Fridays on CBR mean Axel’s In Charge.
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 Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!
This week, Alonso shares his insight on three of Marvel’s new series announcements — the digital-first “Deadpool & Cable” by Fabian Nicieza and Reilly Brown; “Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur” from co-writers Brandon Montclare & Amy Reeder and artist Natacha Bustos; and “Max Ride: Ultimate Flight” from writer Jody Houser, and artist RB Silva. Alonso also talks his experience attending last week’s final episode of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” addresses whether or not the critical and financial disappointment of 20th Century Fox’s “Fantastic Four” movie affects Marvel publishing plans at all and takes a Punisher-centric question from the CBR Community.
Albert Ching: Axel, before we get to the Marvel news of the week — you mentioned to me last time around that you were going to attend Jon Stewart’s final “Daily Show” taping, definitely a historic (if not bittersweet) TV moment. How was that experience for you?
Axel Alonso: It was fantastic, historic, emotional. [“Daily Show” correspondent] Al Madrigal is my homie so I was there as his guest and I felt privileged to be there. Before the show itself, I was having this hilarious chat with the really nice, funny, self-deprecating guy who I figured was one of the writers and, it turned out, was actually Maziar Bahari [the Iranian/Canadian journalist and filmmaker who was the subject of “Rosewater,” which Stewart produced and directed]. I was, like, is everyone here funny!? And the after-party on the Intrepid was something else.
Moving to publishing matters — this week, a new “Deadpool & Cable” series was announced, a successor to the “Cable/Deadpool” series from the past decade. What made now the right time to bring back that pairing? Deadpool’s still all over the place, but readers haven’t seen much of Cable in recent months, since “X-Force” ended.
Alonso: Two things: 1.) There’s a movie coming out [Laughs], and 2.) there’s something about the pairing of Deadpool and Cable that people really like. They’re the ultimate buddy book. This had been in the air for some time; we just needed a place for it to land, so to speak.
This is the second time in recent months that Marvel has announced a new Fabian Nicieza-written project, along with the “Secret Wars” “Age of Apocalypse” series. He’s a veteran of an era when Marvel was a very different place; 20, 25 years ago, and now he’s making a comeback at Marvel after not being seen much at the publisher in the previous few years. What does it mean to you to have someone with that type of experience and perspective contributing on a big level?
Alonso: It’s always nice to see writers and artists that were big contributors to the Marvel Universe in the past get back into the mix — especially when their fingerprints are all over a series or character. And a lot of my editors grew up reading stuff that Fabian wrote, so it was kind of inevitable that this would happen. Who knows where this might lead…?
He certainly has a lot of experience with both of those characters. I’m also curious to hear about why the plan for this one was to go digital-first — was it a matter of further bolstering the Infinite Comics offerings?
Alonso: Probably our most popular character when it comes to Infinite Comics is Deadpool. There’s something about the character that really works in this platform — the irreverent humor and the built-in advantage of being able to break the fourth wall with impunity just click with the form. This “Deadpool & Cable” Comic allows us to tell a fun story while continuing to elevate and evolve the Infinite Comics platform.
Also this week came news of “Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur,” which is a new twist on an older concept and another example of Marvel diverging into a bit of a different genre beyond superhero. What can you say about the development of this unexpected series and how it came together?
Alonso: We’re on a real roll when it comes to pushing genres. Not just specific genres, like humor — “Howard the Duck” for instance — but also comics that cross-pollinate genres, like “Squirrel Girl,” which blends comedy and super hero action, with a bit of YA fiction flavor.
Look, [Marvel Senior Editor] Mark Paniccia was in the hunt for a Devil Dinosaur series for at least seven years. [Laughs] Give him credit — he never gave up! Any window ofÂ opportunity, he was, “How about we do ‘Devil Dinosaur’? He saw an opportunity to tap into the zeitgeist in comics and he took it. If the response to the EW announcement is any indication, this series is going to help us carve more crawlspace for material like this. This creative team is onto something here — and have you seen Natacha Bustos’ character designs? She’s one of my personal favorite new artists.
This is Bustos’ first interior work for Marvel, right?
Alonso: She did one issue of “Spider-Woman” [#10, out on Aug. 26] and her “Spider-Woman” Hip-Hop variant cover dropped last week. She got on a lot of people’s radar at the same time. And she’s worked with Brandon before, which made the introduction to Mark a little easier. From what I hear, she took a look at the pitch and it really got her imagination going and she became exponentially more excited as she discussed the project.
Brandon Montclare has written for Marvel before, but this is the first work at Marvel with he and Amy Reeder as a team, so it’s another example of new creative talent. What did the Marvel editorial staff see in books like “Rocket Girl” [published by Image Comics] that made the right fit?
Alonso: When you look at Amy and Brandon’s previous comics collaborations on other female characters — “Rocket Girl” and “Halloween Eve” — it makes perfect sense that they’d do this series. It’s tailor made for them. As I understand it, Brandon and Amy approached Mark to co-write something, Mark mentioned a new spin on “Devil Dinosaur” with a girl companion set in the present, and it just so happened that Amy had a character in mind that she felt could fit into the new paradigm. And that was that. Oh, and FYI: Mark has already gotten several inquiries from other writers about guest-starring the unlikely team in their books…
This is also an example of further character diversity, as the newly created Moon Girl is a female African-American character; there are some great quotes from Bustos in the Entertainment Weekly article that announced the series on the importance of readers seeing themselves in fiction, so it’s clearly something on the mind of the creators. How important is that aspect to the series as a whole? There is certainly an underrepresentation of Black female characters in genre fiction in general.
Alonso: I think that is ultimately a question for the creators of this particular series to answer themselves. It goes without saying that I think it’s very important for readers of all types to see their reflection in Marvel characters. It was one of the reasons that Miles Morales exists.
This week also brought news of “Max Ride: Ultimate Flight,” Marvel’s follow-up to “Max Ride: First Flight” series; based on James Patterson’s “Maximum Ride” series. What motivated Marvel to return to this property for another series? I’m guessing, like the Disney Kingdoms book, it’s likely an example of a series that has an audience, but may be under the radar of most traditional Marvel readers?
Alonso: It was pretty straightforward for us. Aside from the obvious success Patterson has had with the “Max Ride” series, the source material very naturally lends itself to the comic book medium. A story about young kids with strange powers struggling to live a normal life? That’s a classic Marvel story. There’s also natural alignment between the young adult fans and comics fans, and we think this series exemplifies that quite well.
Before we get to fan questions, the big entertainment news of the past week has been the “Fantastic Four” movie — obviously that’s a 20th Century Fox production Marvel didn’t have direct involvement in — emerging as a critical and financial disappointment upon release. I’m curious as to how this might affect the way the Fantastic Four are viewed internally at Marvel. I imagine there are three outcomes: This will make Marvel less likely to unveil a new “Fantastic Four” series, due to the notion it’s a tainted property; it’ll make Marvel more likely, because they want to prove to the world it’s a viable concept and how to do it; or not affected at all, and that plans will just continue the way they were.
Alonso: Not affected at all. We have our plan. Whether the movie was a hit or a failure was irrelevant to us. We’ve got great stories to tell in the coming year, and “Secret Wars” sets the stage for them.
Let’s wrap with a fan question from the CBR Community: Teddard_Stark is putting out an APB for Frank Castle, asking, “Do you have any idea on where the Punisher could be popping up in the new MU?”
Alonso: I have a very good idea.
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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