Introducing the X-Men to "Civil War," Mark Millar's Icon Return

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!

WATCH: Spider-Man Debuts in New "Captain America: Civil War" Trailer

This week, Alonso talks more of what to expect from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze's highly anticipated, April-debuting "Black Panther" series, specifically the visual side of the book. With "Civil War II: X-Men" from Cullen Bunn and Andrea Broccardo now official, Alonso discusses that upcoming event tie-in, and the importance of including the X-Men in this "Civil War" -- after the group mostly sat out the original 2006-2007 event. Alonso also gives insight into the freshly released "Mockingbird" #1, Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen's upcoming creator-owned series "Empress" and the status of "Miracleman by Gaiman And Buckingham: The Silver Age," which recently saw its first three solicited issues cancelled, to be resolicited at a later date.

Albert Ching: Axel, on Thursday the latest trailer for "Captain America: Civil War" was released, and with it, the first look at the new live-action Spider-Man; something that certainly got a lot of people talking. What did you like about the trailer, and what are your thoughts on the new Spidey?

Axel Alonso: It touched my 12-year-old soul. [Laughs] I mean, c'mon Cap vs. Iron Man, Panther vs. Winter Soldier, Spider-Man!

This week saw the first lettered preview of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze's "Black Panther" #1, along with some new commentary from Coates on that issue. I'd like to get some more clarity on that status of that book -- you've stated here in the past that it's an ongoing, but there's been some confusion after Coates himself called it an "11-issue series" in The Atlantic. What's the latest word?

Alonso: This is an ongoing series. Ta-Nehisi's first story arc is 11 issues, but he intends to continue writing this series after the arc is over. He is putting the finishing touches on issue #11 right now, so he is very ahead of schedule.

Coates Wants His "Black Panther" To "Elevate The Stature Of The Character"

Obviously, people are excited to see Coates' comic book-writing debut, but those new pages are clearly also a great showcase for Brian Stelfreeze's art. He's a long-tenured cover artist and most recently illustrated "Day Men" for BOOM! Studios, but this is his first real major interior work on a big-name superhero book in years. What does it mean to you to see him in this role, and what are your thoughts on the work he's done so far?

Alonso: There's no artist we wanted to do this book more than Brian. When we saw his hip-hop variant for "Black Panther" #1, it occurred to us that we just might lure him into doing sequential again, so we took our shot. It didn't take very much convincing. He was, like, "Ta-Nehisi Coates!? I'm in!"

Brian's doing incredible work. He has been a true collaborator with Ta-Nehisi, right down to the character designs. The two enjoy great chemistry. Ta-Nehisi's publicly talked about the collaboration, and how much he's learned about writing comic books from working with Brian.

This past weekend at the In-Store Convention Kick-Off event, Marvel announced "Civil War II: X-Men" by Cullen Bunn and Andrea Broccardo. That's the first "Civil War II" tie-in announced, which is interesting in itself -- was that move motivated at least in part to further rest fears that the X-Men are being downplayed by Marvel?

Alonso: Yeah. We wanted to nip it in the bud with the conspiracy theorists. The X-Men have a big role in this event.

Which is different from the original, as there wasn't too much X-Men in Marvel's first "Civil War."

Alonso: They sat that one out. Emma brokered a deal in which mutants sat the whole thing out, kind of like Sweden during World War II. That is not the case in this story. The stakes in "Civil War II" affect everyone, and the X-Men will be forced to choose sides -- individually. There will be fissures in mutant kind.

There's always curiosity about the number of tie-ins -- we've learned of one at this point and there's surely many more to come. Will the amount be similar to the original "Civil War"?

Alonso: It's going to be like the original "Civil War." All corners of the Marvel Universe will have a place in this war: Avengers, X-Men, Inhumans, Guardians, Spider-Man, Hulk... A lot of ongoing series will tie-in, and when they can't, there is a dedicated tie-in series. For new launches, a lot, but not all, tie-in. Those that do, will because the creators want to, doing so doesn't interrupt their plans, and they have a strong story hook.

Of course, there's a big convention next week. Is it safe to say there's more news to come on "Civil War II" tie-ins at C2E2?

Alonso: Yes, there will be more announcements. We're eager to give announcements for June. And again: The event will affect all corners of the Marvel Universe.

That said, I want to reiterate that anybody that thinks their favorite series is being interrupted by this event, is mistaken. If you are a fan of "Power Man and Iron Fist," you will not be ripped out of your regularly scheduled program with a tie-in story. This event story provides a launching pad for all kinds of stories in the individual series -- stories that stand on their own; you won't have to read the core series to get it.

Let's talk to one of the new series launched this week -- "Mockingbird" #1 by novelist Chelsea Cain and artist Kate Niemczyk. I was personally pleasantly surprised by the direction it takes -- "unconventional narrative structure" doesn't quite cover it. What was interesting to you about this issue, and the unique take on a character that doesn't have a long track record as a solo star?

Alonso: As Editor-in-Chief, not everything gets onto my radar enough for me to get an up-close look, and this is one of those series. It was already a make-ready when I saw the first issue, and I was very pleased by what I saw. It was a fun and funny and challenging read, a unique read, and not at all what I expected. The creators zagged, and it worked. Were so excited to see where Chelsea takes this new "Mockingbird" ongoing series.

RELATED: Millar & Immonen Promise Grounded But Relentless Sci-Fi Action In "Empress"

This week saw press ramping up for "Empress" from Marvel's creator-owned Icon line, by Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen. It was announced a bit ago, but we haven't talked about the book yet -- how pleased are you to see the first new Icon series in a while, and Mark Millar back under the Marvel umbrella?

Alonso: Real pleased. It's always great to see Mark Millar book -- even better when it's for us. [Laughs] "Empress" is a "Mark Millar joint" through and through -- a big-budget adventure that deconstructs the Space Opera paradigm. And Stuart's artwork on this rivals his work on that other famous Space Opera: "Star Wars."

I hope that having Millar and Immonen do a series like this sends a message that Icon is alive and well and speaks volumes about the type of quality we can deliver.

A report on Bleeding Cool stated that retailers were informed that the first three solicited issues of "Miracleman by Gaiman And Buckingham: The Silver Age" were canceled and will be resolicited at a later date. Can you give an update behind that decision, and when we might see the issues?

Alonso: We're just waiting until we have a seamless release from reprint to original material.

Very sad news hit the comic book world this week, with word that veteran artist Paul Ryan had passed away. Ryan illustrated a prolific amount of major Marvel stories over the years, illustrating some of the company's very biggest characters in some pivotal moments, from Spider-Man's wedding to notable runs on "Fantastic Four" and "Avengers." Though your time at Marvel didn't overlap with his, what are your thoughts on his legacy as a creator?

Alonso: Whenever someone who contributed to our mythology passes away, it's a sad day. Paul was a talented and prolific artist whose work on some of comics' most popular characters -- both here and at DC -- shaped many a childhood imagination. I'd say that's his creative legacy.

We'll wrap with a fan question from the CBR Community. true_believer616 has a query that seems well-timed given Captain America's 75th anniversary: "Do you have any plans for new Invaders stories?"

Alonso: Not right at this second, but the incredibly popular and polarizing Jim Hammond has been showing up in James Robinson's "Squadron Supreme."

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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