Diving Into "Moon Knight" Madness, Hiring "Deadpool & the Mercs for Money" Full Time

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!

"Star Wars Special: C-3PO" Solves The Mystery Of Threepio's Red Arm

This week, Alonso looks at three big new releases from Marvel out this past week: The latest "Moon Knight" #1 from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Greg Smallwood -- the former's debut on the character and the latter's return -- plus the "Star Wars: C-3PO" one-shot from the team of James Robinson and Tony Harris, best known collectively as the team behind DC Comics' celebrated "Starman" run in the 1990s; and "The Unbelievable Gwenpool," one of the more unlikely new series from Marvel in a while, from writer Christopher Hastings and art team Gurihiru. Alonso also discusses the decision to bring back miniseries "Deadpool and the Mercs for Money" as an ongoing with writer Cullen Bunn and artist Iban Coello, shares his thoughts on the teaser trailer for Marvel Studios' "Doctor Strange" film and gives a hint of a tease towards the possible comic book future of Cloak and Dagger, who are headed to the small screen on the Freeform network.

Albert Ching: Axel, first things first -- how proud are you of your hometown Golden State Warriors and their historic 73-9 finish this week for the regular season?

Axel Alonso: Ecstatic. Back in the day, I used to take the BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] from San Francisco to Oakland with my crew to watch the Warriors from the nosebleed seats -- World B. Free, Run TMC. Over the decades, there have been highs -- 8th-seeded Golden State eliminating Top-seeded Dallas in 2007 -- and lows -- Chris Webber leaving. And there have been a lot of tough, tough seasons. This is not one of them. [Laughs]

This week saw the release of the first "Doctor Strange" trailer for the upcoming Marvel Studios film. You're a big Doctor Strange fan and an advocate for the character -- so, how do you think the movie's looking so far?

Alonso: The little I've seen looks fantastic. Like "Guardians of the Galaxy" or "Ant-Man," "Doctor Strange" explores a different pocket in the Marvel Universe than previous films: the realm of magic and the supernatural. So it brings a new flavor to the menu. And [Benedict] Cumberbatch? I wasn't sold on him at first -- he's a great actor, but I didn't think he quite fit the part -- but the little I've seen proves me wrong. He is a great Doctor Strange and, it appears, a pretty cool dude. Dropping by a comic shop in full costume, all banged up like he'd just gone a few rounds with Dormammu, was an Alpha Geek move. Respect.

Meanwhile at Marvel, this week brought the news that "Deadpool and the Mercs for Money" will be coming back in July as an ongoing series, with Cullen Bunn still on board as writer and Iban Coello as artist. Bunn has been effectively writing a series of Deadpool miniseries for the past few years now, so this isn't a total surprise, but what went into this decision and expanding the Deadpool franchise with these other wayward characters?

Alonso: It all grew out of Gerry Duggan's idea for his [All-New, All-Different Marvel] "Deadpool" launch. Gerry brought a huge idea to the table -- Deadpool franchising himself -- that provided a great platform for some of our quirkier characters: Foolkiller, Solo, Terror, Inc., Madcap. They're all kind of crazy in their own way, but together? We were always optimistic about the series, and it turns out fans love it. It's a great time to be affiliated with Deadpool.

A few notable new Marvel comics came out this, and let's start with the new "Moon Knight" series from Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood. A few different creative teams have made an impact on "Moon Knight" recently, with this current wave started by the acclaimed run from Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. Each creator brings something different to the character, and this new "Moon Knight" #1 is clearly another unique statement. What is it about Lemire and Smallwood's take that rang true to you?

Alonso: "Moon Knight" #1 is the best thing that Jeff's written for us -- well, at least, it's my personal favorite. Jeff pitched a deep-dive into one the main things that sets Marc Spector apart from everyone else -- his fractured psyche. That's an aspect of the character that other writers have explored, of course, but Jeff has something different planned. I can't say more, at risk of giving away too much, but I will say this series has got the vibe of one of my favorite horror movies, "Session 9."

And [artist] Greg Smallwood and [colorist] Jordie Bellaire are absolutely amazing. Greg is such an incredible storyteller -- one of my personal favorite artists -- and he's the perfect artist for this particular story. And Jordie -- well, her palette just takes everything up a notch: the sense of dread, the claustrophobia, the characters that are just... off.

Moon Knight feels similar to Daredevil, in that it's a Marvel character repeatedly creative rejuvenated with each different creative team that has come on board.

Alonso: He is. There is just something that brings out the best in writers, I think. Doug Moench and Don Perlin created a great jumping off point for later writers like Charlie Huston, who positioned Moon Knight as an insane Dark Knight, to Brian Bendis, who played him as a super hero Don Quixote, to Warren Ellis, who re-positioned him as a guardian of the night, investigating weird shit on the fringes, in the shadows. All fascinating takes.

Another major release this week was the "Star Wars: C-3PO" one-shot, and as a child of the '90s, I definitely thought one of the neatest things about that book is that it reunited the celebrated "Starman" team of James Robinson and Tony Harris for the first time in quite a few years.

Alonso: The fact that this would be a somewhat historic reunion was not lost on us. [Laughs] Hey, Tony had a window in his schedule to do a one-shot, so we took the shot. It's their first project together in, I think, about 20 years, and we're proud we could help make it happen. It's one more great contribution to the "Star Wars" line, which continues to gain momentum.

It's also a testament to the kinds of Star Wars stories that Marvel has been able to tell -- C-3PO having a red arm was one of the unsolved mysteries of "The Force Awakens," and this special tells that story. Does it feel like an affirmation of what you've been saying all along, that these stories matter?

Alonso: It does. By now, readers know these stories count, these stories are canon -- they fit into the larger puzzle. Readers can pick up one of our books and learn something about "Star Wars" here first. Of course, the quality of stories and the creative teams that [Editor] Jordan D. White [put together] hasn't hurt either.

"The Unbelievable Gwenpool" also debuted this week, from the team of Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru. That's something of a special case, in that it started as a gag and evolved into its own ongoing series. It's also another book adding more humor to Marvel's line -- how did this turned from a one-off joke on a variant cover into a major ongoing series launch for Marvel?

Alonso: It was a comparable dynamic to what happened with Spider-Gwen. We did something for a laugh, people loved it, so we pivoted and took it seriously. Well, not too seriously.

When it became clear that Chris Bachalo's Gwenpool design had caught on like wildfire with fans, we tapped Jordan D. White to develop her into a full-fledged character. In turn, Jordan tapped Christopher Hastings, who has done some great work for us in the past, on both "Deadpool" and "Longshot," as well as some terrific work on the "Adventure Time" comic. Jordan figured he'd be a great writer for such an insane idea.

Hey, at a time when our female characters are being embraced by readers -- maybe even growing our readership -- Gwenpool is a new crayon in the box. Gwen Poole is neither Deadpool nor Gwen Stacy. To call her a "female Deadpool" is reductionist; she dances to a very different drumbeat than Wade Wilson, hits a very different funny bone.

News broke this past week of a "Cloak and Dagger" TV series in in the works on the Freeform network. The natural question there is, are there plans to see them more in the comics? They were recently in "Amazing Spider-Man," but those two are in the category of characters fans always are curious about.

Alonso: They've been the subject of discussion for some time. We love those characters -- let's just leave it at that. [Laughs]

Finally, we'll wrap with a question from the CBR Community: Of Atlantis asks, you guessed it, about the Sub-Mariner, specifically his untimely death and a possible tease of his return: "James Robinson recently teased on his Twitter about how nice it was writing Namor again after killing him off in 'Squadron Supreme' #1. Care to shed any more light on that?"

Alonso: Namor is dead, beheaded in "Squadron Supreme" #1. But he was an active character for 75 years, so there are plenty of opportunities to revisit those stories and that history -- and James intends to take advantage of that in a unique way.

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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