Looking Ahead to Marvel's 2015, From "Star Wars" to "Secret Wars"

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!

With 2015 now a full two days old, Alonso follows last year's look back with a look ahead, and opines on the future of Marvel Comics -- starting with the two big "Wars" of the comic book new year -- "Star Wars" and "Secret Wars." With Marvel's new "Star Wars" line set to debut in less than a fortnight, Alonso talks what he thinks the beloved franchise adds to Marvel's publishing slate. Given that readers have already been told that the year-long "Secret Wars" is going to be a really big deal for Marvel, Alonso shares his thoughts on what excites him about the story itself. Beyond that, Alonso talks Disney/Marvel collaborations, publishing priorities for 2015, "Uncanny Avengers" and the increased role of Sabretooth, plus drops a pretty big (albeit certainly open to interpretation) hint about a Marvel character poised to have a big year. Next week, regular AXEL-IN-CHARGE programming resumes -- including your questions, picked fresh from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, let's start the look towards 2015 with Marvel's imminently debuting "Star Wars" line, pairing corporate siblings and kicking off with #1 of the main title on Jan. 14. Even beyond the obvious -- ">like that one million in sales -- it's notable for what this adds to Marvel's overall slate. While in the '70s and '80s Marvel published plenty of outside properties, in recent years, the vast majority of Marvel's output has been starring classic Marvel characters. What do you think the Star Wars line adds to Marvel's publishing lineup, in terms of broadening the types of stories being told?

Axel Alonso: "Star Wars" pioneered the Space Opera -- a genre that's part science fiction, part fantasy, part Western, part Samurai epic, and that's fueled by strong religious and philosophical themes and an eclectic cast that rivals the Marvel catalog. There was nothing quite like it when it debuted in 1977, and there's nothing quite like it now. To have it return to its comic book home, where we can unleash Marvel's top creators to tell stories that are as relevant to the Lucasfilm mythology as anything you see on the big screen is a seismic event, and an amazing opportunity to reach new fans. We intend to take full advantage of it.

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Beyond "Star Wars," Marvel has also been publishing more Disney-specific series, with "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" debuting soon. Are there plans to explore the potential of these types of collaborations even further? And most importantly, will 2015 be the year we finally see your long-desired "Deadpool vs. Goofy?"

Alonso: We're always looking for new collaborations. We'll be continuing with Disney Kingdoms as long as the Disney Imagineers are interested in working with us. No plans for any mash-ups in the near future, but anything is possible in the world of magic.

As for "Deadpool vs. Goofy," I can dream, can't I?

The other big "Wars" of 2015 Marvel is "Secret Wars." There's been plenty of speculation out there already about what it might mean in the long-term -- with a lot of fans guessing it may lead to an at least partial reboot -- but not a ton of discussion yet about the actual story. So let me ask you: As editor-in-chief, what has you specifically excited about "Secret Wars"? In an age of multiple superhero events a year, what makes this one truly unique from your perspective?

Alonso: It's the biggest, craziest thing we've ever done, it gives us the creative space to play around with some genres and storytelling styles that we haven't done a lot with recently, and it ushers in a new era in publishing.

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Also -- it's been said that just about everything in the Marvel Multiverse is tying in to "Secret Wars." At the same time, Marvel has launched a lot of new series over the last couple of years -- "Ms. Marvel" is a prime example -- that have flourished, in part, due to standing on their own (while still being a part of current continuity). How is Marvel planning to balance those two elements?

Alonso: Let's see... "AXIS" just wrapped, and we just launched a few new ongoing series that "stand on their own two feet": Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas' "Ant-Man" and Ryan North and Erica Henderson's "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl," and Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones' "Howard the Duck" is about to waddle onto center-stage any days now... We have plenty of new series planned to launch during "Secret Wars" and in its aftermath.

Another big launch on the way is the new "Uncanny Avengers," with a reconfigured team. "Uncanny Avengers" was the flagship title for the original Marvel NOW! in 2012 -- how vital is this second volume to Marvel going forward in 2015?

Alonso: "Uncanny Avengers" is as vital as it's ever been -- the bridge book between the world of Avengers and the world of X. You will want to stay tuned.

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The still-inverted, post-"AXIS" Sabretooth is a major part of the new "Uncanny Avengers," and the weekly "Wolverines" title. Based on his newfound prominence and his scenes in the "AXIS" finale, it definitely does look like Sabretooth is filing some - maybe a very big chunk - of that Wolverine void. Is that a fair assessment?

Alonso: Well, if anyone were to attempt to replace Wolverine, is there a more capable successor than Sabretooth? And much to the surprise of former partners-in-crime Mystique and Lady Deathstrike, he's been doing his fair share of hero work these days, so...?

A major theme of Marvel in the previous year was takings risks on what were traditionally seen as lower-rung characters -- which, given the box office success of "Guardians of the Galaxy," is clearly an idea that can pay off in the long run. Already announced for 2015, as mentioned, are "Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" and "Howard the Duck" -- is it safe to say that this type of focus on lesser-known Marvel characters is set to continue for the near future?

Alonso: Yes. The Marvel catalog rolls deep. We have plenty more ahead.

Another big push for Marvel last year were titles starring female characters, and again, in 2015, so far "Squirrel Girl," "Spider-Gwen" and "Silk" have all been announced. Just like the previous questions: Are female-led titles a chief priority for Marvel in the new year?

Alonso: It sure is. I'm very proud of the quality and diversity of the news series we launched last year, and I'm very excited about the stuff we have in development and the writers we are talking with.

Let's leave the first column for 2015 like this: Any tease, however vague it may be, you'd like to give fans on what they should expect -- though might be surprised to see -- from Marvel in the new year?

Alonso: OK, fans, do the math: Given his profile in all other mediums, which Marvel superhero should be the pre-eminent Marvel hero in comics? He will be.

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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