SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Marvel’s “Thor” #8, released this past Wednesday.
Fridays on CBR mean Axel’s In Charge.
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!
This week, Marvel’s “Thor” #8 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman featured the long-awaited reveal of the current, female Thor’s identity — long-running “Thor” supporting character Jane Foster, a part of Marvel lore since 1962, virtually as long as the classic Thor himself — and Alonso discusses his thoughts on the story, what it means to Marvel’s roster of characters and where readers can expect to see the next chapter of Jane’s adventures. Additionally, Alonso talks the Battleworld picture becoming clearer in Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic‘s “Secret Wars” #2, and two of the major “Secret Wars”-related series set to debut next week — plus, answers to your questions, straight from the CBR Community.
Albert Ching: Axel, this has been a big week for comic book-based TV shows — not only all the season finales hitting, but news of renewals, including both “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Marvel’s Agent Carter” — and even more new series based on comics added to network lineups. As Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, how exciting is it for you to see comics-based stories become even more mainstream? And how much of a fan are you, personally, of this material?
Axel Alonso: I’ve always been a huge fan of S.H.I.E.L.D., dating back to the dog-eared Steranko comics I bought at a flea market in Alameda (California), so this is very exciting to me. And it cements the fact comics are an indispensible part of pop culture. We’re the subject of water cooler discussions now. Can you believe what happened in the finale?
Moving to publishing — the big Marvel news of the week, certainly, is the reveal that Jane Foster is the current, female Thor, a mystery that has been building for months now. I know this was the plan all along — what was your reaction when Jane was first pitched to become Thor?
Alonso: It made a lot of sense, given Jane’s long-term history and relationship with Thor. I mean, she goes all the way back to the beginning. And the fact that Jane is battling cancer gives the story a certain pathos. Jane pays a price every time she powers up and becomes Thor, but that doesn’t stop her from doing it. And that’s part of why she’s “worthy.”
Jane Foster is a character with decades of history at Marvel, but always in a supporting role. Seeing her rise to a position of prominence like this reminds me of Flash Thompson becoming Venom a few years back — except an even higher profile move. What do you think that says about Marvel’s roster of characters that a move like that is possible? And do you think there are any other long running supporting characters out there that could get a similar bump? (Aunt May was a herald of Galactus once, after all…)
Alonso: Of course. All great characters have a great supporting cast. It’s our job to explore all the facets of the relationships, to evolve those relationships and the characters themselves. And boy, what we have in store for you down the road. During and after “Secret Wars,” we are going to pull the trigger on some stories that will shine a red-hot spotlight on some of your favorite supporting characters in some of our biggest series. You won’t look at them the same way again.
It’s also impressive that this stayed a secret for as long as it did, up until the week the issue was released. For Marvel internally, how gratifying was that, especially given the mainstream interest?
Alonso: It is gratifying. It’s deeply disturbing to me that there are industry professionals who are all too willing to hurt or betray their fellow freelancers by offering classified story information to those who peddle it. You know who’s most hurt by a spoiled secret? The creator who came up the idea in the first place. The professionals who sneak around doing this, and those who profit from it, if they were characters in a comic book, they’d clearly be regarded as shady. Hmmm, that’s got me thinking… Senior Editor Meeting!
Of course, “Thor” will give way to “Thors” during “Secret Wars,” but it’s clear that Jane’s story ins’t over — when can fans expect to see this thread picked up?
Alonso: Stay tuned to “Secret Wars.”
Speaking of “Secret Wars,” this week’s #2 was fully lodged on Battleworld, after seeing the incursion between the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe in issue #1. It already felt like a different phase of the story from #1 to #2 — is it fair to say that this week’s issue is more of an indicator of how the rest of the series will play out?
Alonso: Absolutely. “Secret Wars” #1 was prelude. Now the real action starts. We’re slowly revealing the playing field — “Battleworld” — and the players, and things are about to get crazy. You won’t believe what’s ahead.
Staying on the “Secret Wars” topic, next week brings the first batch of “Secret Wars”-related series, and let’s take a look at a couple and talk what fans can expect — “A-Force,” another book that had a lot of mainstream press upon announcement, is set to debut this coming Wednesday. What are you excited for fans to see from this first all-female Avengers team? And do you think there are any misconceptions about the series lingering out there?
Alonso: We’ve had a lot of success in launching titles helmed by female characters — from “She-Hulk” to “Squirrel Girl” to “Spider-Gwen.” “Secret Wars” gave us — and writers G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett — the opportunity to put all of these characters under one logo, in what they like to refer to as “Women of Marvel: The Book.” “A-Force” isn’t a book that dwells on the question of what it is to be woman and a hero — as if being the former somehow makes the latter infinitely more complicated. Instead, it puts these heroes into action and tells an explosive story set against the backdrop of Battleworld. The fact that the core cast is all women is a shading of the story and not the story.
“Ultimate End” also launches last week. Now that we know the Ultimate Universe as readers know it is a goner due to “Secret Wars,” is this series by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley viewed internally as the last Ultimate Universe story?
Let’s wrap with some fan questions: Spidey616, the Cal Ripken Jr. of Q&A columns, asks, “With the Marvel Cinematic Universe taking certain liberties with the Infinity Gems, most notably changing the colors association with each stone, do you foresee Marvel changing them in the comics to make the Infinity Gems fall in line more with the films to avoid any possible confusion for new readers, or are you happy with things as they are?”
Alonso: Given that the Infinity Gems were all destroyed in “New Avengers” a while ago, Spidey616 — coupled with the fact that the entirety of the multiverse was just wiped out at the start of “Secret Wars” — literally anything can happen from here on out.
Then, marvelousmetalmouse asks, “Will Marvel ever release the sales statistics for its digital sales? I keep hearing about how well ‘Captain Marvel’ and other series are doing online than in print, but it would be nice to point some hard data at the doubters.
Alonso: Not at the moment no, but we don’t release official print numbers either. It’s possible we may for digital in the future but we have no plans as of now.
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!