Marvel Fan Friday From SXSW To 616

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 earlier this year 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!

This week, on returning from South By Southwest in Austin, TX where he was helping introduce the world to Marvel's new "ReEvolution" digital plans (including their new Marvel AR phone app tying into "AvX" and the new "Infinite Comics" storytelling platform), Axel talks up the weird and wild audience of Marvel fans he met, and takes a row of fan questions from the CBR Message Boards covering everything from the return of the Ultimate Fantastic Four to the origins of Mariah Hill to whether or not Marvel might reboot in the wake of their incoming "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Axel, welcome back from Austin! We've got a wave of fan questions this week, but before we got to them, I wanted to check in a little bit on the whole "Marvel ReEvolution" rollout. What was your experience like at SXSW? That seems like a different crowd to make an announcement to than your typical comic con.

Axel Alonso: It was a different crowd. Right before I went on stage, I was in the men's room, splashing my face, when I look up to see one of the "Boondock Saints" twins, who looks at me and says, "I'm never drinking Tequila again. Never." Then, I turn to see this tatted-up Ese give me a knowing head-nod, mutter something in Spanish, and -- I think -- he flashed me a gang sign.

Let's just say, a much lower percentage of people were dressed like Storm Troopers and a lot of folks in the crowd were drawn to the big Marvel logo like moths to a flame. That said, there were a handful of folks who made me feel right at home.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Let's talk about the announcements in two parts, starting with the Marvel AR app that will be launching with "AvX." Have the discussions of the app been threaded in to your Editorial work on the series, or is it taking more time after the stories are created to figure out how to best use the technology?

Alonso: The AR apps grow out of story and issue-content, and the possibilities are endless. Not only will [AR apps] help us to enrich the experience of reading a comic book, they'll help us foster a sense of community. [Senior Editor] Steve Wacker already has an idea for an app involving [Executive Editor] Tom Brevoort that's pure AR gold. Here's hoping Tom's double-jointed!

On the other side of the coin, I know the concept behind what we can now call "Infinite Comics" -- that is comics built to utilize digital tablet technology -- is something you guys have been discussing for a while. Why was now the time that this all finally came together, and what's your impression of how these first Infinite Comics stories meet the potential you've all been hoping for since these discussions started?

Alonso: We've been discussing "Infinite Comics" for a while. Marvel was quick to embrace digital media as a tool to reach a new audience, but until now our digital comics offerings were all created for print and later converted to be read on the tablet. Infinite Comics is our first initiative that was specifically created for the handheld tablet -- your iPhone, iPad, Android device, you name it. The tablet is the canvas and digital technology tools are the paint brush. [Laughs] Actually, they're more like a big box of crayons in which we're still finding all sort of new colors.

Why was now the time? Well, what better time to unleash Marvel ReEvolution than "Avengers Vs. X-Men," when all eyes are on Marvel. It's our biggest event in -- maybe ever, and it was designed to be accessible to hardcore fans, lapsed fans and folks who only know the X-Men and the Avengers from the big screen.

All right! On to fan questions, starting with Xorn83, who asked, "Will Stryfe, who became the carrier of the Apocalypse at the end of history Messiah War, appear again in the Marvel Universe?"

Alonso: Stryfe isn't showing up anytime soon. Unless I'm lying to you and he's behind this whole "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event.

On a broader view of the "Mutant Messiah" storyline that's been building for years, Vegetable had this to say: "Hi Axel! I'm really looking forward to the AvX event, and I think bringing in The Avengers was a great move to give the story a real weight, rather then them just happening to be busy while all this goes down for the X-Men, and there being no real ripples felt in the wider universe. That said, as somebody who has been following the endangered species/Messiah Hope/Phoenix stories with great interest for some time, I feel invested in what those stories mean for mutantkind and a lot of my favourite characters. My worry going into 'AvX' is that some of these important threads are going to get sidelined or lost completely in favour of pitting the two teams against each other. I know you can't say much, but is there anything you can say to help alleviate some of my fears?"

Alonso: Fear not. I was X-Men Group Editor when Hope was created back in "Messiah CompleX," so I'm deeply invested in making sure her story -- which is at the core of the X-Men's prospects for the future -- isn't derailed by anything. If anything, "Avengers Vs. X-Men" is the next stage in that ongoing story. Hope plays a pivotal role in "AvX;" it's where she meets her destiny.

Shifting gears to the Ultimate line for a moment, SpiderX wanted to know, "Is there any chance we will see former Ultimate Fantastic Four Members Sue and Ben show up in the new Ultimate Comics? I'm sure they would be interested to know about Reed as the Maker of the Children of Tomorrow and Johnny's whereabouts. I was also thinking since Sue is a biotechnologist, Fury could get her to come in and help analyze Miles. She could give an explanation as to how his abilities work and maybe even discover those webshooters that he so desperately needs. *wink* *wink*"

Alonso: Spider X, have you been bugging our offices? I'll give you this: One of the characters you've mentioned will show up in "Ultimates" #10 and play a big role in the stunning conclusion to the war with Reed Richards' City in issue #12. As for the web shooters, all I can say is, if -- and I mean, IF -- Miles gets web-shooters -- or anything like them -- you'll know the same time he does.

He followed up asking, "With 'Ultimate Hawkeye' finished are there plans for another Ultimate Universe Mini-series?"

Alonso: All I can say is we have some very special plans brewing in the Ultimate Comics Universe, with new blood like Sam Humphries ("The Ultimates") and an exciting writer whose name will provoke ooh's and ahh's at WonderCon coming into the mix -- it's a great time to be an Ultimate Comics reader.

And on the Spidey side of the Ultimate U, robcastor729 had this query about some classic villains: "Will we see Carnage and/or Venom again in the Ultimate Universe?"

Alonso: Venom and Carnage are in the queue, but it'll be a little while before you see them.

Back in the 616, CMBMOOL wondered, "Given her upcoming appearance in the live action Avengers movie for Marvel, when are we going to see some of the spotlight shine on Maria Hill? I mean, as readers of Marvel Comics, there isn't a lot to said about her because we know so little about her. Where is her origin storyline? Why was Maria Hill given the job to be the Avengers lasion, especially given her actions in the previous Civil War event? Will we ever get a chance to know Maria Hill better outside of the movies?"

Alonso: Tom Brevoort tells me that Maria will continue to appear in the assorted "Avengers" titles as needed, including the new "Avengers Assemble" series. As for why she's still in place, remember: she was high-ranking and well-considered enough to have been made SHIELD's Director after Fury went AWOL following "Secret War," so that's not a skill-set that you'd let fall by the wayside. Maria proved her worth time and time again, particularly working with Tony Stark when he was the SHIELD ramrod.

Rollo Tomassi had a format question, asking, "It's been a decade since Marvel's 'Nuff Said' month. Any plans to revisit this challenge to your current crop of exceptional talent?"

Alonso: There are no immediate plans, but it would present an interesting challenge for "Infinite Comics..."

And on a similar bent, nsiops wanted to know, "Are there any plans on creating some more Marvel 'What if' issues?"

Alonso: I dunno, Rollo. Our distinguished competition seems to have cornered the "What If?" market.

Finally, OmniAural has been looking at the rumor mill and asked what I bet a few people have been wondering, "Do you think Marvel needs the universe-wide reboot that many are speculating might be the climax of AvX where fans are worried about losing years of continuity or is this more about reshaping the kind of universe that the current characters inhabit going forward?"

Alonso: There will be no reboot after "Avengers Vs. X-Men." The Marvel Universe ain't broken. "AvX" wraps up a decade's worth of stories and tees up stories for the next decade -- all set firmly in the Marvel Universe you know and love.

Have some questions for Marvel's AXEL-IN-CHARGE? Please visit the CUP O' Q&A thread in CBR's Marvel Universe forum. It's now the dedicated thread for all connections between Board Members and the Marvel Executive staff that CBR will pull questions for next week's installment of our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer column! Do it to it!

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