Planning Marvel's Future, New Additions to the "Star Wars" Line

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 Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!

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After a week off due to Marvel's latest editorial retreat, Alonso talks -- in vague terms, of course -- a bit about the long-term planning that went on at the session, focused on shaping the post-"Secret Wars" Marvel Universe. Additionally, Alonso talked the contributions of "All-New Hawkeye" writer Jeff Lemire, a Marvel editorial retreat first-timer. And with Star Wars Celebration currently ongoing, Alonso talked the latest Marvel "Star Wars" comics news, highlighted by the new "Lando" series from writer Charles Soule and artist Alex Maleev. Plus, Alonso shares insight on the recently announced departure of Marvel Executive Editor Mike Marts, who's leaving the company to serve as editor-in-chief of new publisher AfterShock Comics. All that and more, including answers to your questions, direct from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, how far are you into the "Daredevil" watching process? I know you had a head start.

Axel Alonso: I've got one episode to go. I watched half the episodes a few months ago and loved it. The characters, the mood, the action sequences. If nothing else, I figured that continuous track fight scene that capped episode two would knock people's socks off. So it's a relief to see that I'm not alone in loving it. "Daredevil" is totally different from anything we've done, either on the big screen or TV, and it's different from any super hero TV show. I cannot wait for the next series.

We didn't talk last week due to the latest Marvel editorial retreat -- I know you can't talk specifics about what was discussed, but I wanted to see how it went, with the latest long-term plans being laid down. I imagine this is way post-"Secret Wars" at this point?

Alonso: This retreat was fun, because we to step back from the minutia of "Secret Wars" -- the event -- and look at the new Marvel Universe in its wake. It was the first time we got to really absorb what the new Marvel Universe is about: the characters, teams, places and artifacts of great importance moving forward. Each office laid out its plans, and we saw how everything mapped out, and new stories emerged in the room. One story idea, in fact, prompted me to set up a more focused mini-retreat so we can dig in deeper.

Saw some pictures from the retreat online -- a lot of the usual faces, of course, but also looked like some new additions? I saw Jeff Lemire in there.

Alonso: This was Jeff's first retreat. And Al Ewing's first retreat. And Dennis Hopeless returned. Apart from that, it was our usual crew.

With Lemire in attendance, can we assume that means he's doing even more for Marvel beyond "All-New Hawkeye?"

Alonso: Yes he is. Yes... he... is.

Jeff was a great addition to the room. He had a lot of great ideas and his constructive criticism helped shape some of the ideas in formation. I get the sense that he was thirsty to experience this kind of dynamic... this collaborative challenge. "Hawkeye" is just the tip of the iceberg of what Jeff will be bringing to the Marvel Universe.

Al Ewing was also very impressive. He owned one story concept so much that I pretty much ordered him to write the series!

Marvel Expands Its Star Wars Universe with "Lando"

This is a week with a lot of Star Wars news, and Marvel announced a "Lando" miniseries with a big-name creative team: Charles Soule and Alex Maleev. You've been working closely on the Star Wars line and with Lucasfilm on the books, so what has you excited about a miniseries starring Lando Calrissian? It feels a bit unexpected at this point in the Marvel Star Wars line.

Alonso: Hey, the "Star Wars" posse rolls deep. I mean "Princess Leia" launched as a No. 1 book, so why not Lando Calrissian? There's a lot of love for the character. Charles and Alex love the character, and they're going to tell one hell of a story.

Seeing those names on this book, it really seems like a further testament to what readers have already seen -- top-flight talent on Marvel's Star Wars series, which seems to be a very deliberate move.

Alonso: It's very important that fans and retailers understand our commitment to this line. There will come a time where we cast a wider, more experimental net, but for now, we want to instill absolute confidence that "Star Wars" comics have really come home.

"Lando" starts after "Princess Leia" ends, which suggests that Marvel is looking to keep the line at about four books a month. Is that correct? obviously, Marvel could grow it larger given how the series have launched, but it appears to be pretty deliberately paced.

Alonso: We want to keep the line lean and mean. We want to make sure that we're tapping the right talent to tell the best stories, and that each book is really adds something to the line. I don't see us expanding too much.

This week also brought Marvel personnel news that took a lot of people by surprise, with the announcement that Executive Editor Mike Marts is leaving Marvel to be Editor-in-Chief of a new publisher, AfterShock. Marts has been one of Marvel's top editors in his most recent stint, supervising the X-Men and cosmic books. Any comment on the departure?

Alonso: Mike was given an opportunity he couldn't refuse. This was his third tour of duty with Marvel and we wish him the best of luck.

So folks should stay tuned for news in the nearish future as to how Marvel plans to fill that role? Obviously he was working on some big books.

Alonso: Absolutely. Soon. I'm really happy with the stewardship of the X-Men line moving forward.

Before we get to fan questions, it's notable that pretty much every week, there are photos on social media of celebrities, both involved in Marvel-related projects and not, stopping by the Marvel offices. Do you have a favorite encounter with a famous person, outside of comics, that you've gotten to meet in this job? I feel like I saw a picture of you and Nas once.

Alonso: In fact you didn't! I was at a Marvel retreat when Nas dropped by, so I didn't meet him, and he's one of the few people on Earth who'd make my knees buckle. I'm told that Nas knows I'm a hip-hop head, and he's going to come through again when I'm around. Fingers crossed.

From those I have met, it's impossible to pick a favorite. From Michael K. Williams, who was so nice and genuine, to New York 1 [anchor]'s Pat Kiernan, who prank-called my wife, to Pete Rock, who's become a personal friend, to Method Man, who was so cool and together and humble, I'm fortunate to have met a lot of great people. Oh, and I also met One Direction... but I didn't have any idea who they were.

Wrapping with fan questions, macroblaster1999 wants to know about the Uncanny Avengers roster: "With 'Wolverines' ending, can we expect Sabretooth to continue being a member of 'Uncanny Avengers'?"

Alonso: We're about to go into "Secret Wars," so not only is "Wolverines" ending, but the entirety of the Marvel Universe is ending. So the only thing that's for certain is that Sabretooth is going to be a part of eternity.

The venerable Spidey616 asks, "Since the end of 'AXIS,' Wasp has been MIA -- that is until her appearance in 'Rage of Ultron.' Don't know if you can say much about how/when we'll see Wasp return, but perhaps you can discuss her future role in the Marvel U?"

Alonso: We're about to go into "Secret Wars," Spidey616, so again, there isn't much we can say about the future of anybody, except that it's all going to be very short and end in tears and horror.

Finally, you can probably guess who Daredevil is Legend has a question about: "When will the new 'Daredevil' creative team be announced? It was announced Waid/Samnee were leaving a while ago.

Alonso: Who's to say there will be a new "Daredevil" series...?

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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