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 overseen both critically acclaimed and best-selling comics, Alonso stepped into the spot of Marvel’s editorial department in early 2011, and has since worked 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!
This week, comic fans learned that a “Miracleman Annual” is coming in December, which will include the first new material starring the character since Marvel acquired the rights in 2009 — from the high-profile creative teams of Grant Morrison & Joe Quesada and Peter Milligan and Mike Allred. Alonso discusses why the time is right to release these tales, and hints towards the long-term strategy of Marvel producing new “Miracleman” stories. Following the news of Charles Soule signing an exclusive contract with Marvel, Alonso talks that writer’s strengths, and how “Death of Wolverine” looks to lead to even bigger things for him at the publisher. And with the freshly releasd “Original Sin” #8 bringing Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato‘s series to a close, Alonso shares his thoughts on the status quo changes brought by that event. [SPOILER ALERT: Major “Original Sin” #8 spoilers ahead.] All that plus more in this week’s column, including your questions, straight from the CBR Community!
Albert Ching: Axel, it’s September — are you ready for football season to start?
Axel Alonso: Boy am I. And I’m not just excited about the Niners. This will be my son Tito’s second year playing in Brooklyn 78th Precinct Football league. Last year, he QB’d his team — the Bears — to the championship game, where they lost to the returning undefeated champs. So this year, they’ve got a shot to go all the way! [Laughs]
Good luck to him this season! Turning to the news that just broke on Thursday — there are new “Miracleman” stories coming, starting with the annual in December. That was something that was largely expected, but it’s taken a while to get there. Why is now — well, December — the right time to unleash these stories?
Alonso: Great gift idea…? [Laughs] “Miracleman” is a legend that resonates deeply with comic book readers — if they haven’t read it, they’ve probably heard about it. It changed the landscape of comics. Those are big shoes to fill, and we think we’ve come up with two creative teams with very different flavors to do that: Grant Morrison and Joe Quesada, and Peter Milligan and Mike Allred. In Grant and Peter, you’ve got two writers from over the pond whose body of work spans everything from the esoteric to the commercial. And in Joe and Mike, you’ve got two top-notch artists who’ll bring very distinct styles to the stories. And as one of the only two Marvel books on sale New Year’s Eve (along with “S.H.I.E.L.D.” #1), this is going to be a must-read.
It’s the first time we’re seeing Grant Morrison’s name on a Marvel comic in nearly a decade, though the story was written years before that — and of course Joe Quesada drawing an interior story is also a rare thing.
Alonso: The pages are stultifyingly beautiful. Not to mention a Grant Morrison story written decades ago seeing print for the first time ever.
Here’s the inevitable question — can this be seen as a prelude to more new “Miracleman” material coming down the pipe?
Alonso: We’ve made no secret that we intend to do new Miracleman stories. We just haven’t divulged what that means. We will soon.
The first phase of the plan was to re-release the original stories, with the best production values. To make it available to the largest audience possible — those with gaps in their collection, and those who never read it — then move on to phase two: new stories, featuring the best talent.
Moving to this week’s releases, one of the big comics out from Marvel was certainly “Death of Wolverine” #1, something the publisher has been talking about for months. One thing I’m curious about — this is something that’s obviously been planned for a while within Marvel, but was this the plan ever since the story with Wolverine losing his healing factor started in 2013?
Alonso: Kinda sorta. When we committed to taking away Logan’s healing factor, the logical question was, “What will be the consequences?” We knew that having Logan do his high-wire act without that safety net would be challenging, but we didn’t know for sure that it would result in a huge “splat.” [Laughs] I mean, we knew it was likely.
Speaking of that series — earlier this week it was announced that its writer, Charles Soule, is now Marvel exclusive, after writing for a variety of publishers so far in his career. You’ve worked with many great writers in your time — from your perspective, what makes Charles Soule a special talent?
Alonso: Charles is a thoughtful, meticulous, skilled and versatile writer. And he’s a consummate professional — probably because he is an actively practicing lawyer. I was enjoying Charles’ work, but when he really caught my attention was a scene in “Superman/Wonder Woman” where the pair were talking on a veranda. I hadn’t read the previous issues, but for some reason, I picked up that issue and read it on my lunch break, and I thought the exchange was very stirring and drilled to the core of their relationship. I told him I loved it, and while he never said it, I got the sense that he’d actually had to fight to keep that scene in the book. [Laughs] To me, that scene illustrated that Charles; most potent stuff took place between fight scenes.
I expect big things from Charles. I love what he and Javier Pulido are doing on “She-Hulk.” Ditto for “Inhuman,” with Joe Madureira and Ryan Stegman. And “Death of Wolverine” will be a game-changer for him.
It definitely does feel significant that he had a successful career outside of comics before he was a rising star in the industry. You can tell from how he conducts himself online, at panels at conventions, the way he talks to the press — he seems very mature. There have been talented guys who have had a similarly quick rise in comics, and they’re not as adept at handling it.
Alonso: Charles is an adult. He plied a demanding trade for a couple decades that required patience, focus and discipline. I’m sure this is a cakewalk for him.
Make no mistake, being a freelancer is hard. You’ve got to be diligent, organized, committed. You spend a lot of time by yourself so you’ve got be able to focus, get motivated, and avoid distractions. There are plenty of artists with monolithic talent whose obstacle is distractions. They’re too busy Facebooking and Tweeting every development in their life to actually sit down and work. It’s a shame.
For the past year or so, Soule has been the only writer on multiple high-profile titles at both Marvel and DC, and for an observer, the easy question was, “How long is that going to last? Who’s going to snatch him up exclusively?” What was the turning point within Marvel in terms of knowing it was time to lock him down to an exclusive?
Alonso: It all came down to the fact that we want him involved in our deep planning. “Inhuman” and “Death of Wolverine” were only phase one. We needed him at our summits, and to do that we needed a commitment. We did not urge him to divest other commitments, just make sure that if he put anything new on his plate, that it would be for us.
Let’s talk another big release this week: “Original Sin” #8, that story’s finale. You’ve been saying for a while that we’re going to see new roles for a couple of characters coming out of this series, and that’s definitely apparent here. First, there’s Winter Soldier taking on Nick Fury’s role as “The Man on the Wall.” What has you excited about the way that character’s now positioned, heading into the upcoming “Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier” series by Ales Kot and Marco Rudy?
Alonso: I think Bucky’s got the perfect resume to fill the big boy shoes vacated by Nick Fury. [Laughs] Look, we’re always looking for ways to reposition characters that are consistent with their personality, skill set and history, and this just feels right. The Winter Soldier’s got the perfect skill set and the temperament to man that wall. It’s one of the big “gets” from “Original Sin.”
Nick Fury has had a very eventful “Original Sin” story, kind of a brutal one in a lot of ways — and the story ends with him in a Watcher-type position as the “Unseen.” It’s an interesting outcome for him — what do you like about how the story went for Nick Fury, and can we expect to see him in his new role again at some point in the future?
Alonso: I doubt this is last you’ve seen of Unseen Nick Fury. [Laughs] But look, before we ponder Fury’s future, let’s ponder the meaning of Fury’s story in “Original Sin.” Fury manned the wall, he did a lot of grey things for the greater good, and there was a consequence. He looked in the mirror, and saw his shattered reflection, and that’s at the heart of why he killed the Watcher. The ending of “Original Sins” is his cosmic, karmic punishment.
That said… this is comics and Jason has left Nick Fury in a fascinating role for the future. Somewhere down the road, a writer at one of our retreats is going to say, “I’ve got a great idea for Unseen Fury!”
The original Nick Fury hasn’t had much of a defined role in recent history– he hasn’t been the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in years — this has definitely been more Nick Fury than readers have seen in a while.
Alonso: I think Fury’s voyage in “Original Sin” perfectly end-caps his life as we knew it. It’s a huge swan song that proves just how capable he was, and how important he was to the Marvel Universe. Who can’t imagine Nick Fury doing those things? That’s quite a sendoff.
One last thing from this week: On Wednesday, Marvel’s anti-bullying covers co-presented with STOMP Out Bullying were released. There are some pretty moving visuals in that crop — what made that campaign an important thing for Marvel to get involved with in this manner?
Alonso: A couple months ago, the STOMP Out Bullyingâ„¢ organization was brought to our attention and we jumped at the chance to work with them to bring awareness to this growing problem. So we enlisted some of our top talent to create emotionally charged covers that send a clear message about how our heroes feel about bullying in all its forms. This is a real-world problem with long-term lasting effects for all of those involved so we felt obligated to bring awareness to this campaign and the response to these covers has been overwhelming. Our artists were inspired.
Let’s wrap with fan questions from the CBR Community: boscoe also is curious post-“Original Sin” #8: “Bucky is getting his own book. But it seems to me all the other potential candidates who are sharing Fury’s secrets (Moon Knight, Ant-Man etc) look very much like a team, especially since they are traveling together on the same space ship. Are they possibly the next incarnation of the Secret Defenders? Pretty Please!”
Alonso: That’s not a bad idea, boscoe…
Speaking of Scott Lang, Sasquatch by Night asks, “When can we expect news regarding an Ant-Man ongoing?”
Alonso: We’ll have more to say about our Ant-Man plans very soon.
Finally, someone called Mockingbird has a question on, well, you can likely guess: “With Mockingbird appearing in at least one episode of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ are there any plans for her in the comics? I’ve been waiting for her to appear regularly in something since the end of ‘Secret Avengers.'”
Alonso: Well, now that we’re launching a S.H.I.E.L.D ongoing series, with fabulous Mark Waid writing, watch and see if she shows up.
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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