"Death of X," "Dead No More" and Other Ominous Upcoming Marvel Stories

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 in comics receiving 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 NEXT BIG THING: "Civil War II" with Bendis, Brevoort & Alonso

It's a conspicuous time at Marvel, with several major stories on the verge of unfolding. First, there was the "Death of X" teaser from last week, which once again got X-Men fans worried -- likely deliberately so -- about the future of the beloved X-books. Marvel also rolled out new "Dead No More" teasers all week, raising further questions about the upcoming Spider-Man storyline, while not answering any of them (yet). Plus, "Civil War II" is looming, with Alonso joining Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort and writer Brian Michael Bendis on a press call earlier this week to talk what's to come in the impending conflict between Iron Man and Captain Marvel. Alonso talks all three -- albeit some in much more vague terms than others -- and also discusses next week's debut of "Black Panther" #1 from the highly anticipated creative team of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Brian Stelfreeze, and the return of a youthful Steve Rogers in this past week's "Captain America: Sam Wilson" #7, by writer Nick Spencer and artist Daniel Acuña.

Albert Ching: Axel, let's start with the "Death of X" teaser that Marvel released last week -- which, certainly unsurprisingly, got people talking. Is Marvel rattling the cage of X-Men fans once again?

Axel Alonso: Actually, it's truth in advertising. [Laughs] We're aware that it might have some "meta" connotations for conspiracy theorists, but "Death of X" is just an accurate tag.

And surely this is something we'll hear more about in the coming weeks and months?

Alonso: Absolutely. We'll be telling you lots more about this soon -- and then the Internet can explode.

We'll be standing by. Speaking of Marvel teasers -- got a bunch of them this week for the upcoming Spider-Man story "Dead No More." "Amazing Spider-Man" writer Dan Slott gave a little bit of insight in a CBR interview this week, but this is still a story shrouded in mystery. Are we getting towards a place where we'll start to see what this is all about?

Alonso: We're very close. This event will be eyebrow-raising and probably a bit controversial. Dan and [Editor] Nick [Lowe] have been cooking up this story for quite a while. Fans will get their first taste of it on Free Comic Book Day this year.

RELATED: Doctor Octopus Takes Center Stage In Latest "Dead No More" Teaser

In terms of impact on the Spider-Man line, is it fair to say this is, say, a "Spider-Verse"-level event?

Alonso: Yes. Like "Spider-Verse" it will take place in the main "Amazing Spider-Man" series but will encompass many of the Spider-titles.

To talk about yet another upcoming big story -- I was on the "Civil War II" call on Wednesday with you, Brian Michael Bendis and Tom Brevoort, and it was clear how important it is to all three of you that real-world issues have influenced this story. There's been real-world relevance in Marvel stories throughout history to some extent, but at that same time, clearly the goal is not do it in a transparent or heavy-handed way. How do you approach that, specifically with "Civil War II," to give stories that resonance while also making sense for a superhero event?

Alonso: Comic books speak best through metaphor. I mean, some of the most potent commentary on race has been done in X-Men comic books, through the mutant metaphor. Perhaps readers are more comfortable pondering uncomfortable themes when they aren't looking at an actual mirror image so much as funhouse mirror image?

With "Civil War II," we are tapping into something that everyone is talking about right now, something that affects everyone -- much the same way "Civil War" did a decade ago. But this is not a political tract or polemic. It's an adventure, a super hero conflict between two sides with very defensible positions, that forces you to take a side on a complex issue that bears a lot of resemblance to reality.

And both positions are articulated equally. On Page 7 of the last script, I was on Tony's side, but by Page 11, I was on Carol's side. Like I said, a complex issue. Right now, some fans are already pledging their allegiance to Team Tony or Team Carol, but I wonder how many will stay that way once the event unfolds.

And that certainly seems in the "Civil War" tradition. This week, "Captain America: Sam Wilson" #7 was released. We knew it was coming, but that issue saw Steve Rogers back in action, regaining his youth after about two years of being sidelined due to losing the Super-Soldier Serum. For you as Editor-in-Chief, how important is it to have Steve Rogers back in that famed position, and still keep Sam Wilson where he is, also as Captain America?

Alonso: I think it's very important. I don't want to give away too much, because there are surprises in store, but I think a reasonable question to ask is, is there enough room in the Marvel Universe for two Caps? I mean, Sam Wilson has earned the right to wear those red, white and blue tights -- why should he share them with Steve Rogers? Personally, in the world in which we now live, I think the world needs more than two Caps. The tone and tenor of our current presidential primaries tells me that.

Next week, it'll finally arrive -- "Black Panther" #1 from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze, something I know you're very excited about. We've talked about this book for months, and the only thing I can think to ask at this point, before reading the issue, is this: For fans who may still not be sure what to expect -- maybe they're not too familiar with the team or Black Panther as a solo character -- what makes this book, to you, truly special?

Alonso: It's rare to see collaboration as special as what we're seeing with Ta-Nehisi and Brian. The road is paved with prose writers who had a rough transition to comics and let me tell you Ta-Nehisi is not one of them! [Laughs] He's a natural and his ego-less approach to writing made for a solid collaboration with Brian. He grew on a page-by-page basis. "Black Panther" #1 is great, but #2 is better, and #3 is even better. "Black Panther" is a big widescreen adventure that has something to say about the world in which we live, about society, about heroes, about us. It will entertain you and challenge you in equal measure.

This also appears to be the biggest push yet in a deliberate attempt to establish Black Panther as one of the top players in Marvel -- is that fair to say?

Alonso: Without a doubt. Our goals were not modest. Coming out the other side of "Secret Wars," we wanted to launch a big "Black Panther" series that would reposition T'Challa as one of the key players in the Marvel Universe, and Ta-Nehisi and Brian are going to do just that. Between "Black Panther," "Civil War II" -- in which he plays a big role -- and "Captain America: Civil War" -- in which he also plays a big role -- all eyes will be on the Panther, the first, and best, Black superhero.

I'll leave you one last thing for the week, and it's not Marvel news, but certainly big industry new. This past Saturday, DC Comics unveiled the full picture of the lineup for their Rebirth initiative -- do you have any thoughts to share on their plans?

Alonso: I think the entire industry is better when DC is healthy.

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!

Superman Year One feature
Superman: Year One Just Made Clark Kent the King of [SPOILER]

More in CBR Exclusives