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Developing “All-New Hawkeye,” Going West with “Secret Wars”

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Developing “All-New Hawkeye,” Going West with “Secret Wars”

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 Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!

It’s another busy week for Marvel news, with a multitude of “Secret Wars”-related announcements — including the Old West-set “1872” from Gerry Duggan and Evan “Doc” Shaner, the hardy fantasy of “Weirdworld” from Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo and Chris Burnham and Ramon Villalobos’ return to Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely’s “New X-Men” territory with “E Is For Extinction.” Alonso talks all of the above, plus shares his insight on the development process of Jeff Lemire and Ramón Perez’ “All-New Hawkeye,” the follow-up to the fan-favorite, award-winning “Hawkeye” run by Matt Fraction and David Aja. Plus plenty more, including the importance of the Maestro and “Future Imperfect,” revisiting “X-Tinction Agenda” and “The Korvac Saga” and your questions, direct from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, one of the big launches from Marvel this week was “All-New Hawkeye,” and I understand that was a book you worked closely on. What prompted you to get a little more involved in its development?

Axel Alonso: I knew who I wanted to write it! [Laughs] And I wanted to personally offer him the job.

Matt [Fraction] and David [Aja] — and friends — defined “Hawkeye” as a quirky, fun, adventurous and experimental series that was cut from a very different cloth than, well, most comics. If we were going to continue the series, it was very important that we found a creative team that’d keep that sense of unpredictability and invention, but stamp it with their own style. Who’d own it. And to me, the writer to do that, to set that tone, was Jeff. Thankfully, he was immediately intrigued and, after a few moments of understandable trepidation about doing another comic book featuring an archer, realized he did have a story to tell, and the results are what you see right now.

Lemire & Perez Take Aim on “All-New Hawkeye”

Given how successful the previous “Hawkeye” volume was, and how closely associated it is with Matt, David and the book’s other artists, was there ever any trepidation on Marvel’s part to launch another Hawkeye series so quickly? Or was it something you definitely wanted to keep going?

Alonso: We definitely wanted to keep the series going, but only if we had the right creative team. When we first launched “Hawkeye” back in 2012, we didn’t want it to be a fastball down the center of the plate for the mainstream; we wanted it to be a curveball for readers whose tastes span indie and superhero comics. And Matt and David did just that. To continue the series, we needed another curveball, and that’s why we went to Lemire. We knew if he had a Hawkeye story to tell, it would be unique, and it would hold appeal to a wide swath of fans.

You say you had Lemire personally in mind for this gig — what was it about his work that convinced you he was the right guy for the job?

Alonso: A number of things, but most of all his work on “Animal Man.” I thought he had something to say with that series. He made me care. Obviously Jeff’s creator-owned work — “Sweet Tooth,” for instance — was a factor, but it was “Animal Man” that made me notice him in the first place. I figured Hawkeye, with its mixture of adventure and humor, would be in his creative wheelhouse.

Then there’s the work Ramón Perez is doing on the series — he’s illustrated books at Marvel for years, and certainly had a lot of success at Archaia with “A Tale of Sand.” This feels like something new from him — and he doesn’t have an easy job, knowing the impressive visual legacy of the last “Hawkeye” run. What do you like about what he did with this first issue?

Alonso: [Editor] Sana [Amanat] and I wanted an artist who would be adventurous — who would, just like Jeff, own “Hawkeye.” A short list emerged, but there wasn’t a front-runner ’til we got optics on Jeff’s story, and that’s when Sana really pushed for Ramón, and I really needed no selling. Since the first arc of the series would juxtapose two stories — young Clint’s coming of age, and current Clint’s predicament — Sana thought the multimedia approach Ramon brought to “A Tale of Sand” would make this series sing.

“Secret Wars” Launches Marvel Western “1872” From Duggan, Shaner

Let’s look at some of the announcements from this past week — starting with “1872” from Gerry Duggan and Evan “Doc” Shaner. It’s another example of the different genres that Marvel is exploring during “Secret Wars,” and westerns have such a history in comics, and at Marvel, but it’s something you don’t really see anymore in comics. (Though you did hint toward it a bit at the end of last week’s column). Was it a priority internally to have a western book in the “Secret Wars” mix?

Alonso: I wouldn’t say it was a priority; more that it was a no-brainer that came out of the flexibility of the new Marvel Universe. We were contemplating the geography of Battleworld at an editorial retreat, Gerry suggested a region that allowed us to look at the Marvel Universe through the lens of a classic Western, to interpret characters like Cap, Iron Man and Hulk as part of a Western paradigm. And that idea just caught fire in the room. The possibilities were endless. Gerry left with a notebook filled with ideas. To make the first arc work, he’s already had to put so many good ideas in his back pocket.

And the character sketches released are certainly eye-catching.

Alonso: Doc Shaner is tearing it up. This is the perfect assignment for him. The responses to his characters sketches has been insane.

And I want to reiterate that “1872,” like all [“Secret Wars”] series, is not a fly-by story that takes place in an alternate reality or timeline; it exists here and now in the Marvel Universe, and the story that Gerry and Doc tell is going to leave a huge bootprint on the Marvel Universe moving forward.

Jason Aaron & Mike Del Mundo Take a “Secret Wars” Trip to “Weirdworld”

Another announcement this week from a very different genre than superheroes — the high fantasy, sword-and-sorcery series “Weirdworld,” from Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo. That’s certainly an unexpected match of creative team and concept — what has you excited about this one?

Alonso: Again, it’s the expansion into different genres. I’m a huge fan of the dark fantasy genre of the Robert E. Howard/Frank Frazetta variety. Once again, we were planning the geography of Battleworld at a retreat, and Weirdworld came up, and we realized that “Secret Wars” gave us the chance to redefine it as an actual part of the Marvel Universe that fused disparate parts of Marvel’s pre-existing fantasy universes, including the original Weird World. Jason was quick to stake a claim, and, well, there were no challengers. [Laughs] He had some killer ideas.

The next question was, of course, “What artist can give this the scope and scale and crazy energy it deserves?” And Mike Del Mundo became the early — and prohibitive, as it turns out — [Laughs] frontrunner.

X-Men Revisit “E Is For Extinction” During “Secret Wars”

Then there’s “E is For Extinction,” from frequent Grant Morrison collaborator Chris Burnham, as writer, and artist Ramon Villalobos. I imagine the Morrison/Frank Quitely original “E is For Extinction” is a book that likely has significance to you — it launched right around the same time as Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s “X-Force” that you edited — is it tricky at all to revisit something like that, since it is so closely associated with its original creative team?

Alonso: Like with any of these series that key into a very specific story or event from Marvel Universe history, the X-Men editors made careful consideration of who they brought in… and figure Chris Burnham’s method of storytelling is probably as close as one can get to Grant without actually being Grant. And Ramon’s work hearkens back to the dynamism that Quitely brought to “New X-Men” when it launched. It’s harder for me to talk about “E Is For Extinction” because it loops back into stories we’ve told, and I don’t want to give away too much.

“Future Imperfect” was also announced this week, and it’s notable in that unlike a lot of the other stories that revisit — at least in name — past Marvel event stories, this one is by its original author, Peter David. How significant do you view David running to the Maestro and “Future Imperfect” — and, in a way, his legendary Hulk run?

Alonso: Once again [Laughs], we were brainstorming Battleworld territories, and [Senior Editor] Mark Paniccia thought the characters and setting of “Future Imperfect” were a must-have on our map. And let’s face it, everyone — not just Hulk fans — remembers the Maestro; he’s one of the most visually dynamic Hulks in the history of the series. And when you think of Maestro, you think of Peter. There’s no one better to write this. And let me tell you, Greg Land is doing inspired work. He does a great Hulk. Just sayin’.

Two more new series that take cues from earlier Marvel storylines are “X-Tinction Agenda” and “Korvac Saga.” Those are both intriguing to me, because while those stories are definitely a major part of Marvel history, at this point they’re 25 and 40 years-old, respectively. From your perspective, what’s the motivation in reusing those titles, rather than say, releasing those stories under the “Guardians 3000” banner or as an arc in one of the “X-Men” books?

Alonso: Both “X-Tinction Agenda” and “Korvac Saga” stand the test of time extremely well, and were as relevant in their day as “Civil War” or “Old Man Logan” were in more recent years. And given the flexibility of “Secret Wars” and the fact that the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are at the pinnacle of their popularity, what better time than now?

So… With his extensive knowledge of all things Guardians, we figured who better to write the “Korvac Saga” than Dan Abnett? And finishing out the creative one-two punch is newcomer Otto Schmidt – the perfect choice to tackle this multi-character epic.

As for “X-Tinction Agenda”… Marc Guggenheim is taking a piece of X-history that hasn’t really been touched, despite its surprisingly large effect on the X-folks, and tugging at a few unfinished threads… The artist is Carmine Di Giandomenico.

Marvel Launches “X-Tinction Agenda” As Part Of “Secret Wars”

Let’s wrap the week with a couple of questions from the CBR Community. Mighty Roman asks, “Will the ‘Secret Wars Journal’ title contain any multi-part stories (like the ‘Original Sins’ anthology), or will all of the stories in the title be one-shots?”

Alonso: “Secret Wars Journal” is one-shots, each of which explores a different section of Battleworld. And some of these zones will only be revealed in this series. So, if you want a full picture of Battleworld, “Secret Wars Journal” is the Battleworld book.

The first issue has two stories by first-time Marvel writers: A Lady Kate of Bishop in “1602” story that directly ties into one of the big Battleworld books, written by Pru Shen (“Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong”) and drawn by Ramon Bachs, and a twisted story of Egyptia that casts the X-Men as slaves trying to overthrow their overlord, Khonshu. That one is written by Matthew Rosenberg (“12 Ways to Die”) and drawn by Luca Pizzari.

We’ll wrap here: responsarbre is looking into the future a bit, asking, “Any more plans to promote Jessica Jones before her TV show comes out at the end of the year?

Alonso: Yes.

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!

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