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, the ramp up for wave 2 of Marvel’s new-reader friendly Marvel NOW! relaunch – now known as “All-New Marvel NOW!” – kicked into high gear as Marvel announced creative teams for a string of mystery launches with cryptic keywords like “Global” and “Mindbubble.” Below, Axel dives into the method and meaning of these new launches, discussing how creators like Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Spencer, Dan Slott, Mike Allred and more play into the future of the X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy and other Marvel franchises past, present and future. Read on!
Kiel Phegley: This week, Marvel released a lot of info on the books that are a part of All-New Marvel NOW! mostly focusing on creative teams over specific title info. I wanted to talk a little about all of this, but let’s start with some of the reveals that I think connect up to All-New Marvel NOW!’s task of giving new jumping on points to existing titles. Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen are listed with the word “Trial.” Even though we’re still in the midst of “Battle of the Atom.” this seems to indicate the next phase of Brian’s overall X-Men story is in the offing. How do teams like this plan on striking the balance between giving jumping on points and keeping the pedal to the metal, so to speak?
Alonso: We plan things out way in advance. The All-New Marvel NOW! releases roll out over four months — months — so our writers are able to structure story arcs to conclude in time to start fresh new arcs that tie into the campaign.
As for the “Trial” teaser, I won’t confirm that refers to the next “All-New X-Men” story, but I will confirm all ongoing series will use All-New Marvel NOW! as a launch pad into exciting, new, accessible stories. In addition, some of our coolest characters will get their own series, courtesy of a really cool talent pool — like, say, Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s “She-Hulk,” which USA Today announced. I am very excited about coming announcements. For us, content is king. Great stories plus great art. We want readers buzzing about what’s between our covers.
While new reader friendly is the watchword here, aren’t there advantages for the long form stories of the first Marvel NOW! titles on tap as well? Again, I’m assuming that Bendis and Sara Pichelli going forward with “Judgment” may have something to do with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but that book is just getting to its initial wave of revelations with the appearance of Angela. The characters there seem to mysteriously recognize her, and I’m wondering if stories like that and in all the titles can keep snowballing as All-New Marvel NOW! hits.
Alonso: Regarding the “Judgment” teaser: Could be. But yes, in most cases, the writers that contributed to Marvel NOW! a year ago — from Brian on “Guardians of the Galaxy” to Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan on “Deadpool” — are in a good creative groove, but they’re far from complacent. We challenged them to bring their best and biggest stories to this initiative, and they’re doing just that. Everything — right down to our cover treatment — will drive the point home that each book is a jumping-on point for new readers. If you’ve heard the buzz on a book but never picked it up, here’s your chance for a sample taste.
Sticking with “Guardians” for the moment, I wanted to return to last week’s topic on playing along with the movies to some extent. With this series, it feels like Brian is trying to lay some groundwork for the movie as opposed to playing with the ideas on the screen. Is there a way in which that series is meant to launch people towards the movie?
Alonso: With “Guardians,” Brian is delivering a widescreen cosmic adventure on the comic book page. The Guardians have never been more relevant to the Marvel Universe. If the series provides a breadcrumb trail that leads readers to the movie, that’s great, but our job is to make a great comic book — period. To create great stories featuring Starlord, Rocket, Groot and crew for anyone who wants to read them, before or after the movie hits.
Of course, many of us have read the movie script and seen stuff that hasn’t been made public yet, so we know what a treat people are in for. I knew James Gunn before he was tapped to helm the movie — we’ve snowballed story ideas for comics — and I can tell you, he is a major talent with a great love and respect for the comic book medium. He is going to knock this movie out of the park.
With the “Mindbubble” teaser for Rick Remender, Pascal Alixe and Nic Klein, I kind of felt like this was a lost “Uncanny X-Force” creative team.
Alonso: [Laughs] Good point!
But this definitely feels like an art team that plays to some of Rick’s wilder sensibilities. How did the pairing come about?
Alonso: When Rick was auditioning for “Captain America” at the first Marvel NOW! summit, he had so many cool concepts and story ideas, they couldn’t possibly fit into his first-year plans for “Captain America” or “Uncanny Avengers.” We had no choice but to backburner a lot of them. This is one of those ideas. The time has come, and Pascal Alixe is the perfect artist to do it right. Is it Captain America or…?
There’s also a “Corporate” teaser for Peter David and Carmine DiGiandomenico, which I think is going to fuel talk of a return to X-Factor in some way, shape or form. Overall, I get the sense that Peter never starts a series that he can’t write for 60, 70 or even 100 issues. But this is his first brand-new launch in quite some time. How are you hoping to use All-New Marvel NOW! to play to his strengths?
Alonso: We hoped the teaser would fuel such speculation. Look, Peter is a unique writer with a very loyal fan base; it’s safe to say there’s a “Peter David oeuvre.” This particular project is one he’s uniquely equipped to tell, and “All-New Marvel NOW!” gives him the platform to do it. The cover alone tells you this is a different kind of book. And yes, I’d predict at least 50 issues.
With whatever “Global” represents, we’ve got Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and Stefano Caselli. That’s an interesting match because I feel like Nick’s Marvel work has been either a little more gritty or sometimes a little more left of center, but Stefano is definitely more of a classically styled big superhero artist. What does that pairing provide that’s different than Nick’s past series?
Alonso: “Global” means massive scope. A huge canvas to fill with big ideas. So yes, I think a superhero or four will factor into the equation as well.
We’re wrapping up with two teasers from Dan Slott, and I get the feeling these are ones that will definitely get people debating immediately.
Alonso: Oh yeah! We planned those teasers to drive people crazy.
With “The End,” we’ve got Dan and Giuseppe Camunicoli who have worked together on Spider-Man for a while. Is there any other way to read this than the finale of the “Superior Spider-Man” saga?
Alonso: Like I said, we expected that teaser to fuel such speculation. Does it confirm people’s suspicions…or is it a crafty red herring to drive people crazy? All I can say is that this is a huge story, and it’ll have people going, “Damn you, Dan! Damn you, Marvel!”
And on the other side, Dan Slott and Mike Allred as a team seems a perfect fit. I’ve loved “Madman” for years, and for all its reputation as a wild and crazy book, it can also have a deep sadness to it, which is something I think plays to Dan’s strengths. How did this team come together?
Alonso: At a Marvel summit, I expressed my desire to do this series and was surprised when Dan Slott came forward. He was really into it, and he had a great story to get things rolling. It was the [project] editor — whose name I will not reveal just yet, for fear of spoilers — who suggested Mike as artist. Obviously, I don’t need to be sold on Mike Allred. He’s one of the true visionaries in our medium — the bastard child of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth. One of the craziest and most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had was editing his “X-Force” relaunch with [writer] Peter Milligan, which deconstructed the X-Men paradigm, and facilitated our divorce from the Comics Code. So seeing Mike work with Dan on this project is exciting on a personal level. I’d consider getting the first issue cover as a tattoo.
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!