Characters of the Year

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, we wrap our look back at 2013 with a review of the characters who made a splash in the Marvel Universe. From Nova Sam Alexander's long promised rise to solo stardom to Angela's surprise appearance in the Marvel U and from Superior Spider-Man's eventual dominance to the future of Marvel women, Axel digs into everyone who hit the big time across the year while taking your questions on which characters to look out for in Deadpool's wedding, "Revolutionary War" and more. Read on!

[Editor's Note: This interview took place before the announcement of Marvel obtaining the "Star Wars" license with new Marvel "Star Wars" comics intended for 2015.]

Kiel Phegley: Axel, we've spent some time in this column talking about characters that Marvel is trying to open up in a big way, and from 2012 on through 2013, one of the ones you cited most was Nova. After the debut of his series, I felt like Editorial was very much behind Jeph Loeb's story, and it's continued through arcs by Zeb Wells and now Gerry Duggan. What do you lay that continued enthusiasm at the feet of?

Axel Alonso: Well, Jeph Loeb's enthusiasm certainly didn't hurt! [Laughs] Besides that? A deep-down-in-our-gut sense that Nova is a character that can connect with a lot of readers due to the fact that he straddles the line between earthbound and the cosmic heroes. He's kind of like Luke Skywalker meets Peter Parker.

MORE ON "NOVA": Beta Ray Bill Hammers Home Hard Lessons In Duggan's "Nova"

The other major new player from the cosmic side of things this year was Angela -- a character whose introduction was maybe the big "What The -- ?!" moment for a lot of Marvel readers this year. Obviously, a lot of how this happened was developed by Neil Gaiman and Joe Quesada with Brian Bendis. Did you think overall it was a different challenge to bring a character from outside Marvel publishing into the Marvel U?

Alonso: Well, it certainly was a new challenge -- it's not every day you get to import a character with such a rich backstory and rabid fan base into the Marvel Universe. And to me, one of the most fun things was seeing how jazzed Joe and Neil were to concoct a plan that would reveal that, in fact, Angela was always here -- you just never saw her. When we reveal exactly how she fits into the Marvel puzzle, it's going to be one of the "Oh s---!" moments of 2014.

MORE ON ANGELA: Gaiman Returns to Marvel, Brings Angela

Back in the bread and butter Marvel U, the introduction of Superior Spider-Man was the latest of stories where you guys must have braced yourselves for outcry early on, but it seems like over 2014, you also waited for people to come around to this idea over the long term. Dan Slott is maybe more used to this kind of story than most by now, but how confident were you in this change's success?

Alonso: Like I've said before, I needed to be sold on the whole concept of Superior Spider-Man. I could see how the story would work in the short term, but Dan was thinking long-term so I needed to be sold. Yeah, there was a precedence for doing something like this -- Bucky Barnes replaced Steve Rogers as Captain America for a while -- but this move felt fundamentally different because Dan would be putting a 100 percent bona fide super-villain -- a guy who'd always been bad -- inside the body of one of Marvel's most beloved and relatable heroes. Suffice it to say, Dan came up with a plan that worked, and the thing that really sold me was the story you're about to read in coming months.

MORE ON "SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN": Slott on "Superior Spider-Man" Plans, "Goblin Nation" Dangers

On the tougher side of the sales equation was "Fearless Defenders" -- a book that had its dedicated supporters but just didn't perform on the charts as strongly as some other Marvel NOW! titles. I'm not sure if there are specific lessons learned from something like this not succeeding, but it seems like Marvel has really doubled down with some more diverse female characters as solo stars after this team effort. Is that accurate?

Alonso: No new series is guaranteed to stick around forever; our job is to create series that deserve to be around for a while. That said, come April, we're going to have six ongoing series that feature female leads. Joining the all-female "X-Men" and "Captain Marvel" will be "Black Widow," "Elektra," "She-Hulk" and the all-new "Ms. Marvel." None of these series came about because we sat down at a meeting and said, "We need more female characters." Each happened because my editors saw All-New Marvel NOW! as a window of opportunity to reinvigorate cool Marvel characters, picked these particular characters, and successfully navigated the approvals process. I'm very excited about the talent lineup, and the ideas driving these series.

MORE ON "FEARLESS DEFENDERS": Bunn Confirms "Fearless Defenders" to End in December

Looking forward to 2014, obviously the first half of the year is very much anchored by these All-New Marvel NOW! launches, but I know that you're always discussing broader, far-reaching plans. Do you know what your goals will be all the way through the year?

Alonso: Oh yeah. We've got a clear sense of what's on the immediate horizon, and the expanse beyond it is coming into focus. We have planted a few flags throughout the year that will provide great launching pads for new series.

Let's wrap with some forward-looking fan questions. Marvel just revealed the wedding of Deadpool this week, and while I'm sure there'll be more to discuss on that book soon, Icey1999 had a broader question from the teaser images: "The teasers for the April 2014 wedding shows slight costume changes to characters present at the ceremony, like Beast, Colossus, and Spider-Man. If this is for some sort of future event or thing, are these costumes shown going to become a reality?"

Alonso: Who knows, Icey1999? One man's "black tie" is another man's "snappy casual." Are you going to tell Beast he can't wear an X-Speedo? I know I'm not.

Spidey616 has been observing the Marvel U from afar and wonders, "One of the notable developments in Matt Fraction's FF run was the unborn child of everyone's favorite Watcher, Uatu. Does Fraction or another creator intend to touch upon this plot point with a future project?"

Alonso: We're not done touching on it in FF yet, Spidey616!

In "across the pond" talk, marvell2100 wondered, "I'm looking forward to the upcoming Revolutionary War mini event. Will this be touched upon in any of your other Marvel titles? Also, Union Jack is one of my favorite characters and I was wondering if you had any plans for him or any of you other UK characters after Revolutionary War? Is it possible that MI:13 could be restarted?"

Alonso: Maybe, marvell2100. What I can say is that following the events of "Revolutionary War," look for characters from the limited series to begin appearing in the Marvel Universe. Dark Angel, for example, will be appearing in "Iron Man" #23.NOW, the first issue of the "Rings of The Mandarin" arc.

And as a final follow up to that, thefurue180 asked, "Is there any chance Faiza Hussain will be in Revolutionary War or even on an Avengers team?"

Alonso: While there was talk about including Faiza in "Revolutionary War," the entire team decided to focus on more classic heroes from the earlier days of Marvel UK. There are currently no plans to include her on any future teams, but if fan response is strong enough, who knows?

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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