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, Axel takes a look at some of the recent news to hit the Marvel Universe starting with the fallout from this week’s “Battle of the Atom” #2 and how it leads into “Amazing X-Men.” Then, he looks at Marvel’s plans for capitalizing on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” with a new Rick Remender mini series and a heavy duty Ed Brubaker trade. Plus, Alonso waxes poetic about Daredevil’s return to his hometown as Mark Waid and Peter Krause take the hero to Infinite Comics with “Road Warrior.” Plus, your fan questions on the future of some key Cosmic characters! Read on!
Kiel Phegley: Axel, there’s a bit of news across Marvel this week, but let’s start with the big book of the week: “Battle of the Atom” #2. Reading the final part of the X-Men crossover, I was struck by how it seemed not only to call back to X-Men history but also echo the end of “Schism,” which was also written by Jason Aaron. Was this story conceived as a follow up to that one in so many ways?
Axel Alonso: Uhm…yes. In every big X-Men crossover, we try to push the macro-story forward in an interesting way and connect the dots between stories. “Messiah CompleX” leveled the Xavier School and positioned Cyclops as the X-Men’s wartime general, willing to get his hands dirty to protect his dwindling species. “Utopia” pushed the X-Men even further into a nation-state/military model, with Cyclops obsessed by mutant extinction and cutting ties to humanity. “Second Coming” ended the “no more mutants” era with the return of Hope — literally and figuratively — and sowed the seeds that led to “Schism” — like Nightcrawler’s death. And all of above dovetailed into “Battle of the Atom,” which climaxed — SPOILER ALERT — with the All-New X-Men team rallying both sides of the split. What that means for the future, you’ll have to keep reading…
I think a possible ending from this story could have been that the collective X-Men see the terrible future that could soon befall them and as a result, Wolverine and Cyclops kiss and make up. It certainly didn’t turn out that way. With the schism between those two factions very much in place, where can the X-Men go from here? Is there a specific fallout from this story beyond the obvious defection that hits at the end of issue #2?
Alonso: “Schism” wasn’t meant to establish short-term change; it was meant to be a game changer for the landscape of the X-Men universe. For decades, the two paths for mutants were represented by Xavier and Magneto, and we thought it was high time for new philosophies to emerge. We didn’t go into this with the intention of having Wolverine and Cyclops kiss and make up the first time they were forced to fight side by side against a common threat. [Laughs] Their philosophies are way too far apart for something like that to happen.
So what’s the big takeaway from “Battle of the Atom” for you? To me, the theme that stood out with the young X-Men’s role — firmly established now in the wake of this story — was to strike a bit more of a hopeful note for the franchise after some pretty dire events in recent years.
Alonso: Hope is important. [Laughs] Hey, when we made the decision to bring the Original Five into a the present — a world that didn’t at all resemble the one they hoped for — we knew it would be important that they’d have to develop a reason to fight for that world. They’d have to see something worth fighting for, big or small. And we knew that they should each choose their own path — whether it was paved by Wolverine or by Cyclops or an entirely new fork in the road.
Speaking of the future, the next big release on the X-Men slate is “Amazing X-Men” #1 and the return of Nightcrawler. We haven’t spoken too much about that move here. In what ways did that story need to be told now and be told in this book?
Alonso: Well, this book really starts with Nightcrawler — big surprise, I know. [Laughs] His sacrifice in “Second Coming” was a huge and heartfelt moment that set in motion a lot of new dynamics amongst the team. No one took it harder than Logan. Then two things happened: Jason told us he had an idea to resurrect Nightcrawler, and Ed McGuinness threatened X-Men editor Nick Lowe’s life should he hire anyone else to draw Nightcrawler’s possible return. So with those two amazing heavyweights involved, we knew it had to be a big deal. Hence, “Amazing X-Men.”
This was a big week for Marvel movie trailers both with “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and Marvel Studios’ own “Captain America” The Winter Solider.” In what we’ve come to expect as that Studios/Publishing synergy, you guys rolled right from that trailer to a new mini series “Winter Soldier: The Bitter March” by Rick Remender and Roland Boschi. How did your discussions around the movie lead to a book that’s set in the past rather than in the present?
Alonso: We’re confident that All-New Marvel NOW! — like Marvel NOW! a year ago — will provide a strong launching pad for new series. And with “Captain America: Winter Soldier'” about to his theaters, what better time to launch a new series that features a creative team like this, doing a story that sets up crucial elements that will play out in the pages of “Captain America” at the very same time. So while “The Bitter March” functions as a stand-alone, it’s also a key part of the larger “Captain America” mythos that Rick is building.
Outside that series, I know another big push from Marvel is to have one specific collection of material from Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and their collaborators from the Winter Soldier’s introduction. We’ve heard so much over the past few years about high sales for comics that tie specifically to a film the way “Watchmen” or “300” did. Are you trying to capitalize more on that phenomenon moving forward?
Alonso: The halo effect of a movie is something publishers and retailers would be foolish to ignore — and it’s something we always do to coincide with the release of the films. “Iron Man: Extremis” is a great example of a collection that sold well around the release of “Iron Man 3.” When so many people flood into theaters to get their first glimpse of the Winter Soldier, it only makes sense that we would want to create quality material to greet them if they want to read more. A well-crafted and accessible “Winter Solider” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” series could very well be the thing that whets their appetite to keep reading comics.
Last week, we heard about the end of Mark Waid, Chris Samnee and company’s “Daredevil” monthly, and it’s no real surprise to many that this week, you released news of a follow up Infinite only comic called “Road Warrior” by Waid and his “Irredeemable”/”Insufferable” collaborator Peter Krause. I know this returns Matt Murdock to San Francisco where he moved in the ’70s. Were you a fan of those stories back when you were younger?
Alonso: Yeah, without a doubt. Any time a Marvel character went anywhere near San Francisco, that got my interest. [Laughs] I even liked the Silver Surfer because he surfed so I figured he was from California! I mean, whatever they call those things over here, they aren’t waves. So, yes, those comics were definitely in the back of my brain when I read Mark’s “Road Warrior” pitch. I love the idea of Matt dealing with the unique culture and geography of San Francisco, jumping from building to building in the Embarcadero, visiting La Taqueria in the Mission [Laughs].
But it’s not just a change of scenery within the story. It’s a move for the character to digital first, which Mark has been at the forefront of at Marvel and with his Thrillbent work. I know the Infinite comics started as event tie-ins, but I get the impression that the experiment there has turned much closer to the monthly soap opera of the Marvel Universe with the last few efforts. Why is that swing happening now?
Alonso: It absolutely is. We look at Infinite Comics as an important innovation in the way we tell — and you read — comic book stories. So, what better way to underscore that than to make sure the stories they tell are as relevant to ongoing continuity as anything you’ll find in print? Mark was one of the earliest to embrace this innovation and we’re excited he’ll bring that experience from print to his digital-only Daredevil series. I’m certain he’ll take full advantage of the unique canvas of Infinite Comics and probably come up with a few innovations along the way.
Looking at fan questions for the week, Spidey616 had one on that movie/comics crossover front, asking, “The Centaurian alien race has been featured in the Infinity, with Yondu of the original Guardians of the Galaxy being one of the more prominent Centaurians. Curious if their appearance is a hint to expect to see more of them in the months to come and perhaps Yondu, just in time for the GotG movie?”
Alonso: Well, we saw Yondu on the All-New Marvel NOW! teaser image that ran in “Entertainment Weekly” a little while ago, Spidey616-whatever that could mean…
Sticking with the Cosmic side of Marvel, UltimateGuardiansFan asks, “Will issue 12 or 13 be the Guardians’ 100th issue? If you count the point one issue then you guys would be going with issue 12 but if you don’t count that issue then it would be issue 13. Will any original Guardians appear in the 100th issue either within the story or a variant cover? What are the chances we see variant covers of various artists that have drawn Guardians in the past…such as Jim Valentino, Dale Eaglesham etc for the 100th issue?
Alonso: There are plans for the 100th issue, though neither Brian or Wacker can count very well, so of course it’s off a little. Truth is, the X-Men/GOTG crossover (“The Trial of Jean Grey”) runs until issue #13, so you can expect the anniversary issue to follow right after. In the meantime, “Nova” #100 comes out next month and it’s looking amazing! We say good bye to writer Zeb Wells in the main story, but new “Nova” scribe Gerry Duggan — who’s currently wowing “Deadpool” readers — hits the ground roaring in a backup story that sets the stage for a lot of cool stuff next year.
And following up on some more recent X-releases, Confuzzled Mutie wonders, “With the breakout success of Brian Wood’s all-female X-Men title, a lot of us were wondering whether there were plans for a book starring a team of only women Avengers? It makes sense as a character like the Wasp, who is a natural and charismatic leader, would lend herself perfectly to such a title. Plus, Marvel does have a bunch of heavyweight female Avengers with strong personalities and varying powers. Putting ladies like Black Widow, Mockingbird and Scarlet Witch on the same team would lead to fascinating team dynamics, which could rival those of the female X-Men.”
Alonso: There aren’t any specific plans for such a team at the moment, Confuzzled, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an idea that we might consider at some point in the future.
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!