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 brings the arrival of a special CBR TV edition of AXEL-IN-CHARGE as Albert Ching caught up with Alonso aboard the world famous CBR Floating Tiki Room at Comic-Con International in San Diego. After basking in the glow of the Golden State Warriors’ recent NBA Finals victory, Alonso dived deep into the future of Marvel’s publishing plans, including the October-debuting “All-New, All-Different Marvel” relaunch and what it means to be starting so many series over with a new #1. He also talks about some creative departures from the company, and how they plan to not miss a beat, as well as which characters from the Marvel catalog will be getting the premier spotlight in the future. He also comments on big news from the “Star Wars” corner of the universe, “Spider-Man/Deadpool” and the triumphant return of “Blade.”
In the first part of their conversation, Alonso talks about October’s “All-New, All-Different Marvel” relaunch in the wake of “Secret Wars,” explaining how it all came together and whether this is the biggest thing he’s done during his time as Editor-in-Chief. He then talks about starting all of Marvel’s titles over with a new #1 and whether “seasons,” rather than high numbers, are a trend we can expect to continue. Given the announced departures of high-profile talent like Rick Remender and Jonathan Hickman from Marvel, Alonso shares how Marvel is able to prepare for this so that the company and its stories don’t miss a beat, as well as which lesser known characters may be poised for a “Guardians of the Galaxy”-style breakout.
On whether “All-New, All-Different Marvel” is the biggest splash he’s made during his tenure as Editor-in-Chief:
Axel Alonso: As much as I’d like to think it’s all about me, it’s not. It’s about the editorial staff we’ve got here, which includes all of my great senior editors and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. I think what’s exciting is the diversity of offerings we’ve got. There will always be room for improvement but the diversity we have now in terms of the titles, the characters, the writers and artists who are working on our books, the sensibilities driving our books. To know that we have launched books like “Ant-Man,” “Howard the Duck,” “Squirrel Girl” and “Ms. Marvel” to critical and commercial acclaim, it’s mind blowing really. It’s a fantastic time to be working in comics.
On the inviting nature of a new #1, and what that requires of a creative team:
Let’s face it: Nothing is as inviting as a #1. The thing is, if you’re gonna deliver a comic book to the stands that has a #1 on it, it has to feel like a #1. The creative team needs to lay down in that first issue everything you need to stay on board, the same way that a good pilot would for a TV show. “Why do I want to stay? What is unique about this comic book that I don’t find elsewhere?”
On giving lower tier characters a push to turn them into household names:
Our catalog rolls deep. “Guardians [of the Galaxy]” certainly proves that. Every character is one great high-concept and creative team away from becoming a hit. As a young boy growing up on comics, I loved some of the more obscure characters — Luke Cage back when he was Hero for Hire, to Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, Howard the Duck, the Black Panther back in unfortunately-titled “Jungle Tales,” there were some fantastic books out there. They all felt different. I think really what you’re seeing is a continuation of that tradition now. The public is ready for it. I think the public appetite is broader than we’ve seen in the past. I attribute some of this to the rise of female readership, a generation of young women who have found different entryways into our world, our culture, into geek culture, specifically the Marvel Universe. I think what you’re looking at is a critical mass of good fortune, really, where we’re finding a way to launch books like “Howard the Duck” that are not only critically-acclaimed but sell through the roof.
After touching on the continuing Deadpool renaissance and the upcoming “Spider-Man/Deadpool” series, Alonso turns his attention to a galaxy far, far away and comments on the recently announced “Vader Down” crossover between Jason Aaron’s “Star Wars” series and Kieron Gillen’s “Darth Vader.” He explains how the storyline grew organically and will show Vader in a very human, almost heroic light. Next he talks about the “Chewbacca” miniseries by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto, and the perils of telling a story where the main character doesn’t speak — at least not in words. Wrapping up, Alonso shares his excitement for the upcoming “Blade” series that stars the titular vampire hunter and also introduces his long-lost daughter, who just might steal the spotlight from the Daywalker.
On “Vader Down,” the first crossover between Marvel’s massively successful “Star Wars” books:
After we had seen the initial success of “Star Wars,” we had maybe our third or fourth meeting the Lucasfilm story group which involved C.B. Cebulski, Jordan [D.] White, myself, Jason and Kieron, we talked about the future and the idea of doing a soft crossover between the two core titles was really appealing to us. Jason and Kieron get along great, they’re great collaborators, and most importantly they had a really great hook for what they wanted to do. So we traveled down to San Francisco, we pitched the Lucasfilm story group, they beat it up a little bit, but they liked the baby and the bathwater — or let’s say it was a big baby and a little bathwater.
We came up with a real exciting story. In a room full of “Star Wars” geek, I’m the least “Star Wars” geek, but this actually gave me goosebumps. It’s such a fantastic situation to put Darth Vader in that you almost root for him.
On Marvel’s new “Blade” series, and how Blade may not be the main character:
I’m really excited about this one. I love Blade. Blade has a place in this book, whether it’s — one might assume he plays a mentorship role in this book, one might be wrong. It’s a really interesting point of view character, we introduce this fully new character and juxtapose the mundanity of her world, just the normal life of a teenage girl that’s rudely interrupted by her learning that she’s got a family legacy and how she fits into that; dealing with new threats; learning a skill set; figuring out exactly where this father, this absentee father, fits into her life and whether or not she can reconcile that. There’s so much meat on the bone for a really fascinating story and we definitely intend to milk that.
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