Recapping "Avengers Standoff's" Major Developments, Preparing for "Punisher"

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the events of Marvel's "Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega," released this past Wednesday.

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!

Spencer Promises "Avengers Standoff" Fallout Leads to Major Marvel Stories

This week, Marvel's Avengers line crossover "Avengers Standoff" concluded with "Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega," written by Nick Spencer, with art by Daniel Acuña and Angel Unzueta. Alonso gives his behind-the-scenes perspective on the new Quasar, and how she might fit in going forward in the Marvel Universe, plus the return of Steve Rogers as Captain America -- a Captain America, to be precise -- and the new team of Thunderbolts led by the Winter Soldier, who will star in their own series set to debut next week, from the creative team of writer Jim Zub and artist John Malin. Alonso also talks the week-long teaser campaign promoting new character Mosaic, next week's launch of a new "Punisher" series from writer Becky Cloonan and artist Steve Dillon and his meeting with San Francisco Giants All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence.

Albert Ching: Axel, I saw you played host earlier this week at the Marvel offices to Hunter Pence -- a member of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants in both 2012 and 2014. Your allegiance to the Giants is no secret -- how'd that encounter go?

Axel Alonso: It was a thrill to meet him -- especially considering his clutch hits in the 2014 World Series. Couldn't meet a nicer, more down-to-earth guy. And a huge comic book fan that actually owns a comic store.

Hunter dropped by because Saturday, May 7, is "Marvel Day" at AT&T Park, and we recently collaborated with the Giants to create a special give-away to fans that attend the game. We shot a video, chatted about comics and sports, and exchanged a few gifts. We gave Hunter a portrait of him and his fiancee [Alexis Cozombolidis], rendered as a superhero duo by [artist] Sean Chen; he gave me some cool swag, including a custom [SF] Giants jersey and a dope [SF] Giants baseball cap in [Golden State Warriors] colors that I'm never, ever gonna take off.

Marvel's "Avengers Standoff" crossover ended this week with Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna and Angel Unzueta's "Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega" one-shot. A lot of stuff happened throughout that story, between Steve Rogers being restored to his youthful self, a new team of Thunderbolts, a new Quasar plus Red Skull back in control of Hydra. I think it was a more eventful story than readers might have guessed, given its position; coming right before "Civil War II." Now that the dust has settled, what are your thoughts on the story and where it left the Marvel Universe?

Alonso: Steve Rogers' return to power is going to create a really interesting dynamic in the Marvel Universe moving forward -- and just in time for "Civil War II." And of course, Rogers donning the red-white-and-blue tights and picking up a shield begs the question: Is the Marvel Universe big enough for two Captain Americas? You will not believe where we are going with this story. All eyes will be on Cap -- both of them -- in 2016.

In this final issue, readers also met a new Quasar (and get to see an old Quasar, too, as Wendell Vaughan played a role); namely S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Avril Kincaid. What do you like about this new character, and are there major future plans for the new Quasar, going forward?

Alonso: Without a doubt. Her origin kind of mirrors that of the original Quasar so she is potentially one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, and we are definitely playing a long game with her. Very interesting stuff ahead. And of course, we also introduced a new team of Thunderbolts, so there are a lot of new toys on the table. "Thunderbolts" #1 is out next week, with the Winter Soldier at the helm.

Let's talk about "Thunderbolts." That book has often been a bit more of a cult favorite within Marvel (I count myself as part of that cult); something that doesn't have the highest sales but certainly has passionate fans. What made this take from writer Jim Zub and artist John Malin -- which is clearly going back in the past a little, with much of the original team intact -- the right "Thunderbolts" vision for right now?

Alonso: You're right, "Thunderbolts" is a bit of a cult title, even going back to the iconic first run by [Kurt] Busiek and [Mark] Bagley. Whatever shape the team takes, whatever the roster, this book usually hits different notes than other team books -- mostly due to the fact that the characters are usually, kinda, sorta, well, shady. Like this particular team. [Writer] Jim Zub and [Editor] Tom Brevoort have assembled a tight team that leans hard into the classic Thunderbolts premise, with new team leader Winter Soldier. What could possibly go wrong? [Laughs] And there's some story material brewing in that series that's set to explode across the Marvel Universe later on in the year.

Next week sees the release of another book, one you've been closely involved with -- a new Punisher #1 by Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon. For the fans out there who might still only know Becky Cloonan as mainly an artist -- what can you say about what she's brought to the Punisher in this story?

Alonso: [Editor] Jake Thomas saw something in Becky's work that he thought might fit the "Punisher," and he was right. This is a lean and mean story that's going to please fans of Garth Ennis or Jason Aaron's runs on "Punisher MAX." Plenty of 3-dimensional characters in the mix, including a pair of industrious D.E.A. agents, a former war buddy of Frank with an axe to grind and a bad guy with a really disturbing trophy case. It's a brutal book. Becky and [artist] Steve Dillon are taking this series right up to the edge of the MAX label.

And Steve? He's doing the best work of his career -- and I edited "Preacher," so that's saying a lot! [Laughs] The incomparable storytelling is still there, but the he's never turned in pages so rich in detail. It's next-level shit.

That's impressive to hear, especially given how many classic Punisher stories he's drawn over the years -- it can't be easy for him to top himself on the character.

Alonso: He is the Punisher artist, as far as I'm concerned.

And I heard the sales of #1 exceeded expectations?

Alonso: It's been phenomenal. Around 120K.

All week long, readers have seen teasers from Marvel promoting the debut of a new character named Mosaic, who we know will debut in "Uncanny Inhumans" #11 by Charles Soule and Carlos Pacheco. What insight can you provide on Mosaic at this point?

Alonso: Mosaic offers a window for us to tell very different types of stories. Stories that are especially relevant today. "Uncanny Inhumans" #11 is part of a larger rollout plan.

Who created the character?

Alonso: We're not ready to announce that yet.

So Mosaic will first be seen in "Uncanny Inhumans," but broaden out to elsewhere in the Marvel Universe after that?

Alonso: Yes.

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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