Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel

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: "Civil War II" #0 Cover Revealed, Alonso Talks Upcoming Marvel Event

This week, Alonso talked how the opening installments of "Civil War II" -- May's Free Comic Book Day story and the #0 issue -- play into the bigger picture of the event series, plus why Olivier Coipel was the right artist for #0. Additionally, Alonso sheds some more insight on the many upcoming stories Marvel will preview on Free Comic Book Day -- including the much-discussed "Dead No More" -- and opens up on the Marvel Comics-writing debut of hip-hop legend DMC, who co-wrote a story in this week's "Guardians of Infinity" #3. All that and more, including talk of Agent Carter, Michael Cho and the Marvel Universe's two Spider-Man, Peter Parker and Miles Morales.

Albert Ching: Axel, on Wednesday it was confirmed -- in an interview you did in The Washington Post -- that "Civil War II" #0 will start in May, from the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel. How does that issue function in setting the stage for the main event? There's also a prelude in the Free Comic Book Day -- what can you say about the role the #0 serves in the larger story?

Axel Alonso: Let's just say, if you were to happen to read "Civil War II" #1 without having read the Free Comic Book Day story, you'd hunt down this book immediately. The story is a puzzle-piece that fits right into "Civil War II" #1. Something significant happens in it that has a lot of bearing on what sides our heroes choose in this conflict. And the #0 in May sets the stage and introduces the main players -- including a new character who will have a massive impact on the Marvel Universe!

As noted, Olivier Coipel is drawing the #0 issue. We could ask what makes him the right choice, but clearly he's the right choice for a lot of stories, as one of Marvel's top artists. But what made him the pick for this #0 in general, since David Marquez will illustrate the main series?

Alonso: Olivier is a fantastic artist whose involvement sends a message that this story is important, and he's got the artistic chops to give it the scale it requires. This is the opening salvo of "Civil War II," so we want it to be enticing.

I'm not sure how much you can say -- maybe not at all -- but on the cover of "Civil War" #0 we see Iron Man and Captain Marvel, the two main characters of "Civil War II." The other two characters pictured are War Machine and She-Hulk, which are more surprising to see. Can we conclude they are both going to play major roles in this story?

Alonso: Both of them will greatly influence the story.

RELATED: Marvel's FCBD Issues Reveal All-New Wasp, Dan Slott Writing "Dead No More"

Thursday brought the full details of what Marvel is doing for both of its releases on Free Comic Book Day. On a macro level, you have two different issues, spotlighting four different stories -- what's the approach behind the scenes at Marvel in choosing what to highlight each year on FCBD?

Alonso: Free Comic Book Day is an entry point for new readers, so we try to shine a spotlight on something we're excited about -- a new series, event or character -- and make it as exciting and accessible as possible.

With that in mind, we have two FCBD books, each of which has two stories. The first offers a "Civil War II" prelude by Bendis and Jim Cheung and a story that introduces the new Wasp by Mark Waid and Alan Davis. The second offers a prelude to "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #1" by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz and a prelude to "Dead No More" by Dan Slott and Javier Garron, about which I'll be coy and just say that it has something to do with Spider-Man. So it's four stories that feature the return of a legend, a prelude to an event, a prelude to a new series, and the introduction of a new character.

But "Dead No More" -- it's definitely a Spider-Man story?

Alonso: Yeah.

Speaking of Spider-Man, we talked a lot about the new "Spider-Man" #1 from Bendis and Sara Pichelli last week. Now the issue is actually out, and at the end we see Peter Parker showing up. Bends has said it's not going to be a thing where they're together in every issue, but how much interaction do you foresee between the two? Obviously some amount is necessary now that they're both in the same universe, but you'd still want to keep the separate to stand on their own.

Alonso: I think Brian probably wanted to address the 800-pound gorilla question -- is there enough room in the Marvel Universe for two Spider-Men? -- and issue #2 will answer that. Then ["Amazing Spider-Man"] and ["Spider-Man"] will pretty much do their own thing. While Peter Parker does his best impersonation of Tony Stark, Miles [Morales] will fill the role of the street-level "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man." This is a whole new ballgame for Miles now; he's landed smack dab in the middle of the Marvel Universe, and he's going to have to adapt quickly. Brian and Sara will cover this in-depth in the solo series, and it's one of the reasons Mark [Waid] wanted Miles on his [All-New, All-Different] Avengers team: to force him to interact with as much of the Marvel Universe as possible -- from hot dog vendors to bank robbers to the latest Avengers-level threat.

RELATED: DMC & Miranda-Rodriguez Realize their Marvel-ous Dreams with "Guardians of Infinity"

Also out this week was "Guardians of Infinity" #3, featuring a story by DMC and his creative partner Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. As a noted longtime hip-hop fan, what's it like for you, personally, to have DMC on your roster of Marvel writers?

Alonso: If only my sixteen-year-old self could see me now... [Laughs] Hey, any time you find a living icon that happens to be a lifelong Marvel fan, you've got to go for it. The first time I met DMC, we talked about comics and hip-hop -- and the intersection of both -- for about an hour. He told me how influential Marvel Comics had been to his storytelling, so I challenged him to write a comic for us. I mean, so many hip-hop narratives are about striving and persevering, so I figured he'd have a story or two to tell.

I think it was the hip-hop variant cover initiative is what put him over the top, and got us thinking about Groot -- since our Run DMC homage was for "Rocket & Groot." I put him in touch with ["Guardians of the Galaxy" editor] Nick Lowe, he huddled with Edgardo, and that's how this story came about. Who knows what the future holds.

We're about halfway through the current season of "Marvel's Agent Carter," and fans remain excited about the show -- any plans coming up for that character in Marvel publishing?

Alonso: Nothing concrete yet.

This month has seen the release of some very striking Michael Cho Marvel variant covers, which begs the inevitable question: Is there a possibility of him doing more, maybe writing and/or drawing interior pages?

Alonso: We're talking. He's a tremendous artist. Every single one of his variant covers is poster-worthy. Every time I think I've found a favorite, I turn around and find a new favorite. The upcoming "Ant-Man" and "Howard the Duck" ones are off the hook. Plus, he'll be working on a series of new variants for "Civil War II" so look for those later this year.

Let's wrap the week with a fan question from the CBR Community. Chomp hasn't forgotten Robbie, Vance and the gang: "Any hope for a New Warriors book in All-New, All-Different Marvel in the near future? Or at least any planned appearances of characters like Speedball and Justice, both of which I imagine might have something to say about the looming 'Civil War II? "

Alonso: The issue that sets in motion "Civil War II" is very different from the one for "Civil War." So, if they have a role -- if -- it's going to be defined by how each character individually views this issue.

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!

One of the Watchmen Just Quietly Joined the Justice League

More in CBR Exclusives