[SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for the recently released graphic novel “Avengers: Rage of Ultron.”]
Fridays on CBR mean Axel’s In Charge.
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 Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!
While there are still a few weeks to to before Marvel Studios’ avengers age of ultron hits movie theaters, the Marvel original graphic novel “Avengers: Rage of Ultron” by Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña is now on sale, and with it came a rather significant status quo change to one of the publisher’s longest-running characters. Alonso gives some behind-the-scenes insight on how that major development came together, and what the OGN format is important to Marvel. Plus, Alonso addresses his comments from last week that fueled some major speculation as to what the future of the X-Men will look like after “Secret Wars.” Additionally, Alonso talks two of the most recent “Secret Wars”-related series announcements — “House of M” from Dennis Hopeless and Kris Anka and “Siege” from Kieron Gillen and Filipe Andrade — shares his enthusiasm for the imminently debuting “Daredevil” live-action Netflix series and more — including answers to your questions, direct from the CBR Community.
Albert Ching: Axel, we’ll get to the publishing news of the week, but with a week before its debut on Netflix, “Daredevil” reviews have started coming in, and they’re fairly universally positive — I know you’ve seen a few episodes already.
Axel Alonso: It is so damn good. I saw several episodes and I loved it. The second episode has an action scene in it that is unlike anything you’ve seen on TV… or even in a Marvel Studios movie. That scene is going to break the Internet. [Laughs]
“Daredevil” feels different from anything we’ve done. It gave me the same kind of goose bumps I get when I binge one of my favorite cable TV shows. It’s a very different experience from “Breaking Bad” or “Game of Thrones” or “House of Cards,” but it drips with menace, it’s gripping and immersive, and the actors are sharp. Remember how Frank Miller’s “Daredevil” was a game-changer for the mood and aesthetic of comics? “Daredevil” feels like that for super heroes on TV. [EVP-Head of Television] Jeph [Loeb] and the entire Marvel TV Team did a fantastic job.
I think I know how a lot of fans are spending next weekend. Moving to comics, let’s talk about the “Avengers: Rage of Ultron” graphic novel just released this week. It’s a very consequential story, and has some big impact on Marvel characters — likely more so than other recent OGNs from Marvel. That’s interesting, because this feels like a story that could have been a miniseries or told within an ongoing. What can you say about the decision to tell this story as an original graphic novel, and the faith Marvel has in the format?
Alonso: With “Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron” about to hit theaters nationwide, we figured, What better time to produce a high-quality original graphic novel featuring the Avengers and Ultron? “Avengers: Rage of Ultron” is Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña — aided by Pepe Larraz and Mark Morales — at the height of their powers, doing an epic story that’s accessible to newbies, but relevant to current fans. It counts. Yeah, we could have done it as a limited series, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact on the shelf, and it wouldn’t have provided the same experience for anyone. An OGN is a different experience for the writer, who doesn’t have to structure it in terms of chapters; for the artist, who will have a different type of schedule to maintain; and the reader, who can sit down and read the whole thing in one sitting if they choose.
To get into spoiler territory, the ending has gotten a lot of people talking already, with Hank Pym and Ultron merged together, floating through space and Hank considered effectively dead by his Avengers peers — is there any insight you can provide about what went into that decision, and the new status quo for one of Marvel’s oldest characters?
Alonso: With “Rage of Ultron,” we wanted to do an important story that would have a lasting impact on the world of the Avengers, one that would reverberate for years to come. (SPOILER WARNING) Merging Hank and Ultron into a single entity was Rick’s idea, and seemed to fit the bill, bringing the character’s long Oedipus Complex to perhaps the only close it could have. This isn’t the last we’ve seen of Hank Pym and Ultron.
There’s been some speculation — can we get a definitive answer on whether or not “Rage of Ultron” takes place before or after “Secret Wars?”
Alonso: And spoil all of this fun speculation? Everything will be made clear in time.
Speaking of speculation, one of your answers to a fan question last week in this very column, about the future of the X-Men books after “Secret Wars,” got a lot of people talking, with some folks concluding it literally meant that the X-Men will now be existing in their own separate universe. Can you respond to that reaction?
Alonso: I tried to address that in one of my rare tweets responding to fans. [Laughs] No, we’re not segregating the X-Men into their own universe. The X-Men are an integral part of the Marvel Universe. They play a big role in “Secret Wars,” and those mutants that survive the event will be crucial building blocks for the Marvel Universe moving forward.
I’ll bet I just said something that’s going to fuel the conspiracy theorists, but whatever…
It seemed that it spread pretty quickly, and for some people, it became definitive that “new world” meant something very specific.
Alonso: I wasn’t trying to tease anything or create ambiguity or lead anyone astray. Not on that topic, at least! [Laughs]
Let’s talk a couple of the latest “Secret Wars”-related announcements. “House of M” from Dennis Hopeless and Kris Anka was made official this week. Like a lot of “Secret Wars” stories, that’s an event from your time at Marvel. What excites you about “House of M” being revisited as a part of “Secret Wars?”
Alonso: When we created “Battleworld,” there were virtually no limits to what we could use to fill in the map. Each new territory or zone could be any fragment of the Marvel Universe we wanted it to be. So we just cherry-picked our history for the biggest, most exciting, most impactful stories we could think of, and penciled them in as possible territories. As stories emerged, “Warzones” series like “Civil War” and “Old Man Logan” got inked into the publishing plan.
“House of M” was kind of a no-brainer. It was huge, controversial, and it had a long-lasting ripple effect across the Marvel Universe — especially in regards to the X-Men, who were suddenly an endangered species. So we penciled it in, and eventually, a writer emerged with the right story — Dennis — and it became a final piece of the map. In that zone, the House of Magnus, which exerts total control over its domain, must contend with a very determined resistance movement, and the lives of Magneto, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are severely — one might say, fatally — interconnected.
Also announced this week was “Siege,” which looks like it takes a real left turn from the original event — and sounds like a good showcase for Kieron Gillen’s considerable imagination. What can you share about the origins of this one?
Alonso: This is an instance where we actually backed up into the title. Kieron had a great idea for a “Battleworld” story — a series that offered a deep dive into understanding the machinations of Battleworld, that would help you understand its rules, how it’s governed, who polices it. And as that story came into focus, it just became “Siege.”
At this point in the game, have we reached nearly the end of the Secret Wars announcements?
Alonso: I haven’t kept track, but I think we may have done them all, or we may just have a couple more.
“Rage of Ultron” isn’t the only Ultron-centric series to debut this week. There’s also “Avengers: Ultron Forever,” a time-hopping story from the “Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders” team of Al Ewing and Alan Davis. Since the series is a bit left-of-center from more traditional Avengers action, what do you advise to fans who may not have this one on their radar?
Alonso: For anybody who’s on the edge of their seat for “Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Ultron Forever” is a fantastic scene-setter. It’s a stand-alone adventure that unites Avengers past, present and future against the ultimate expression of the menace represented by this malevolent artificial intelligent, that will appeal to both newbies and hardcore fans. And it’s drawn by Alan Davis, so what more do you need? Also, did I mention Doctor Doom?
Marvel has had a string of successes with its burgeoning “Star Wars” line, and the fourth series out the gate started this week, “Kanan: The Last Padawan.” Unlike the first three books that use the characters from the famous trilogy, this one is set in the “Star Wars Rebels” era. How important was it for Marvel to diversity its offerings — albeit in a natural way, given the current success of the TV show — and can readers look forward to seeing more “Star Wars” comics set in timelines outside of the classic trilogy?
Alonso: The “Star Wars” timeline is vast and we would love to explore more of it in the future. When we saw the first episodes of “Rebels,” we knew they were some great stories to mine with Kanan, so we worked hard with the Lucasfilm Story Group to test the waters in another area of the “Star Wars” canon.
Let’s wrap the week with fan questions. scouse mouse asks, “Sad to see ‘Elektra’ end but thankful to have such an amazing run that really revitalized the character. Any chance of any hints as to which domains/series we will see her turn up in during ‘Secret Wars’?
Alonso: Elektra will appear in “Master of Kung Fu,” written by “Elektra” writer Haden Blackman and illustrated by Dalibor Talajic. Let’s just say she won’t be on the best of terms with the series hero, Shang-Chi, and they might resolve their differences with kung fu.
Tracks has a simple question: “Which version of Blade will be in ‘Secret Wars: Battleworld’?”
Alonso: These guys.
We’ll wrap with solletaire, who has a rather detailed query: “Would love some clarification about Magneto and his family. We now know that Wanda and Pietro are not Magneto’s children. But is Magda still their mother? If not was she ever at Wundargore Mountain and was she pregnant with his child when she left him? In other words, does Magneto still have a son or daughter out there somewhere?”
Alonso: You know where you can learn some of those answers? The rest of the story currently running in “Uncanny Avengers.”
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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