Marvel NOW! Wave 2 Arrives

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!

This week, the long-awaited launch of Marvel's second wave of Marvel NOW! titles has finally gone public. First up on what's expected to be months of new monthly titles, character reinventions and new jumping on points will be "Avengers" #24.NOW by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic before new monthly series "All-New Invaders" by James Robinson and Steve Pugh and "Inhuman" by Matt Fraction and Joe Madureira follow along. Below, Axel explains the story behind all those launches, how current Marvel NOW! titles will get an extra boost with the new initiative and what they're focusing in on with the rest of the line. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Axel, we've been waiting for a while to see what Marvel NOW! Wave 2 would hold in store for readers, and we got our first taste this week. This time out, you're kicking off the initiative with a special issue of a series already rolling with Jonathan Hickman's "Avengers" #24.NOW. Why center all these launches around a one-shot story like that?

Axel Alonso: All-New Marvel NOW! is all about providing big open doorways into the Marvel Universe, so we figured what better way to kick things off than a brand-new, accessible story featuring the biggest super heroes in the world? "Avengers #24.NOW" is the beginning of a big new story by Jonathan [Hickman] that'll be accessible to anyone who wasn't there for issue #1 and exciting to anyone who was.

This is an extension of what we did a year ago with Marvel NOW! With All-New Marvel NOW!, we're providing clean jumping-on points for all our ongoing series - from "Deadpool" to "Captain America" to "All-New X-Men" - as well as brand-new ongoing series that prove the Marvel catalog rolls deep. Matt Fraction and Joe Madueira's "Inhuman" and James Robinson and Steve Pugh's "All-New Invaders" are just two of the incredible new series we have planned for 2014. I can't wait to announce what we have coming.

Obviously, "Avengers" will be following up to some extent on "Infinity," but we've also been told from the start that "Infinity" was only the capper on the first of three acts for his whole run with that franchise. When it came time to launch phase two, what did bringing Esad Ribic in on art help give the series a little different feel going forward?

Alonso: Luckily, the stars were aligned for Esad to rejoin [Jonathan] for "Avengers #24.NOW"; the two had such a great time working together on "The Ultimates."

And yes, you're right, Jonathan has a long-term plan. He's building a huge sculpture and "Infinity" - and what it brings to the Marvel Universe - is a big chunk of the clay. But there's plenty more clay to be added, as you'll see in coming months.

So will this issue serve in the same way that some "Point One" books have in the past and give a platform for series like "All-New Invaders" to spin out of, or will it simply be a one-shot story solely focused on Jonathan's next phase in the story?

Alonso: "Avengers #24.NOW" isn't a platform for all things Marvel in 2014; it's the opening chapter of the next phase of Jonathan's master plan for the Avengers. "All-New Invaders" doesn't spin out of anything - it blasts out the starting gate on its own tank of fuel, and it is extremely relevant to the current Marvel Universe - as you'll know in the first few pages. This is no period piece. And if "Inhuman" #1 spins out of anything, it's "Infinity," but rest assured that it will be an accessible read for anyone that didn't read "Infinity."

Well, I feel that's been an issue for the Invaders as a concept for a while. It's so tied to World War II, and people who love it are the kinds of people who love those old Alex Schomburg covers. Do you feel that's worked against the franchise's success in past revivals?

Alonso: It probably has. When fans hold story-relevance at such a premium, it's hard to get them excited about a period piece. There's only so many times you can get folks excited about the Invaders fighting Nazis in World War II. That's probably part of the reason that James decided to go with a contemporary story. All four team-members - Cap, Torch, Namor and Winter Solider - are extremely relevant to the present, and James and Steve are going to show just how relevant.

James Robinson is obviously writing that book, and it seems very tied to his strengths and interests as a writer. Not only has he worked for Marvel on "Captain America" a number of times in the past, but his DC work has almost always flowed out from the Golden Age. Did this pitch grow out of those ideas as he started working on the Spider-Man OGN with Mark Waid?

Alonso: I'm pretty sure James had agreed to write "All-New Invaders" before he got involved in the Spider-Man graphic novel. [Senior Editor] Mark Paniccia was developing "All-New Invaders," and he approached James because he has the Midas Touch with Golden Age characters. That all came together, and then everything else kinda grew from there. And I do mean "everything else." James is going to have a very big year.

Steve Pugh is drawing this, and I kind of feel like he's not an obvious pick for a modern day action book. He's a very cerebral artist. How did his style play into the pitch for what this series will be?

Alonso: Hey, my very first comic book credit was an issue of "Animal Man," written by Jamie Delano and illustrated by Steve Pugh. I go back quite a ways with Steve. So you can understand why I'm so excited to see him on a book like this - a book of this scale. But hey, Steve's preview pages speak louder than words.

The last new book announced in this push is "Inhuman" by Matt Fraction and Joe Mad. Is this in some ways the b-side to what Matt is doing on "Inhumanity?" Is the event the big cosmic version of this concept while the ongoing is the more street-level take?

Alonso: "Inhuman" will weave together two stories. You'll meet new characters that are suddenly endowed with strange powers that link them to a secret society with a complex and bloody history. Their stories will provide a ground's eye view of what it feels like to be born as an "Inhuman" in a Marvel Universe that might not be ready for you. You'll also see how pre-existing Inhumans - Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Maximus, etc. - deal with the emergence - and grand implications - of new Inhumans in the Marvel Universe. Suffice it to say, Black Bolt is not in complete control of his people. Everyone's paths will converge at some point, of course, and in ways you'll never predict. The architecture of this series is complex and ambitious. A year ago, we promised that "Nova" and the "Guardians of the Galaxy" were going to be power-players in the Marvel Universe in 2013; 2014 will see the rise of the Inhumans.

Kicking off this week's fan questions is Taral-DLOS who has a housekeeping question about "Inhumanity": "Axel, I'm looking forward to Inhumanity and the new "Inhuman" book. Can you provide any new information on the Inhumanity event (e.g. tie-in books, will it have its own event title like "Infinity" or "Age of Ultron," or will it take place in various books including "Inhuman"? etc.)?"

Alonso: You must have asked this earlier in the week before all the "Inhumanity" news hit, Tarel-DLOS. "Inhumanity" is a different from any event we've ever done. At the center are a few amazing comics written by Matt Fraction with art by amazing artists like Olivier Coipel, and a few we'll be announcing next month. Outside of those core "Inhumanity" issues are tie-ins in various Marvel books like "New Avengers," "Uncany X-Men" and "Indestructible Hulk," to name just a few. There are a ton of stories about these up at http://marvel.com/news/comics/

Drew@616 has been patiently waiting to see if there's any news for his favorite character, asking, "Love Spider-Woman I'm greatly looking forward her character in Avengers books. Can we expect anything big for her in the foreseeable future?"

Alonso: I'm getting conflicting reports, Drew@616. [Senior Editor] Steve Wacker tells me no, Spider-Woman died off panel in one of his books, but more reliable sources tell me she continues to be a central character in Kelly Sue DeConnick's "Avengers Assemble" run - during "Infinity" and the storyline that comes after.

Nemesis@ is wondering about the fallout in the cosmic world from a recent event when he asks, "If Titan was destroyed in Thanos Rising, what happens to characters like Moondragon, Mentor, Drax and Starfox?

Alonso: Titan was destroyed in the past, before half of those characters even existed, Nemesis@, after which Mentor hollowed out the planet and repopulated it with its survivors, the ISAAC the world-computer, etc. So all of those characters are fine and Titan is still around, as you can see in the last scene of the series. Thanos just causes Titan's fall and rises from amidst its rubble.

Finally, videofarmer is one of a few folks who's wondered after a delayed book of late, asking, "I love Hickman and Weaver's work on the Avengers characters. I'm wondering if Weaver will ever be freed up to finish their "S.H.I.E.L.D." series though. I really enjoyed the issues that were published and hope "S.H.I.E.L.D." hasn't been cancelled before getting to the finish line like "All Winners Squad." Any word on it's fate?"

Alonso: We have every intention of finishing "S.H.I.E.L.D." at some point, videofarmer - but at the moment both Jonathan and Dustin have been too busy with "Avengers" and "Infinity" to focus the time needed to complete the remainder of it.

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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