Break Out The New

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, Axel goes deeper inside Marvel's recent slate of WonderCon announcements including talk on what new writers hold in store for an Ultimate Universe crossover, why Captain Marvel is a heroine worth her own ongoing series and what secrets are waiting in the depths of "Space: Punisher." Plus, he answers your questions on the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Bishop and more. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Axel, we had a number of announcements coming out of WonderCon, starting with changes to the Ultimate Universe. Brian Wood has been tapped to writer "Ultimate X-Men," and we had talked initially when the line launched about your desire to see those titles synch up more strongly. A year in, how do you feel that piece of Marvel is holding up? We've got a handoff on the writing staff of one title and a whole new voice on another. What do you think the future for all those books once these changes take place?

Axel Alonso: The bedrock has been laid for an integrated Ultimate universe and what the writers are cooking up for 2012 will usher in even deeper connectivity between the three core titles. It's exciting stuff. More on that at a later date.

I'm thrilled with the new writers. When Brian Wood and I first discussed him doing some Marvel work, he said he'd love to play in this particular sandbox, and it shows. Fans of his Vertigo work or his recent "Wolverine and the X-Men: Omega" are going to love "Ultimate Comics: X-Men." And fans of Sam Humphries' independent work -- "Our Love is Real" and "Sacrifice" -- or his just-released "John Carter: The Gods of Mars" are going to love "The Ultimates." These guys belong here.

Outside of the specific story details, one real defining point to the Ultimate line right now is the idea that we're supposed to see things there we'd never see in the regular 616 Marvel U. Is that something you and Editorial discuss with new writers right out the gate -- strategies for keeping the universe significantly different?

Alonso: It's of the mandate. We need writers who "get" superheroes but instinctually think outside the box. In the Ultimate Comics universe, we're not afraid to break some eggs to make a tasty omelet -- something we can't do as often in the Marvel U. Miles Morales is the perfect example of this. We took the chance that readers would embrace a new Ultimate Spider-Man, and it paid off. What the writers have planned for 2012 is phase two of the long-term Ultimate plan, and let me tell you, fans of Ultimate Captain America have good reason to be excited about 2012.

Another big announcement for the show was the new "Captain Marvel" series, which we now know will star Carol Danvers. Last year, there was a lot of talk around a stronger female presence in the mainstream both in terms of more women characters in marquee roles and in terms of more women on the talent side of the equation. Did all that talk factor in to the creation of this new series with Kelly Sue Deconnick at the helm?

Alonso: [Senior Editor] Steve [Wacker] was talking with Kelly [Sue DeConnick] about "Ms. Marvel" a couple years before there was any internet discussion about the lack of female-driven titles. That discussion might have inspired him to attack the project with more vigor, but it wasn't a direct response.

We love our female superheroes. There are many titles -- "The Fearless," for instance, where female characters play a huge role even if their name isn't the logo of the book. And we have plenty more plans for 2012. "Captain Marvel" will not be lonely.

What about that "Captain Marvel" title. Surely, there's some story significance to that change, but it's also a real classic comic book superhero name with a history at Marvel (and elsewhere) that has had a level of fan interest. We've talked a lot about you wanting to find a better place for things like the Defenders in the Marvel U. Has Captain Marvel been one of those franchise you were looking to explore?

Alonso: Absolutely. I mean, look at the title! [Laughs] This "Captain Marvel" is the culmination of conversations we've been having for a couple years. Steve and Kelly Sue pulled everything together and whipped it into shape.

The third book I wanted to talk about from the weekend with you was "Space: Punisher" because as I understand it, this was a project you had initially worked on with Frank Tieri. What was it you saw initially in that concept that you liked, and what's your take on it now that it's made it into its final form?

Alonso: The Punisher as Buck Rogers! What's not to like? [Laughs] I mean, Frank Castle roaming the galaxy in a space cruiser, purging all the miscreants who deserve it. A galaxy populated by spaced-out versions of some of your favorite super heroes and super villains. This book could just as easily have been called "Space: Marvel" -- the cast is so wide and diverse. And when people see Tex's painted art, they're going to flip. It's some of the best of his career.

We've talked in the past about the potential for miniseries these days and what makes them work. Is this project indicative of what you see in the future for the form if fans support it?

Alonso: It is. We went through a period where we had too many limited series that were set in continuity but weren't viewed as being "essential." As a result, excellent series like "Vengeance," "Five Ronin," and "Marvel Universe Vs. Wolverine," which has been nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award, received critical acclaim, but kinda-sorta got lost in the shuffle and received only mid-circling numbers. We learned from that and we're being highly selective about the number of limited series we do, and we're taking great pains to message why they're special. "Space: Punisher" is a prime example of this.

Moving into fan questions for the week, Comicbookfan has an "AvX" tie-in question: "With 'Avengers Vs X-Men' being centered around Hope and her possible involvement in the destruction of the world, will we get a return of Bishop? After all, he was the first one to try and kill Hope in order to avoid a disaster, plus i really like Bishop. So what do you say...any Bishop coming soon?"

Alonso: I'm a big Bishop fan, too. [Senior Editor] Nick Lowe says that more than one writer has been asking about Bishop, so it's certainly possible that we'll see him soon!

Spidey616 had a question about a current big Marvel book, asking: "With the recent revelation regarding Marcus Johnson in the latest issue of Battle Scars, perhaps now you can talk a bit about the genesis of the character? There's been speculation that Marcus is a way to get something similar to the Ultimate Nick Fury in the mainstream Marvel U in time for the Avengers movie. Is there any truth to that and where will we see more of Marcus Johnson once Battle Scars ends?"

Alonso: Given the popularity of how Nick Fury is depicted in our movies, animation and licensing, we thought it made sense for us to introduce a consistent incarnation in the mainstream Marvel Universe. That said, Marcus isn't simply going to be "Ultimate Nick Fury" -- and yes, you'll definitely see more of him in the months to come.

Crimson had a follow up that's worth a spot considering this week's discussion of miniseries. He asks: "With the death of the miniseries and one shot (except for a few notable exceptions and event tie-ins) how does Marvel aim to "break-in" and test new talent moving forward? Even established Indie creators were tested on smaller projects, but at the moment most books are big books. Will we see more co-writing as we move forward, testing the waters and easing sales drop offs as the changes settle in? e.g. Uncanny X-Men, Captain America & Bucky"

Alonso: Like I said before, Crimson, limited series aren't dead, we're just being more selective about them. We have several planned in the next year. As for "breaking in" new talent, we continue to do that, as always. Besides Sam Humphries ("The Ultimates"), several promising new writers emerged in 2011 that you should keep your eye on: Cullen Bunn ("The Fearless"), Dennis Hopeless ("X-Men: Season One"), James Asmus ("Generation Hope") and "The Adventures of Dr. McNinja's" Chris Hastings ("Fear Itself: Deadpool"), among others.

And finally, Sv7nd asks: "Can you please give some new information and/or artwork for the new Guardians of the Galaxy series that Tom Brevoort mentioned at NYCC. Also you only need 12 more issues and you can renumber it #100!!!"

Alonso: "Guardians of the Galaxy" series? All Tom said was that we had plans for the Guardians down the line, not that we were doing a new series. We're not ready to show anything yet, but when we do, it will blow your mind.

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!

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