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!
This week, Alonso discusses the freshly released “Daredevil” #1 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, kicking off a new volume of what has been one of Marvel’s most critically acclaimed series over the past three years. Alonso also shares his personal excitement for “All-New Ghost Rider” by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore, which debuts next week, and sheds some insight on the upcoming “Original Sin” tie-ins set to hit multiple Marvel ongoings this May. Plus, Alonso answers your questions, straight from the CBR forums — along the way dropping a very strong hint that Marvel plans to commemorate the 20th anniversary of fan-favorite former X-title “Generation X.”
Albert Ching: Axel, “Daredevil” has been a very celebrated title at Marvel over the past few years, and this week sees a new #1 for Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s run. What’s exciting to you about seeing the series get a fresh start, with a lot of new things happening in it?
Axel Alonso: Back when did Marvel NOW! about a year and half ago, it would have been easy to slap an issue #1 on “Daredevil,” and take advantage of the campaign to spike interest and sales. But we didn’t do that because that would have been false advertising. Mark and the amazing artists on the book — Paolo [Rivera], Chris, etc. — were continuing stories they’d laid down months before so we weren’t looking at a fresh start.
This time around, it’s different. “Daredevil” #1 is the beginning of a new era in the life of Matt Murdock. The change in scenery — to my hometown of San Francisco — will bring big changes to Matt as a civilian and a superhero, and that will be apparent in the first issue. It’s a new chapter in his life.
Right, and there haven’t been much activity in that part of the Marvel Universe since the X-Men left the Bay Area.
Alonso: Yeah. I’ve got to wonder how Daredevil’s going to get around, though. [Laughs] The only part of the city that has really tall buildings to swing from is the Embarcadero.
To look more at the book in general, it’s been one of the most acclaimed books at Marvel for the past few years, including multiple Eisners. When Waid’s run was originally announced, it was just a few months into your time as editor-in-chief. How much of a pleasure has it been to watch this series unfold from the beginning?
Alonso: It’s reaffirming on a lot of levels. Mark [Waid] pitched a series that would deliberately step out from under shadow of Frank Miller and the neo noir sensibility and aesthetic he brought to the character. That was a gutsy move. And he and the artists — Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin, Chris Samnee, etc. — delivered on that promise. This is more a “blue sky “Daredevil, featuring artists that hearken back to days of Wally Wood and John Romita Sr. — artists I personally love.
And that seems to have had an influence on other Marvel books, like “Hawkeye” or “Superior Foes of Spider-Man.”
Alonso: Yeah. “Daredevil” isn’t the first series to feature an artist — or artists — that lean toward a more indie or European sensibility. Before Mike Allred did “FF” or “Silver Surfer” — in stores next Wednesday! [Laughs] — he drew the hostile takeover of “X-Force.” And Alex Maleev certainly brought a very different and edgy look to “Daredevil” during his long run with [Brian] Bendis. And I was so jealous when [former editor] Steve Wacker hired Marcos Martin to draw “Amazing Spider-Man.” That’s a move I wish I’d been able to do when I edited the book.
To segue into something much more broad, “Daredevil” has been a critical success, but not always a huge seller, and presumably the new #1 is aiming in part to remedy that. When you look at Marvel’s current line, what books do you see as perhaps overlooked by the readership at large, and you’d like to see more eyeballs on?
Alonso: I don’t think it’s a matter of books being “overlooked,” it’s a matter of being under-ordered. We’ve been awash in a sea of blue for the past couple moths as virtually everything we’re doing is going back to second print – in most cases, for first, second and third issues: “Black Widow,” “She-Hulk, “Punisher,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Loki”… Clearly that’s a testament to the quality and diversity of the books we are producing and retailers were caught by surprise. But right now, I have a fully lettered and colored printout of “Elektra” #1 on my desk — a drop-dead gorgeous book that tells a great story – and I’ll bet that it will go under-ordered and go to a second print. How do we remedy that? I don’t know.
A new series that starts next week is “All-New Ghost Rider,” which seems like something you’re personally excited about — you’ve been tweeting very positively about the series.
Alonso: If one series took me by complete surprise, it was “All-New Ghost Rider.” [Editor] Mark Paniccia, [Writer] Felipe Smith and [artist] Tradd Moore have reinvented the title character and created a truly unique reading experience. The energy that Tradd brings to each page — the sense of motion in the car chase scenes — I’ve never seen anything like it.
It’s another series where location is important, since it’s set in East LA, which is also unique for a Marvel book.
Alonoso: Absolutely. It’s such a great setting for this story. And I’m Hispanic and from California, so the eses in their low rider cars are very familiar to me, and let me tell you, Tradd nails the aesthetic of that world. He gets every detail right. I mean, I was looking at one page when it occurred to me how this Ghost Rider would be right at home on the cover of “Lowrider” magazine, so I put that in the ear of a couple folks, and next thing you know — BAM! — he’s on the cover of “Lowrider” magazine! Scratch that one off the bucket list! [Laughs]
Last week, Marvel held a press call with all three writers of the soon-to-debut new Ultimate series, Brian Michael Bendis, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Michel Fiffe. Hearing them talk about their books, it underscores the very different place the Ultimate books are at now. What are you hoping to see from these new books?
Alonso: The creative goals and parameters are very different than they are in the Marvel Universe. It’s as simple as that. The Ultimate Universe is a unique, controlled universe where we can bend stuff, break stuff, and break new talent. And if and when we decide to break that universe — blow up that universe — that’s an option, too. And promise you it will be something we earn.
This week has seen details revealed on a few of the “Original Sin” tie-ins. We’ve talked in the past about how the approach to them is different than in past events, and now we’re seeing how. Looking at the descriptions of what’s been released this week, it seems that at least a few are acting as a vehicle to pay off long-developing storylines within a series, especially in the case of “Avengers.” Was that the goal, or how it developed?
Alonso: This event is structured very differently than anything we’ve done before. The core series is a very self-contained murder mystery that spans the Marvel Universe. There will be a lot of suspects, there will be a shocking ending, and there will be lots of action as the team of super hero detectives navigate the course to find out who did it, and why. It tells its own complete story. But there is a key moment in the story — an event — that has extreme ripple effects across the Marvel Universe.
We’ll examine those ripple effects in the tie-in stories, each of which is self-contained story in which the title character is blindsided by a shocking revelation from their past that upends his or her world. We challenged the writers of these characters to come up with revelations or secrets that would raise eyebrows and have long-lasting ramifications for the characters, and everyone’s delivering. From “Spider-Man” to “Deadpool,” characters will confront secrets they’ll wish they didn’t have to.
Let’s end with a couple of fan questions from the forums: The venerable Spidey616 asks, “Will Steve McNiven be back drawing ‘Uncanny Avengers’? If not then does he have a new upcoming project at Marvel?”
Alonso: Steve does have an upcoming project, and it is huge.
And razzmatazz360 has ’90s nostalgia on the mind, wondering, “This year is ‘Generation X’s’ 20th Anniversary. Do you have any plan to commemorate it in future publications?”
Alonso: The X-Men editors are very interested in commemorating “Generation X’s” 20th anniversary and have set wheels into motion. Keep your eyes peeled for an announcement in the next couple months.
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!