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Preparing for the “Ultimate End”

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Preparing for the “Ultimate End”

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!

Bendis Promises “Legitimate Closure” In “Ultimate End”

On Wednesday, Marvel revealed the details of “Ultimate End,” a “Secret Wars” tie-in from the classic “Ultimate Spider-Man” team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley. In a press call, Bendis compared it to the final season of a TV show, and promised “legitimate closure” for many characters. So is this the final end of the Ultimate Universe, which debuted in 2000 with “Ultimate Spider-Man” #1? Alonso addresses that question, and talks the legacy of the line and the considerable contributions of the Bendis and Bagley duo. Plus, Alonso details why “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” is an important part of the larger “Secret Wars” picture and discusses this week’s launch of “Uncanny Avengers,” volume two. All that and more, including answers to your questions, directly from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, let’s get right into it this week and talk “Ultimate End.” I don’t want to presume anything, but based on what’s been said it certainly sounds like this may be the end of the Ultimate Universe, at least for now. It feels like the line has been winding down recently — it’s been down to only one title for a while now. Even apart from the “Secret Wars” context, was there a feeling at Marvel that it might have been the right time to end the line?

Axel Alonso: We’ve known that the fate of the Ultimate Universe would be determined by “Secret Wars” for years. We’ve told you that the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe are going to smash together, we’ve told you that “everything ends,” you’ve seen Alex Ross’ nifty poster, which hints at all the craziness to come. Now you’re going to have to read and find out what it all means.

So you’re not ready to say things are as definitive as it might look right now.

Alonso: All I’ll say is, be prepared for us to melt your mind.

Speaking of what has been announced, they’re likely the obvious choice, but you never know how things will shake out with scheduling and all that — how pleased are you that Bendis and Bagley are the creative team bringing stories to a close in “Ultimate End”?

Alonso: Bendis and Bagley had an unprecedented, historical run on “Ultimate Spider-Man.” The month to month quality of that series, the accelerated shipping frequency that it pioneered, it was unprecedented in comics. From Peter Parker to Miles Morales, “Ultimate Spider-Man” has been the flagship title of the Ultimate Universe. What better team to tell this “swan song” story?

Among other things, they definitely set the standard of books shipping 16 or so times a year, which has become much more common at Marvel.

Alonso: They did. Brian could barely keep writing fast enough to keep Bagley working!

No matter what the outcome of “Ultimate End” may be, there’s been a lot of talk about the legacy and impact of the Ultimate Universe — original Ultimate line editor Ralph Macchio was on the Marvel press call this week. As someone who has been with Marvel since the earliest days of the Ultimate Universe, what are some of your biggest takeaways on its impact and legacy?

Alonso: The Ultimate Universe allowed us to do fresh takes on iconic characters, to bend them like taffy for a new generation of reader. The fact that the series not only won over the skeptics but brought in new fans definitely emboldened us to take creative chances within the Marvel Universe. So in that sense, the arrival of the Ultimate Universe forced the Marvel Universe to up its game. I think that’s the legacy of the Ultimate Universe.

Man, the more I think about it… I’m gonna miss Miles…

Speaking of “Secret Wars” tie-ins, this week saw the reveal of the first three “Last Days” books — “Magneto,” “Loki: Agent of Asgard” and “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers.” Those are not the most obvious books to kick off the tie-ins to a major event — they’re comics that have a lot support and acclaim, but aren’t Marvel’s biggest ticket series. What was the logic in leading the “Last Days” announcements with those titles?

Alonso: The bottom line is that we wanted to give our creators options, and the time to plan. And a number of writers seized on the “Last Days” hook — What would you do if you found out this was your last day? — because, well, it’s pretty darn cool.

Soule Enters “Secret Wars” with “Inhumans: Attilan Rising”

Another “Secret Wars” tie-in announced this week is “Inhumans: Attilan Rising,” from Charles Soule and John Timms. It’s been clear for a while that the Inhumans are a priority at Marvel — how important is this series to the overall “Secret Wars” ecosystem?

Alonso: “Attilan Rising” is directly tied to the core “Secret Wars” series. You’ll note that the images we’ve released so far for the series are bannered with the “Battleworld” tag, which suggests that the story will be related to the way the various domains operate. The Inhuman characters, new and old, are key players in the larger structure of Battleworld, and from a certain perspective, “Attilan Rising” will touch all of the various incredible domains we’ll see as the larger story plays out.

It’s also interesting to read in the announcement of the importance of Black Bolt and Medusa’s relationship to the “Attilan Rising” story. Given an event like “Secret Wars,” and words like “Battleworld” and “Warzones” used prominently, it could be easy to conclude that the story is just a lot of fighting, but the talk behind “Attilan Rising” sounds like there’s also romance at play — how much is Marvel using “Secret Wars” as a vehicle to explore some non-typical genres?

Alonso: Part of the fun of “Secret Wars” is giving our creators a chance to play in slightly different sandboxes than they might be used to. And they’re running with it. I view “Attilan Rising” more as a war story than a romance, but remember that there are all sorts of war stories: “Saving Private Ryan,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Casablanca”…

That’s a lot of talk of things yet to come, so let’s focus on a book released this week: ‘Uncanny Avengers,” which kicked off a second volume with a unique mix of characters, including several former villains. What is that Rick Remender and Daniel Acuña are doing in this new series that has you, as editor-in-chief, excited?

Alonso: “AXIS” drew a line in the sand for that series, and this is the next chapter. Rick and Acuña have a new season of stories to tell — and have you seen Acuña’s art? That is Next Level $#!&!!!

Obviously “Uncanny Avengers” is a title that’s historically had a lot of significance to the overall Marvel picture, as we saw with “AXIS” — will “Uncanny Avengers” be playing a part in the lead in to Secret Wars?

Alonso: Like all Marvel books, “Uncanny Avengers” is on a direct beeline for “Secret Wars.”

Also wanted to ask about something that’s not Marvel related, but certainly news that got people in the comics industry interested — the announcement that Milestone Media is returning, from Reginald Hudlin, Denys Cowan and Derek Dingle. I saw you tweeting a bit about it last week — any more thoughts you wanted to share on this development?

Alonso: I’m excited. I’ve long known about Reggie’s love for the Milestone universe and its characters, and I remember how I felt about those characters when they were first introduced, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what Reggie and crew have planned. If Kamala Khan is an indicator, then the comic book-reading audience is more ready than ever for characters like this.

Let’s close things up for the week with some questions from the CBR Community, starting with WestPhillyPunisher, who wants to know about — no surprise here — “Secret Wars”: “What happens to street-level heroes/antiheroes like Daredevil, Black Widow, Punisher, Elektra. Black Cat, Moon Knight, Iron Fist and Shang Chi among others once Secret Wars starts?”

Alonso: Some or all of them just might be a part of “Secret Wars.” Or they may all be dead and gone, along with the Marvel Universe. “Secret Wars” #1 will tell the tale!

Then there’s Joyboy, also curious about “Secret Wars”: “Post-‘Secret Wars,’ will the new Marvel Universe have characters from other universes incorporated like Earth X, MC2, and Shadowline? Or only the Ultimate Universe?” (That’s the Shadowline that was part of Epic Comics in the late 1980s, natch.)

Alonso: “Battleworld” is the new Marvel Universe, so it will.

Hickman Calls “Secret Wars” A ‘Horror Story,’ ‘Culmination’ Of His Marvel Work

Finally, TresDias has a question about, you guessed it, “Secret Wars”: “I’m currently a little unclear about the differences in the three tie-in imprints for ‘Secret Wars,’ and I’ve noticed others sharing my confusion. The idea of ‘Last Days’ is obvious, of course, but the descriptions thus far for the ‘Battleworld’ and ‘Warzones’ imprints sound identical (e.g. interactions between territories; some may focus on a single territory, others may focus on more than one; etc.). Can you clear up the confusion, please?”

Alonso: Right now we’ve only announced “Last Days” and “Battleworld” titles. Once we get around to announcing the “Warzones” titles, it will all become clear. For now, let’s just say that “Battleworld” books deal with the inner workings of Battleworld. If you’re curious about the infrastructure of the planet, this is the place to learn more about it. What are the territories, and who governs them? Who polices Battleworld? How do various territories interact, and what happens when two go to war? In contrast, “Warzones” titles are huge, self-contained event-sized stories that take place on Battleworld, but ultimately tell a story that stands on its own two feet. And each and every one of them will lay down abuilding block – or blocks – for the future.

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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