Investigating "Black Widow," the Future of "The Vision"

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!

RELATED: "Black Widow's" Waid & Samnee Promise James Bond-Style Action

This week, Alonso gives fans a look at what to expect from the new "Black Widow" series, set to debut next Wednesday from the multiple award-winning former "Daredevil" creative team of writer Mark Waid, artist Chris Samnee, colorist Matt Wilson and letterer Joe Caramagna. Alonso also talks the long road of Max Bemis and Michael Walsh's "Worst X-Men Ever," and the return of Warren Ellis and Gerardo Zaffino's "Karnak" series. Plus, following the news that writer Tom King has signed exclusively with DC Comics, Alonso addresses the situation and the future of "The Vision." Also -- what's the deal with "Loki 2016," anyway?

Albert Ching: Axel, next week Marvel's new "Black Widow" series debuts from the award-winning, beloved "Daredevil" team of Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Matt Wilson and Joe Caramagna. Given the expectations tied to that team's pedigree, what has you personally excited about the series?

Axel Alonso: This was a no-brainer. A seamless transition. Issue #1 drops you in medias res into a nonstop, 20-page, all-action chase scene -- which kind of reflects how the team is approaching this book, particularly Chris. He has taken a stronger hand in the storytelling, which means he's pushing himself farther than he ever has and it shows. This book is an incredible showcase of all the amazing talent involved.

On that note, as you alluded to, there is a similarity between Daredevil and Black Widow, in that both are more grounded characters. In terms of coming from "Daredevil," is this a similar tone, or are we going to see a little bit of a different feel from the team?

Alonso: It's comparable, but different. In "Daredevil," the team really drilled down into the essence of Matt Murdock, took him apart and put him back together. They got into Matt's head and let us see his thoughts. Black Widow is trickier. She's a spy so she's had to be so closed-off and guarded just to survive, and Mark and Chris are really exploring that. And they're doing this with no thought captions, no overt peaks inside her head. Natasha will be a mystery to her friends, her enemies, the readers, and possibly even herself.

Black Widow has certainly become a popular and recognizable character thanks to the Marvel Studios films, and has had good runs in comics, including the Nate Edmondson and Phil Noto series that wrapped last year. But is the intention here to take her to the next level in terms of being a real established solo star in comics?

Alonso: That's always the hope when you deploy a creative team like this. But the [goal] is to tell a really great story. Our publishing plan is built on the simple notion that it's all about finding the right writer and the right artist to unleash the potential of a character -- big or small. My editors have done an incredible job in the last few years doing just that -- from "Howard the Duck" to "Black Panther" to "Power Man and Iron Fist" to "Totally Awesome Hulk."

RELATED: Max Bemis Explains Why Normal is the New Weird in Marvel's "Worst X-Man Ever"

The first print issue of "Worst X-Man Ever" was released this week, from the creative team of Max Bemis and Michael Walsh. It's certainly a different type of X-Men book, and clearly out of the current continuity -- and it's a very unique first issue, and has gotten a very positive reception so far. What was compelling to you about this story?

Alonso: This was green-lit a long time ago. We released the series first digitally, and now we are following up in print because we think the story Max and Mike have crafted is terrific. The X-Men has always been a story about misfits, but Max really tackled that idea from a different angle that was just so much fun to read.

It's also the first story of length from writer/Say Anything frontman Max Bemis at Marvel -- is there talk of him doing more past this?

Alonso: Yeah, we're hoping to work with Max more, for sure. He's a terrific talent, and we hope he'll bring more of that mojo to Marvel in the future.

This week was also the release of "Karnak" #2, the first issue of that series since October -- I know there were very legitimate reasons for that delay, involving Gerardo Zaffino dealing with personal matters.

Alonso: Yes, there was a personal crisis. He thought he could fight through it to stay on schedule, we hoped he could, but it didn't work out.

Past this point, does it look like the book is getting back to a normal schedule? Right now "Karnak" #3 is scheduled for release in April, #4 in May.

Alonso: That's the hope and the goal. With Gerardo unable to continue, we brought in Roland Boschi who is finished with #3 and on #4 already, so we're confident that it can continue on time.

Hey, it's a Warren Ellis book, it's a great story, and it's an Inhumans story -- we figure people will stick around.

RELATED: King Announces Marvel Comics Departure with "The Vision" #12

News broke last week that writer Tom King has signed with DC Comics exclusively. It's already been announced he's staying on "The Vision," which has been one of the major buzz books of the All-New, All-Different Marvel launch, through #12 -- any further comments on the move, or the future of that series beyond what's been said already?

Alonso: Don't blame us, I'll just leave it at that.

We'd have preferred a situation in which Tom would continue to write "Vision" past issue #12, if it was still healthy. I know he wanted to continue the book for as long as it lasted.

Given last week's DC Comics "Rebirth" news, with the publisher announcing a refocusing of the shared universe and a line centered on $2.99 books at a mostly twice-monthly schedule, do you have any comments on that plan and what it might mean for the industry?

Alonso: All publishers should make informed decisions based on what will strengthen themselves, but also the direct market as a whole. A healthy DC is good for the industry, and we wish them well, but as [SVP for Sales and Publishing] David Gabriel, pointed out, based on Diamond Comics industry analysis, the last time DC "held the line at $2.99," retail sales dropped 24% from the prior month, and 21% from the prior year. We hope that doesn't happen again.

Changing directions rapidly -- I wanted to ask about the "Loki 2016" teaser from last week. Is that a teaser for something coming up in a story, or just a fun image to put out there?

Alonso: Keep your eyes peeled for Super Tuesday [March 1].

Finally, the promotion for "Daredevil" Season Two on Netflix has really ramped up in recent weeks. We talked a lot last year about Season One -- what has you excited about season two thus far? Have you gotten to see any episodes yet?

Alonso: The cotdang Punisher, man! [laughs] This is the best onscreen Frank Castle you've ever seen. By far.

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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