A Creative Retreat Wrap

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 earlier this year 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 Marvel offices were busy launching the plans that will take the Marvel Universe through 2012 with their latest creative retreat! These regular summits see the top minds of the Marvel freelance stable flying into NYC to work out the biggest story beats of the year, and this time out, writers from Brian Bendis to Matt Fraction to Mark Waid teamed up to plot the fallout of "Avengers Vs. X-Men" and its ramifications on the Marvel U. Despite a crowded week, Axel took the time to update CBR on the action including hints of the grand finale of their upcoming event, new titles to spin out of it and the inclusion of some big name characters along the way. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Axel, as we speak you and the Editorial team are catching up on the week's work after having a pretty big group of writers in town for the latest Marvel story summit. Who all came into town this time?

Axel Alonso: Brian Bendis, Jeph Loeb, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, Dan Slott, Rick Remender, Kieron Gillen and Mark Waid were all in attendance. Ed Brubaker didn't attend this time, but don't draw any conclusions from that - his schedule just didn't permit it. There were also...other people in attendance... [Laughs]

We've talked in the past about how "AvX" is pretty locked in as a story, and the scripts for the first few issues must be in at this point. Was there any major discussion on the particulars of the event or its end this time around?

Alonso: "AvX" wasn't the topic of discussion for this meeting - we were there to talk about the post-"AvX" Marvel Universe. We already know how "AvX" ends - its ramifications for the our characters and the world in which they live - so we were there to talk about what happens next for the Avengers, the X-Men, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Huk and Thor. We kept some of the details of Act 3 purposefully malleable so that ideas or concepts introduced at this summit could be reflected in the climax of the story.

For so many events from the past five or seven years, there was a build from one event to the next - the Initiative led to "Secret Invasion" led to Dark Reign and so on. But with the Heroic Age branding of the line, the idea seemed very much to be about a clean slate. Has it been significantly different planning this event and its ramifications in that regard since you're knocking over the first in a set of new dominos?

Alonso: I can't say too much. I want to, but I can't. [Laughs] All I can say is that we were building a road to "Avengers Vs. X-Men" for years and once a compelling inciting incident revealed itself - one that gave both sides a POV and an equal stake in the outcome - we pulled the trigger. At the earliest summit to discuss "AvX," we knew - just knew - how the story ended. Over time, we got a sense of what this ending would mean for individual teams and characters, its ramifications: who triumphs, who loses, who lives, who dies, who is disgraced, who is redeemed... This summit allowed us to take stock of the tapestry of the Marvel U in the wake of "AvX," a world where the gap between the Marvel Universe and the X-Men Universe isn't quite so big anymore.

Let's talk about what stands out from this week. When you think back on what went down this week in the offices and out with the writers, what will stand out do you think?

Alonso: I think that everyone agrees that this was one of the most exciting and, well, pleasant summits we've done in a while. There was lots of debate and less arguing and some real surprises emerged in the room - including a couple new series that just make you grin and nod your head the way a good beat does. [Laughs] At the last retreat, it took us a day to get any traction; at this one, we were burning rubber right out the gate. No one ever - ever - asked, "Did we accomplish anything today?"

You've just started to release covers and art from "AvX" online, which stirs up a lot of discussion from readers. When the writers come into town, do you play a similar roll amongst the creators - showing off some of the most recent art and scripts to get them excited for the task at hand?

Alonso: Of course. I mean, let's face it, everyone in the room has, at time in their life, laid awake at night pondering who'd win in a fight - Hulk or Thor? I know I have! [Laughs] I mean, the other night, one of my favorite hip hop artists, Pete Rock, Tweeted the classic cover for "Defenders" #10 that shows Hulk and Thor in combat, and asked his followers, "Who would win?" I replied, "It's a draw." And it was maybe 1:00 AM when I did that! [Laughs]

That question - "Who'd win?" - is at least half of the fun of "AvX." I mean, these are the world's two biggest super-hero teams, c'mon.

Overall, what's the biggest thing you'll be carrying into the creation of upcoming books after this week's story meetings?

Alonso: All our writers came out of this retreat super- psyched about the future in a way that - hyperbole and hype aside - I haven't seen in a few years. Matt Fraction's eyes were like saucers when we talked about one new series that came out of the discussion. When we were discussing the vibe of the series - from high concept to art-style to cover and trade dress approach - our connection was profound, almost spiritual, like Montana to Rice...or Smith to Davis. [Laughs]

Comics are all about building from one moment to the next. "AvX" is one hell of a story, and like the best comic stories, it paves the way to something new. The future is limitless.

Let's look at a few quick fan questions starting with Countgate who wondered, "With AvX, will be open some slots in the Avengers teams for characters that never were before like, Kid Loki or Songbird, to replace former mutant members?"

Alonso: That questions kinda assumes that the X-Men members of the Avengers side with the X-Men, Countgate. Three words: Don't. Assume. Anything!

Spidey616 caught a detail that may pique the interest of "Uncanny X-Force" readers: "Speaking of the AVX teasers, one hints that not only will Warren Worthington be involved in the event but Archangel will be back. How much should we read into the teaser images?"

Alonso: Nothing should be read into that teaser image. It was commissioned BEFORE "X-Force" #18 came out and we weren't even sure when we'd release it. Rather than showing the post-"Dark Angel Saga" Warren Worthington and possibly spoiling the ending of "Dark Angel Saga," we erred on the side of using that design.

Finally, Ravin' Ray had a query that just couldn't be ignored: "I just thought of this, will you do a Pet version AvX? Say, Lockheed vs. Redwing?"

Alonso: Interesting idea. Show of paws...?

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