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 Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!
With Jim Zubkavich and Felipe Andrade’s “Figment” #1 now on sale, Alonso details how such Disney/Marvel team-ups take shape, and what the future may hold (and yes, he’s still holding out hope for “Deadpool vs. Goofy”). Alonso also gives his take on the big news from the week — ranging from the “Deathlok” solo series from Nathan Edmondson and Mike Perkins and “Hawkeye vs. Deadpool” from Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli (both launching in October), and the casting of veteran actor Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin on Netflix’s 2015 “Daredevil” series. Plus, your questions, straight from the CBR Community — including what comics Alonso would include in his own personal Marvel 75th Anniversary Omnibus.
Albert Ching: Axel, first thing I wanted to get your take on is the Marvel TV news from this week — that Vincent D’Onofrio is going to play Wilson Fisk on the Netflix “Daredevil” series, which has gotten a rather positive response so far. What’s your reaction to that casting?
Axel Alonso: I love it. D’Onofrio is going to bring gravitas to Wilson Fisk. D’Onofrio is an amazing actor — passionate, nuanced, a bit weird. And I’ve heard from people who know such things that part of his process is to build a complex internal life for every character he plays — none of which ever is overtly shown on the screen, but all of which informs the decisions he makes about how they conduct themselves. So he’s going to build a very layered character. And hey, we know he looks formidable with a shaved head and bulky physique from his first movie role in [Stanley] Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.”
Turning to comics, let’s start with a book released this week, a little bit of a different one for Marvel: “Figment” #1. Marvel has been select about the Disney-centric material its published since the 2009 acquisition — what made “Figment” the right fit?
Alonso: What we pick for our Disney Kingdoms imprint starts with a discussion between us and our friends at Walt Disney Imagineering. There’s a small team on our side — including (Publisher) Dan Buckley, (Marvel Custom Solutions Creative Director) Bill Rosemann, (SVP of Print & Digital Publishing Sales) David Gabriel, who’s a huge Disney fan, and myself — that looks at available properties. We chat, we see what we think will translate best from a live attraction at one of their theme parks to our medium. Some attractions, for various reasons, are currently unavailable, and certain things — because of their genre or the characters involved — translate better than others.
Bill, who edits many of our third party titles — like “Empire of the Dead,” “Dexter,” and “The Dark Tower” — takes the lead on that in terms of nailing down the story and creative team. In this case, he leaned into a steampunk look through Filipe Andrade and Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s amazing art.
“Seekers of the Weird” and “Figment” are two more examples of the amazing synergy between Disney and Marvel that I hope will pave the road to “Deadpool vs. Goofy.”
You’ve been championing that for years now! But given the presence of Disney at Marvel increasing a little bit, is that something you’d personally like to see more of? Do you see an opportunity to do more with Disney characters at Marvel Comics?
Alonso: I’d welcome it. I’ve got an amazing staff of editors and creators who’d be up for the challenge. What we’re doing with “Star Wars” right now proves the magic we can do when we’re given the chance to bring great characters to the comic book page. Expanding our publishing plan to include other genres, over universes, is always exciting.
One more question on this topic: “Figment” #1 is Jim Zub’s first Marvel work, after building a name for himself at various publishers. What do you like about what he brings to the table?
Alonso: It was Bill [Rosemann] that brought Jim to our attention. To be honest, I’d heard good things about his book “Skullkickers,” but it was really Bill who saw the potential for Zub to weave humor with action and world building and do this right. Jim wrote an outline, we loved it, so did the folks at Disney, and that was that. Jim dug into the videos, designs and reference art provided by the Imagineers, and delivered sympathetic and relatable characters that you can’t help but root for.
Also out this week is “Original Sins” #1, which introduced the new Deathlok, Henry Hayes, who was announced this week as starring in his own series starting in October. Though a different character, he has been said to be inspired, at least visually, by the version of Deathlok that appeared in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and you’ve also said Marvel had preexisting Deathlok plans. So what was the timing like — just fortuitous thing where both ideas were happening at the same time, and they dovetailed together?
Alonso: That’s exactly how it happened! [Laughs] You answered your own question. [SVP – Publishing] Tom Brevoort had some ideas percolating when we caught wind that Deathlok would be revealed on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” so he used “Original Sins” as a platform to unleash Deathlok on the Marvel U. A little re-jiggering and a few aesthetic tweaks was all it took to make Deathlok relevant to both audiences, but Nathan Edmondson and Mike Perkins have a few surprises in store that are sure to please even the most hardcore Deathlok purists, like myself.
Was going to ask how big of Deathlok fan you were, because he seems to be right in line with the weirder, ’70s characters you have a lot of affection for.
Alonso: I bought the first appearance of Deathlok off the rack as a little boy, and full disclosure: I loved him because he shot people! [Laughs] While most superheroes just beat up the villain, and left them in front of the local police station, Deathlok shot ’em! A killer cyborg decades before the Terminator hit the big screen – it just blew me away. I read pretty as much of the original Rich Buckler as I could find, and hunted down the gaps at flea markets.
Deathlok is among my top 10-15 favorite characters. One of the many genre-influenced characters of the ’70s that hit my sweet spot when I was little, and made me a comic book fan. I am super-excited about what Nathan [Edmondson] and Mike [Perkins] have planned. And there is no bigger Deathlok fan on the planet than Mike, who has pestered me for more than a decade to do this book. Judging by his work — which I absolutely believe is the best of his career — this is long overdue. Mike was born to draw Deathlok. I mean, wow.
Also out this week is the “Uncanny X-Men Special,” written by Sean Ryan, a former Marvel editor that you’ve worked with before in that capacity. His name’s popping up more and more this year at both Marvel and DC Comics. What kind of promise do you see in him as a writer?
Alonso: I think he’s got enormous potential. He started writing comics over at the Distinguished Competition (after writing some terrific short stories before that), and a few really popped out at us. At this point, Sean has been a utility player who’s come in to do fill-ins. Like any young writer, he’ll probably pop once he’s given a shot at a series he can really own. Like what Haden Blackman has done with “Elektra,” or Charles Soule with “She-Hulk,” or Nathan Edmondson with “Black Widow” — making fans see a character through new eyes.
Announced this week is the “Hawkeye vs. Deadpool” miniseries, written by the increasingly busy Gerry Duggan and illustrated by Matteo Lolli. I know it’s not Deadpool vs. Goofy, but what do you like about the story, and the pairing of those two characters?
Alonso: Deadpool has undergone renaissance in the hands of Gerry and Brian Posehn and Cullen Bunn; “Hawkeye” has been one of our best and most acclaimed series of the last several years under Matt Fraction, David Aja, and the amazing swing artists that have kept the book looking so damn good month after month — [Javier] Pulido, [Francesco] Francavilla… So you’ve got two super-hot characters at the height of their popularity, each of whom walks with their own distinct swagger, squaring off against one another. It’s the whole “Who’s Stronger?” debate, reflected in a funhouse mirror.
It’s also a pairing that feels fresh, which can be a difficult thing given how many Marvel stories have been published over the decades.
Alonso: There are some titles that just get your attention. “Deadpool Killustrated,” “Night of the Living Deadpool”….”Hawkeye vs. Deadpool.” Fans know right out the gate that seeing these two collide is going to be unpredictable. I’m sure Gerry is going to take full advantage of that and bring the right balance of madcap humor and drama to the table.
Last week, the “Edge of Spider-Verse” miniseries was announced, and among the talent working on that is Gerard Way, who of course was known as a very famous rock star before becoming a star comic book writer with “The Umbrella Academy.” What do you like about working with someone like that, who’s coming in after being successful outside of comics? There seem to be some inherent strengths — a fresh perspective, their own audience.
Alonso: Every writer brings a worldview that’s forged by experience to the table when they write a comic — everything they’ve read, seen, done, shapes their voice. So if that writer has lived the life a rock star…well, do the math! There’s the potential for something special. [Laughs] And this isn’t Gerard Way’s first rodeo; “Umbrella Academy” was inventive and fun and very well received. I’m sure fans are going to like this.
Let’s wrap with a few questions from the CBR Community: Reed Beebe wants to know about your personal favorites, asking, “To celebrate its 75th Anniversary, Marvel Comics is asking fans to choose the contents of its Marvel 75th Anniversary Omnibus. As a Marvel fan, which issues or issues would you like to see included in this omnibus?”
Alonso: Geez, where to start…? There are certainly a few more obscure stories I’d include that might not resonate with a lot of other people — like the first issue of “Arrgh!” — but that’s part of the beauty of it, isn’t it? So… if I were to list issues of comics that are especially meaningful to me, I suppose my list would include:
- “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” #1
- “Marvel Premiere,” featuring Iron Fist” #15
- “Marvel Premiere, featuring The Power of Warlock” #1,
- “Astonishing Tales, featuring Deathlok the Demolisher” #25,
- “Amazing Spider-Man” #131 (Vol. 1, 1974)
- “Avengers” #93 (Vol. 1, 1971) — best Ant-Man story ever
- “Daredevil’ #181
- “Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man” #1 (Vol. 2, 2013)
- “X-Force” #116 — Hey kids! Look, no code!
- “Elektra: Assassin” #1
- “Silver Surfer” #4 (Vol. 1, 1969)
- “Jungle Action” #5, featuring the Black Panther (1973)
- “Captain America” #153 (Vol. 1, 1972)
- “Thor” #221 (Vol. 1, 1974)
- “Wolverine #1” (Vol. 1, 1982)
- “The Ultimates” #1 (Vol. 1, 2002)
- “Punisher MAX” #1 (Vol. 1, 2010)
- “Werewolf By Night” #2 (Vol. 1, 1972)
- “Civil War” #1
I could go on for days… Everyone’s been touched by so many stories. I mean, if it were up to David Gabriel, we’d include “Night Nurse” #1, “The Cat” #1, “Avengers” #144 [the first appearance of The Cat] and “Uncanny X-Men” #130 [the first appearance of Dazzler.]
darkxmen has a question on a former “Astonishing X-Men” writer: “Is there anything in the works for Marjorie Liu? I love her work.”
Alonso: Not currently, but that could change soon.
Finishing up for the week with SpiderX, gazing into the late fall: “Will the upcoming Spider-Verse story line in November bleed over into ‘Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man”?
Alonso: You’ll see Miles in a big role in “Spider-Verse” in the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man,” but I think Brian and David and co. have other universe-spanning stories going on around that time.
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!