UPDATE 12/6/2013 5:00 PM PT: An earlier version of this article erroneously ran an incomplete answer to the first question. It has been amended accordingly.
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 Message Boards, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!
This week, Axel addresses the three-month delay in Matt Fraction and Joe Madureira’s “Inhuman” launch with a focus on how the move will impact the rest of the line. Then he discusses the ins and outs of “All-New” Marvel NOW! by zeroing in on the overlooked characters and incoming creative changes that make this phase of rolling relaunches significantly different than those in the past. Plus, he takes your questions on digital comics, the Nova Corps, “Uncanny Avengers” and more. Read on!
Kiel Phegley: Axel, as last week was wrapping up, Marvel announced a several month delay for Matt Fraction and Joe Madureira’s “Inhuman.” What can you tell us about the nature of this delay? Given how “Inhumanity!” is structured, does this delay impact the rest of the line as a whole?
Axel Alonso: I can’t get into the specifics of the delay just yet. Expect more info soon, but I will say that it won’t affect anything. The story told in “Inhuman” — while super-important to the future of the Marvel Universe — is not time-sensitive. Our plans for the Inhumans are long-term and far-reaching. They are extremely strong characters with a rich mythology that we intend to mine for decades to come, so we’re in no rush to tell any one aspect of that story. The stories told in “Inhumanity #1” and #2 are prelude to the road ahead, but the ripple effects of the Terrigen bomb will be felt across the Marvel Universe in coming months.
In the meantime, I understand there’s some added promotion muscle going into the other big launches surrounding All-New Marvel NOW! What’s it take to keep interest on all these launches up when you have them kind of continually rolling out?
Alonso: It’s important that we make it absolutely clear — to both retailers and fans — that All-New Marvel NOW! is a brand-new initiative that goes above and beyond where Marvel NOW! went. “All-New” isn’t just a buzzword. Each new series we’re launching — from Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s “Black Widow” to James Robinson and Steve Pugh’s “All-New Invaders” — is exciting and fresh and worth buying on its own merits — and we’ll promote each as such. Expect to see All-New Marvel NOW! everywhere you’d expect and in plenty of places you wouldn’t. Our Marketing and Promotions team has planned some big pushes for 2014 that will see All-New Marvel NOW! featured everywhere from national television to some of the most popular sites on the Internet.
At the end of the day, of course, it all comes down to making quality books and then making those books available to anyone and everyone who wants to read them. Our network of retailers is our number one partner, so we’ve also got plenty of stuff planned for them too.
Combining that expansion of the Inhumans world and Marvel NOW! news, a lot of the announcements for All-New Marvel NOW! of late — “Moon Knight” and “Magneto” most recently — brought to mind something we used to discuss often in this column: raising up lesser seen characters. With the first wave of Marvel NOW! books, a premium was placed on the marquee franchises. Was part of the plan with this new set of books to go deeper into the Marvel bench?
Alonso: Yes. Marvel NOW! lay down the soil out of which All-New Marvel NOW! is growing — from the new “Ms. Marvel” to “She-Hulk” to “Ghost Rider” to “Black Widow” to “Inhuman.” And let me tell you, I’m thrilled by the talent lineup we have for these books. My editors have done an amazing job finding the right creators — writers and artists who are talented, motivated and in love with these characters — to tell some fantastic stories. And I’m also thrilled to see female characters like Black Widow, She-Hulk, Elektra and the new Ms. Marvel step onto center-stage alongside Captain Marvel and the all-female X-Men team to provide an unprecedented number of ongoing series anchored by female leads. That’s six series featuring female leads, if you’re counting, and it just sort of happened.
Did Editorial sit down and make up a hit list of characters for this drive in order to try and make some creative matches for new books?
Alonso: There’s always a list! Editors are fans, too. They just seized the opportunity and found the right talent. The All-New Marvel NOW! launches unfolded over a period of months. Editors expressed interest in characters, started discussions with writers and artists, and pitches started coming in. Some series grew out of educated guesses: Nathan Edmondson, whose indie work skews toward espionage, might have a story or two to tell about Black Widow and Punisher. Some were surprises: Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey have a penchant for Moon Knight. And some happened when editors thought waaaaaaaaay outside the box: Like Mark Paniccia did when he tapped Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore to relaunch “Ghost Rider.” That’s one of my — and [SVP — Publishing] Tom Brevoort’s — favorite new launches.
Of course, it’s not always a matter of finding a character and team and then letting them loose. I get the sense that the X-Men line comes with its own set of challenges because there are already so many titles and characters in circulation. How does that impact new series in that part of the line?
Alonso: The X-Men have always functioned as a subset of the Marvel Universe; when there are big events within that microcosm, the ripple effects spread across the entire line. From “Messiah CompleX” to “Schism” to “Battle of the Atom,” there’s a domino effect across the line: New alliances are formed. New enemies are made, new teams emerge with new mandates. The new “X-Force,” “X-Factor” and “Magneto” series are all examples of this. “X-Force” and “X-Factor” are completely new titles. And “Magneto” — well, let’s just say, if you enjoyed those scenes from “X-Men: First Class” where Magneto took down Nazis, Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta are cooking up a treat for you.
Yeah, I think when that movie came out, Tom Brevoort said that a ton of freelancers came in wanting to do some variation on that story.
Alonso: Exactly. But we waited for the stars to align to do it.
You’ve also got “Wolverine & The X-Men” returning in a different form from Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar. With this and “Daredevil,” I feel like now whenever a fan favorite Marvel books announces its cancelation, my first question to you should be “Is this going to relaunch in three months?”
Alonso: When we did Marvel NOW! more than a year ago, we didn’t give “Daredevil” the NOW! treatment because it would have been false advertising. “Daredevil” was an ongoing work in progress. When you see what Mark [Waid] and Chris [Samnee] do with “All-New Daredevil,” you’ll see why it warrants the new #1. From the all-new setting to the all-new direction, we feel strongly that this relaunch is worth doing, especially since a new #1 will bring new eyes onto what’s been one of our strongest books over the past few years.
And with “Wolverine & The X-Men” does that idea of a shift hold true with the new team?
Alonso: Yeah. Jason Latour — who happens to be a pal of Jason Aaron — is going to take full advantage of the changing landscape to take that series in a new direction. Jason Aaron started passing him the baton a long time before we announced the new series so he’s had ample time to pan. Meanwhile, Jason Aaron is using the changing landscape to shift his focus to tell new stories in “Amazing X-Men.”
Let’s start with a fun one as Reed Beebe wonders, “Who is your favorite Inhuman character?”
Alonso: Currently, it’s Black Bolt. But that could change any moment. There are a lot of new Inhumans we’re about to meet for the first time.
Icey1999 asks, “Since All-New Invaders features most of the original cast, will Thin Man possibly appear?”
Alonso: Nothing planned right now, but James has some very cool surprise guests for the book. Some old, some new and some you’d never think of when it comes to the Invaders.
C_W wants to know, “Rick Remender alluded to an appearance by Evan and ‘Angel’ in UA, are we to assume that this will be ‘NuAngel’ rather than teen Warren?”
Alonso: That’s a safe bet to make.
TsaiMeLemoni is gearing up for the new “Elektra” series and wonders, “What are the chances that Elektra’s last solo series will be digitized and made available for digital purchase?”
Alonso: Our plan moving forward is to get everything digitized and available for sale. We’ve got a huge backlog now, so we don’t quite have a date, but we’re working as fast as we can!
And stepping back to the last wave of Marvel NOW! titles, Spidergreen12 wonders, “I don’t know if you can give me a definitive Yes or No answer, but will we see the rebirth of the Nova Corps anytime soon? The Marvel universe is currently without a space corps! (Unless you count the Accuser Corps who you couldn’t really count on to help defend earth anyway).”
Alonso: Spidergreen, there are definitely plans for the now disbanded Nova Corps…or as “Nova” writer Gerry Duggan keeps calling them “The Nova Corpse.” So I don’t know that a “rebirth” is in the cards, but the legacy that Sam has inherited will come back to haunt him in very important ways — all the way to a big Marvel event next year that will have Nova right at the epicenter of things. But I probably said too much! Kiel, delete this answer!
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!