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!
It’s been a very eventful week for Marvel as a whole — what with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announcing a slate of films all the way through the year 2019 — and Alonso discusses what excites him about the upcoming Marvel movies, and the especially significant impact of both 2017’s “Black Panther” and 2018’s “Captain Marvel.” Plus, Alonso talks what he likes about the new “Deathlok” series that launched this week from writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Mike Perkins, from his perspective as both Editor-in-Chief and a major fan of the original ’70s incarnation of the cyborg antihero. All that and more insight on the rapidly unfolding Marvel event-based teasers, Alonso’s take on his hometown San Francisco Giants beating the Kansas City Royals to win their third World Series in five seasons, plus answers to your questions, straight from the CBR Community!
Albert Ching: Axel, first of all congratulations on the Giants winning the World Series this week.
Axel Alonso: Thanks. I had a bet with my traitorous son that the loser would give the other a half-hour shoulder massage. He bet on the Royals. So I am really looking forward to this weekend. [Laughs]
The Royals definitely did not make it easy — that triple in the 9th inning had to have you a bit concerned.
Alonso: I was down on my knees in front of the TV in the ninth inning.
Look, I really like that Royals team. If it had been anyone else playing the Royals, I would have been rooting for the Royals — but it wasn’t anyone else. It was a World Series featuring two underdogs! [Laughs]
Getting to the Marvel matters of the day, it’s been a big week for Marvel as a whole — particularly the massive onslaught of upcoming movies announced by Marvel Studios on Tuesday. Has it been an exciting week at the Marvel publishing office? A lot of buzz among the staff?
Alonso: Without a doubt. Obviously, everyone around here is excited about the overall plan, but what’s interesting is how every single person here is particularly excited about one announcement — whether it’s a movie announcement — “Black Panther!” “Captain Marvel!” “Inhumans!” — or a casting announcement. Which goes to show, we are all fans.
Well, if you’re at liberty to share, what are you most excited about?
Alonso: “Black Panther.” As EIC and as a fan. I’ve loved the Panther since I was a little guy, when I thought he had the coolest costume in all of comics. As I once told [former “Black Panther” writer] Reggie Hudlin, when I first saw T’Challa without a mask, I was like, “Wait, he’s not Hispanic!?” I related to him in a way I didn’t relate to other characters. I bought every issue of Don McGregor/Billy Graham “Jungle Action” issues I could find when I was a kid. Killmonger, Man-Ape, that stuff was crazy. I can’t wait to see what Kevin [Feige] and his crew do.
We’ve talked quite a bit in the past about diversity in comics, something you’ve been a proponent of — knowing there is not only going to be Black Panther in “Captain America: Civil War” but that the character will get his own film a year later, has to be a proud moment for you as Editor-in-Chief.
Alonso: It’s a great time to be Editor-in-Chief. Right now, we live in a world where everyone knows who Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and Black Widow are. Pretty soon, they’re going to know Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange and the Inhumans. That’s going to be make my job easier. And not only are female fans going to have another kickass female hero to root for, when the Black Panther peels of his mask, a lot of people are going to see a bit of their own reflection. They’re going to relate to him on a fundamental level.
The fact that Marvel Studios’ slate is so diverse says a lot about our commitment to have our books reflect the world outside your window. The beauty of Marvel characters is that each is defined by the person inside the costume, not the powers, so there is always characters that speaks to you. Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel will definitely speak to new fans.
I think readers know how these things tend to go at this point — is it fair to say there are further plans brewing for Black Panther on the publishing side, maybe a new solo series?
Alonso: I see big things for T’Challa. Big things.
The fact that Marvel Studios announced a “Captain Marvel” movie with Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel is, as noted, significant, as that’s something that’s only existed at Marvel since 2012, and is a product of your time as Editor-in-Chief. Does it feel like a particular accomplishment of what you, the editors and creators have been doing lately?
Alonso: The fact that we’ve seen so many of our stories and characters make the cut for the growing international global audience, sure doesn’t feel bad. [Laughs] And the success of “Captain Marvel” has many parents, starting with [writer] Kelly Sue DeConnick, who is an amazing ambassador for women in comics, and artists Jamie McKelvie, who designed the character’s distinct look, and David Lopez, who currently draws the series. And, of course, editors Steve Wacker and Sana Amanat, who put the team together, deserve some credit, too. To see Captain Marvel clicking with fans, particularly the growing number of female fans that to cons dressed as Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, is very gratifying.
The fact that there is a movie based on this character does seem like a testament to the passionate fans — the Carol Corps — you hear a lot of stories of people whose first comic they read is “Captain Marvel.”
Alonso: The launch of “Captain Marvel” was very important moment for us. We wanted to create a compelling, three-dimensional, relatable kickass female character, and I guess that worked, but there’s no way we could anticipate how Carol would connect with fans, particularly female fans, or things like the “Carol Corps.”
We are at a crucial turning point, where young women and girls are feeling more and more welcome to enter into the world of comics. There are a lot of reasons for this. It starts with the quality and diversity of comic books themselves. The emergence of graphic novels and digital comics also factors in. And, of course, the proliferation of comic book movies, TV shows and video games. The result is a “Geek Culture” that didn’t’ exist 10-15 years ago. It’s chic to be geek.
Let’s move to a couple of Marvel comic releases from this week, starting with “Deathlok” #1 from Nathan Edmondson and Mike Perkins. You’ve discussed in the past that you were a huge fan of the ’70s version of the character, and this is the first “Deathlok” ongoing series since the late ’90s. Is this something you were pushing for behind the scenes?
Alonso: Yep. Another unique character. Deathlok was the Terminator way before the movie. Back when I was a kid, there wasn’t a Deadpool, but there was a Deathlok. He didn’t knock you out and leave you in front of the police station, he shot you. [Laughs] There was no character like him, and there is none quite like him. Nathan and Mike have souped him up for the 21st Century. Issue #1 is already going to second print, and it’s just heating up.
Was it always the plan to go with a new version of the character rather than one of the past ones we’ve seen?
Alonso: When we caught wind of was going on in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” we fast-tracked a pitch that didn’t resurrect Luther Manning for another round. A new character facing a new predicament: Henry Hayes is a doctor with a prosthetic leg who travels to global hotspots to heal the wounded. What Henry doesn’t know is that while he’s overseas, he’s secretly being deployed on grand-scale wet works operations by an unknown agency that just might have something to do with that leg of his. That’s just the setup.
Let’s talk a bit about the writer of that book, Nathan Edmondson — he currently has three ongoings at Marvel, between “Black Widow,” “The Punisher” and now “Deathlok.” He’s the type of writer that doesn’t necessarily have a huge amount of noise around him, but he’s certainly establishing a brand for himself. What qualities make him the right fit for having such a large current presence at Marvel?
Alonso: Nathan excels with stories with an espionage hook. He’s comfortable writing characters that live in a world of shadows, dirty tricks and backstabbing. His work on “Punisher” and “Black Widow” proves that.
“Black Widow” — boy, wait ’til you see what he’s got planned. It’s going to be a real game-changer for the character. Where Nathan and [artist] Phil [Noto] are going to take Natasha… well, let’s just say her journey of atonement is going to take a rough detour.
Another book out this week is the “Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration” one-shot, which has a lot of fun stuff in it, including work from the late Stan Goldberg. It’s obviously a hard job to encapsulate 75 years of history in one comic — I know Tom Brevoort was the primary force in putting this together, but was there anything you pushed for to be included?
Alonso: Bruce Timm. [Laughs] You won’t find a bigger fan of Bruce Timm. I go back with him to Vertigo. I think he’s perfectly cast for the story he did.
One more thing for this week — the Marvel teasers have continued to roll out, with no definitive reveal of what they’re teasing. It strikes me that these must have been a fun thing to put together behind the scenes at Marvel — they’re eye-catching images, and also seemingly designed with the knowledge that they’re going to get a very specific reaction from fans. Certainly the Spider-Man with Mary Jane and young daughter one from Thursday falls right in that category. Has that been something that everyone backstage is getting a kick out of putting together?
Alonso: Oh yeah. We knew that these teasers were going to elicit a strong reaction from fans. And as I said last week, these teasers are not for “What If?” stories, or stories that happen in a parallel reality, in the past, or the future. These stories really happen, in real time. They count.
Well that’ll further some more speculation. Let’s wrap with a few reader questions — MARVELous Memories asks, “Maybe it’s a little early for me to be asking but will ‘Secret Wars’ be running as an event with essential tie-ins like ‘Infinity’ did with ‘Avengers’ and ‘New Avengers’?
Alonso: All I’ll say is that “Secret Wars” is unlike any event we’ve ever done.
Then we’ve got Podmark, who asks: “After reading the newest ‘Amazing Spider-Man,’ I’ve got to ask, assuming she pulls out okay in ‘Spider-Verse,’ what are the chances of a new series for Spider-Girl? Her appearance in ‘Spider-Man’ was heartbreaking but just reminded me how much I missed her. I know we have a bunch of new Spider-Ongoings coming up but the more the merrier I say!
Alonso: No plans right now, Podmark, but you can sate your Spider-Girl appetite with “Spider-Verse Team-Up” #3.
We’ll end the week with macroblaster1999, who has a timely question: “With the Marvel Cinematic Universe getting a big game plan formed in the coming years, are there plans to establish ongoing series set in that universe? Perhaps something that’s not a one-shot?”
Alonso: We’ll always be working on books set in the Cinematic Universe during the window of the movies. The collected editions of those comics end up being some of the best sellers of the year in the book market. So, we’ve already got plans for “Avengers” and “Ant-Man” next year.
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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