Drawing Lines In "X-Men: Battle of the Atom"

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, with Marvel delivering a one-two punch on the 50th Anniversary X-Men even "Battle of the Atom," Alonso describes the path to the story as laid out by Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Wood and Jason Aaron. Though the story so far has focused on the fate of the original teen X-Men of the past, it future will ripple throughout the X-Men's world and have some impact on all corners of mutant life including the big question of who the real Jean Grey is. Also, he takes your questions on Infinite Comics, Electro, Brother Voodoo and more. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Axel, this was a big week for the X-Men with the release of both parts 1 and 2 of the "Battle of the Atom" event. It seems the spark for this story has been Brian Bendis' plot surrounding the young original X-Men traveling to today. I know we talked about the potential conflicts inherent in that concept early on, and I'm sure Brian's been asked about that since day one. Did this event grow out of your attempts to answer those questions?

Axel Alonso: When we committed to bringing the Lee and Kirby characters to the present, we knew we were opening a Pandora's box of story possibilities about time-travel. So the seeds were always there to do this kind of story. With the X-Men's 50th anniversary approaching, [Group Editor] Nick [Lowe] and the X-Men writers crew were crazy enough to wrestle with one of the biggest questions -- What would happen if past confronted present confronted future? -- and they came back with the pitch for a time travel-pretzel epic called "Battle of the Atom."

Like "AvX," "Battle of the Atom" is going to deliver twists that turn everything on its head. Just when readers thing they know where the story is headed, "Battle of the Atom" is going to knock them on their butts.

One of the first big twists to hit involves the unmasking of future Xorn to reveal an adult Jean Grey. We all know that "When is Jean coming back?" has been a primary question for X-Readers for the better part of ten years now, and with recent moves like brining teen Jean to the present, I feel like that's maybe morphed into people saying, "When is the 'real' Jean coming back?" How do you view that question in light of this new turn of events?

Alonso: Who's the real Jean Grey? The teenage girl who came from the past [and] the woman who came from the future. The real question is, "Is the present big enough for both of them?"

This isn't the only event story hitting this fall and really not the only event story hitting at Marvel. With so many titles out there, what do you think best keeps a story like this together and driven to appeal to a wide audience outside the X-Men diehards who were likely on board from the get go?

Alonso: Well, the fact that the X-Men's 50th anniversary was coming up was on a radar for a while. We had plenty of time to plan something big and we figured, what could be bigger than a story in which X-Men of the past, present and future collide? Hey, to me, an event is all about offering readers an exciting, thought-provoking story. I'm proud of what takes place between the covers of our comics this month [Laughs] --and every month.

We're watching a lot of fallout and follow up from Bendis' "All-New" and "Uncanny X-Men" so far in this story with tensions existing across the team of original teenage X-Men, but as we go along will we see a similar focus on some of the ongoing plot threads from Brian Wood and Jason Aaron's books?

Alonso: Absolutely. In response to all the praise "Battle of the Atom" #1 and #2 received last week, Brian [Bendis] graciously Tweeted that most of the credit for the story should go to Jason [Aaron]. As with all event stories, one writer usually plants the seeds with something he says, everyone else adds water, and the story grows. Everyone becomes invested. It's highly unlikely that anyone who contributed to this story won't see something left in the debris to play with in his own series.

Looking forward in the story, you've talked about the time travel elements of this story being built on core tropes from X-Men stories past, and at the end of part two, we see "Battle of the Atom" taking the young Scott and Jean out West where the team was recently living. Are we looking at the rest of this event being a kind of "World Tour" of the mythos of the X-Men's world with similar stops ahead?

Alonso: Exactly. What could offer more of a "World Tour" of the X-Men mythos than a story that blends past, present and future X-Men? This is a classic X-Men story that touches upon core X-Men themes and plays with classic X-Men tropes, only one of which is time-travel. It's got giant killer-robots, mind-bending twists, alternate versions of your favorite mutants, forbidden kisses and more! [Laughs]

For fan questions this week, let's step into the rest of the Marvel U starting with shellhead85 who asks, "We haven't seen anything from the horror genre in a long time from Marvel, is there any plans in the works for something like that? Also, any chance of seeing Brother Voodoo again?"

Alonso: Brother Voodoo -- later Doctor Voodoo -- is sadly dead, Shellhead85. But that doesn't stop Rick Remender from talking about him all the time, so who knows what the future might bring?

Strathcona was wondering after some projects they can't get their hands on yet, asking, "As far as I am concerned comic books are a physical thing, and there is no way I can ever see myself switching to digital copies. So, for people like me, are we ever going to see these infinite Silver Surfer comics reprinted in physical form? I'd love to be able to read them."

Alonso: We won't necessarily be printing Infinite Comics as print comics, Strathcona. Doing a print version of the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comics -- that made sense. Doing a print version of a Silver Surfer "Infinity" tie-in comic a few months after the digital release date and the "Infinity" print comic it ties into -- that doesn't make as much sense. Special issues like that will be reserved for the collected editions as extras. In the case of the ongoing weekly Infinite Comics, those will get special oversized hardcover editions coming out about 6 months or so after they are digital.

Spidey616 had a one-two punch starting with "Earlier in Jonathan Hickman's Avengers run he introduced and subsequently killed off a new incarnation of the Canadian team Omega Flight, except for member Validator. Does she have some role in Infinity or knowing Hickman does he have some other story plan for her in the future?"

Alonso: Jonathan does everything for a reason, Spidey616, as I'm sure you've realized by now. So you'll be seeing Validator again in the future -- you can count on it.

And he follows asking, "Around the release of The Amazing Spider-Man movie, Dan Slott had a story arc with the Lizard perfectly timed. Can we expect a big storyline involving Electro this summer when the sequel comes out?"

Alonso: The answer to that is an electrifying: yes. Wait, Dan Slott just walked in, so I'll ask him.

Slott: Why wouldn't you do an Electro story around the time of the movie? There's going to be tons of ads on TV, at the movies, and toys in toy stores. Millions of movie fans, outside of comics, are going to be introduced to Electro next year, so why not have him featured in the comic? As an industry we thrive whenever we get new readers to crack open a comic. If someone's interested in a character they've seen on the big screen and, because of that, they pick up and try "The Superior Spider-Man," if we win 'em over, that's great for everybody. Like a wise man once said, "Marvel: Share Your Universe."

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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