The Bloody Backstory of Marvel's "Dexter"

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 celebrates the release of Marvel's new "Dexter" mini series by explaining the path the publisher and author Jeff Lindsay took to bring his series to comics. From the bloody secrets haunting the titular serial killer to the way artist Dalibor Talijic's methods for bringing the Dark Passenger to life, the history of the project it laid bare. Plus, Alonso takes your questions on "Infinity" and its tie-ins from how the X-Men will be involved to what characters may be sticking around after the fight is over. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Axel, with Marvel's "Dexter" comic now on the stands, the final product seemed tailor-made to appeal to people from both the world of Jeff Lindsay's books and of the Showtime TV series. How did the plans for this and its execution come together?

Axel Alonso: Jeff wanted to do "Dexter" as a serialized comic book that had an aesthetic that's totally independent of the TV show -- something more in tune with his mind's eye vision of his novels. Other publishers were interested, but he's an old Marvel fan so thankfully he went with us. Translating "Dexter" to the comic book page has been a breeze. If you think about it, Dexter's got a lot in common with a Marvel super hero: His boy-next-door façade masks his secret identity as a serial killer of serial killers. His super-power is his ability to detect the predators in our midst and take them off the table permanently. His sidekick is his detective sister, who unknowingly helps his cause. And with this story, Jeff has introduced Dexter's ultimate super-villain.

This actually felt very in line with crime books you've edited across your career, and I know you had a big hand in its path to the final version fans got on the stands. What did you see in the art of Dalibor Talijic, who I was unfamiliar with going in, that made him the artist to match the tone of the books?

Alonso: Dalibor's credits are diverse -- "Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe," "Hit-Monkey" and the Lee and Kirby flashback sequences from "X-Men : First To Last." I believe it was C.B. Cebulski who recommended him for this series, and he's perfect for it. "Dexter" requires a storyteller that excels at subtle character moments and is able to build a living, breathing environment for them to live. "Dexter" is a noir world set under cloudless blue skies, and Dalibor nails it.

The standout visual in terms of what really sets this iteration of "Dexter" apart as a comic was the kind of amorphous specter that represents Dexter's dark side. It's a very literal representation of his curse for the page. What kinds of discussions did you have with Lindsay about bringing that part of the books to this medium?

Alonso: In the early stages, Dalibor drew the Dark Passenger as a basic shadow. We all agreed that wasn't enough. So we came up with the idea of a morphing shadow that illustrates Dexter's Id or impulse toward violence, a shadow that marched a few steps ahead of whatever human impulses Dexter has. What we came up with is, I think, effective and creepy.

Expanding the discussion to this project's place in Marvel's line, this is only the most recent third party project along these lines with some of the most recent licensed books including the "Castle" graphic novels and the incoming "Once Upon A Time" book. When you're looking at projects like those, what's Marvel's #1 goal in signing on for those partnerships?

Alonso: The number one goal is finding great stories that we think will translate well to our medium. Once we've done that, we strive to stay true to the the source material -- which means really collaborating with the writer, picking the right artist for the job, hunting for exactly the right story to tell, and wrapping everything in a red ribbon that makes people want to read it. In this case, the challenge was coming up with just the right story to tell in comics. And Jeff came up with just the right one: Attending his high school reunion, Dexter encounters his old nemesis, a guy that, it turns out, harbors a dark secret or two of his own. Are the pair due for a long overdue reckoning? [Laughs]

You're a big prose reader and a crime reader. How are you approaching the long-term plans for these kinds of projects? Are you actively working on more licenses or casting a net out to Editorial for more project ideas like this right now?

Alonso: We're always hunting for interesting third party projects, and our editors know this. These books are a vital part of our publishing plan. We'll have an announcement son about another project in the works that I'm over the moon about. This was my White Whale.

Let's wrap the week with some fan questions, starting with FatherLiir who was one of a few guys with event tie-ins on the brain when he asked, "I have always been curious how you and the rest of Marvel decide which comic series will have tie ins into an event and which have been decided to be left out. For example in the Upcoming Battle of the Atom Storyline, We'll see tie in's from X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, WaTXM, etc., but I believe X-Men: Legacy is going to be left out of the event. Another way to look at it was for Age of Ultron, there were tie in's to series like the Fantastic Four, Superior Spiderman, Uncanny Avengers, but nothing from series like Venom or Daredevil. Can you share anything about the thought process that drives this part of creating major storylines or is it a closely guarded trade secret?"

Alonso: The story dictates which books tie in, FatherLiir. When we broke down "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" at an X-retreat, it quickly became clear that the story centered Original five, the Jean Grey School, and the ongoing fallout from "Schism" and "AVX," so it only made sense to tie-in four series: "All-New X-Men," "Uncanny X-Men," "X-Men," and "Wolverine and the X-Men." Striving to add other titles that didn't necessarily tie-in thematically or character-wise would have only bloated the story.

As a follow up, Taral-DLOS wondered, "I'll probably not be buying the Infinity event, but I will be buying some ongoing series that have tie-in books (things I'm buying anyway, like Captain Marvel and Nova, and possibly Avengers Assemble). Will I still understand what's going on in those tie-in titles if I don't buy the main series?"

Alonso: We get a version of this question every time we do a big event storyline, Taral, so I'll point to our past events as examples of how we do it. Each individual tie-in story is crafted to offer a deep dive into an aspect of the core story that can be read independently of the core series. Of course, your appreciation of each tie-in story will be richer if you are reading the core event series.

Lastly on this topic, Icey1999 had back-to-back tie-in queries starting with: "Will the Uncanny Avengers or Wolverine and the X-Men tie-in to Infinity? you guys said that it's possible, right?"

Alonso: "Uncanny Avengers" won't be tying into "Infinity," Icey, but the cast of Uncanny Avengers will be a part of the storyline -- specifically in "Avengers Assemble" #20. As for "Wolverine & the X-Men" -- that series is currently in the middle of the "Hellfire Saga" after which it's going to be tossed headfirst into the "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" crossover. That said, Jason Aaron does have one very specific idea for an "Infinity" tie-in. Stay tuned for an announcement soon.

He followed up with "it seems that there will be several new characters introduced as a result of infinity. These characters will be making appearances in Fearless Defenders, Secret Avengers, and Superior Spider-Man Team-Up tie-ins, so does that mean that they will be part of the books as new cast members?"

Alonso: You're going to have to wait and see, Icey. In each of these cases, we'll be telling a different story - so the new character might become a cast member in one book, a villain in another, and might wind up dead in a third.

Last of all this week, Reed Beebe asked my new favorite left field question with "If you had to go on the lam, which Superior Foes of Spider-Man villain would you want to skip town with, and where would the two of you lie low?"

Alonso: Spidey's biggest villain is Dan Slott. We'd hide out at a "Dr. Who" cosplay festival, dressed up as matching phone booths.

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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