the Winter Soldier, Emma Frost, Ant-Man and Punisher.
This event is different from previous ones because we are presenting an action-packed murder mystery that’s chock filled with viable suspects — a list that includes heroes and villains — and twists and turns that’ll keep readers on their toes, and the ramifications of the murder will be huge. As superheroes fan out across the universe to discover who killed the Watcher, and why, the bread trail of clues will turn up some surprising suspects, and readers will be left to wonder, “Is my favorite hero — or heroes — capable of this murder?” And the very fact that The Watcher is dead is going to create a hole in the fabric of the Marvel Universe that’s going to be hard — maybe impossible — to sew up again.
Also, even though the main story hasn’t yet started, one of the key takeaways of the “Original Sins” press call appeared to be that “Original Sin” is set to have major impact on the Marvel Universe going forward, on both existing titles and several new series spinning out of it. Readers have seen it with event books before, but what makes “Original Sin” particularly suited to lead this type of rollout, and why is now the right time to get that word out there?
Alonso: “Original Sin” is a huge, game-changing event. Just like “Avengers vs. X-Men” gave birth to “Uncanny Avengers” and “Marvel NOW!”, “Original Sin” gives birth to at least five — maybe six — new solo ongoing series and transforms three core ongoing series so they feature a totally new — or significantly transformed — lead character. Remember the first time you saw the solicitation for “The Superior Spider-Man”…?
There’s no putting back the lid on these secrets once they’re out. Our heroes’ relationships with friends, enemies, and teammates will be irrevocably changed, and in certain cases they way you view them will be changed. In “Original Sin #3.1-#3.4,” Iron Man and the Hulk discover that their paths overlapped on the fateful day that Gamma Bomb created the Hulk. In “Amazing Spider-Man,” Peter Parker unearths a secret that goes back to that itsy-bitsy spider. In “Uncanny X-Men,” Brian Bendis unearths a secret that’ll forever change the way you view a very important character. In “Daredevil,” Mark Waid unearths a dark secret that cuts to the core of who Matt Murdock is. And there’s another big character who learns that he and his brother have a — wait, nevermind. Look, I could go on, but I’ll cap it there.
Tuesday afternoon brought word that the initial orders at the retailer level for the new “Amazing Spider-Man” #1 have passed 500,000 — something that hasn’t been seen in recent memory. Surely expectations were high, but how much did this exceed them?
Alonso: It exceeded them! [Laughs] “Amazing Spider-Man” is the best-selling direct market comic book of the last decade. That’s pretty darn exciting. Anytime you get to that half-mil mark, that’s a mountain you rarely scale.
The numbers are a testament to a lot of things. First and foremost, the confidence that fans and retailers have in Dan Slott and his wonderful artists, especially Humberto [Ramos]. Second, it’s a testament to the popularity of Peter Parker, and the excitement his return has generated. Dan did an incredible job with “Superior Spider-Man,” keeping the series vital, alive, fresh, and topical, with Peter Parker relegated to a background role. Now that Peter’s back, the sky’s the limit.
One the subject of Spider-Man — this week saw the release of “Ultimate Spider-Man” #200. The book isn’t keeping that numbering going forward, but it’s certainly an achievement, and it’s all been written by Brian Michael Bendis. How unique do you see that, not just within Marvel but comic book history, to have a run take so many different forms and go on as long as it has — nearly 14 years at this point?
Alonso: It’s amazing. It speaks to Brian’s confidence with the character, whether that character is Peter Parker or Miles Morales. You’re talking about an audience that embraced an updated Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe, then followed his long journey, then cried when he died, then embraced the kid who replaced him. That is unique.
Also out this week is “Inhuman” #1, a book that went through a delay and a writer change. When the series was first announced, it was definitely presented as something that was going to be a very big deal for the company, and that the Inhumans in general were also becoming a very big deal with Marvel. How integral of a book do you see it currently for Marvel?
Alonso: “Inhuman” is a very important series. We have big plans for how this race fits into the fabric of the Marvel Universe so people who want to get a read on the Big Picture should pay attention now. Charles Soule and Joe Madureira are laying down the first pieces in a slowly unfolding epic. It’s only a matter of time before a fork in the road leads to another Inhuman title and then another. And it’s only a matter of time before subplots boil over to impact other series in a profound way.
One last thing before fan questions — the latest Cullen Bunn-written Deadpool miniseries also started this week, “Deadpool vs. Carnage.” He’s been writing these series for nearly two years now, since “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe.” It’s notable, because these are miniseries that the month-to-month readers may not be necessarily paying as much attention to, but they’re very successful in the collected format.
Alonso: Oh boy, are they. We’re going through a bit of a “Deadpool Renaissance” right now. The core series and the limited series sell very well, but the collected editions — they sell phenomenal numbers. From “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe,” to “Deadpool Killustrated,” to “Night of the Living Deadpool” — fans are eating them up. Deadpool scratches an itch that no other character does, and the guys who are working on him right now are really delivering quality stuff: Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn on “Deadpool,” and Cullen Bunn on the limited series. I call Cullen our Secret Weapon.
Let’s wrap with a few questions from the CBR forums — TsaiMeLemon has a fairly obscure character pull, but Bill Paxton’s recent role on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” puts it in a little bit of a different light: “With Mike Del Mundo’s work on ‘Elektra’ bearing a similar aesthetic to that of ‘Elektra: Assassin,’ it is impossible to forget about Agent Garrett and his unique relationship with Elektra. Is there a chance he and Elektra will reunite in her new book?”
Alonso: We’re not planning on bringing Agent Garrett in the mix at the moment. And while there may be aesthetic similarities with “Elektra: Assassin,” this new series is very much about pushing Elektra forward. This story explores what happens when Elektra shakes off the shackles of her past — both the individuals and the tragedies that shaped her — and looks out at the endless horizon of her future. And let me tell you, this series took me by complete surprise. Haden Blackman and Mike Del Mundo are creating something fresh and unpredictable and my god that art!!!!
The venerable Spidey616 asks, “The most recent solicits have readers worried that [Matt] Fraction’s ‘Hawkeye’ is coming to an end. Please say it ain’t so, or if it is we’ll be getting a relaunch?”
Alonso: Too soon to comment on the rumors, Spidey616. But I will say that I’m very excited about the future of Hawkguy.
Let’s end with a query from marvelfan27: “With the recent positive solo female superheroes, is there any chance we could see the return of Pepper Potts as Rescue? It would be amazing!”
Alonso: There’s a real possibility of this, marvelfan27. Keep on the lookout.
Have some questions for Marvel’s AXEL-IN-CHARGE? Please visit the CUP O’ Q&A thread in CBR’s Marvel Universe forum. It’s now the dedicated thread for all connections between Board Members and the Marvel Executive staff that CBR will pull questions for next week’s installment of our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer column! Do it to it!