Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future

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!

This week, Marvel hit the Internet with five new Marvel NOW! teasers -- each one pairing a very familiar character with one at least slightly less so, and the word "Divided"; giving some type of gimpse into the post-"Civil War II" future of the Marvel Universe. Alonso shares some insight into what those teasers are all about -- emphasis on "some" as it is teaser campaign for a reason, natch. Also, Alonso talks new character Mosaic, fully revealed this past week and headed for an ongoing series launching in October from the creative team of Geoffrey Thorne and Khary Randolph. This and more, including discussion of "Howard the Duck" and "Web-Warriors," both confirmed to be ending at Marvel in #11 -- and, oh yeah, Alonso gives his take on the Cleveland Cavaliers' come-from-behind victory (the first team to rally back from being down 3-1 in the NBA Finals) against the Golden State Warriors.

Albert Ching: Axel, how are you holding up after the way the NBA Finals wrapped up on Sunday?

Axel Alonso: It was hard to watch, but the Cavs deserved to win -- LeBron [James] and Kyrie [Irving] were super-human -- and I'm happy to see Cleveland get out from under that 52-year-old cloud. They had all the momentum going into Game 7. [Warriors Forward Draymond] Green's suspension gave them the crawlspace to win Game 5 at Oracle [Arena], they took Game 6 at home, and going into Game 7, they had all the momentum. Meanwhile, the Warriors -- after the 73-win regular season and the grueling 7-game Oklahoma [Thunder] series -- were operating on fumes.

Hopefully, we will get a rematch next year -- unless something drastic happens in the East, LeBron's got a straight path to the Finals again. [Laughs]

The first Marvel thing I wanted to talk about this week is the news about new character Mosaic. Marvel finally revealed what that's all about on Monday, following the teasers released a couple months ago. It's a new character starring in a new ongoing series starting in October from Geoffrey Thorne and Khary Randolph -- comics fans know Randolph, but Thorne is fairly new to the medium, though he has a history in TV and animation. What landed him on your radar?

Alonso: Gerry Duggan introduced me to Geoffrey a couple years ago, I discovered he was doing work for Steve Wacker over at Marvel Animation, and we were just searching for the right project to come along. Eventually, he got to talking with [Senior Editor] Nick Lowe, who presides over the Inhumans titles, and they concocted a brand-new, original character with fascinating powers that will allows us to tell stories unlike in any other book. And Khary has given Mosaic a great look. Keep your eye on Mosaic. He will cast a large shadow outside his solo series.

You can catch his first in-continuity appearance next week in "Uncanny Inhumans" #11 -- which I've just been informed has sold out at the distributor level. We're currently rushing it back to press to get a new printing into stores ASAP.

It's rare and seemingly quite difficult for any comic book company at this point to launch a completely new character with a new name -- Marvel has had success with characters like Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, but those are essentially legacy characters using familiar identities. This is a brand-new character with a brand-new name launching in his own ongoing series right away, which is hard to pull off. How important was that aspect to you, to go for it with something new all around?

Alonso: Fans say they want new characters, so we are giving them one. Like I said, in Mosaic, we've found a compelling character for these times. He is -- as Geoffrey has been quick to say -- a deeply flawed character. When you first meet him, he's full of himself and he's got the world in the palm of his hand, so when he's granted this new power, it's a curse. He loses everything. The question quickly becomes, does he have the fortitude to harness this power or will it crush him?

Now, we've already revealed a bit about Mosaic's powers, but not all. He isn't Deadman; this isn't "Quantum Leap." When Mosaic inhabits a host, the dynamic is very, very different. What he experiences when he's living in these hosts, what he learns from each of them when he walks in their shoes, so to speak, will change who he is and that change should make for interesting stories. At a time when our society is dominated by finger-pointing and fear-mongering, maybe it'll have something to say about our common humanity.

Right, and it's said he's also kind of a jerk, which is an interesting part of it.

Alonso: He's got a long road to travel. He's not a villain per se, but he's not easy to root for. Think of him as post-"The Decision" LeBron James. [Laughs]

Let's talk this week's Marvel NOW! teasers. They're teasers for a reason, but looking for any insight you can provide at this point. The general pattern is pairing a very established character like Captain Marvel or Captain America with someone more unexpected, such as the aforementioned Mosaic or Slapstick. What can you about the underlying concept of these teasers?

Alonso: This is similar to previous teaser campaigns where we've highlighted characters of importance to the coming year -- only you'll notice that a few of these faces are brand-new or at least eyebrow-raising. As for the "divided" tag and the pairings, speculate away -- and keep in mind that this takes place in the aftermath of "Civil War II."

This week also saw this release of a provocative cover to this month's "Previews" catalog, illustrated by Alex Ross, with Ms. Marvel, Nova and the Miles Morales Spider-Man burning their Avengers ID cards. Does that image fit into the overall motif of the other Marvel NOW! teasers?

Alonso: Absolutely. That picture speaks a thousand words about the Marvel of the future.

Readers found out from the recently released September 2016 solicitations that "Howard the Duck" is ending in September with #11. That's a book you were very close to since its first volume, but based on series writer Chip Zdarsky's comments, it sounds like this was always the plan.

Alonso: Yeah. Chip and Joe [Quinones]' two successful volumes of "Howard the Duck" proved that there is plenty of room for funny books in the Marvel Universe. They always had an end to their story, and we're seeing it through to that end. That said, we're going to keep both of them very busy, so keep stay tuned for future announcements.

It sounds like something to watch out for in the new Marvel NOW! era. Also ending in September is "Web Warriors," the "Spider-Verse" spinoff team book from Mike Costa and David Baldeon. What do you like about what this series has done during its run?

Alonso: [Senior Editor] Nick Lowe has done an incredible job of shuffling the deck with the Spider-Man line to keep it diverse and exciting. The days when the line is anchored by three, four, five solo books featuring Peter Parker are long gone -- and that's a good thing. We've got two Spider-Men and three Spider-Women swinging around town in solo series, and each of them has their own unique personality, mission and mandate. "Web-Warriors" really pushed the concept of "Spider-Verse" and explored what Peter Parker's mantra of power and responsibility means to the larger Marvel Multiverse -- and it did so with a diverse cast of characters and voices. As the series winds down on the road to "The Clone Conspiracy," current readers of the series can expect to find some hidden surprises that are clues for what's to come.

New this week was "Deadpool v Gambit" #1, from Ben Acker & Ben Blacker and artist Danilo Beyruth. Obviously Marvel puts out a lot of Deadpool comics out, but Gambit seems like one of those characters with a cult fan base that is never quite satisfied -- how much of the motivation for this book was a way to get more Gambit material out there to the people?

Alonso: All of it. In addition to being a fan-favorite on pretty much every team he's been on, Gambit had a number of series and miniseries throughout the years, so we've long recognized that he's a character with a following. And right now, Deadpool is kinda-sort popular, too... so Ben and Ben whipped up a completely bonkers con man story that should appeal to fans of both characters.

Finally, this week saw the news that Marvel will release variant covers in September for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, in tandem with the American Cancer Society. It's not one of the most glamorous causes out there, but it's one that affects millions of people. How did this come together for Marvel?

Alonso: It came to us through comic retailer Joe Ferrara of Atlantis Fantasyworld in Santa Cruz, California -- go, UCSC Banana slugs! In addition to being a longstanding member of the comic retailer community, Joe is a 12-year prostate cancer survivor and he sits on the board of the California Prostate Cancer Coalition. Joe brought the idea to us and we couldn't be happier to partner with the American Cancer Society for this initiative. Joe passed me a note this morning that I wanted to share with our AIC readers: 

"Marvel has provided an amazing opportunity for comic book retailers to connect with the prostate cancer support groups in their local communities. In March 2005, two of my longtime friends and customers stopped in Atlantis Fantasyworld. The two men came in separately, about a week apart, and each told me they had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Neither of them showed any symptoms. I was struck by their stories and decided it was time to get my own check-up. I too had no symptoms, and was also diagnosed with prostate cancer. The early diagnosis gave me many treatment options. I chose surgery and am now cancer free and leading a normal life.

Early detection saved my life. I would like to thank Marvel Comics and the American Cancer Society for the opportunity to save many more."

We've had great success with similar programs like our partnership with Susan G. Komen back in 2012. Over 2 million men in the US alone count themselves as survivors and we hope that driving awareness in September will help further increase the survival rate.You can find more information at www.cancer.org and http://www.prostatecalif.org/

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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