Rocket Raccoon's Loot Crate Adventure, Nick Fury's Secret History

Fridays Thursdays 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!

Axel-In-Charge comes to you a day early this week, due to the Fourth of July holiday. But that doesn't mean we're taking it easy, tackling a number on topics, including the launch of Skottie Young's new "Rocket Raccoon" series, which got an extra push -- and major sales -- thanks to an arrangement between Marvel and Loot Crate, a monthly service delivering video game/otherwise geeky merchandise to a reported base of more than 100,000 subscribers. Rocket's not the only Guardian of the Galaxy with his own solo series -- "The Legendary Star-Lord" by Sam Humphries and Paco Medina also debuted this week, and Alonso drops a hint about the future of that book. Plus, details on the major Nick Fury-related revelations in this week's "Original Sin" #5 and your questions, straight from the CBR Community!

[SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Original Sin" #5, released this week.]

Albert Ching: Axel, it feels like we should start this week with a moment of silence for the US and Mexico both being eliminated from the World Cup.

Axel Alonso: Oh, Mexico... It's going to take a while to get over that loss. [Netherlands striker Arjen] Robben flopped the whole game. He was bound to get the call. But when the ref gave them a free kick in the box with time running out, forget it...

I was terrified every time [the Netherlands] took of a corner kick. I'm the world's worst Hispanic soccer player and the one goal I scored in competition was off a corner kick where I used my size to box out smaller players and barrel to the goal. One look at those Netherlands players -- oh man, they were big. I've got to stop talking about this... Next question! [Laughs]

Then let's move to comics, and start this week talking about Skottie Young's "Rocket Raccoon" #1. There are a lot of interesting things going on with this comic, and I'm intrigued by its inclusion in this month's Loot Crate shipment, which definitely seems like a way to get the comic out to people who might not normally find it. I'm not sure how involved you were personally with that partnership, but what can you share about how that came about?

Alonso: I'm thrilled with this arrangement, and we'll be talking about this more in the future. The idea that an outside party would take an active interest in bringing this comic book to so many people who wouldn't see it under any other circumstances... what's not to like? The Loot Crate folks tell me that if you sign up on their website before July 19, you'll be able to get their special Rocket Raccoon cover.

What made "Rocket Raccoon" #1 the right choice for Loot Crate? Obviously, he's a key part of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie coming out in a month, but what kind of mainstream appeal do you see in the comic itself?

Alonso: It's a fantastic comic book that doesn't look -- or read -- like anything else out there. You've got a creator at the height of his powers that just plain understands a character. "Rocket Raccoon" is fun and funny, and smart and sophisticated and sophomoric in equal measure, so I'm sure it'll have wide appeal. I know my son, Tito will eat it up. Last comic he loved was Garth Ennis' "Rover Red Charlie" -- or at least the parts I let him read. Kids love anthropomorphized animals... [Laughs]

So you're describing it as a true "all-ages" book.

Alonso: Yeah. I think that "Rocket Raccoon" hits the same sweet spot that the Marvel and Pixar movies do. You'll like the ride whether you're 6 or 60.

RELATED: 100K of "Rocket Raccoon" #1's 300K Orders From Single Source

One more thing that's interesting about this -- as big as the Marvel characters are these days, the publishing side is clearly still interested in getting comics into the hands of non-traditional readers, as we see in the Loot Crate arrangement. How much work do you think there is still left to do in spreading the gospel of comics themselves?

Alonso: The work will never be over. Growing our audience is part of our daily mandate. Each new reader is potentially a new fan, and that's why something like our arrangement with Loot Crate is so welcome. Loot Crate has a massive fan base that keeps growing and they're helping us get a great, accessible comic book -- featuring a breakout character -- into the hands of people who aren't your normal traffic in a comic book store.

Turning to the other Guardians of the Galaxy solo book out this week, "The Legendary Star-Lord" #1 is also something of a surprising launch -- Star-Lord has even less history as a solo character than Rocket Raccoon. What do you like about the series, and what kind of potential does Marvel see in Star-Lord as a leading man and star of his own title?

Alonso: Lots. Readers' response to The Legendary Star-Lord" has been overwhelmingly positive; we got enough orders to warrant a second printing in a matter of hours. That's because like "Rocket," we've put a dynamic character in the hands of a creative team -- Sam Humphries and Paco Medina -- that really has a handle on him, and what they want to do.

Peter Quill is a part-time Guardian, but he's a full-time Star-Lord, and this solo series will explore that facet of who he is. Peter Quill is a scoundrel trying to do the right thing, an Earth native who's actually more at home in space. Space is where he is free, where he thrives, where he is the Star-Lord. I think there's a metaphor to be found in there somewhere -- you'll have to ask Sam. [Laughs] Oh, and, it needs to be said: This is a book on a collision course with some major events coming up in the Marvel Universe. Watch the throne.

RELATED: Humphries Launches "The Legendary Star-Lord" Into the Marvel Universe

Another big book out this week is "Original Sin" #5, which reveals an entire secret history for Nick Fury, for decades covertly combatting alien races along with a crew of Nick Fury Life Model Decoys. That's something of a radical addition to the character's history -- how did that idea surface? Was it always part of the "Original Sin" plan?

Alonso: This was a concept that [writer] Jason [Aaron] brought to the story that just plain made sense. Nick Fury guards the wall -- the wall between the Marvel Universe and all the unseen threats that would destroy it. Fury is the ultimate Black Operative: the guy who has gotten his hands dirty for decades so others wouldn't have to. Does that make him a good guy, a bad guy, or a little bit of both? That's for the reader to grapple with.

RELATED: REVIEW: "Original Sin" #5

it's definitely a major new wrinkle to such a classic character. I think you're absolutely right that it is going to divide readers -- given that, did it meet any opposition internally at Marvel?

Alonso: Sure. You know that scene in "A Few Good Men," where Jack Nicholson yells at Tom Cruise, "You can't handle the truth!"? That line came up a few times during the editorial summit! [Laughs] Yes, to some extent, this revelation places Fury in the same moral space as the General that Nicholson played: Fury is the man whose stood guard on the wall for decades, and it's taken its toll on him. That said, it could also be argued that Fury occupies the same moral space as, say, the military operatives who hunted down Osama bin Laden by all means necessary. Few would dispute they're heroes.

All I can say is that as a long-term Nick Fury fan that hunted down all the Steranko "Nick Fury" [issues] at flea markets, I believe this revelation is consistent with the character. To me, part of Fury's appeal was that he was a normal man in a sea of guys in capes and rights. No superpowers, no costume, just a guy with a gun. A soldier. And sometimes soldiers have to do things on the battlefield that that might not look too good in a courtroom, but that indisputably save lives. War is about hard choices made in foxholes when there are bullets whizzing by your head. It's about being decisive. Whether your actions land you a spot in Heaven or Hell, you find that out when you die. Fury will.

Let's talk one more book that came out this week, "Deadpool vs. X-Force" #1. Marvel of course publishes quite a bit of Deadpool material, and this one takes the character back to his early days with a bit of deliberate '90s nostalgia. Why is now the right time for that kind of take on Deadpool?

Alonso: Deadpool is a unique character who's at home against any backdrop and who allows for unique synergy with virtually any other character. No one bats an eye when he teams up with Huck Finn, kills Ahab's Great White Wale, or sits down for tea with Sun Tzu in Peter David and Scott Koblish's upcoming "Deadpool's Art of War." You want to bend, stretch, or rip continuity in half? You want to take those scraps mix in some classic literature or a super-team that actually doesn't even exist yet? Hello, Deadpool.

"Deadpool vs. X-Force" does just that. Basically, Deadpool goes back in time to literally rewrite history -- at least, the parts he slept through in history class -- and the yet-to-be-formed X-Force is dispatched into the time stream to hunt him down before he does too much damage. It's brain-twisting fun tale by Duane Swierczynski and Pepe Larraz.

Sticking with the Deadpool miniseries topic -- you mentioned "Art of War." You had a role in shaping that series, right? In the announcement interview, Peter David credited you in helping bring the concept to fruition.

Alonso: Yeah. I forgot about that until I read the interview. [Laughs] Peter had the beginning of an idea when he dropped by my office one day, and by the time he'd left, we had a series. He and [editor] Jordan D. White worked out the details for a really fun series that features one of my favorite covers of the year.

RELATED: Peter David Pens "Deadpool: The Art of War"

It's also kind of crazy to think Peter David, who in many ways feels like a natural fit to write Deadpool, really hadn't before this series.

Alonso: It was like when we realized that Mark Waid and Mark Bagley hadn't worked together. "What the -- ?" He hasn't written Deadpool? Now, he has.

Cullen Bunn has written quite a few of these Deadpool miniseries, but he's been off the last couple -- does he have plans for more?

Alonso: Of course. Cullen laid the foundation for the "Deadpool" limited series franchise with "Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe," "Deadpool Kills Deadpool," and "Deadpool Killustrated." And he's nowhere near out of ideas.

Also, if you aren't reading Cullen's "Magneto" series, you are missing out. This is one of my favorite new series. Cullen has tapped into the energy of that incredible scene from "X-Men: First Class" where Magneto slowly unleashes hell on some Nazis to unleash a series that's different from any X-Men title I've ever seen. His Magneto is a scalpel of retribution. He's in a really dark place.

RELATED: X-POSITION: Bunn Brings "Magneto" to "AXIS"

Let's dip into a couple of questions from the CBR Community before heading out into the long weekend -- Fred Nunez asks, " With the success of 'Captain America: The Winter Solder' in theaters have you guys had any discussions about The Falcon? Maybe in a new limited solo series (to test the waters) or a return of 'Captain America and The Falcon' as an ongoing series?"

Alonso: Rest assured, we have big plans for the Falcon, Fred.

Then Hypestyle asks about an older Marvel series that came up in conversation a few AICs ago: "Now that the Guardians of the Galaxy brand is getting more exposure with the new movie, comics and prose adaptations, I'd like to know about the status of a forgotten 1980s Marvel space-opera: 'Strikeforce Morituri.' I really thought it was a unique concept. What are the chances that the series can be revisited in comics form eventually?"

Alonso: It's a really cool concept, Hypestyle, but we have no current plans for them.

Let's wrap this up with Rman, who is looking for some old-school Power Man & Iron Fist action: "Any plans for Iron Fist and Luke Cage to team up again anytime soon? I am still hoping for a 'Heroes for Hire' or 'Defenders' book in light of the upcoming Netflix 'Defenders' series."

Alonso: Could happen, Rman. It has been discussed. For the time being, however, both characters have their hands full in ongoing series. Danny Rand is flying solo over in Kaare Andrews' "Iron Fist: The Living Weapon." And Luke Cage is part of the "Mighty Avengers" crew.

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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