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 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” now in theaters, Alonso — group editor of the X-books for years — shares his thoughts on what made Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s original 1981 story so significant to Marvel history. Alonso also sheds a bit of early insight into the upcoming Rick Remender-written event “AXIS,” which was officially announced this week via this month’s cover of “Previews.” Switching to the present, Alonso expresses enthusiasm for the original Nick Fury’s role in “Original Sin,” and details news from Marvel’s August 2014 solicitations, like Gerry Duggan taking on “Hulk” writing duties, “Sex Criminals” co-creator Chip Zdarsky making his Marvel debut, and the future of “Moon Knight.” Plus, your questions, straight from the CBR Community!
Albert Ching: Axel, this week sees the release of Fox’s highly anticipated “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which has gotten positive early reviews. I know Marvel wasn’t a part of that production, but let’s take it back to the source material — as Marvel editor-in-chief and former X-Men group editor, how much affection do you have for the original “Days of Future Past” storyline?
Axel Alonso: “Days of Future Past” is monumentally important to the X-Men mythos because it introduced a number of concepts to the X-Universe that have come to be its cornerstones. It was the first time we saw an alternate reality’s versions of X-Men characters, which has since played a key role in events such as “Age of Apocalypse” and “Age of X.” It was the first big X-Men time-travel story, which paved the way for recent developments such as the All-New X-Men and “Battle of the Atom.” And, of course, it was the first time we saw Wolverine die, which… well, stay tuned for more on that later this year!
One distinctly Marvel publishing story I wanted to get your take on, for however much you’ll be able to comment at this point, is the “Previews” cover for this month, which showcases a little bit of the “Axis” event, now known to be written by Rick Remender. Is there anything more you can comment on at this time?
Alonso: Avengers and X-Men. Next question?
Well, it appears this is Remender’s first true big line-wide Marvel event, but he also seems uniquely suited to this, since he’s been doing big events within his own books — specifically “Uncanny X-Force” and “Uncanny Avengers” — for years. So was he a natural choice for this bigger type of story?
Alonso: Without a doubt. Rick brings such an embarrassment of riches to every story outline, he’s constantly leaving juicy ideas on the cutting room floor. He’ll be the first to admit it. He always thinks big and outside the box, and it’s safe to say that “AXIS” is the biggest story he’s ever written for us.
We talked a few weeks back about how it wasn’t immediately apparent how the big events in “Uncanny Avengers” affected the Marvel Universe as a whole, and you said that it was going to become very obvious in a few months. So is this that thing?
Alonso: Yep, this is that thing. Rick has been seeding this in “Uncanny Avengers,” but “AXIS” is going to accessible to anyone who picks it up. You won’t need to be a reader of “Uncanny Avengers” to hop on board. And if you’re a fan of “Avengers” or “X-Men,” you won’t want to miss it.
To transition from this future event to the one that’s currently ongoing, there are now two issues out of “Original Sin,” and one thing that’s struck me so far is how character-based it is — especially with the different pairings of Marvel superheroes, and the lower-tier characters who are getting to play an important role, like Ant-Man and Moon Knight. How unique of an event book do you think that makes”Original Sin”?
Alonso: “Original Sin” is different from any event we’ve done insofar as it’s a murder mystery that takes place in — and cuts to the core of — the Marvel Universe. It is not superheroes squaring off against a common foe or each other, it’s a universe-spanning detective story. So we started with the question, Who’s best qualified to investigate the murder of the Watcher? That’s how characters like Ant-Man, Nick Fury, Winter Soldier, Dr. Strange, Punisher and Gamora got into the mix. Each had the right personality and skill set to scour a different corner of the Marvel Universe. Dr. Strange can explore other realms, Ant-Man can look for clues on a subatomic level, Punisher has a gift for interrogation… I was raised on a steady diet of quirky characters like Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, so I’m thrilled to see characters that don’t have the Q-rating of Cap, Thor, Iron Man or Wolverine step onto the stage like this.
“Original Sin” is meant to be a very different type of experience for the reader, and so are its spinoffs, each of which is structured to offer a window into the soul of an individual character. These tie-ins are less intrusive to the monthly series because they focus on the individual character in crisis — not with a problem that spans the Marvel Universe — a Skrull invasion, the Phoenix force, etc. — but a very personal problem, a secret from his or her past that’s going to turn their lives upside-down.
Another significant element from the last two issues is the major role for the original Nick Fury — some have speculated about his fate later on in the story, but for you, how much have you enjoyed seeing that aspect of the story take shape? The character hasn’t been focused on much lately, and now he’s right in the middle of a Marvel event.
Alonso: He sure is. Now there’s a character I love. As a kid, I scavenged flea markets and dime stores for back issues of Steranko’s “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Strange Tales.” I loved him because he was a badass without superpowers — no superpowers, just highly skilled. So when Jason chose Fury to be a player in this story, I was thrilled. Fury’s unique skill set qualifies him to be a part of this investigation, and I’m excited about how the event will elevate him — provided he makes it out of this alive. Because I’ve been hearing rumors that he doesn’t…
Let’s rewind a couple of weeks to the release of the latest Marvel original graphic novel, “X-Men: No More Humans” by Mike Carey and Salvador Larroca. It feels a little different than the past two Marvel OGNs, since it’s a little more tied to current continuity. As the third book in this line, what’s especially significant about it for you?
Alonso: Tell you what I love: Mike Carey writing X-Men again, Salvador Larroca drawing X-Men, the concept that drives the story. I’m a huge fan of, and proponent for, the OGN format. I know there’s an audience that yearns for the simple pleasure of a book with a beginning, middle and ending that sits squarely on their bookshelf, so we’re making sure we bring them best stories by our best creators when we do them.
It seems that that Marvel is very much behind this line — there have been three books already, and a Jim Starlin’ “Thanos: The Infinity Revelation” on the way. Is it fair to say the line has been seen as a success, and something Marvel will continue to support?
Alonso: Without a doubt. We have many more planned.
RELATED: Gerry Duggan Unleashes the Î© Hulk
Let’s dive in a bit to Marvel’s August 2014 solicitations. Gerry Duggan is taking over Hulk — that’s a pretty quick rise at Marvel, branching out from co-writing one ongoing series to now working on three. What has you excited about seeing Duggan take on such an iconic character?
Alonso: I love Gerry. He’s got a lot of buzz right now, what with the “Deadpool” renaissance he spearheaded with [co-writer] Brian Posehn. And since I first started working with Gerry, I knew he was a huge fan of the Hulk, so I figured it was only a matter of time before he did just that. So, when we realized that the “Original Sin” tie-in story, “Hulk vs. Iron Man” was going to have such a profound effect on the title characters, and that it just might end cap Mark Waid‘s run on “Hulk” and Kieron Gillen‘s run on “Iron Man,” Gerry was the first name that came to mind. Judging from his first script, he’s the right pick.
Also, the “Moon Knight” solicitation promises a “conclusion” in #6. People are wondering what that means — can you confirm or deny that Warren Ellis, Declan Shavley and Jordie Bellaire’s story ends with #6?
Alonso: “Moon Night: Volume One” concludes with issue #6. “Moon Knight: Volume Two” starts the next month. We’ll have more to say about that soon, and I’m very excited.
The August 2014 solicitations also revealed that Chip Zdarsky, co-creator of “Sex Criminals” with Matt Fraction, will make his Marvel debut that month as part of the “Original Sins” finale. How big of a “Sex Criminals” fan are you, and what has you energized about Zdarsky joining the Marvel Universe?
Alonso: I love Chip’s work. “Sex Criminals” is terrific. I just finished the special edition “whiteout autographed” volume one hardcover. I’m really heartened to see fans embrace Chip’s style.
One more thing I wanted to get your take on — we’ve talked about variant covers and cover treatments, and the pluses and minuses of the them in recent weeks. It was announced last week that “The Death of Wolverine” will receive holofoil “Weapon Etched” covers, which was news that surely got some people excited, but there’s also a sect of the fan base will roll their eyes, fair or not, at that kind of thing on matter what. What made that the right way to go for this story?
Alonso: A holofoil cover announces that what you’re about to read is special. “Death of Wolverine” is. It’s is a huge story, it’s written by rising star Charles Soule, and it’s drawn by superstar artist Steve McNiven. I have no problem with the strategic deployment of enhanced covers, as long as they are used to promote content. And what goes on under the holofoil cover is going to blow you away.
Sticking with the more business-y side of things, looking at your Twitter this week to prepare for our chat, it seems that lately it’s been all about announcing second printings.
Alonso: I’ve been tweeting a lot about the rounds of second-, third- and fourth-printings we’ve been doing on our All-New Marvel Now series. Just this week “Moon Knight” #1 and “She-Hulk” #1 got a third printing, and last week “Ms. Marvel” #1 got a fourth printing — and this is on top of already healthy initial sales. And even some second issues are returning to print as well this week, like “All-New Ghost Rider” #2 and “All-New Invaders” #2. I’m thrilled to see how fans are responding to these series. It’s a testament to quality of the books.
It must be especially satisfying with characters like She-Hulk and Moon Knight, who aren’t traditionally seen as hot sellers.
Alonso: Once you find the right creative team, any character can be gold.
Let’s end with a few questions from the CBR Community. SpiderX asks: “‘Amazing Spider-Man #1’ was recently launched and is considered a landmark issue for Marvel. I was especially intrigued when a digital exclusive version was announced. Will extra digital bonus incentives like that be available or considered in the future for regular issues?
Alonso: We are exploring the possibility — starting next Wednesday. The first three issues of “Original Sin” include special digital exclusives, future issues of the event will have those special editions, and there’s more to come.
Reed Beebe missed old-fashioned comic book communication, requesting, “The letters pages traditionally printed in the back of Marvel’s comics have moved to Marvel’s website; is this a temporary move, or will fans need to check the website going forward to read the fan letters?”
Alonso: It was a temporary move to accommodate an influx of ads, Reed Beebe. The letters pages will return to print. Thanks for asking.
Finally, RockyBanks makes things timely: “With the success of ‘Pacific Rim’ and now ‘Godzilla’ on the big screen, is there any hope of Marvel revisiting its classic Giant Monsters? Fin Fang Foom, Giganto, Orrgo, or Grogg perhaps?”
Alonso: But of course, Rockybanks. We actually see a lot of the aforementioned Giant Monsters dead in “Original Sin” #2. That said, I’d love to see a series starring an assortment of our classic giant monsters. That said, if you’re hankering for a Giant Monsters fix, there’s always Groot, who debuted way back in “Tales to Astonish” #13 in 1960, and stars each month in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And oh yeah, “Devil Dinosaur: The Complete Collection” is in stores next week.
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!