CBR TV @ NYCC 2014: Axel Alonso on "Secret Wars," A New "Hawkeye" & "Ant-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 Message Boards, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!

This week marks a very special CBR TV edition of AXEL-IN-CHARGE as Albert Ching caught up with the Editor-in-Chief at the CBR Tiki Room during New York Comic Con, to discuss Marvel's major announcements from the show -- headlined by a new "Secret Wars" series starting in May 2015 from the team of Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, hearkening back to the 1984 original and poised to draw in multiple characters from Marvel's various fictional worlds. Alonso also talks the new "Hawkeye" team of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Ramón Perez, who are set to anchor a new series starring the Avenging Archer in March 2015, following the multiple award-winning run by Matt Fraction and David Aja. All that, plus discussion of Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas launching a new "Ant-Man" series in advance of the Marvel Studios film, the weekly "Wolverines" series co-written by Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes with art in the opening arc by Nick Bradshaw and the impact of a female Thor and a Black Captain America.

On the new "Secret Wars" by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, announced offsite at the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit in Times Square by Marvel President & Publisher of print, TV and digital, Dan Buckley: What we're doing is we're revisiting the title. This is an original story. It's a story that's been in formation for four to five years. The early ideas of Jonathan were brought to us prior to him coming on "Avengers," and when he took on "Avengers," we all knew he was building to this moment. So this is something that we've been planning for a while. The fact that we got to the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. event and Dan was able to announce it without it already having been announced elsewhere was an amazing feat. This is a huge story. It's a universe-spanning event. It's big enough that every time we've planned another event for the last several years, from "Original Sin" to the current "AXIS," we've had to consider how this might affect "Secret Wars." So this is a big one.

We're in the midst of celebrating our 75th anniversary. Without any hyperbole, we look at "Secret Wars" as setting up the next 75 years of publishing. We're in a very interesting, exciting and vibrant period right now. We have a female Thor, we have an African-American Captain America, we have more titles driven by female characters than we've ever had. We've had the emergence of the Guardians of the Galaxy as a global phenomenon, and they were successful in print even prior to that. So we're in a period right now where I think the public is very receptive to change, and they're hungry for new things. We're not afraid to break some eggs to make some omelets.

NYCC: Marvel Announces New "Secret Wars" By Hickman & Ribic in 2015

On the scale of "Secret Wars," which has been revealed to draw in practically every aspect of Marvel, including alternate universe characters like Miles Morales of the Ultimate Universe: The exact duration of the event isn't quite a year. It's several months. It cuts across all titles. There's not a single Marvel title that won't be affected by this event. It's all in. If you've seen the Alex Ross teaser, and you examine it as I'm sure everyone has at this point, you'll see there are a lot of interesting characters in there -- like Miles Morales -- who will play a role in the story. It's going to get people talking, gossiping, rumoring [about] what's going to go down. We don't think there's any way to predict where we're headed, and what we're prepared to do, and what comes out the other side of this event.

On the legacy of the original "Secret Wars," which ran for 12 issues from 1984 to 1985 and is considered one of the most influential superhero event stories: That's not lost on us. We know that's a seminal event. It's also a really strong title. It's also, first and foremost, very apropos of this story. There will be a lot of fighting. There will be a lot of fighting and fisticuffs in this event. We started there.

On the new "Hawkeye" series announced at NYCC, and Jeff Lemire and Ramón Perez following the massively critically acclaimed run on the character by Matt Fraction and David Aja: Obviously, I'm extremely proud of "Hawkeye," and what it did; the statement that "Hawkeye" made to the fans. It's an original book, it's two creators who had something to say through this character, and it connected with a lot of fans. Most importantly, when we launched it, we wanted it to be clear that "Hawkeye" was a different type of book. It's huge shoes to fill for any creator. When I myself discussed the possibility with Jeff Lemire, he had to give it some thought, and he only took it because he knew he had something to say; and most importantly, something that was his own. Whoever comes in to do this series, as Jeff and Ramón are going to do, have to be convinced that they have something to say. Something unique to say. That they have a unique chemistry and collaboration. I'm very confident that we're going to have exactly that with this series. The first several scripts are in, and even lifelong curmudgeon Tom Brevoort was blown away, reading the first three in a row. I'm very, very excited by what they're doing. It's a very different story. I think it's going to honor a lot of the tropes that were brought into volume one of "Hawkeye," but it's a wholly original statement.

NYCC EXCLUSIVE: Lemire & Perez Take Aim on "Hawkeye"

On Jeff Lemire moving to a Marvel ongoing series following several high-profile books at DC Comics and elsewhere, plus the artistic approach Ramón Perez will bring to the series: I've long been a fan of Jeff Lemire. I'm thrilled to have him here. I'm even more thrilled to have him working on a book like this, where he'll be able to really bring his unique voice to the table. One of the things about "Hawkeye" is that it allows a writer and an artist to dance in their own corner of the Marvel Universe. There's less coordination involved, you don't have to worry about the ramifications across the line. You have to worry about telling a really good story, and that's exactly what he's going to do. I'm certain he spent a long time pondering whether or not this was right for him. When he came back to me, he was fully focused. He knew this was his book.

Ramón is an amazing artist, who I'm certain will blow people's socks off with the approach he's taking to this book. This won't be like anything you've seen from Ramon at Marvel. It's going to have much more of an illustrative and almost a multimedia approach to the art. I think this is going to be a book that blasts off the shelves.

NYCC: Scott Lang Battles Villains, Personal Demons in Spencer's "Ant-Man"

On the upcoming "Ant-Man" ongoing series, also announced at NYCC, by Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas, hitting in the same year as the July 2015-debuting Marvel Studios film starring Paul Rudd: Ant-Man is a fantastic character. Rumor has it that he's going to be in a little indie film coming out soon. He's one of those unique characters, because there's something inherently absurd about him and his name, but he's also amazingly powerful. I've been very impressed by Nick Spencer's work, particularly on "Superior Foes of Spider-Man," where he's found that right balance of humor and drama. I think this is a character that will benefit from those moments of levity. This is going to be a really fun book. It's well-timed with the movie. This is a flawed protagonist who will be doing adventures that are unique to him. Ramon Rosanas is an amazing artist who really caught my eye with "Night of the Living Deadpool," and his attention to detail, his ability to navigate drama and humor, and his ability to create scale in environments is crucial to this book -- because it's so important that the readers know when they're shrinking, and when we enter these interior worlds, when he's interacting with ants, that the art feels alive and vibrant. And that's exactly what he's going to deliver. Mark Brooks is delivering the covers. I think we've got a really great team here. This is an Avenger who is going to introduce himself to a new audience. I know for myself that I have a lot of affection for him -- "little man complex," "size matters," the jokes write themselves -- but at the end of the day, he's a hero, and he's really powerful, and I think we're going to show you exactly how powerful.

NYCC: Soule & Fawkes Go Weekly With "Wolverines"

On how books like the freshly announced weekly "Wolverines" series show both that Logan's impact will still be felt post-"Death of Wolverine," and that Marvel is currently very wiling to make changes: Wolverine is dead. We do not have an escape plan. We don't have an exit strategy. A lot of folks complained we were publishing too much Wolverine, we listened. We're looking at an era now where there won't be a Wolverine. There's going to be a Wolverine-sized hole in the Marvel Universe that's going to need to be filled at some point. The initial stages will examine his impact. The impact of his loss on the Marvel Universe, and how the characters feel. Obviously he has deep relationships with a number of people -- he's been an X-Men, he's been an Avenger. It's going to be a very interesting period we enter into.

It's a testament to a lot of things right now. We're in an era now where we experimented with Bucky Barnes as Captain America, and readers loved it. We hazarded a guess that people would respond well to the female Thor, but we had no idea they would respond this way. I, as a lifelong fan of Sam Wilson, the Falcon, feel that having him dressed in the red, white and blue and wrestling with what it means to be Captain America is long overdue, and readers are responding as well. To live in a world now where you're seeing one of the most recognizable superheroes and iconic superheroes, Wolverine, just off the board, I think is a testament to our willingness to take chances.

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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