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!
Heard any Marvel news lately? In this past week, Marvel has announced multiple high-profile new, post-“Secret Wars” series as part of the “All-New, All-Different Marvel” lineup, with more news to come. Alonso gives his take on what makes the newly announced books special — “Spider-Man” by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, which stars Miles Morales, not Peter Parker; “Doctor Strange” from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo; “Marvel’s Agent Carter” showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas taking on “Captain Marvel” with artist Kris Anka; the new volume of “Spider-Gwen” from the familiar team of Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi; Squadron Supreme” from the recent “Fantastic Four” team of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk; “All-New, All Different Avengers” by Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar and Adam Kubert; “Totally Awesome Hulk” from returning Hulk scribe Greg Pak and artist Frank Cho; and “A-Force,” written by G. Willow Wilson with an artist yet to be named. Plus, your questions, direct from the CBR Community.
Albert Ching: Axel, what feels like the entire comic book industry is preparing for Comic-Con International in San Diego right now — are you excited for it? Or is “excited” not the right word?
Axel Alonso: San Diego is always a blast. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling recently, but I’ve got just enough time to catch my breath and be ready to roll when it happens.
Marvel’s announced about 10 titles in the past week, so there’s a lot to talk about. Wanted to get your comments on what’s been announced so far, and let’s start with the news from last Sunday of a new “Spider-Man” #1, from Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. It’s been widely interpreted from that initial announcement article that Marvel is positioning Miles Morales as “the” Spider-Man of the Marvel Universe. I wanted to ask you directly — do you see Miles now as the main guy in that role?
Alonso: I see Miles as being a a Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe. Beyond that, all I’ll say is keep reading.
That said, Miles landing in the Marvel Universe is a huge thing. How he adjusts to this world — and how it adjusts to him — makes for limitless story possibilities. Miles is going to be swinging through a whole new neighborhood — and it might not be that friendly.
The character has certainly risen to a very high profile — not only within Marvel, but in pop culture in general. There was a Miles joke on “Conan” just a couple days ago. This series is another big step. Miles is one of the biggest new characters introduced during your time as Editor-in-Chief — is there a big sense of pride for you in seeing how much of a success this character has been?
Alonso: Of course. We were cautiously optimistic that the public was ready for Miles, but you never know. Early Internet feedback certainly didn’t indicate that he would be. [Laughs] But when people started reading Brian’s stories, they embraced Miles. Which goes to show that Marvel fans are looking for stories that are universal. They see past color. They look for people that they relate to on a human level. That’s why Miles and Kamala and the new Thor have connected with our readers.
The next announcement from this week was a new “Doctor Strange” series coming from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo. We’ve talked for months now about how a Doctor Strange book was coming, but Marvel wasn’t ready to quite reveal things yet. For you, what made Aaron and Bachalo the right team for “Doctor Strange,” and their vision the right one for the book?
Alonso: Well, for starters, Jason called “Next!” To say he was enthusiastic about writing Doctor Strange is an understatement. He had all sorts of ideas and even more passion. So it started with Jason.
As for Chris? Well, he’s an artist who literally redefines the parameters of the comic book page with his visionary layouts and storytelling. So who better for a character like Strange, who walks through multiple realities?
This is a dream team to reintroduce fans to Strange.
A new series of “Captain Marvel” is on the way, co-written by “Agent Carter” show runners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, with art by Kris Anka. That’s a notable one, because “Captain Marvel” has been so closely associated with one writer over the past few years: Kelly Sue DeConnick. In looking for the successors on that title, how did Marvel land on Butters and Fazekas, on their first comic together?
Alonso: Even though Marvel East and Marvel West are separated by 3,000 miles, we are one big family. We’re constantly looking for opportunities to cross-pollinate. We’d been hearing great things about Tara and Michele, and then we saw for ourselves when “Agent Carter” hit. They’re a strong writing team, made evident by their history together and the great work they’ve done. So [Editor] Sana [Amanat] reached out to see if they had the interest in taking a stab at Captain Marvel, and thankfully they did. From what we’ve seen so far, Tara and Michele have a real understanding of who Carol as Captain Marvel is, and where they want to take her. They’re building on very strong ground built by Kelly Sue and all of the artists that have worked on the book so far. It’s a good time to be a Captain Marvel fan.
There’s also a new “Spider-Gwen” series on the way, but this is an instance where it’s the same creative team of Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi. Of course, the prior series started relatively recently, and this seems like effectively the same premise, though there’s surely some new layers to it post-“Secret Wars.” Was it effectively a case of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”?
Alonso: Yeah. We had no interest in messing with the formula. “Secret Wars” gave us the flexibility to land wherever we wanted, and we wanted “Spider-Gwen” to land pretty much where she started. There will be some changes, but if you’re a fan of the book, this is going to look and feel like what you already love.
I’m also curious about the new “Squadron Supreme” series from James Robinson and Leonard Kirk. Marvel’s announcing only a few titles in advance out of the 50 or so set to be revealed in next week’s “All-New, All-Different Marvel Previews” magazine. “Squadron Supreme” was clearly an important one for Marvel to get out there; “Squadron Sinister” is currently rolling out as a part of “Secret Wars;” we’ve seen some of the characters in Avengers over the past couple of years. It feels clear that these characters are a priority for Marvel right now, when readers didn’t really see a lot of them just a few years ago. For you, what makes these characters important, and a part of the Marvel Universe worth developing further?
Alonso: The Squadron Supreme is every bit as powerful as the Avengers, but it’s kind of like… the anti-Avengers. These are wounded characters, flawed characters, that wield immense power, and each of them lives by their own code. And the Squadron Supreme will step over lines that the Avengers would never cross — that’s part of what sets them apart from every other superhero team in the Marvel Universe: they will put you down permanently. So they’ve got a little in common with the Punisher. Who they are, what they stand for, what they’re willing to do — all of that will be screamed loud and clear in the first issue of this series. How long before they get the attention of the entire Marvel Universe — in particular, the Avengers? Read it.
That’s a tease right there. Speaking of the Avengers — this week also saw the announcement of “All-New, All-Different Avengers” by Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar and Adam Kubert. Since returning to Marvel, Waid certainly has had a lot of success with “Daredevil,” but that’s a book that’s mainly done its own thing, rather than a book like “Avengers,” which has ties all over the Marvel Universe. He’s obviously a legend, but what made him the right writer for this book at this time?
Alonso: Remember a little book called “Kingdom Come”…? [Laughs] Look, Mark Waid just plain earned this series. The ideas he’s bringing to the table — not the least of which is the new team roster — are big and bold and reinvent the Avengers.
It also sounds like a different type of Avengers book than we’ve seen in recent years — smaller in cast, deliberately smaller in scale.
Alonso: Absolutely, yeah.
Was that a conscious choice, or how things developed?
Alonso: It’s just how things developed. The new roster resembles that of an X-Men team. You’ve got a mix of young and old, seasoned veterans and rookies. With Ms. Marvel and Miles and Nova, you’ve got a youth brigade; with Vision, you’ve got an X-factor; with Sam Wilson and Thor, you’ve got two characters who are earning their stripes, day by day; and with Iron Man, you’ve got, well, effing Iron Man. [Laughs] And then there’s the diversity of the roster, both in terms of gender and race: Miles is half-Hispanic, half-African-American; Sam Wilson is African-American; Sam Alexander is half-Hispanic; Kamala is Pakistani-American; the Vision is an android. [Laughs] These Avengers couldn’t be a better reflection of Marvel in 2015.
And a reflection of big changes from Marvel over the past few years. Speaking of change, “Totally Awesome Hulk” was announced on Thursday morning — first of all, right off the bat, great title.
Alonso: Well, thank you! [Laughs]
There’s a lot of mystery around who this new Hulk is, but it seems that the overall message at this point is that it’s a very different Hulk from what readers are used to. What makes you excited about this book?
Alonso: Well, first off, his identity. And I love all the speculation about the identity of the new Hulk — Skaar, Amadeus Cho, Thor, Absorbing Man, Jennifer Walters, Daken, the Maestro, someone entirely new. I love it.
What really excites me about “The Totally Awesome Hulk” is how he approaches being the Hulk. For decades we’ve watched Bruce Banner shoulder the burden of being the Hulk like it weighs a ton. This new Hulk — he is going to take that burden, hoist it on his shoulder like it weighs no more than a leaf, and go out there and have some fun. He’s going to love it — maybe a little too much. I mean, it’s really cool to be the Hulk — if you can control it. That’s going to be the big question looming over this series. Can Danny Ra — I mean, can the new guy stay seated in the driver’s seat better than Banner could? Greg and Frank are cooking up something special here. It’s brain and eye candy.
That same day came the announcement of a new “A-Force” #1, written by G. Willow Wilson and drawn by an artist to be named. That was one of the most popular “Secret Wars”-related announcements — was it always the plan for “A-Force” to stick around afterwards?
Alonso: Oh yeah, absolutely. In fact, that was the question: Do we wait until after “Secret Wars” to launch, or use the event as a platform to introduce the team and concept to fans? We opted for the latter because we had a story. This “A-Force” “Secret Wars” story sets up the team and its mission statement moving forward. It’s both a self-contained and an essential prelude to the ongoing series.
That’s a lot of ground covered, but let’s squeeze in a few fan questions from the CBR Community. scouse mouse looks at Marvel’s present and hopes to read more of the past, asking, “Are there plans to release any new TPB printings of some of the classic storylines/events that ‘Secret Wars’ titles are based on? I have seen that ‘Age of Apocalypse’ is getting reprinted but it is nearly impossible to find a reasonably priced copy of TPBs for the likes of ‘Inferno’ and ‘X-Tinction Agenda.'”
Alonso: Right now the best place to get every last “Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars” tie-in and series is in the MSHSW Battleworld Box Set.
macroblaster1999 has a question about one of the aforementioned All-New, All-Different Avengers: “Given that Vision is on the All-New, All-Different Marvel banner, and he plays a big role in the current ‘Uncanny Avengers’ story, any chance he might get a solo title of his own?”
Alonso: Ask me again next week.
We’ll wrap with Hall of Fame question-asker/master detective Spidey616, who asks, “A few creators have been on social media teasing future post-‘Secret Wars’ Marvel projects — in particular Ariel Olivetti, an artist who’s been away from Marvel for a few years now. You worked with Olivetti as editor on titles like ‘Punisher War Journal’ and ‘Cable,’ is it true he’s back at Marvel? If so, you probably can’t reveal too much about his new project, but Olivetti has said he has three favorite comic characters — Punisher, Hulk and Venom — and he’s already worked on two of them. Any chance of him crossing the third off his list?
Alonso: Ask me again in a few weeks.
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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