Recruiting For The Marvel U

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

This week, Axel unpacks a slew of new Marvel news and reveals, starting with the tie-ins to the incoming "Infinity" event. The just announced "Infinity: The Hunt" story from Matt Kindt gets a spotlight as Alonso explains what will make it different from "Avengers Arena" while Jock digs his artistic claws into "Savage Wolverine." Meanwhile, big initiatives like the 50th Anniversary X-Men even "Battle For the Atom" draw closer while "Avengers: Endless Wartime" presages more OGNs including possible work from Bryan Singer and Bruce Timm, if Axel has anything to say about it. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Axel, this week we've got some forward-looking announcements to unpack and some past news that has some new life to it, but first I thought I'd share a note of interest. After we were trying to solve the mystery of the mind behind the hexagon "Mighty Avengers" teasers last week, someone over there dropped me a line to say that it was Sales & Communications Manager James Viscardi & Designer Summer Lacy who came up with & executed the design. So, there we go!

Axel Alonso: Marvel's unheralded heroes!

Early this week, Marvel announced "Infinity: The Hunt" by Matt Kindt and Steven Sanders. The book is an event tie-in for certain, but I've got to say that a few folks noted the similarities between this "teen students in battle" premise and "Avengers Arena." Can you tell me what differentiated this series from the former?

Alonso: Well, it starts with Matt Kindt -- what he brings to the table. I've enjoyed Matt's indie work for some time, and I'm thrilled to see him playing in our sandbox. Look, we wouldn't be doing this book if we thought it was redundant of anything we're currently publishing; and this will be very different from what Dennis Hopeless is doing in "Avengers Arena." As more details about the series emerge, you'll see why.

How did this series come together? Was it a matter of you looking to fit Matt in somewhere or looking for a place to tie these characters into the event?

Alonso: We're managing our tie-ins very carefully so that each adds a new shading to the bigger story. Matt came up with a concept that deep dived into an aspect of story that wasn't being explored in the core series or other tie-ins. Again, we wouldn't be doing this series if we felt it didn't contribute something significant to the event.

I get the feeling part of these "Infinity" tie-ins and spinoffs like this, "Mighty Avengers" and Frank Tieri's "Heist" book is that the inspiration for their happening is the literal vacuum left by the Avengers leaving planet Earth. Did editorial approach that story point as an opportunity?

Alonso: Yeah. As I've said in the past, this is a war fought on two fronts. An inciting incident sets off another inciting incident and the $#!& hits the fan. [Laughs] So you've got an extremely vulnerable earth dealing with an invasion force that's unlike anything it's ever seen, and that's motivated by something no one will see coming, the seeds of which are being subtly laid down in "Thanos Rising." In no way, shape or form does this invasion resemble what the Skrulls did in "Secret Invasion."

So that's the setup: It's a global problem, a lot of the heaviest hitters in the Marvel Universe are otherwise engaged, and anyone who's got a super power is going to have to step up and show what they've got. Our writers and editors embraced the challenge, and are using the opportunity to shine a spotlight on their favorite characters, as well as to explore all the stuff occurs on the periphery of the war -- the opportunism that always happens during wartime.

Shifting focus to another piece of news is that Jock will be coming on to do his own arc of "Savage Wolverine." Jock hasn't done very much at Marvel before. Is this someone else you've been zeroing in on to bring into the fold?

Alonso: Without a doubt. I've been a fan of Jock's work for a while -- he's one of the most talented cover artists in the business. When he started to do covers for "Wolverine MAX," it became apparent how much he liked the character so he became a very attractive candidate for "Savage Wolverine" since we'd formulated our game plan for that series. Jock's got such a unique visual style.

Was the plan from the start always to make "Savage Wolverine" an anthology, or did that grow out of the interest of multiple creators wanting to work with the character?

Alonso: That was the driving concept from the start. Wolverine is one of the four or five most recognizable super heroes on earth, and he walks such a different path than anyone else; there's so much more -- grey area to him. There's so much flexibility to be found in the character, so many different types of stories you can tell with him, so many different eras in which to tell those stories.

It started with Frank [Cho]. I just straight-up offered him the opportunity to tell a Wolverine -- any Wolverine story -- and reminded him that he could bring in Shanna, dinosaurs, cave men, whatever he wanted to. He delivered one of the bounciest, unpredictable Wolverine stories in years. And it just so happened that Zeb Wells and Joe Maduerira had begun to collaborate on a Wolverine story featuring Spider-Man and Elektra that was perfect for the series. And then Jock came along --

On the other side of the coin away from new announcements, we're also seeing a few projects getting closer and closer to fruition starting with "X-Men: Battle of the Atom." This 50th Anniversary X-Men event just hit solicits so readers are seeing more about what the story will be about. The thing that stands out to me is the idea of future X-Men coming back to stop the Lee/Kirby team from coming to the modern era. That had to be the pitch for this whole story from the moment Brian Bendis started working on "All-New X-Men," right?

Alonso: "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" was not a part of Brian's pitch for "All New X-Men." He touched upon the possibility of stories featuring time travel and interdimensional travel and the question of whether the original X-Men should stay in the present was inevitable from the moment they arrived. But the details of this particular story came out of an X-Men summit to plan something big for the X-Men's 50th Anniversary. Brian, Brian Wood, Jason [Aaron], [X-Men group editor] Nick [Lowe], and rest of the X-Men editors concocted it.

We've talked a lot about how the X-Men events have grown over the years, and this one feels different than previous stories. Unlike "Messiah CompleX" where the story went straight from issue-to-issue in a crossover style, the individual books of " X-Men: Battle of the Atom" will keep focused on their core casts. So "X-Men" will be all about the female team's role in the fight and so on. Did you, Nick and the rest of the X-Editorial office go in wanting to build a different format here?

Alonso: Actually, "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" is structured pretty much exactly like "Messiah CompleX," "Second Coming" or "AvX." It's a classic issue-to-issue continuous story that involves a high degree of collaboration amongst the writers and artists. The writers and editors worked up an outline for the story, then broke that story across issues of four monthly titles: "All-New X-Men," "Uncanny X-Men," "Wolverine and the X-Men" and "X-Men." Over the course of the story, the core casts of all those titles bump shoulders and interact in new and different ways. Adult Cyclops will be forced into close quarters with Jean Grey and young Cyclops and Wolverine -- Jubilee will be interact with Young Beast and Young Iceman, etc., etc.

Speaking of new templates, we also talked more about Warren Ellis and Mike McKone's "Avengers: Endless Wartime" this week. At this point, how has that project been shaping up in terms of whether we'll see more of an OGN program built around it?

Alonso: Yes. This is the first of a full-blown graphic novel program. We'll be revealing more titles soon. And let me say, I'm very excited. I've wanted to see us do this for a long time. OGNs provide a distinctly different type of read. I believe there's a certain type of reader that is receptive to a format that gives them one story with a beginning, middle and end that fits nicely on their bookshelf. And the fact that the format allows writers to approach stories in a different way -- more as a novel than a serialized story -- will be a game-changer in terms of who we entice to the writing table. Had I called Warren and said, "Do you want to do an arc of Avengers?" he'd have probably turned me down. But the fact that I was calling about an OGN -- well, I got his attention. And I don't think Warren is alone in that regard.

Getting into some fan questions, rman1418 has been thinking of the same character you were in your example above when he asked, "First off I want to say I am very excited to see Luke Cage back in the spotlight with the coming of Mighty Avengers; however, I have to admit I was a little disappointed to see Iron Fist not make the team. I was wondering if we are going to be seeing him join on ongoing or star in his own coming in Marvel NOW! wave 2?"

Alonso: Iron Fist will play a part of our second wave of Marvel NOW! titles, rman1418, but I won't elaborate whether he'll fly solo or function as part of a team or duo.

PaxHouse followed up on this week's news asking, "With the announcement of the News for the INFINITY: THE HUNT Miniseries; any chances of seeing some of the other younger/teen heroes (such as from NEW MUTANTS, NEW X-MEN, POWER PACK, AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE, Etc) in addition to the newer ones....??"

Alonso: "Infinity: The Hunt" bounces all around the Marvel Universe, featuring students from schools you know -- Avengers Academy, the Future Foundation, the Jean Grey School, the Braddock Academy -- and schools you've never seen before. So there are tons of characters you already know and a bunch you don't. So, let's see: You'll see one of the Power Pack in "Infinity: The Hunt," Alex Powers in "FF," a few New Mutants in "Fearless Defenders" and another series we haven't announced yet, some of the New X-Men in "Wolverine and the X-Men," X-23 in "Avengers Arena," and Prodigy in "Young Avengers."

With one X-book about to end its run and a big event in the offing, the aptly named 4thsummers asked, "I was wondering with Peter David ending X-Factor this Fall, would any of those characters be drawn into the x-community? And if so who and where?"

Alonso: There will definitely be a lot of things in flux after "X-Men: Battle of the Atom," 4thsummer. Lots of character shifts. And the current cast of "X-Factor" is no exception.

Let's wrap with a few from Spidey616 who found an old news story he's hoping might be coming around again, "Around a decade ago or so, Bryan Singer was meant to write an arc of Ultimate X-Men, but obviously the project obviously wasn't able to come to fruition. Now that Singer has returned to the X-Men Franchise as a director, any likelihood or interest in approaching Singer for a new X-Men related project at Marvel?"

Alonso: I'm pretty happy with what's happening in the X-office as it is, Spidey616. That said, an evergreen OGN written by Singer is very intriguing...

And he followed up with his own "Mighty Avengers" query: "Know Luke Cage is involved in the upcoming Mighty Avengers title, can we expect the rest of the Cage clan Jessica Jones and baby Danielle to be a part of the book?"

Alonso: We'll definitely see them as it's appropriate to the story. That said, the whole reason Luke left the New Avengers was so he wouldn't subject Danielle to the dangers of living in Avengers Mansion, so it's likely that Luke will keep her far from the action.

And to combine all the recent news, Spidey wrapped with this after seeing one of your Tweets: "James Robinson post on twitter about working on a possible Marvel project reminded me of something you tweeted to Bruce Timm about developing some Marvel projects. Curious if this is something you genuinely pursuing now that Timm is taking a break from his role as WB Animation Supervising Producer?"

Alonso: All I'll say is you won't find a bigger Bruce Timm fan than me. He is a genius. We worked together on a short story a decade ago, and it still stands as one of my favorite comic book experiences.

Have some questions for Marvel's AXEL-IN-CHARGE? Please visit the CUP O' Q&A thread in CBR's Marvel Universe forum. It's now the dedicated thread for all connections between Board Members and the Marvel Executive staff that CBR will pull questions for next week's installment of our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer column! Do it to it!

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