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“Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!”, “Rocket Raccoon and Groot” Deliver Unique Flavor

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
“Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!”, “Rocket Raccoon and Groot” Deliver Unique Flavor

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!

Marvel Comics Announces New “Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat!” Series

This week, with three more new Marvel series announced, Alonso gives his perspective on what makes “Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!” a contemporary take on a Golden Age character; the undeniable appeal of “Rocket Raccoon and Groot” and the contributions of relative comics newcomer Jeffrey Veregge on “Red Wolf.” Plus, insight into the “Marvel ’92” variants, the sudden reappearance of Gwen Stacy/Deadpool mash-up “Gwenpool” and answers to your questions, from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, the All-New, All-Different Marvel announcements keep rolling on, and a number of new series were announced this week. Let’s talk about them starting with “Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!” from writer Kate Leth and artist Brittney Williams. It was just last week we talked about the increase of female-led titles at Marvel, and this is one more — what can you say about how this book took shape?

Axel Alonso: Patsy Walker, as some people don’t know, is actually one of our oldest characters, having debuted way back in “Miss America Magazine #2” in 1944. Editor Wil Moss was looking to develop the character for a solo series — a shameless ploy to curry favor with [SVP of Sales] David Gabriel, who is the biggest Hellcat fan ever — and he talked with a number of writers about a number of different approaches. Kate Leth’s pitch was sharp, funny, topical, and [artist] Brittney Williams’ style perfectly captures the tone of the series, which is going to be very different from any of our other female-lead titles, from “Black Widow” to “Squirrel Girl.” One of the reasons Wil ended up going with Kate and Brittney’s take is because they figured out a really fun way to simultaneously incorporate that long history and at the same time make Patsy feel very 2015 — heck, very 2016, really.

Also, a whole new audience is going to be introduced to Patsy Walker when the “Jessica Jones” show debuts on Netflix in November, and while there will definitely be differences between the two takes on the character, we’re certainly going to have an engaging and new-reader-friendly series for all of them to check out the following month.

It’s notable that at least superficially at this point, this feels somewhat similar in tone to an “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” or “Howard the Duck.” Along with a rise in the number of female-led titles at Marvel, it also seems to be a heyday for more non-traditional superhero books at the publisher. Do you sense that trend as well?

Alonso: Yeah, we’re definitely building a nice little corner of the Marvel U with books like “Howard” and “Squirrel Girl” and now “Hellcat,” and there are similarities among those books for sure, but we set out from the get-go to make sure all our series here at Marvel have unique voices and looks, and these three are no exception. Howard’s problems are different from Doreen’s adventures, which will in turn be different from Patsy’s… misadventures?

Oh yeah, probably worth mentioning that “Squirrel Girl” was voted best graphic novel by Amazon, it was in the top 10 for the direct market, and it hit the New York Times Best Seller list — proving there’s an aftermarket for the series that will be crucial to its long-term health — and the comic book debuted in the top 30 comics for direct market in January 2015.

“Hellcat” is not only a female-led title, it has a solo female writer and a female artist, the first among Marvel’s current female-led titles. How significant is that aspect to you?

Alonso: It’s great it worked out that way. The evolution of this series says a lot about the way that the market is changing but also about the way the talent pool is expanding. As more creators of all types and styles get on our radar, it gets easier and easier to produce diverse titles.

“Rocket Raccoon and Groot” Return with New Marvel Series From Young & Andrade

Announced just yesterday was a new “Rocket Raccoon and Groot” series written by Skottie Young and drawn by Filipe Andrade, following the recent “Rocket Raccoon” and “Groot” solo titles. Is it fair to say this is something of a continuation of what Young had been doing with “Rocket Raccoon”?

Alonso: Without a doubt. Skottie gave “Rocket Raccoon” a distinct identity on the racks. From the cover, it was clear that series was tonally different from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Legendary Star-Lord,” and its success paved the road to the “Groot” solo series and this buddy book. The fact that Skottie’s writing this series means it’ll tonally be similar to “Rocket Raccoon,” but throwing Groot into the mix turns it into a buddy book, which, knock on wood, is a whole different animal.

Marvel Announces “Red Wolf” Ongoing From Edmondson, Talajic & Veregge

Also announced this week was a new series starring “Red Wolf,” something readers had been looking out for since the character appeared on the All-New, All-Different Marvel teaser by David Marquez a few months back. One of the most notable aspects of this series is that Jeffrey Veregge, a member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, will be illustrating the covers, designing characters and consulting on the series. Veregge is a relative newcomer to comics — how did he come to be involved at Marvel, and on this series?

Alonso: “Red Wolf” was in early development when Jeffrey got on our radar. We immediately saw him as an amazing talent that would give this series a distinct look on the racks and whose perspective would bring it authenticity, so we reached out and he was immediately interested. We discussed the possibility of him drawing the series, but we mutually agreed that he needed more experience doing sequential before he would be comfortable with such a commitment. So right now, he’s got a lot of roles in this series: He’s acting as story consultant, he’s doing the covers, he’s designing Red Wolf’s new costume — yes, Red Wolf is going to ditch his “1872” outfit — and at some point, he will draw interior pages.

Let’s catch up with a piece of news from late last week — the announcement of Marvel’s latest variant cover initiative, “Marvel ’92,” bringing back artists, designs and characters from the ’90s. For you, as someone who spent the ’90s working at a different comic book publisher, what has you excited about these covers?

Alonso: This is David Gabriel and his team’s brainchild: a shout out to a very distinct moment in time. The artists we’ve assembled for this are digging deep to channel their ’92 selves.

Speaking of the ’90s, show of hands for “Preacher” homage variants? [Laughs]

It’s cool to see artists that haven’t been at Marvel in a while back in the fold. Speaking of folds: This week some double-page spreads in print Marvel releases were interrupted by a fold-out advertisement. Any word on what happened there?

Alonso: That was a printer error, not an editorial experiment. [Laughs]. A printer error that we had no control over, and that was limited to one printer and a few books.

Marvel Announces “Gwenpool Holiday Special,” “Howard the Duck” Backup Stories

Coming off the Gwen Stacy variant covers, on Thursday morning a “Gwenpool” teaser was released, followed by the announcement of a December “Gwenpool Special.” Any insight you can provide on this somewhat unexpected news?

Alonso: Gwen. Pool. Do the math. [Laughs]

This week viewers saw the “>first teaser for the “Jessica Jones” Netflix live-action series, which heavily drew upon David Mack’s “Alias” covers as inspirations. As someone that was a part of the “MAX” line during the “Alias” era, what were your thoughts on the clip?

Alonso: It sure evokes the source material, doesn’t it!? [Laughs] I loved it.

We’ll wrap with fan questions from the CBR Community. xMatt wants to give the Young Avengers their due, asking, “As a fan of the Young Avengers since their first volume, it’s great to see characters like Kate Bishop shine in ‘Hawkeye,’ as well as Billy and Teddy appearing as full-fledged New Avengers. Is there any chance we’ll see some of the other Young Avengers, particularly Patriot and Speed, in some of the all-new comics?”

Alonso: It’s likely that we’ll see Patriot and Speed again, when you least expect them. And Cassie Lang is appearing regularly in “Astonishing Ant-Man” — albeit not as Stature any longer.

Let’s cap this week with CBR Community member Mockingbird, and you may be able to guess which character this is concerning: “They only bad thing about ‘Mockingbird’ #1 is that it’s a one-shot and not the beginning of an ongoing. Any chance of us getting a Mockingbird ongoing?

Alonso: Mockingbird’s going to be appearing regularly in the new “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” series starting in January, and on an irregular basis in “Amazing Spider-Man.” But more solo adventures for Bobbi? That would be telling…

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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