"Captain America" Controversy, Going International with "Iron Man"

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 Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!

Marvel Announces New "Punisher" Series, "International Iron Man" and More

This week, Alonso shares new insight on each of the five series announced by Marvel at a retailer presentation in London earlier today: "International Iron Man" from Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev; "Nighthawk" by David Walker and an artist to be named; "Hyperion" by Chuck Wendig and Nik Virella; "Punisher" by Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon and "X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever" by Max Bemis and Michael Walsh. Plus, Alonso addresses Fox News' negative response to Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña's "Captain America: Sam Wilson" #1 and the attention-grabbing "All-New, All-Different Avengers" #4 cover featuring a mid-air smooch between Captain America and Thor. All that, plus answers to your questions, direct from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, is the Marvel office abuzz about the Mets making the World Series?

Axel Alonso: Well, let me tell you, lifelong Mets fans Joe Quesada and [VP - Content & Programming, Marvel Digital] John Cerilli are ecstatic. We were in L.A. last week, and they actually stayed behind to watch the game that the Mets clinched the series. Before the game, John looked like he was on the way to get a colonoscopy, he was so nervous. [Laughs]

I'm a [San Francisco] Giants fan, but I'm definitely pulling for the Mets, in part because my son, Tito, is all about the Mets. Last year, the little jerk rooted for the Royals against my Giants because his little league team is the Royals. [Laughs] Now it's his turn to be a little bit conflicted.

The first Marvel news I wanted to ask about is the "All-New, All-Different Avengers" #4 cover by Alex Ross released last week, with Captain America and Thor kissing. It definitely got a major reaction -- some people love it, some people aren't on board -- is there any further insight you can share about what might be going on with that relationship?

Alonso: Nope. Too early to comment. All I'll say is that I'm as intrigued as anyone to see where it goes.

Support for "Captain America" Writer Nick Spencer Outpaces Negative Petition

Speaking of Captain America and getting a reaction -- Fox News' "Fox and Friends" certainly had a reaction to "Captain America: Sam Wilson" #1 this week, with what can be generously called a misguided interpretation of the issue. At the same time, it shows that the book has provoked a response in people, and had some relevant things to say about the world today. What were your thoughts on that matter, and how pleased were you to see that this was a book that got people talking and thinking?

Alonso: Look, if you're going to tell stories about a hero in red, white and blue tights, you're probably going to talk about the world around you, and it's going to provoke a negative reaction from someone. That said, Fox News' reaction kinda made us scratch our heads because it didn't seem like anyone actually read this issue. I mean, the chief bad guy -- a Sons of the Serpent commander -- declares himself an extremist that chooses lethal violence over peaceful participation in the democratic process. He is a textbook bad guy on his way to massacring unarmed civilians when Cap swoops down to stop him.

A few new Marvel series were announced earlier today at a retailer presentation in London, and two of them are spinoffs of "Squadron Supreme" characters, "Nighthawk" and "Hyperion." Squadron Supreme has never really been a "franchise" at Marvel before beyond some "Supreme Power" spinoff miniseries, but now we see that corner of Marvel expanding. What motivated these new titles?

Alonso: We think the "Squadron Supreme" are an incredible group of characters -- both as a team and as solo characters -- and we think they can be a vital addition to the Marvel Universe; a wild card in our deck because they are so powerful and unpredictable. I mean, there are heroes, there are villains, and then there is the Squadron Supreme. And we think that Hyperion and Nighthawk are perhaps the most accessible characters for solo series. The creative teams have fresh takes on both these characters.

EXCLUSIVE: Walker's "Nighthawk" Hunts the Streets of Chicago

"Nighthawk" is the second announced new Marvel book written by David Walker, after "Power Man and Iron Fist." He's a relative newcomer to Marvel, but has gained a lot of attention in the industry as a whole in the past year. What do you personally like about what Walker brings to Marvel?

Alonso: David got my attention with his work on "Shaft." That's why we started talking and that's how "Power Man and Iron Fist" came to be. [Editor] Katie Kubert approached him to do a "Squadron Supreme" solo series and I think he gravitated toward Nighthawk because he thought he'd have something to say through the character. Nighthawk is a character with a very strong point of view, rooted in the deep scars of his past, and a way of doing things that's not your standard superhero fare. He does not play by the rules, like Spider-Man or Daredevil. He will kill you if you deserve it. But he isn't a relentless engine of vengeance fighting an endless war, like the Punisher. He wants something more. So Kyle Richmond might be the a billionaire by day, vigilante by night, he's always examining the line where Kyle Richmond ends and Nighthawk begins -- if indeed there is a line.

"Hyperion" comes from the creative team of Chuck Wendig and artist Nik Virella, recently seen on "1872." Wendig is new to Marvel, though a lot of fans likely know his "Star Wars: Aftermath" novel. What made him the right choice for "Hyperion"?

Alonso: It was Katie that approached Chuck, based on his prose work. She wanted to send Hyperion on a great adventure that said something about the human spirit, and Chuck delivered just that in his pitch. We're dropping Hyperion into the American heartland, where he'll embark on an epic walkabout that'll bring him into contact with America at its best and worst. And he'll do Hyperion-like things.

And Nik Virella is perfect for what Chuck has planned. Did you see her work on "Return of the Living Deadpool" and "1872"? She is an amazing storyteller who has a true talent for creating living, breathing environments. And that will be very important for this story.

Marvel also announced a "Punisher" series, with the intriguing team of Becky Cloonan as writer and Steve Dillon returning to the character on art. What has you excited about what they've got planned for Frank Castle?

Alonso: Becky caught [Editor] Jake Thomas' attention with her artwork on "Wolves," "The Mire" and "Demeter," but it was her writing on "Southern Cross" that made him reach out to her for this series. She pitched a very cool story that has the Punisher on the trail of a gang that's developed a new drug that has great value on the international market if it's weaponized, and introduces a new character that will give readers someone to relate to, root for, and, of course, worry about: a female DEA agent who's also on the trail of that drug ring, whose path is destined to cross that of the Punisher. Castle is a force of nature, as everyone knows, and there are plenty of bad guys in this story that deserve what he's dispensing, so the pressing question will be, who gets out of this story alive?

This is an exciting pairing: a newcomer to Punisher and a veteran that is synonymous with the character. Steve Dillon is energized to make this series feel completely new and fresh.

Bendis and Maleev Go Global With "International Iron Man"

Definitely need to ask about "International Iron Man," from the world-famous creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. It's not exactly a surprise that a second Iron Man series is on the way -- it's been hinted for a while now and certainly is consistent with Bendis' track record at Marvel -- but what was it about the story that convinced you a second series was merited?

Alonso: As I've said before, Iron Man is one of the most popular characters in the world today, and the opportunity to have Brian and Alex do for Tony Stark what they did for Matt Murdock years ago was just irresistible. "International Iron Man" will come at Tony Stark from a very different angle than "Invincible Iron Man." Just like Brian's "All-New X-Men" and "Uncanny X-Men" were sister titles that complemented each other, "International Iron Man" will be a legitimate sister title to "Invincible Iron Man." It's still unknown who Tony Stark's biological parents are, right? Well, Brian intends to do a deep dive into that story. It'll be a quest.

Rounding out the announcements is the miniseries "X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever," with Max Bemis returning to Marvel for a full-length story illustrated by Michael Walsh. Bemis, like Gerard Way and others before him, is best known as a musician, though he's steadily built a name for himself as a comics writer. What's valuable to you about the perspective he brings to a story like this?

Alonso: Max has got story chops to match his musical ones. Over the past few years, he's made a name for himself in comics -- between "Polarity," "Evil Empire" and "Oh, Killstrike." It was those comics that caught the attention of [editor] Jordan D. White, and they got to talking. Max pitched us a very unique X-Men story -- a story about an outcast in a group of outcasts.

NYCC: Zdarsky & North's Howard the Duck/Squirrel Girl Crossover is One "Crazy Comic"

Let's also touch on a couple projects announced earlier this month at New York Comic Con: There's a crossover on the way between "Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" and "Howard the Duck." You've been an advocate for both series and the more humorous side of Marvel in general. What are you hoping to see from that story and seeing those two creative teams come together?

Alonso: I sure hope we see some hijinks! [Laughs] Look, there was a time when the conventional wisdom was that humor was a hard sell in comics, "Deadpool" being the sole exception. My editorial staff never really bought that, and I'm glad we kept pushing. To see books like "Howard the Duck," "Squirrel Girl," "Rocket Racoon" and "Silver Surfer" connect with readers the way they have is a very exciting development, and they're success paved the road for series like "Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!", "Starbrand and Nightmask" and "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" -- series that will each explore that crawlspace between drama and comedy in a different way.

As for this crossover... Ryan North and Chip Zdarsky actually live in the same town, and coincidentally Erica Henderson and Joe Quinones also live in the same town, so both creative teams are collaborating on this story in a very organic, fun way -- corralled (somehow!) by Wil Moss, who edits both books. The story takes place in the 8-month gap after "Secret Wars," so among other things, we'll learn why Howard in the present has the cybernetic cat that we've seen on the cover of the new "Howard the Duck" #1. It's a story with high stakes, yet still with that same level of humor that both books are known for. Plus it's gonna feature Kraven driving his car: the Kra-van.

Also announced was the "Spider-Women" crossover between "Spider-Woman," "Silk" and "Spider-Gwen." It's interesting that such a story is even possible, that there are three female-led Spider-books starring different characters, and two of them didn't really exist just a year and a half ago. What's significant to you about this story?

Alonso: We didn't go into this saying, "Let's make three strong female Spider-Man characters." It just sort of organically happened. Now that we've got three powerful-in-their-own-way female Spideys, we figured it would be fun to give them an event worthy of their books and fanbases. [Spider-Man Editor] Nick Lowe, [writers] Jason Latour, Robbie Thompson and Dennis Hopeless did a mini-summit and came up with just the right hook to get these three together and put them through the wringer and stay true to their three separate tones.

I've got to say, the variety of Spider-Man titles right now is off the hook: From the big ideas that Dan Slott continually brings to "Amazing Spider-Man," to "Spider-Gwen," "Spider-Woman," "Spider-Man 2099," and "Silk," to the upcoming "Carnage," "Web Warriors," "Spidey," and "Spider-Man/Deadpool" to Miles Morales' arrival in the Marvel Universe in "Spider-Man," I can't think of a time the line has been more varied. Each of these books has a unique flair and flavor.

Let's close up for the week with a couple of fan questions from the CBR Community. solletaire asks, "Any updates you can share on the previously announced 'Blade,' a book that was solicited for October, but has since disappeared from solicitations?"

Alonso: Patience. It's going to be worth the wait.

Then we'll wrap for now with Legend, who asks, "Hey Axel, could you please provide some details on what Alpha Flight is going to look like in the ANAD Marvel U?" To chime in, there're a big part of the January-debuting "Captain Marvel," correct?

Alonso: You'll get your first glimpse of the Alpha Flight in "Captain Marvel" #1.

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!

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