Fridays on CBR mean Axel’s In Charge.
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 Community, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!
The past week was a big one for Marvel’s X-Men titles, with one era ending in “Uncanny X-Men” #600 from writer Brian Michael Bendis and a variety of artists, and another beginning in “Extraordinary X-Men” #1, by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Humberto Ramos. Alonso gives his thoughts on the impact of Bendis’ three-year writing run on “All-New X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men,” and shares his perspective on “Uncanny” #600’s scene establishing that the adult Iceman, like his time-displaced teenage counterpart, is gay.
Alonso also talks the budding mutant/Inhuman conflict in “Extraordinary X-Men,” plus provides some behind-the-scenes commentary on the newly released “Vision” #1 from writer Tom King and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta and “Nova” #1 from writer Sean Ryan and artist Cory Smith. All that and more, including some early “Spider-Man” talk — the February-debuting series placing Miles Morales in the classic Marvel Universe — and answers to your questions, from the CBR Community.
Albert Ching: Axel, October was a successful month for Marvel on the Diamond charts, with Marvel sweeping the top 10 and emerging as the clear No. 1 in dollar and unit share, in the first month of the All-New, All-Different Marvel launches. Is this in line with internal expectations? Obviously, it’s an ambitious launch given the sheer number of new books. While there are plenty more #1s to come, what are the next steps in maintaining this momentum?
Axel Alonso: We were proud of our launches and optimistic about our numbers in October, but we didn’t anticipate this. [Laughs]
Obviously, we want to maintain momentum, so we’re going to put energy into promoting second issues and second arcs, and [SVP for Print, Sales & Marketing] David Gabriel has some ideas about how to support titles that really deserve a spotlight shined on them, like this week’s “The Vision,” which has created a lot of excitement.
This week saw the much-anticipated release of “Uncanny X-Men” #600, which gave a definitive answer to the question of adult Iceman’s sexuality — that he’s also gay, like his younger counterpart. Iceman’s coming out has been a major topic of conversation since April of this year — what are your thoughts on how this story has played out, and how it’s been received by the audience? There’s been a good amount of positive mainstream press surrounding it this week.
Axel Alonso: There has. That scene was inevitable, logical outcome of the story that began in “All-New X-Men” #40. In fact, that scene was part of the first conversation that Brian and I had after I’d read the script for “All-New X-Men” #40 almost a year ago. I mean, the moment you say that young Bobby Drake is gay, you have to consider the ramification for older Bobby, right? Brian and I were totally on the same page: it absolutely made no sense for older Bobby to be anything but gay. They’re the same guy — just from different time periods and at different stages of their lives.
That said, Brian knew that older Bobby coming to terms with who he really is would be a very different scene from the one he wrote for young Bobby [in “All-New X-Men” #40]. Very different. And I think what he’s done is elegant.
Another element of this is that the older Iceman is a character with 50-plus years of history in Marvel Comics. How significant do you see a character like that coming out as gay? There have been newer additions to the Marvel Universe that represent greater diversity, but what does it mean to you to have a character that’s been around since the Silver Age now have this added layer?
Alonso: Yesterday, I was talking with a reporter from The New York Times that asked me if I could think of a more high-profile gay superhero. I couldn’t. Bobby goes back to the Silver Age of comics. He is a perennial character. He is an original X-Man.
We didn’t make this decision casually. We knew some fans would love it, and some wouldn’t, but we did it because we thought the move made sense. Bobby’s sexuality had been the subject of discussion amongst editors and writers for some time; Brian had brought it up to Nick Lowe several times back when Nick was X-Men group editor. In the end, we agreed with Brian that this revelation helped explain why Bobby was always hovering on the periphery of a super-team that’s composed of outcasts. We thought it deepened the character, and made for an interesting journey. And that journey will be told in two ongoing series: Older Bobby’s in [Jeff Lemire & Humberto Ramos’] “Extraordinary X-Men” and younger Bobby in [Dennis Hopeless & Mark Bagley’s] “All-New X-Men.”
You say some people love it and some people hate it, but it does seem to be a mostly positive response — and of course things like this are always a risk in terms of reception.
Alonso: The response has been far more positive than negative, but this wasn’t a no-risk venture. We knew there’d be controversy, but we think this new development is going to give Bobby more layers, and make for better stories down the road.
“Uncanny X-Men” #600 also puts a capstone on Brian Michael Bendis’ X-Men run, which started three years ago this month in “All-New X-Men” #1. What will you remember most about what he’s brought to the X-Men over the past few years?
Alonso: Has any X-Men writer since Chris Claremont carried so much X-Men weight on their shoulders? And while writing other big series, consulting on a TV show and presiding over an army of children? [Laughs]
Brian wrote two compelling flagship X-Men titles and gave each its own mission statement and voice. And his stories dug deep into the stuff that distinguishes X-Men stories — that unique blend of soap opera shenanigans and high-stakes adventure. And oh — it’s one thing to bring the Lee & Kirby X-Men to the Marvel Universe present; it’s quite another to make a new generation of readers fall in love with them, and leave leave them in such a healthy place for the next writer, like he’s done for [new “All-New X-Men” writer] Dennis Hopeless. The fact alone that we have two Icemen, two Cyclops, two Angels, one Jean Grey [Laughs] that have connected with fans gives us amazing flexibility for storytelling.
Sticking with the topic of the X-Men, a new era started this week in “Extraordinary X-Men” #1, which expanded on the premise we already knew about — that the Terrigen Mists, which give Inhumans their powers, is now killing and sterilizing mutants. What can you say about the origin of that idea, which puts Inhumans and mutants in direct conflict? There are definitely some meta-layers there, given that there are fans who see the Inhumans as a threat to mutants within Marvel’s publishing line.
Alonso: Well, we are aware of the meta interpretation, but our goal is to tell a compelling story. The X-Men are the Marvel Universe’s outcasts. Into that world, drops another society of outcasts that actually predates mutants — a society with a long and complicated history, the surface of which we’ve only scratched. There’s tension there already. When you factor in that Terrigen Mists are the lifeblood for one society and a threat to the other, the tension goes through the roof. And the beauty is there is no good guy or bad guy. There’s just the facts and how everyone deals with them.
Also out this week was “Vision” #1 by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, which I don’t think is what anyone would have expected from a Vision solo series. It’s surprising; kind of mysterious, kind of weird — what sold you on what the creative team is doing on there?
Alonso: If David Lynch were to direct a Marvel TV show, it would probably look a lot like this. Plopping the Vision in suburban Hell, giving him a wife and twins, sending him on a desperate quest to be normal, offers a wicked take on the android Avenger. The response to this first issue has been incredible, and with good reason.
It’s also writer Tom King’s Marvel debut, after he’s made a name for himself co-writing “Grayson” at DC Comics. What kind of potential do you see in him possibly contributing even more to Marvel’s publishing line in the future?
Alonso: Tom’s performance on this series certainly got my attention. [Laughs] I’d love to see what else he’s got up his sleeve. Look, we knew this book was a great read before it came out, and the fan response just confirms that. Great work by editor Wil Moss in putting this team together.
One more book from this week I wanted to touch on — “Nova” #1. It’s the latest adventures of Sam Alexander as Nova, and is set up as a father/son book, though the last page cast some doubt as to exactly what’s going on there. It’s also another new project from writer Sean Ryan, who’s been a quietly rising star in the comics industry, getting higher profile gigs as the year has gone by. What do you find compelling about this latest take on “Nova”?
Alonso: Some of what’s happening in “Nova” #1 pays off on seeds from Gerry Duggan and David Baldeon’s underrated run, but Sean’s pitch on the book wowed [Editors] Nick [Lowe] and Devin [Lewis]. Eagle-eyed readers will remember Sean’s editing past, but unlike back in the day where most Marvel books were written by editors, it actually creates a higher bar than most to write for Marvel. Sean has really impressed us over the last few years with projects both here and with the Distinguished Competition and “Nova” won’t disappoint.
This past Saturday, on Halloween, Marvel put out a very timely teaser for a “Haunted Mansion” comic as part of the Disney Kingdoms line. Any further insight you can give at this time?
Alonso: Not really, no. It’s a teaser for a reason. [Laughs]
Fair enough! Before we wrap with fan questions, readers found out definitively this week that the new “Spider-Man” series, starring Miles Morales and from Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, will debut in February. A lot of people were wondering when that was going to hit — what can you share about that book is progressing, and seeing Miles Morales in the classic Marvel Universe — maybe the only Marvel Universe now — for the first time?
Alonso: It’s no secret that Miles is one of my favorite characters. Seeing him swing around the Marvel Universe is a huge moment, and the timing couldn’t be better. Over in Dan Slott’s neck of the woods — the “Amazing Spider-Man” — Peter Parker is a globetrotting captain of industry who has more than a bit in common with Tony Stark. That leaves a lot of crawlspace for Brian and Sara to make Miles Morales the street-level, “friendly neighborhood” Spider-Man he needs to be to get a crash course in Marvel Universe 101.
We’ll wrap with a couple of fan questions: Back on the X-Men topic, MarvelMaster616 asks, “Shortly after the events of ‘Avengers vs. X-Men,’ you talked about Cyclops’ long road to redemption. And at the end of ‘Uncanny X-Men’ #600, we saw some hints of progress. Then, in the first issue of ‘Extraordinary X-Men’ #1, everybody is talking about Cyclops like he’s committed some heinous war crime. Is Cyclops’ redemption story still ongoing?”
Alonso: Let’s just say a lot took place during the 8-month gap between the ending of “Secret Wars” and where we pick up in “Extraordinary X-Men.” Things got… complicated. To say more would spoil what Jeff and Humberto have planned.
With a couple issues of the new “Invincible Iron Man” out, Sasquatch by Night asks: “Will we see War Machine popping up in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe anytime soon?”
Alonso: Well, the second arc of “Invincible Iron Man” is titled “The War Machines,” so…
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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