Teasing Out Marvel NOW!

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 earlier this year 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 provides some context for the second wave of Marvel NOW! titles that have been teased all week long. While the last batch of books focused on Marvel's big guns, the E-i-C revealed how the second wave will reinvent fan favorite titles including two series thought to be ending. Plus, he addresses the future of the MAX line while showing off art from "Avengers," "Captain Marvel" and more. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Axel, the second big wave of Marvel NOW! titles has started to shape up thanks to a series of teasers out this week, and though we don't know the ins and outs of all these books yet, we do know one thread that ties a lot of this stuff together. Namely, after a wave of big, marquee titles like Avengers, Cap, Iron Man and Hulk, these seem like characters who come deeper off the bench. Overall, did you have a plan for what kinds of characters you wanted to raise up or give a new spotlight to?

Axel Alonso: The plan just evolved. The excitement for Marvel NOW! isn't limited to the core monthlies, like "Avengers," "X-Men," "Captain America," "Thor," "Hulk" and "Iron Man." We challenged creators to use the post-"Avengers Vs. X-Men" landscape to shake up and reinvigorate titles like "X-Men: Legacy," "Deadpool," "Avengers Academy" and "Thunderbolts." The second round of teasers are for books that met the challenge head on, taking familiar series down bold new paths and providing characters who've been sitting on the bench a new place on playing field.

This wave has a run of creators who fans have known for a little bit -- Dennis Hopeless, Sam Humphries -- but who haven't reinvented their own Marvel U series just yet. How do you feel that recruitment system for new Marvel talent works in this case and aids these book now that they're coming?

Alonso: We do our best to let people find their feet on non-core titles -- one-shots, limited series and the like. We get to know them, they get to know us. And we figure out their strengths, their passions, their favorite characters. So, while the first wave of Marvel NOW! announcements involved solidly established Marvel creators -- with the exception of Posehn and Duggan on "Deadpool" who just kinda blew us way with their ideas so much that we had to give them the series -- the next few waves will be a healthy mix of veterans and new talent, like Hopeless and Humphries, whose early performance put them in position to earn these titles. And they did earn them.

We've had a lot of comparison by you between Marvel NOW! and the NuMarvel relaunch of the early '00s. And to me, one of the most memorable things about that era was how many of the smaller titles came out with a vastly different take on the core concept. I'm thinking of "Soldier X" or "X-Factor" -- books with an almost brand new high concept despite a familiar name. Have you been working to inject a similar group of books into Marvel NOW!?

Alonso: Some of our latest teasers fit that bill to a "T." Daniel [Way] and Steve [Dillon]'s series features an eye-popping array of characters -- all linked by one special trait -- that you'd never think could make a team. Dennis [Hopeless] and Kev Walker's series will have anyone who's been to the Cineplex -- from here to Japan -- buzzing the moment they see the cover to issue #1. And Sam [Humphries] and Salva[dor Larocca]'s series is going to prove that some books are best fueled by drastic change. And we've got plenty more planned.

Shifting a bit, I wanted to talk about the other big tease of the week: the three-cover reveal for Jonathan Hickman's "Avengers" by his "SHIELD" collaborator Dustin Weaver. We're seeing some guys we knew would be along for the ride -- the movie cast and Spider-Man -- but also some new faces to the team like Cannonball, Sunspot and Spider-Woman. How has it been keeping things tight in the Marvel U while also letting Hickman go where he wants with his story?

Alonso: Jonathan laid out the broad strokes of his long-term plan for "Avengers" two summits ago, and the specifics of that plan at the last summit. And he's got a vision for that series that will blow readers minds. He picked everyone on that cast for a reason. Ditto for Rick [Remender] on "Uncanny Avengers" -- the characters he's picked for his team were chosen for a reason, and were carefully vetted through the Avengers and the X-Men offices. This level of coordination isn't unusual, but it is a bit more complex perhaps because of the sweeping changes across the line. That said, we've been working out the particulars for five, six, seven months so it should be smooth.

This may be too early to ask this, but I'm going for it anyway. When you've got these big, massive Marvel U books with a cast of thousands, how much are you thinking about spinoffs for characters that take on starring, potentially breakout roles?

Alonso: Marvel NOW! certainly offers a great platform to do what you're talking about. Yes, there isn't a better launching pad for a new or breakout character than a core series that's got some juice. [CoughCOUGH]

Lastly, I wanted to swing back to something we discussed last week because a last minute edit came in. But the recently announced "Wolverine MAX" series in an ongoing, yes?

Alonso: Yes, "Wolverine MAX" is an ongoing series, and it's terrific. I just had lunch with the writer, Jason Starr, and editor, Jeanine Schafer, to discuss the first arc, and they have some great stuff planned. Initial numbers are terrific. It's going to be our biggest MAX launch in years. A point of clarification for the fans, though: "Wolverine MAX" is not a Marvel NOW! series. It does not take place in the Marvel Universe. It's a MAX book that exists in its own controlled universe.

Moving on to fan questions, I've got one more from the MAX world as The Beast Of Yucca Flats asks, "Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov's Fury MAX is my favorite Marvel book at the moment bar none, and it -- and some of Ennis's other war-related outings -- seems to rather be giving me an itch for historical material again; something I haven't really felt since I was a very young kid. Out of curiosity, do you know any of the books & authors they consulted for inspiration/reference during the course of making the series?"

Alonso: Glad you're enjoying "Fury MAX," Yucca. Goran's on vacation so I couldn't ask him, but I did ask Garth, who said the following books provided some inspiration: Andrew Weist's "Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land: The Vietnam War Revisited," Neil Sheehan's "A Bright Shining Lie," Mark Baker's "Nam," Alejandro de Quesada's "The Bay of Pigs," Tim Weiner's "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, and "The Encyclopedia of Air Warfare," edited by Chris Bishop. There were more, but these would have been the main ones.

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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