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 shares his thoughts on the news that actor Charlie Cox will star in 2015’s 13-episode “Daredevil” series, and his hopes for the Marvel/Netflix deal as a whole. With Marvel’s first collection of the Alan Moore-written “Miracleman” now on sale, Alonso discusses what still makes that story special, decades later. The EIC also provides some hints — albeit very preliminarily — about the latest “AXIS” teaser, and the recent Sara Pichelli-illustrated cover to “All-New X-Men” #32, that strongly suggested the Ultimate Universe’s Spider-Man, Miles Morales, would join the Marvel Universe’s All-New X-Men. Plus, your questions, straight from the CBR Community!
Albert Ching: Axel, let’s start with the big Marvel TV news from this week: What’s your initial reaction following the announcement that Charlie Cox has been cast as Daredevil in the 2015 Netflix series?
Axel Alonso: It’s intriguing casting. I liked him on “Boardwalk Empire.” He brought surprising depth to a supporting character. There was…brutality lurking under that movie star-pretty face. You knew his character had done some really bad $#!# back in Ireland — stuff that he could never outrun. So yeah, I can see him bringing shading and nuance to Matt Murdock that no one will see coming.
It’s early, but from a broader standpoint — the Marvel/Netflix deal is certainly a very ambitious prospect, and given the Netflix model, something new for Marvel. From your position in publishing, what kinds of expectations do you have for the Marvel/Netflix shows?
Alonso: For starters, I think we made some canny choices picking street-level characters whose stories will lend themselves to the small screen: Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones. So, if we continue to respect the source material and find the right people to bring these characters to the small screen, I think we’ll enjoy the same success we did with the movies. That’s been our formula for success, I think: Casting a wide net to find the right people for the job — directors, actors and writers — and being willing to take chances, not just retreading the same guys.
Moving to publishing, the first “Miracleman” collection was released this week, and it seems to definitely have been heralded as a very big deal within Marvel, certainly with advertising — in movie theaters, and a New York Times print ad. Obviously that’s a highly celebrated work that hasn’t been in print for years, but it seems like an even higher priority is being put on this collected edition. What makes it important to get “Miracleman” to a wider audience, beyond traditional comic book fans?
Alonso: For a couple decades now, anyone who heard all the fuss about “Miracleman” and wanted to read it for themselves, had to search far and wide and spend gobs of money for back issues or long out-of-print trades. It was a Herculean task to find everything — I mean, good luck! [Laughs]
So I’m really proud that we’re bringing this seminal work to two generations of comic book fans and a general public that’s become increasingly familiar with and fascinated by the super hero paradigm. And that we’re doing it with top-shelf production values and behind-the-scenes features that will provide creative and historical context for the reader.
“Miracleman” is more than just an important comic book story; it is a seminal piece of fiction. What does it mean on a physical and spiritual level to be given the powers of a God? That’s the fascinating existential question that “Miracleman” grapples with and follows to a dizzying conclusion — and one doesn’t need to be a comic book fan to appreciate the story.
Given that — both the fact that “Miracleman” had been effectively unavailable so long, and the number of stories it’s inspired — what’s your take on how the rerelease has been received thus by readers encountering it for the first time, now that Marvel has been publishing it for the past few months? Obviously it stands as one of the most influential works in comics and one a lot of people have been waiting to get their hands on for years, but it’s possible there also might be a case where readers had their expectations set a bit too high given the series’ lofty legacy, or not quite appreciate the impact of it, given how many subsequent stories hit some similar notes.
Alonso: It’s certainly true that modern comic book fans — and even a general public that’s seen movies like “Watchmen” or “Chronicle” — have seen their fair share of stories that attempt to deconstruct the superhero paradigm, but “Miracleman” is where it all began. It’s entertaining, thought provoking, alarmingly insightful, and it definitely holds up over time. I’ve re-read the entire run, and it still gets my mind whirring and my heart racing. Yeah, the story has been very influential, but… what’s the saying? “Often imitated, never duplicated.”
In the process of re-releasing this story years later, in the digital and mass-market versions, there have been edits made due to content. I imagine that’s something Marvel must take very seriously, given the stature of that work. Is there anything you can share about what that process has been like — deciding where to make those edits, and how to handle them?
Alonso: We have a tremendous amount of respect for the original work, but like all things that are of a particular time, sometimes you have to consider changing sensitivities and the impact — and context — of certain words. That’s what we did in this case.
Something else from this week, which you likely can’t say much about at this point, is the release of the second “AXIS” teaser, this one featuring six heroic characters — Storm, Iron Man, Thor, Luke Cage, Medusa and Deadpool (well, mostly heroic). How literal should folks take those two teasers at this point? Are those definitely some of the main characters, or is it more characters from the story that looked cool together?
Alonso: They’re characters you should expect to see play a big role in the story but not the only characters who will play a large role. I can’t say more. [Laughs]
Let’s look at some new releases: The first arc of “All-New Invaders” wrapped this week, and that’s a comic some people may not be paying as much attention to as more high-profile books, but there’s been a rather big scale to it from the beginning, leading up to the final page of this week’s #5, which has Galactus on it — one of the biggest things that can happen in the Marvel Universe. Would you say this is something of a sleeper book, that might have bigger implications to come?
Alonso: Without a doubt. With “All-New Invaders” and “Fantastic Four,” James Robinson has just begun to make his mark on the Marvel Universe and readers are seeing little Easter eggs that hint at some of the big stuff he’s got in the works. I hinted that something big was going to happen at the end of “ANI” #5, and now you see what I was talking about. With the humiliated godlike Eternals, the possibility of a mind-controlled Galactus as a weapon of mass destruction aimed towards the Kree Empire… you tell me if that sounds like it could be a big story.
Also out this week was “Thanos Annual” #1, written by Jim Starlin. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years — including comments from him just about a month ago — revolving around Jim Starlin’s relationship with Marvel. But between this, “Savage Hulk” and the “Infinity Revelation” original graphic novel on the way, he’s got quite a few current Marvel projects. Is it safe to say things are in a sound place right now between Starlin and Marvel?
Alonso: Yes. All’s good in the hood.
On a related note, how significant is it to you to see Jim Starlin back writing Thanos, a character he created, for the first time in maybe a decade?
Alonso: I’m excited, as EIC and as a fan. Everyone knows Jim from his cosmic work — “Captain Marvel,” “Warlock,” “Thanos, “Dreadstar” — and I love that stuff a lot, but what really made me a fan was a Conan story he drew in “Savage Tales” #5 (“The Secret of Skull River”). That story stands out as one my all-time favorite Conan stories — that and the one with the giant slug that Neal Adams drew (“Curse of the Golden Skull,” “Conan the Barbarian” #37), and the one where Conan fights a killer Gorilla (“The Talons of Thak,” “Conan the Barbarian” #11). Jim brought such a unique visual style to the character.
Here’s one more thing you’ll likely not be able to say much about, but let’s throw it out there for due diligence: Over the holiday weekend, Brian Michael Bendis got people talking with a teaser of Miles Morales with the All-New X-Men. Are there any further hints you can divulge at this time about what that might have been about?
Alonso: All I’ll say is it’s no hoax. It’s happening.
Let’s dip into the fan questions from the CBR Community: true_believer616 is curious about Marvel’s mature readers imprint and asks, “Are there any plans for new series in the MAX Imprint? Any ongoings?”
Alonso: We’ve got one series underway already, true_believer616. I’d get punished if I said one more word.
In light of “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” marvelfan27 wonders, “Any plans for blink’s return to comics after her popular role in the film?”
Alonso: Blink has been talked about in recent X-Men storyline phone calls, marvelfan27.
Mahes attempts to connect some inter-universal dots and asks, “Given that ‘Ultimate FF’ has been dealing with multiversal threats, is there a chance that we could see the threats shown in ‘New Avengers’ make their way over to the title?
Alonso: You never know Mahes, but, hey, did you see that tease Brian Bendis did about Miles Morales joining the All-New X-Men…?
Finally, a digital-minded SpiderX ponders, “The Marvel Infinite format has been progressing very well. The primary focus has been the main 616 universe and occasionally the TV shows. Has any consideration been given to making an Infinite comic series for Miles Morales or other characters in the Ultimate Universe?”
Alonso: Indeed, there has, SpiderX. But there’s a twist…
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!