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 Message Boards, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!
This week, in the wake of the social media-smash “Guardians of the Galaxy” trailer, Alonso discusses Marvel publishing’s preparations in crafting material tied to the unique property. Plus, insight into how the “Original Sin” tie-ins will be different than past Marvel events, what made Chris Yost and Marcus To’s freshly launched “New Warriors” revival the right take on the concept for 2014, why ABC’s “Revenge” and Marvel Comics are a good match, and your questions from the CBR forums.
Albert Ching: Axel, first, have to ask about what has been very a popular source of conversation this week: Have you watched the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trailer?
Axel Alonso: Yeah! It’s a lot of fun.
On that subject: Marvel publishing always seems very ready for when a Marvel Studios movie hits, dating back to the launch of “Invincible Iron Man” in 2008 coinciding with the original “Iron Man” movie. With “Guardians of the Galaxy,” it seems there’s been even more attention paid to that franchise, dating back to the characters reappearing in “Avengers Assemble,” and the new series starting last year — there’s obviously going to be a lot of collected material out by the movie hits in August. Was it a higher priority given that the characters are not as well-known as the stars of past Marvel movies?
Alonso: It definitely factored in. The goal was to build upon the great stuff laid down by previous creators — in particular Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – to reach as broad an audience as possible. And we achieved that goal when Brian Bendis and Steve McNiven‘s “Guardians of the Galaxy” #1 was the number one selling title the month the series launched. Also, we wanted the new stories to be as accessible and new reader-friendly as possible to anyone who left the cinema wanting more, and we wanted it to be crystal clear that the Guardians exist in the same Marvel Universe as Cap, Thor, and Iron Man, who became an honorary member of the team. If I don’t see at least one person with a Rocket Raccoon tattoo at a con sometime after “Guardians” hits the big screen, I’m going to be very disappointed.
Something that’s hit home with all the recent “Guardians” talk — even though the individual characters have been around for years, and the “Guardians of the Galaxy” name has been around since 1969, this take on the concept with this lineup has only existed since 2008. Is there a little more of a sense of pride within Marvel publishing watching this film take shape, and seeing that a product of the recent past can become a major movie, just like the characters that have been around for 50 years?
Alonso: I honestly don’t remember being in a single conversation in which we acknowledged that. Maybe that’s because all the Marvel Studios films have touched upon contributions made over the last 10 years. I mean: “Winter Soldier.” But now that you ask, yeah, we’re excited and proud. [Laughs]
There’s been a lot of “Original Sin” promotion this week, and the tie-ins sound very different than how they’ve been handled in the recent past — in turn, they were different in “Infinity” than they were in “Avengers vs. X-Men.” Since events are roughly an annual occurrence, how important is it to you to keep that reading experience varied?
Alonso: It’s very important. We hatched the core concept of “Original Sin” at an editorial retreat about seven or eight years ago, and the idea that the Watcher’s murder would be the inciting incident came at a later retreat. So we’ve wanted to do this story for years, but we never pulled the trigger because, even though we had some cool ideas that made for a very different Marvel Universe event, no single writer stepped forward to create an actual story out of it. Until Jason [Aaron] did. And he’s turned it into an event that’s very different from ones we’ve done in the past — both the core series itself and the way that the tie-ins map against it.
The core series — Jason and Mike [Deodato]‘s eight-issue “Original Sin” — is a murder mystery that spans the Marvel Universe. Someone has killed The Watcher, a group of Marvel heroes will scour the Marvel Universe to find out who did it — and why — while the rest of the Marvel Universe deals with the aftershocks of his death. You see, Uatu’s killer made off with his eyes, which were witness to the Marvel Universe’s deepest, darkest secrets, and he, or she, isn’t shy about letting them loose like little bombs. The team that investigates Uatu’s murder is comprised of team-leader Black Panther, Winter Soldier, Dr. Strange, Emma Frost, Ant-Man, Gamora, Moon Knight and the Punisher, and its search will yield a lot of suspects who, let’s just say, aren’t cooperative. And like any good murder mystery there will be lots of twists and turns and red herrings, and the identity — and motive — of the killer is a true shocker.
So, the core series, “Original Sin,” is a self-contained murder mystery. Each “Original Sin” tie-in is self-contained story that explores how a deep dark secret, unleashed in the aftermath of Uatu’s murder, turns the life of an individual character upside-down. So for readers of each title, each tie-in is a mini-event: “TMZ” meets the Marvel Universe. And the tie-ins will span the line — from “Amazing Spider-Man,” to “Iron Man,” to “Hulk,” to “Thor,” to “Deadpool.” Each secret from the character’s past will rock them to their core, and have permanent consequences. Characters will be changed. Characters will discover secrets dating back to their very origins that change what they see in the mirror. Characters will learn that their lives and fates overlapped others’ in ways they didn’t know. Characters’ relationships will be forever changed.
So, given that, is it fair to say that these tie-ins fit in a little more organically within ongoing series than some events in the past?
Alonso: Yes. Each tie-in story stands on its own two feet, and can be read and enjoyed even if you didn’t read the core series. But of course, we hope you do.
“New Warriors” #1 came out this week. My perception is that “New Warriors” is the type of book that has a lot of love attached to it — there’s a lot of fond nostalgia for the original series in the ’90s, and it’s likely the kind of book that a lot of writers have a pitch for. But since that original series, it’s seemingly been hard to make it work on an ongoing basis. This is the first “New Warriors” book in a while — what made this the right take in revisiting the name and concept?
Alonso: It all starts with Chris “Thor: The Dark World” Yost, who had a fresh perspective that [series editor] Sana Amanat embraced, and gave us a great platform for Nova and Scarlet Spider. We’re also at a time where people are interested books with our younger heroes-the success of “Avengers Academy,” “Young Avengers” and “Ms. Marvel” proves there’s an audience for it. That these New Warriors come from all walks of life and superhuman grouping, makes this series distinct from any other series out there. They’re just a motley crew of characters trying to shake the weight of the New Warriors’ past mistakes, while protecting the world from a threat that only they can take on.
Marvel’s May 2014 solicitations revealed that Gail Simone is doing a “Savage Wolverine” story — she’s contributing to the “Deadpool” wedding issue in April, but this looks to be her first Marvel story of length in more than a decade. A lot of fans are surely excited about that, but what has you specifically excited about Gail Simone back at Marvel?
Alonso: Gail’s got a unique voice. It’s good to see her dipping a toe in the pond.
So there’s definitely a chance for more from Simone at Marvel after her “Savage Wolverine” story?
Alonso: Rumor has it, Gail will be a guest at the Women of Marvel panel at C2E2, so I figure there’ll be some coffee talk after.
Also this week, it was announced that Marvel will be releasing an original graphic novel based on the ABC show “Revenge,” which follows the earlier “Castle” and “Once Upon a Time” OGNs — what makes “Revenge” a good fit for Marvel?
Alonso: Emily Thorne, in essence, is a real life super hero. Her mission was sparked by a tragic past and she even dons an all-black costume to perform her takedowns. Such a strong and bold character merges perfectly with the world of our ABC/Marvel OGNs, and underscores our commitment to creating new comic book fans. We are beyond excited to be part of reaching “Revenge” fans with an in-continuity tale about this amazing heroine.
Moving to some questions from the CBR forums, Gold Rhapsody has a very specific timing-based query: “With Peter Parker officially returning as the Amazing Spider-Man in April, will [Mark] Waid and [James] Robinson’s ‘Spider-Man: Family Business’ still occur pre-Ock or will it be established as happening after ‘Superior’?”
Alonso: Good question, Gold Rhapsody. We solicited the OGN before we were ready to announce “Amazing Spider-Man” and Peter Parker, but you are correct that it takes place after Peter becomes Spider-Man again. And it’s gorgeous!
marvelfan27 has a question that seems timely given the “X-Men: Days of Future Past” promotional blitz: “Can we expect to see more of Blink this year?”
Alonso: No immediate plans for Blink, marvelfan27, but she’s a name that comes up from fairly frequently so it’s only a matter of time before she finds a spot to land. The movie won’t hurt.
Finally, Icey1999 asks, “It’s great that Iron Patriot is getting his own series not only to increase his status, but also to break the race-barrier. With this in mind, could we expect more African-American heroes, like Storm or Falcon, to star in a solo series?”
Alonso: I wouldn’t be surprised, Icey1999…
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!
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