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!
While the calendar may still be six days away from Thanksgiving, the comic book industry was thinking about February all week, with the release of the latest round of publisher solicitations. Alonso talks some of the newsworthy revelations from Marvel’s February 2015 solicitations, including the new “Guardians Team-Up” series kicking off that month with Brian Michael Bendis and Arthur Adams; former WWE Champion CM Punk writing a story with “Chew” artist Rob Guillory in the “Thor Annual;” Mark Waid and Chris Samnee beginning to wrap up their award-winning “Daredevil” run starting that month; and “Elektra” coming to a close. Also, Alonso shares his take on the recently launched “Spider-Woman” and “Superior Iron Man” series, plus answers your questions, directly from the CBR Community! Next week, stay tuned for a special Black Friday edition of AXEL-IN-CHARGE with a very special Marvel guest.
Albert Ching: Axel, let’s start with a look at some of the recently announced February 2015 releases, including the news that another new Guardians of the Galaxy book is on the way: “Guardians Team-Up.” With this book, the main series, and the solo titles that are already out there or known to be on the way — Guardians, at least in number of titles, now appears to be growing into a franchise at the level of X-Men or Avengers. Do you see it as on that path, and having that type of potential?
Axel Alonso: So far, it would appear so! To go from one title to six, in just, oh, 21 months? It’s insane.
We had a simple plan: We’d produce a top-quality monthly that would create the oxygen for a spinoff series of two, and count on Marvel Studios delivering a top-quality movie that would fuel fan interest – and it worked. [Laughs] The beauty of the “Guardians” franchise is that it features so many unique characters, and each of them scratches a different itch. Skottie Young’s “Rocket Raccoon” is very different — aesthetically and tonally — from Sam Humphries and Paco Medina’s “Legendary Star-Lord,” and Nicole Perlman’s upcoming “Gamora” is certain to be different from both of those, too. Show of hands for a “Groot” solo series?
So with “Guardians Team-Up” specifically, what made that the compelling next option for the franchise? Team-up books have a long history at Marvel, but at this point, most books feel like they intermingle pretty freely between characters.
Alonso: We see “Guardians Team-Up” as great opportunity to showcase the Guardians characters — who, at this point, everyone knows — interacting with — or, in some cases, meeting for the first time – other characters in the Marvel Universe. The possibilities are endless: Gamora and She-Hulk, Punisher and Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Hulk, Drax and Elektra…
Also wanted to ask about something that definitely got a lot of people’s attention when it was announced — that CM Punk, former WWE Champion, is writing a story in the “Thor Annual” out in February, as his comic book writing debut. The initial announcement mentioned you by name as playing a key part in bringing him to Marvel — what was it that brought him to your attention, and made you think he had the potential to contribute to Marvel in this way?
Alonso: I met CM Punk at the Marvel party at [Comic-Con International in San Diego] a couple years ago and we hit it off. I don’t follow wrestling, so we were just two guys talking, you know? We started talking about [Vertigo/ DC Comics’] “Preacher,” which I edited back in the day — he was a big fan — and that got us talking about comics in general and then zombies came up and — BAM! — it was on! We talked about George Romero, “The Walking Dead,” fast versus slow zombies, how we were both preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. And it got me to thinking if he’d be interested in writing a story. I mean, a professional wrestler is a storyteller, right? — he’s got to build a character, a narrative — so I asked him if he’d ever thought of writing a comic book. And of course, he had. [Laughs]
As I’m sure you know, there’s definitely a huge crossover between comics fans and wrestling fans.
Alonso: Without a doubt. Comics and wrestling both feature costumed heroes and villains that fight, sometimes heroes and villains switch sides, and there’s long-term continuity to the stories. There’s a lot of overlap.
And February’s solicitation for “Daredevil” #13 states that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are starting to wrap up their run on that book. A lot people are unsurprisingly bummed, as it’s been such a beloved and acclaimed run — but based on the wording, it sounds like they’re getting a wide berth to wrap up the story how they want to. Is that correct?
Alonso: Yes, they are. They are going out on their own terms. They had a story to tell, they’re wrapping it up, and I really look forward to seeing what they do next.
One book that is definitely ending in February is “Elektra,” with the series finale billed for #11. That’s a title you were very excited about throughout its run — what’s your reaction to that series coming to a close?
Alonso: Look, we took a swing. Not all good books make it long-term — that’s just a fact of life. I mean who can’t think of a book that shouldn’t have been cancelled? And “Elektra” was an excellent book.
Going into All-New Marvel NOW!, I told my editors, “Make a good book.” The kind of book that, if it gets canceled, is really missed. In the case of “She-Hulk,” we went in knowing that the series might adjust to a seasonal model – we fully expected Charles Soule’s commitments to swell in coming months so we needed to be able to pivot; in the case of “Elektra,” we just took our best swing at building a monthly. And [editor] Sana [Amanat] built a great book, with a great team. [Writer] Haden [Blackman] and [artist] Mike [Del Mundo] really put their own stamp on the character. It blasted off the racks — and you can’t ask for much more than that. It’s not far-fetched that they could revisit Elektra at some point in the future.
Turning to a book released this week, “Spider-Woman” #1 debuted this past Wednesday. The pre-release press was overshadowed by the controversial Milo Manara variant cover, but now the book is out and can stand on its own merits. What’s interesting to you about what Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land are doing here?
Alonso: Well, Spider-Woman’s got a lot of fans that wanted to see her back in play, and “Spider-Verse” promised “every Spider-Man ever,” so we figured we had a great launching pad. It was just a matter of [Marvel Senior Editor] Nick [Lowe] finding the right talent to find the right story. And in Dennis Hopless and Greg Land, I think he has. Dennis is very dialed into the Jessica Drew of it all. Even with the book launching in the middle of a big Spider-Man crossover event, he’s very focused on showing how the stress of the mission really wears on Jessica as a 3-dimensional character. She’s hopping from world to world, trying to protect and teach Silk, who is very new to heroics, and it’s not an easy task. As for Greg — his work looks like it jumped off the screen at the multiplex onto the comic book page.
Moving back a bit since we didn’t chat last week, “Superior Iron Man” launched earlier this month. We’ve talked extensively about “All-New Captain America” and the female “Thor” — as have a lot of people — but “Superior Iron Man,” the other big Avengers NOW! book, hasn’t gotten quite the same amount of attention. What do you like about that series, and how much do you see it as playing into the overall Marvel picture?
Alonso: Well, everyone knows about Tony Stark’s enormous ego, so to see him really succumb to it — that’s fun stuff. But this isn’t Tony in full-blown, mustache-twirling villain mode, he’s just an uber-capitalist inventor that believes he’s giving people what they want — a chance at perfection — and is going to charge them a premium for it. Just like the last time we saw Tony in Machiavellian territory — “Civil War” — some fans will disagree with him and some will side with him, or at least see the upside of his point of view.
it’s interesting, because a quick way to describe it is “Iron Man as a bad guy,” but it’s really not that simple — it’s not like he’s a bad guy in the classic sense. He’s certainly not being as heroic as he may have been before, sure.
Alonso: Tony is not looking to achieve world domination. He wants something else, and there are going to be obstacles in his way — notably, Daredevil, who totally disagrees with what Tony is doing. [Writer] Tom Taylor is definitely bending Tony. Let’s see if he breaks.
Last thing I wanted to ask about before fan questions — Ellie Pyle had her last day as an editor at Marvel last week, after years on books including the Spidey titles, and certainly working very closely on the “Daredevil” run we were just talking about. Any words you wanted to share about her time at the company?
Alonso: We’ll miss her. Ellie was a very good story editor. I’m a Vertigo veteran, so I know she’ll do great work over there. And while she’s in LA, maybe she can have lunch with Steve Wacker. [Laughs]
We missed last week, so let’s go to a handful of questions from the CBR Community — the stalwart Spidey616 asks,” With ‘Fantastic Four’ ending, does James Robinson have a new ongoing or any new Marvel projects in the not too distant future?”
Alonso: He sure will, Spidey616. James has some very exciting stuff ahead.
Will J. is wondering about the future of Alex Summers: “Following ‘Axis,’ is there anything for this Havok fan to look forward to?”
Alonso: No spoilers, Will J. “AXIS” isn’t over yet.
And HouseFrost has a query about some fan favorites: “I need some ‘Young Avengers’ news! A new book? Characters showing up somewhere? I need some kind of fix!”
Alonso: No soup for you, HouseFrost.
Following the Jessica Jones and Luke Cage casting rumors, Rman wants to know, “With the upcoming ‘Defenders’ series coming to Netflix can we expect some team up book featuring Luke, Danny, Jess, and Matt? I would love to see a comic book version of the Defenders sometime next year.”
Alonso: Let me consult my Magic 8-Ball, Rman…
We’ll wrap for the week with macroblaster1999: “Are there plans for, besides Quicksilver, the rest of All-New X-Factor’s cast after it gets cancelled?”
Alonso: Quicksilver will be part of the cast in the all-new “Uncanny Avengers” series beginning in January. And we have some plans for other members of “All-New X-Factor” as well.
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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