Captain Americas Past and Present, X-Men's "Extraordinary" Threat

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!

INTERVIEW: Loeb & Sale on the 8-Year Journey of "Captain America: White"

This week, Alonso talks the gratifying feeling from seeing the first issue of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's "Captain America: White" on sale this week, a series that was first announced in March 2008. Keeping with the Captain America theme but moving to the present day, Alonso shares his enthusiasm for Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña's Sam Wilson, Captain America; debuting in October and retaining the former Falcon as the Cap of the Marvel Universe. Alonso also talks the Inhuman-induced threat of Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos' "Extraordianry X-Men," and the imminent arrival of Mary Jane Watson to Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez's "Invincible Iron Man." That and more, including your questions, direct from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, let's start with the long-awaited "Captain America: White," the first issue of which was released this week after being first announced back in March 2008. How does it feel for you to finally see that book out in the world?

Axel Alonso: Relieved! [Laughs] It looked like this series might end up being one of those legendary unfinished projects that would be the subject of endless laments. To put it out is very, very gratifying. Jeph and Tim are a fantastic creative team, to see them back in action after all these years is great.

It's been the better part of a decade since we've seen new material from Loeb and Sale -- given that their storytelling is obviously somewhat timeless by design, do you see the story as fitting in as well now as it would have in 2008?

Alonso: Without a doubt. That's the beauty of what those guys do. The stories they tell are evergreens. It doesn't matter that right now, Sam Wilson is the one and only Captain America -- "Captain America: White" is a classic story by a team whose talent is to distill the essence of characters, and deliver a perennial story that sits well on your bookshelf.

Spencer Talks Conflict Between "Sam Wilson, Captain America" & Steve Rogers

Speaking of Sam Wilson, this week readers saw the first interior pages from the October-debuting "Sam Wilson, Captain America" series by Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña. We've seen Sam Wilson as Captain America for about a year now -- what excites you about what this new team is doing with Sam as Cap in the post-"Secret Wars" Marvel Universe?

Alonso: I read out the first issue a couple weeks ago, and beelined to Tom Brevoort's office to tell him how much I loved it. Nick has come into his own as a Marvel writer, this past year. He's been steadily on the rise -- "Superior Foes of Spider-Man," "Secret Avengers" -- but with "Ant-Man" and this series, he's really finding an outlet for his unique skills and sensibility.

Nick is a very politically astute, politically educated person, and that's going to be apparent in this series. I mean, if you're going to write a book about a guy dressed in red, white and blue, it kind of helps if you've got something to say about the United States -- what it stands for, and its place in the world and unfolding history. Nick has got plenty to say, but he'll never lose sight that Captain America stands for all Americans. "Sam Wilson, Captain America" is going to be a big super hero epic that's seasoned with just enough sociopolitical stuff to be thought-provoking -- like, say, the way that rumor, gossip and hearsay and bad reporting are ratified on social media as fact, and spiral out of control, at great consequence to, well, liberty.

The art released thus far by Acuña looks like another step up from him.

Alonso: Acuña is amazing -- he doesn't take a panel off. He gives the quiet moments just as much life as the big moments. Issue #1 perfectly juxtaposes an action setpiece, in which Cap squares off against a horde or Hydra operatives, against a smaller scene that shows Sam's slowly unfolding quiet terror when he realizes he's got the middle seat on a coach flight, sandwiched between -- well, wait and see. And Acuña pulls off every nuance of both scenes.

PREVIEW: Storm Takes Control in "Extraordinary X-Men" #1

Let's talk another high-profile new #1 out in October that Marvel released pages from in the past week -- "Extraordinary X-Men" #1 by Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos. This sees the X-Men in the familiar position of facing another major adversity, this time the Terrigen Mists killing and sterilizing mutants. As someone with history editing X-Men books, what's intriguing to you about this latest challenge for the mutants?

Alonso: Well, it's the X-Men in a pressure cooker. Once again, they're hated and feared in a big way. Once again, they've got their backs on the ropes and they need to rally against the forces of opposition, from without and within. And Jeff has pulled together a really diverse roster, with wildcards like Old Man Logan thrown into the mix, that are going to keep this book really different from anything you've seen before.

As we've said, the fact that the Terrigen Mists are proven to have some sort of debilitating effect on mutantkind is certainly something that we intend to dig deep into -- what ramifications does it have for mutants and Inhumans? Read and find out.

Given that a lot of fans have speculated that mutants and Inhumans may be in opposition in terms of how they're currently viewed within Marvel -- it's not uncommon to hear X-Men fans express the concern that Inhumans are "replacing" mutants -- and this series makes that a literal conflict on the comic book page, was there any, for lack of a better term, "meta" element that inspired this story?

Alonso: We're aware of the "meta" connotations, but that's not what inspired this development. People can keep speculating and click-baiting all they want; we have a cool story to tell.

Seeing those first pages of Humberto Ramos drawing X-Men is almost jarring, after seeing him on the Spider-Man books for so long -- but also exciting, getting to see him draw something rather different.

Alonso: Couldn't agree more. Make no mistake, there will be some point where Humberto's drawing Spider-Man again -- he was born to draw Spider-Man -- but it's really exciting to see him doing the X-Men. To see him [own] the X-Men. It's new, it's fresh, and it's a good thing for the franchise and for him as an artist. I mean, get a load of his take on the characters, particularly Colossus and Nightcrawler -- and Storm with her Mohawk, the way it was meant to be.

Mary Jane Watson to Join Supporting Cast of Bendis' "Invincible Iron Man"

One more question about a book starting in October -- fans found out late last week the fairly eyebrow-raising news that Mary Jane Watson will play a part in Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez's "Invincible Iron Man," taking Spidey fans by surprise. What insight can you share about that decision?

Alonso: Mary Jane Watson will be playing a big role in "Iron Man." [Laughs] That is true.

One more thing from this past week is a new Marvel marketing campaign pushing issue #2s of series -- which seems like a response to the fact that so much effort and focus is on promoting #1 issues, throughout the industry, that it sometimes feels like books don't always get a chance to grow an audience, or build buzz over time. From your stance as not a marketing person but Editor-in-Chief, what are your thoughts on this campaign?

Alonso: This is a message to retailers and fans that we want to support the long-term health of these books, to do what we can to fight the reflexive attrition that goes with any launch. Any retailer will tell you the best indicator of a new title's longevity is how many customers come back for the next issue, so we want to make sure that readers know that it's probably a good idea to stick around past the pilot. Added exposure means happier retailers, happier fans and a healthier industry.

Also, we planned to make sure that all new launches deliver something significant in the second issue, story-wise, that will create additional intrigue and the buzz that goes with it. If you picked up the first issue, but didn't go back for the second, you'll discover that something went down in issue #2 you'll wish you hadn't missed. I think that's really the key here -- not just to promote, but to deliver buzzworthy content, each and every issue. Like, say, Mary Jane Watson appearing in Tony's doorway in issue #4 of "Invincible Iron Man."

We'll end the week with a few fan questions from the CBR Community, where there are plenty of folks wondering what's next for certain characters. We'll start with Jameszahra who's curious about Wolverine's mohawk-sporting son: "Do you have any plans for Daken in the near future? He seemed to go through some pretty big changes after Logan's death. But after 'Wolverines' finished, he was left crippled by Sinister, having lost his arm and his eye. There hasn't been any sign of him in 'Secret Wars,' does his story continue in All-New, All-Different Marvel?"

Alonso: A couple writers have pitched stories featuring Daken, but we haven't landed on anything solid yet. Suffice it to say, with a title featuring "Old Man Logan" and a title featuring "Wolverine" on the stands, it's only a matter of time before he shows up.

Then scouse mouse asks, "Any chance of any info about if/when Elektra might be showing up in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe?"

Alonso: She's undercover. She's an assassin. She could turn up anywhere.

We'll wrap with Daredevil is Legend, curious about another character soon to come to live-action on Netflix: "Can you shed some light on where Luke Cage will be or what he'll be doing post 'Secret Wars'?"

Alonso: I could. Or you could wait just a little bit longer.

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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