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!
This week, Alonso gives his insight on a trio of new announcements from Marvel on October 2014-debuting projects — “Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier” from Ales Kot and Marco Rudy, seven-issue miniseries “Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy” and “Men of Wrath,” the latest from Icon, Marvel’s creator-owned line. Alonso also details his thoughts on Peter David‘s staying power, shares the news that this week’s “Spider-Man 2099” #1 his 100,000 in initial retailer orders, and comments on the controversy that arose last weekend, with interpretations of the sex between Falcon and Jet Black as potential statutory rape inspiring the “#FireRickRemender” hashtag, aimed at that book’s series writer. Plus, your questions, straight from the CBR Community!
Albert Ching: Axel, it’s that time of year where Comic-Con is practically the only thing people in the comics industry can think about — how is the San Diego prep going over at Marvel HQ?
Axel Alonso: All’s good in the hood, except for our hotel confirmation numbers. [Laughs] We have some cool stuff to announce there.
Speaking of announcements, Marvel made a couple of them this week, for October-debuting projects — on Thursday, word of the new “Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier series broke. Readers have seen a couple different Winter Soldier series at this point with different takes on the character, set in different timelines — what has you excited about this time around?
Alonso: Well, for one thing, the way that the creative team — writer Ales Kot and artist Marco Rudy — consciously delves into the dark espionage zone of [“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”]. This is going to be very different from past “Winter Soldier” volumes insofar as Bucky’s now operating on a much bigger scale than ever before. He’ll still be doing the same kind of work, but now it’ll be in every corner of the Marvel Universe — from the Savage Land to deep space. And while Bucky may think he’s finally at peace with his past and ready to move on to this new chapter of his life, he’ll find out some pretty unsettling truths on this journey.
And Rudy definitely turned heads with that “Marvel Knights: Spider-Man” miniseries with Matt Kindt last fall.
Alonso: Yeah. Marco is a one-of-a-kind artist, who’s absolutely over the moon to be working on this character. And Ales has an energy and personality in his writing that’s a perfect match for Marco’s art. Expect eye-popping, widescreen visuals.
Marvel also announced the seven-issue “Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy” miniseries, which will stretch out into December. There are definitely skeptics out there wondering why people are making a big deal out of “Death of Wolverine” under the belief he’s coming back sooner rather than later, but is this a sign of Marvel being serious about it lasting for a while?
Alonso: Well, it’s funny because a lot of people complain there’s too much more Wolverine! [Laughs] Not anymore.
This is a long-term plan. He’s dead. Our plans, well, let’s just say that if they fans don’t like a Wolverine-free Marvel Universe, we can’t fix that quickly. Mike [Marts] and his team have a very complex and exciting plan to fill the Wolverine-sized hole in the Marvel Universe… that better work out! [Laughs]
So there’s no exit plan at this point?
Alonso: At this point, there’s no exit plan, no.
One thing definitely striking about the creative lineup of “Death of Wolverine” is that much of the writers are folks that Mike Marts worked with at DC, who haven’t necessarily done a whole lot of Marvel work in the past. It’s been nearly six months of Marts back at Marvel — how significant of a presence has he been in bringing in talent best known for their work elsewhere?
Alonso: Significant. The X-Office is humming. Mike is definitely working his Rolodex. And with the crew he has — Editor Daniel Ketchum, Super-Associate Editor Jordan D. White, Assistant Editor Alexander Jarowey, and now Editor Katie Kubert — I expect big things out of the X-Office next year.
New Icon series “Men of Wrath” was announced earlier in the week, from Jason Aaron and Ron Garney. It’s a creator-owned book so I’m not sure how specifically you can speak to it, but how pleased are you to see a new entry in the Icon line, given that doesn’t happen all the time?
Alonso: This is another great addition to the Icon line. I really wanted us to publish it. I don’t want to reveal anything more about the story that hasn’t been said, but I will guarantee that you’re going to be seeing a very different side of a creative team whose collaboration dates back to one of Jason’s first Marvel projects, “Get Mystique.” They’re flexing a different set of muscles here. This back is action-packed, bloody and profound.
And you were the editor on Aaron and Garney’s first story together, back on “Wolverine,” right?
Alonso: Yep. I had a feeling they’d click.
Looking at material that came out this week, let’s start with “Spider-Man 2099.” Peter David seems to be busier than maybe ever at Marvel — he’s got “Spider-Man 2099,” “All-New X-Factor,” the “Dark Tower” material and “Deadpool’s Art of War,” just announced last week. The conventional wisdom is that creators with his level of experience sometimes have a hard time at mainstream publishers. What do you think it says about the quality and consistency of his work that he’s such a presence at Marvel right now?
Alonso: There’s no statute of limitations on talent. A lot of creators fall into the trap of thinking that a comics career comes with a ticking clock. But what about Grant Morrison? Garth Ennis? Neil Gaiman? Brian Bendis? If you build a body of work that commands respect, you’ll have staying power. Peter exemplifies that fact. He comes at every assignment from a perspective that is uniquely his, and his voice shines through, no matter what the assignment is. That’s why he has one of the most loyal fan bases in comics.
Peter writing “Spider-Man 2099” was a no-brainer. It was simple math. And the orders — we broke 100K on issue #1 — bear that out.
Turning to the “2099” aspect of it — this book is Miguel O’Hara in the present, but the world of 2099 itself still has its fans. Given the success of this book early on, is there a chance of more of that material being revisited?
Alonso: Yeah, without a doubt. But we were discussing larger plans for 2099 a long time before we saw the orders on [“Spider-Man 2099”]. 2099 is a ripe universe with a lot of fans, and it really comes down to finding the right talent to bring you the right stories.
Another book from this week was “Original Sin” tie-in “Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm” #1. We’ve talked a bit about the concept before, but I wanted to ask about writer Al Ewing, who’s co-writing with Jason Aaron. Ewing’s somewhat quietly become a regular presence at Marvel, between “Loki: Agent of Asgard” and “Mighty Avengers.” What do you think he brings to the table that makes him the right fit for Marvel’s current landscape? And do you see the potential for even more?
Alonso: We definitely see the potential for even more with Al. He’s an idea factory and, as “Mighty Avengers” shows, he really gets the Marvel Universe — he’s great about incorporating a character’s continuity into fresh new stories. The fact that he’d handled the Asgardian bits in “Loki: Agent of Asgard” so deftly made him a no-brainer to co-write “The Tenth Realm” with Jason.
This month also marks several of the “Marvel 100th Anniversary” specials, certainly an unconventional project. I know it started as a Steve Wacker idea that Nick Lowe inherited, but what do you like about the concept, and how it’s being executed in these one-shots?
Alonso: The wide breath of the creators working on them and the ideas they and their editors brought to the page. Each book’s voice is so distinct and they hit so many incredible notes.
Before we turn to fan questions, wanted to ask — do you have any thoughts you’d like to share about the issue that arose this past weekend with the #FireRickRemender hashtag, inspired by the scene between Jet Black and Falcon in “Captain America” #22?
Alonso: On the Internet, sometimes what appears to be an explosion is really just a fart. The accusations are totally without merit. A handful of people who have it in for Rick started a witch hunt against him, claiming he had written a scene in “Captain America” #22 that portrayed the Falcon engaging in what amounted to statutory rape. They used social media to spread the word, and we got some angry emails — about 90 percent which came from people who stated right out the gate that hadn’t even read the issue, but were incensed by what they’d heard Rick had written.
Let me be clear: An attack on Rick’s integrity is an attack on Marvel’s integrity. We would never publish a scene that had one of our Super Heroes engage in such an act. Jet Black is a 23-year old woman. She was a pre-teen at the start of Rick’s run, but since that time, the book has jumped forward 13 years in the future, and Jet — along with Steve and Ian — has aged 13 years. In “Captain America” #22, it is explicitly stated that Jet is 23, and she is rendered [by artist Carlos Pacheco] as a fully adult woman. Jet Black is a 23-year-old woman. End of story.
From Marvel’s end, did you expect any type of blowback from that scene?
Alonso: Why would we? If someone wants to see something that’s not there, we can’t control that.
Look, if some readers were to take issue with the fact that Sam and Jet Black had a one-night stand, we could engage in honest and open dialog. But that’s not what’s happening here. It’s a witch-hunt that has no basis in fact.
We’ll wrap for the week with a question from the CBR Community. “MARVELous Memories” asks, following the launches of “The Legendary Star-Lord” and “Rocket Raccoon,” “What are the chances that Drax is next in line for his own series?”
Alonso: A Drax series? Well, sure that would be fun… but how about a “Groot” monthly series? Not only would it be a crowd-pleasing book and sell a lot of numbers, but we’d also be able to produce it on a bargain budget! We’d only need to pay the letterer one time for one word balloon: “I. AM. GROOT!”
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!