MARVEL T&A: Tributes & Teasers

Fri, September 24th, 2010 at 2:28pm PDT | Updated: September 27th, 2010 at 10:42am

Comic Books
Joe Quesada, Columnist

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Skottie Young captures T&A's essence

If it's Friday, it must be time to end your week with a little T&A!

CBR News is back again to present an open and honest Q&A with Marvel Comics Vice President Executive Editors Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso for our regular MARVEL T&A. Aside from being the minds behind the biggest franchises at the House of Ideas, the pair have taken the reins of the editorial staff on day-to-day since the many changes that have upped the profile of both Marvel and the company's senior staff in the past year. So who better to look inside the halls of Marvel and make some memorable reader Q&A?

Each Friday, in addition to our regular Cup O' Joe installments, CBR presents a new interview with the T&A duo covering everything Marvel Comics. This week, it's Axel's tenth anniversary as a Marvel employee. And even though he doesn't know it yet, some of the biggest names in the comics industry have come out to celebrate the editor's decade of work in the Marvel Universe. On top of that, we've got plenty of unpacking on that massive "Avengers" teaser which debuted in T&A last week before hitting stands in the series fifth issue this Wednesday, some follow up on the fate of the cosmic books as Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning move on to "Heroes For Hire" and updates on characters from Gambit to Hawkeye and Mockingbird. Read on!

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Kiel Phegley: Before we kick off the Q&A portion of this week's T&A, we've got a special bit of business to attend to…Tom?

Tom Brevoort: Before we get into our usual nonsense, there's a particular event that we'd like to commemorate. Axel Alonso, the A to my T, my co-conspirator, and the man who coined the immortal phrase, "He doesn't go around punching pregnant nuns" celebrates his tenth anniversary as an editor at Marvel this week. And, not being able to leave well enough alone, we thought it would be nice to ask some of the many people who've worked with him over the years to say a few words and tell a few lies about how much they love and respect him, to celebrate this anniversary.

Axel Alonso likes his hot dogs
Photo by Jason Aaron

I met Axel for the first time at one of our first Editorial Retreats under the new Joe Quesada regime, held out at Joe's home in New Jersey. He'd been hired on at the Senior Editor level, well above the positions of most of those in attendance. And it was clear that he was considered the new Golden Boy by Joe and Bill Jemas, the Great White Hope who knew all the answers and was going to solve all of Marvel's problems.

What was truly impressive about Axel's entrance, though, given all of that fanfare and the unspoken subtext that surrounded his arrival, was how he comported himself. I have to admit that in similar circumstances, I don't know that I would have been so gracious. But right from the start Axel was respectful, seeking out the council of people on the editorial staff such as Ralph Macchio concerning the characters and their histories and characteristics. He never let anything get in the way of his creative vision for the assorted titles he was shepherding, but he didn't hone in on that vision by steamrollering over others, or without having an understanding of the larger context in which he was working and consideration for the other people he was working on staff with.

As Axel himself might put it, he was the new "big swinging dick", yet he never acted like it. And so, with remarkable speed, he went from being the outsider brought into the mix to being a fundamental part of the Marvel editorial staff.

Putting aside his sharp editorial skills and acumen, Axel is a class act all around. And that, I think, is the secret to why he's been so successful.

Garth Ennis: A writer's mind, an artist's eye, a tyrant's big fuck-off stick with a rusty nail sticking out of it, and a pornographer's soul: all contained in the dapper form of the best editor I ever worked with. Happy ten years at the House Of Ideas, mate, they'd have had a lot, lot less without you.

Howard Chaykin: What makes Axel one of my favorite editors is that one of the best things he does is bring out the very worst in me--and I mean that in the best way possible.

Brian Azzarello: Axel Alonso is to blame for my career in comics.

Peter Milligan: I'd love to have some ribald or crazy anecdote revealing what a whacked-out and morally-dubious guy Axel is. I know that Axel can be as whacked out and morally-dubious as the next editor (in fact I have a few photographs to prove it), but my experience of working with Axel on titles like "X-Statix" has always been nothing but incredibly rewarding. If this sounds suspiciously like a gushing tribute to one of the very smartest guys working in comics today – that's because that's exactly what it is.

Frank Tieri: Best editor in comics. Biggest asshole in comics. And if you know Axel, there are no two finer compliments that I could give him. Here's to you, my friend.

Victor Gischler: I wouldn't be writing comics if not for Axel.  The guy has a gift for taking writers and squeezing the most of them.  A top professional.,  He also drinks really expensive booze.

Matt Fraction: Axel Alonso's name is on most of my favorite comics of the last... what, fifteen years? And I have this recurring idle daydream about Axel, where we drive up the 101 from L.A. to the Bay, listening to Flipper and Pete Rock pretty much the whole way. And eating like pigs everywhere and not talking about comics in particular. Is that weird? It's kind of not if you know Axel. If I could do anything to thank him for everything he's done for me, it'd be that. I suspect it'd be the greatest day of driving in the history of mankind. I would not have a career in mainstream comics without Axel Alonso. So that seems the least I can do.

Reginald Hudlin: Axel is my man. Without him, I wouldn't be in comics. He's a great editor, he's got great taste in music, appreciates a fine woman, and is a dedicated dad. I'm ride or die with dude.

Mike Benson: When I was first asked to write a little something-something about my friend and editor Axel Alonso my mind started racing and I began to approach this little endeavor like writing a Friars Club roast; sharing crazy little antecedents of late night debauchery and while there were a few memorable nights (most pretty tame) and a lot of laughs that's not what I ultimately wanted to say about Axel. Axel Alonso is one of the people in my professional life I hold in the highest regard. I have nothing but utmost respect and admiration for the guy. Let's just say a lot of people talk a big game but Alonso is one of the few guys I've been fortunate enough to meet who actually can talk the talk and walk the walk. He has impeccable taste in material, he's opinioned but not overbearing. He's one of those guys who truly wants you to succeed and that's why people love him. Over the years our relationship has changed from editor, to mentor, to shrink to friend. Axel is the real deal and for the sake of discussion if you ever find yourself in a bar fight, aside from B.J. Penn, Axel would be a good man to have in your corner. That's probably why you hear over and over again not only how good he is at his job, but how great a guy he truly is. Hell, if he grew a nice set of breasts he'd make some prison pen pal a very lucky man.

Gregg Hurwitz: I'll never forget when Axel first approached me to write a pet project of his, one he was desperate to get off the ground. I guess My Little Pony meant a lot to him as a young boy growing up. He had a pitch worked out where Sweetie Belle went bad and took out a hit on Toola-Roola. I can't remember the specifics, but it involved jealousy over lushness of mane. Scootaloo, Rainbow Dash, and Cheerilee swung to the rescue, so it worked out in the end for most of the ponies, but Starsong and Pinkie Pie got turned out as hookers, so it was a bittersweet resolution. That's Axel for you -- not afraid to shy away from complexities of plot. I couldn't take the gig since it wasn't really up my alley, but man did Axel make an impression, sending over concept drawings, calling up to sing the My Little Pony theme song (not a bad voice either -- I guess he was in glee club?). I'll never forget how he wept when I turned the project down, the high-pitched wheezing of a man whose dreams have been stolen. So is he a man who's passionate about his work? Can't really question that. I have the drawings and voicemails to prove it. We finally wound up working on a smaller gig – Frank Castle or something? – and we've been thick as thieves ever since. I do want to send him big congratulations on his diamond anniversary. Axe-Man, you're one in a million.

Duane Swierczynski: Axel Alonso changed my life – literally. He plucked me from obscurity, giving this Philly boy a crack at his lifelong dream of writing for Marvel Comics (and the dream of becoming a full-time writer). Every time my cell phone would light up and I'd hear "Hey, man howyadoin'... good good good..." my heart would light up, too.

Things is, though... and I hope this is taken the way it's intended, as constructive criticism... I kinda wish Axel would get to the point in his phone calls. He usually meanders around, talking about what happened on TNT's "The Closer" the night before and how much Kyra Sedgwick's fake Southern accent just cracks him up, or he'll ask what I'm wearing or what my kids are doing in school -- no, like, *specifically*, what kind of homework did they do the night before, math, reading, science or what, and are they grasping the concepts, and if not, can he recommend maybe a tutor or something... and all the while I'm thinking, "God, I know he must have some notes on 'Cable,' I just wish he'd come out with them already." Frankly, I'm surprised that he manages to get anything done all day, the way he natters on like a semi-lucid octogenarian who doesn't realize that everyone has long left the dayroom. You really have to fight to drag an editorial note out of him, and even then, it's framed in such vague terms as to barely qualify as an editorial note.

But that's just Axel, and we love him anyway.

Joe Quesada: When I first came to Marvel – when Jimmy Palmiotti and I put out those first Marvel Knights books – we were on top of the world and feeling like there was no one better at making comics than us. Well, except that there was this one guy, some dude at DC named Axel Alonso...

...I hated him with a passion.

Not just any hatred, but a hatred of burning, inexhaustible passion that knew no limits and had no bounds. Now mind you, I never even met the guy.

So, why you ask? Why was I so obsessed, so infuriated with this Axel Alonso? Simple, he was putting out some of the best darn comics in the business. The kind of comics that I would have attempted to do if I had been at Vertigo. In short, the kind of comics that I loved reading. Oh, and I read them, I read them all, every damn Axel Alonso-edited comic, and with each turn of the page, with each captivating and compelling moment, my hatred grew. Oh, but it got worse. You see, Jimmy and I were aggressive recruiters, we went after the brightest and best creators and we got a lot of them. But, every once in a while we'd come across someone who had worked with this Alonso and I would always ask, what was he like? To the person the answer always came back the same, “He's the best @#$#ing editor I have ever worked with.”

There was no escaping it.

On the day that Bill Jemas tapped me on the shoulder to become E-I-C of Marvel, we knew we had a lot of rebuilding to do. Yes, we had a few amazingly strong editors who would help us come back from the abyss, but not enough to get us over the hump, there was still a piece missing. Like a professional sports franchise in need of a lift, we talked about recruiting a star, my list started and ended with the man I hated most.

When Axel and I finally did meet, we hit it off famously. We were kindred spirits. Our idea of what comics should be and where they needed to go were the same, he just used bigger words than me. He was smart…damn, I hated that too! It wasn't long before he took the leap and joined us on our wild strange trip and thank goodness he did, we couldn't have done it without him. He was that missing piece that we needed. From a strictly selfish point of view, there was something about the mix, something about Tom Brevoort and now Axel, the yin and yang, the devil and angel on my shoulders, that made for a magic combination and made me a better EIC in the process or at least made me look that way.

Today, what can I say, I love the guy, and the truth of the matter is that he is one of the very best story editors who has every graced this industry just don't ask me to ever admit it.

Happy anniversary, Axel!

Kiel Phegley: Thanks so much, everyone! Hope to see you guys around these parts again real soon! And Axel, well, despite the Q&A format this column's in at the moment, you haven't actually seen any of this yet so it may look a little strange for you to jab with us below without mentioning it at all. Still, thanks very much from all of us at CBR – from Jonah and myself to the gang on the message boards – for playing along with our dopey questions each and every week.

Well, gentlemen, we got a lot of comments on last weeks column – partially on event comics in general and partially on that big teaser which we've now seen in context in "Avengers" #5. I thought I'd ask a few questions about the latter to start this week. As you were laying what looks like the Marvel publishing plan into the issue, who was tasked with drawing that all up? I'm assuming you didn't just give John Romita, Jr. a Word Doc and say "Fit this in there."


The TomLine

Tom Brevoort: First off, I wanted to clarify something because I've seen people taking the usual internet cheap shots at Brian [Michael Bendis] for the chart. The chart was in the book as a plot point for this particular Avengers story, and when Brian came up with it, it was not designed to be "Here's a map of all the crazy stuff coming up." When you read that page in "Avengers" #5, you see a whole discussion between old Tony and young Tony about the story they're in the middle of and how this chart relates to that story. It was originally devised as just that, and it was only when we were sitting down to build the chart that I realized, "Hey this is an opportunity to tease, tantalize and get people talking about all the stuff that we have coming up." So if anybody wants to point fingers about us being rip-off artists or unimaginative or any other thing, they should point them at me and not Brian. I did it, I am responsible.

Getting back to your actual question, the first thing I did was reach out to all the editors here and solicit input. "Hey, we're doing this chart that maps the future, and we want to pepper it with as many clues and hints and talking points as possible to make it the Rosetta Stone of what's coming up." A bunch of people came back to me with thoughts and suggestions for what could be dropped in. At that point, I sat down with a Xerox of the page and drew a really crummy version of the timeline that didn't look particularly wonderful, but it got the idea across and placed most of the elements where they needed to go within the whole timeframe.

At that point, we turned it over to Randy Miller who, on top of being one of our key production and compositing guys, is also a real time travel buff. In fact, most of the mathematical equations and graphs on the chart that don't directly relate to the Marvel Universe on this came from him and are in fact all genuine and relate to the quantum mechanics of time travel theory and the best hypotheses of leading scientists about how such a thing might be feasible. So Randy went in and turned it into something that looked decent – something where you read all the information and yet still looked like something old Tony could have drawn up with charcoal on a stick.

It seems almost a little metafictional in that you've got the architects of the Marvel U staring at the plan for all the books like you guys do in the office. Do you draw this all out on a big board to get the size of it from time to time?

Brevoort: We do that constantly. Not a month goes by where we don't sit down in a conference room with our publishing plan to figure out "Here's what's going on in June. Here's what's in July. Here's what's in September...how do they fit together?" And then this plan shifts and changes as new stories come up and have a domino effect on other stories. We're constantly evaluating, reevaluating and studying exactly where we are looking ahead both short term and long term. Sometimes new things just come up. Earlier this week, there was a frenetic burst of activity that will likely turn into a new major project for us that hasn't yet been laid into the plan because it's not quite formed yet. Once it is, we'll lay it down and see what it does to everything else. It may mean we have to shift some other books forwards or backwards and speak to our various creators about their plans and how to make everything dovetail. It's a constantly evolving document that we refer to all the time.

Axel Alonso: On a daily basis. Another dimension of the project that Tom's talking about is ownership – one of the creators who was in the room when we first discussed it seemed to really respond to it.

Let's dig into this big image a bit. There's some stuff on the timeline we've seen, some we know the reference for and then plenty that are all new. The first entry in that last category as far as I can see is this notice of "Throwbacks!" which I'm hoping somehow involves the heroes of the Marvel U throwing on some old school basketball jerseys and playing against the Harlem Globetrotters.

Brevoort: That's actually not very far off, with the definite exception of the Globetrotters. There's not too much I want to say concretely – you're going to get a lot of wishy-washy answers on this stuff, I'm afraid – but that relates to a project that's not that far away in a sense from what you were talking about. You'll hear more about it shortly.

EXCLUSIVE: Pages from Brevoort's top secret project

Some of these blind items seems connected to pieces of the Marvel U we already know about. We've got "Man Without Fear," which is a pretty obvious nod to the rebranding the Daredevil numbering under Black Panther's reign, but later we've also got "Fear Without Man." Are these two sides of the same coin?

Brevoort: Certainly you'd be correct in assuming the first one has to do with the aftermath of "Shadowland." The second one, I kind of don't want to say. I don't want to put a button on it to say, "Yes, it's connected to all of the Daredevil/Shadowland stuff" or "No, it's not" because that will get people looking in all sorts of other places. And some of this stuff is quite remote – as far as 18 months or two years away. And that too is worth noting, and I have the "get out of jail free" card in the fact that old Tony is trying to map events out based on memories of things that happened to him hundreds of years ago. Some of these may actually end up coming to pass in a different sequence than what Tony has on his chart.

Alonso: And just for the record, I will absolutely, positively not answer any questions about "Hit-Monkey: The Dark Chimp Returns." [Laughter]

Well, in that case let me propose one to you which you might be able to say something on: We've got a note for "Yesterday's X-Men." When exactly is "yesterday," or when will we be getting a bit more on that idea?

Alonso: Look for it this May and for a big announcement soon. Excitement abounds!

One specific one that jumps out as coming in the near future is the question: "What is where Asgard should be?" I know this has something to do with "Thor" but does it roll out into the rest of the Marvel U as well?

Brevoort: Honestly, it's both. I can talk about this a little more freely in that Matt Fraction's first issue of "Thor" came out on Wednesday, and some conjecture within the context of that story – not to blow it for anybody who hasn't read it because it's quite good – is that a character posits that there are Nine Worlds within the Asgardian pantheon. They each have their own place on the World Tree. They all occupy a certain position in this metaphysical space. But over the past few years since Thor came back and resurrected Asgard, it's been sitting in Broxton on Earth. You've taken one of the Nine Worlds and put it inside another. So you've now got Eight Worlds with one that's doubled up and then an empty space within the cosmology of the World Tree where Asgard used to be. The question is: can that be? When you've got a gap like that, something has to rise to fill that space. Nature abhors a vacuum, and that notion springs out the first storyline going into Matt's run on "Thor" which will in fact blossom into a bunch of other things moving into next year.

EXCLUSIVE: Pages from "Thor" #616

We've got a note for "Galactus Seed." Is this something connected to the Fantastic Four?

Brevoort: Maybe. Maybe not!

The one that seems really important to the proceedings is "Ultron War" which sounds like its a miniseries already named and ready to roll.

Brevoort: That does relate to things that are down the line, but it more concretely relates to things going on in "Avengers" right now. The specific series of events that has broken the timeline is this battle between Ultron, who has pretty much taken over the world of the future and mechanized everything, and Kang, who came back from the future to oppose him. And in Kang doing so repeatedly, the timeline was fractured, which is the specific problem the Avengers are dealing with in this first arc. That being said, once everything is repaired there will still be this looming question of Ultron on the horizon, and people will see much more of that and get some more solid information about what that all means in "Avengers" #6 in a month.

Well, that's the last piece I was going to ask about this week was the big looming idea of "Infinite Futures!!!" Three exclamation points! I know that time travel can be fun on a conceptual level, but multiple characters coming back from the future and alternate reality theories and all that can be a thing that make superhero comics a little more impenetrable to casual readers as well. Do you have any hard and fast rules for working on this kind of a story that keeps it from becoming too much?

Alonso: There's a lot of time travel in X-Men. The way we look at it is this – Cliff's Notes Version: Time starts off at point “A,” then it veers off in several rivers, each representing a time stream, that run parallel to one another and, on rare occasions, cross or merge. But for the most part they run parallel. It's the logic that guides how, for example, two characters from the future, like Cable and Bishop, would have drastically different visions of Hope's role in that future, both of which could be right. My head hurts...

Brevoort: I don't think I have any hard and fast rules. I have my understanding of how I think time travel works. In terms of this first "Avengers" arc I'd say – without any rancor or condemnation because I think it's a benefit here – I don't think Brian has any easier a time than anyone else wrapping his head around the craziness of time travel. Consequently, he tends to use it in as straightforward a manner as possible so that most people can hopefully follow the gyrations and the backflips of it. Other creators who are more well-versed or well-read in time-travel theory may attempt stories that are more complex, and it can get very difficult to understand.

Just the other day, I was talking to somebody on staff – a perfectly intelligent person with a background in comics – about the storyline in "The Marvels Project." They were absolutely confused by the notion that, at the beginning of the book, the old Two-Gun Kid dies, and by the end of the book the young Two-Gun Kid, who is in the present, gives the Angel's gear to his descendent. As I recounted the story verbally, they had the hardest time wrapping their head around "He dies in the '30s, but he's around as a younger guy in the present." Maybe it doesn't seem that confusing to those of us steeped in comics, but to anybody even a little bit removed from all that, this stuff is mind-bending.

So when we do these kinds of stories – and I don't think the use of time travel in "The Marvels Project" was terribly complicated (although I might be kidding myself as I couldn't explain it in a way that a perfectly reasonable adult could understand) – we try to keep it as simple and streamlined as possible.

One last thing about "Avengers" #5 that relates to all this is the tease we got of these kind of "robot monsters" that we last saw in "Captain America: Reborn." What can we infer about that and what such a potential future may hold in store for the Marvel U and the Marvel line of books?

Brevoort: We said when "Reborn" was coming out that that vision was like seeing the peak of the iceberg on the horizon. So in this "Avengers" story, maybe you'll get to see more of the shape of the iceberg through the fog, and in some other books that I don't want to point my finger at yet but are on their way, you'll begin to see some other indications of its shape. Like the blind men with the elephant, eventually if everybody compares notes you'll start to see a picture of what is looming on the horizon and will be crashing down on all of our heroes and characters in the months to come.

Following up on the event discussion from last week, we know there are more events of different kinds and sizes coming as they will, but right now we don't have anything on the horizon that's a big "get everyone involved" event like "Civil War" or "Secret Invasion." This idea – whatever it is – feels like it could involve a lot of the characters in the Marvel U, but is it possible to do a big event with all the characters that doesn't involve tying in all the ongoing titles or new mini series or whatever? Is that something you're interested in?

Brevoort: Yeah, I think absolutely we are. And I wouldn't necessarily rule out the idea that we'll do another big Civil War-style limited series at some point. We've maintained all along that we've ramped back for a while and changed our strategy moving into the Heroic Age, but that doesn't mean that at some point we won't turn around and feel like enough time has passed to make a larger crossover palatable again..

As it happens, a few days ago we took our weekly Reading Circle out on a field trip to one of the local comic shops nearby, and we set up a meeting to talk about things including how this retailer orders books, what attracts their attention, what problems they have with what we're doing, etc. We tried to get a better sense of the world from the retailer's point of view. The conversation at one point wheedled around to this question that a lot people have been pontificating about recently: why the August sales numbers seem soft. At least in this case of this retailer, one of the points of view that was expressed very strongly was that there was no event book from either publisher in that month. There was no one release big enough to drive people into the stores and consequently get them to not only pick up that title but anything else that caught their eye. That's feedback that we take on board. It's not to say that what's needed is necessarily a big crossover that ties all the books together, but it seems we do need big stories and big events that have this kind of import to generate excitement and to get people to go to their comic shops. From there, it falls to the retailer to capitalize on that and sell across his rack, so to speak.

So I think absolutely the time will come when we'll be doing more stories with more characters. Avengers characters will be smacking up against X-Men characters and Hulk characters or whomever. We'll get some of the "Sense and Sensibility" cast in there, and maybe some of Orson Scott Card's guys too. [Laughter] And we'll make a big, royal mess of it all.

Was there anything in the discussion with the retailer that caught you by surprise?

Brevoort:There were a bunch of things. In fact, it was all filmed, and it's being edited down into a Marvel.com featurette as some of our previous Reading Circles were. So you'll get to see the Reader's Digest version. But it was just eye-opening and interesting to see exactly how they operate. For one thing, in terms of ordering their books, what they told us was that for the most part what they go by more than anything else is their own in-house cycle sheets. "How many did I sell last month? How many did I sell last year? How many did I sell five years ago?" They use that as their main barometer, and then they plus or minus it based on whatever might be happening at that time. But they give much more weight, at least on the ongoing series, to the overall data they've accumulated rather than the specifics of what a solicitation for a particular issue says outside of when it's an enormous change – there's a big story coming, there's a big creative team change or something else going on. It wasn't so cut and dried, but we inched right up to the notion that they don't even need a full solicit to order the book. In fact, our Previews catalog where we write a paragraph for each title...well, if it just listed the issue number, the creators and one line of text, it'd probably be enough. Beyond that, it becomes white noise. They have a Previews catalog of over 700 pages to go through every month, and reading it must be like trying to read a phone book. It all becomes static, and most of what is said carries no impact whatsoever.

Alonso: That stuff is probably more useful to the fans.

Brevoort: It's absolutely more useful to the fans. And that can get them coming in to add things to their pull list in a store, so it does have a secondary benefit to increase retail numbers. But in terms of how this particular operation is run, they lean on their own historical information and the data they've accrued for months and years as their primary guidepost.

EXCLUSIVE: Pages from "Heroes for Hire" #1

To wrap, it's become official that "Heroes For Hire" is set to come from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning this December. We've talked often in this column about the idea of reviving a franchise or concept whether it's tied to an event like this is tied to "Shadowland" in some ways or not, but conceptually what worked for you guys about this go round at "Heroes For Hire" that makes you hope it'll find a foothold in the market?

Brevoort: In at least one if not two cases in the past where we've done "Heroes For Hire" books – and this is where my history comes into play – those projects weren't initially conceived as "Heroes For Hire." The one in the '90s was conceived as a completely different series by Roger Stern, a new concept, but then he ran into some problems and walked away from it, and John Ostrander came on board and it turned into "Heroes For Hire" because it had some of the same characters in it, and they felt the name had some cache. But it wasn't really built as "Heroes For Hire" and the "for hire" concept that is intrinsic to that name was kind of an afterthought.

In this case, with "Shadowland" putting many of these characters back into the public eye in a big way, we have a methodology in this book that's hopefully different from any other title we're publishing that'll play off the idea of heroes for hire in a unique and fun way. In essence, it's Dan and Andy doing for a street-level book and the street-level corner of the Marvel world what they did for the cosmic characters. It's taking a bunch of characters and ideas that all have some get to them but that individually haven't been able to support themselves in their own series, and it combines the magic and the mojo within them in such a unique way that it can survive and thrive. It's easier to just say, "Read the book and you'll see" but that's as concretely as I can give it to you. We think this book will work because we like it. [Laughs] Not that the people who were here back then didn't like the other ones, but we here now and we like this one.

With that said, I know DnA's involvement in this book have many asking after the status of the cosmic books. We know "Thanos Imperative" is going still, but after that are there plans in place for that corner of Marvel?

Brevoort: There are plans. They're not 100% in place, but I say that because I was having conversations about them this morning. So there should be more news for people on that front sooner rather than later, but we're not ready to say anything about it at this point yet. Sorry.

EXCLUSIVE: Pages from "Rocket Raccoon & Groot" #1

On to some fan questions, Whalers77 wondered "Are there any plans for Gambit in the near future? I don't understand how such a popular character has been unused for so long. He can carry his own title, and many were hoping that was the case with the "Man withour Fear" teasers. I know he may become a main character in X-Men, but with so many Deadpool and Wolverine titles (much less other less popular characters) is there any chance we may see more of him?"

Alonso: Don't worry, Gambit gets tons of love up in the X-Office. He plays a huge role in an upcoming event that you'll hear more about at New York Comic Con. He's also going to be guest-starring in issues of X-23 that are in the works!

Brevoort: Just to be clear, Gambit and the other characters who were red herrings in the Man Without Fear promotion were never truly contenders for the position. We built this story and this series around T'Challa from the outset, it's his story, and these other characters only showed up when we were compiling a list of other possibilities that people might think could be genuine, to generate some buzz and get people excited.

Lord Bravery had a question on a specific take for the fairly ubiquitous Marvel mutant, asking "I'm a big fan of Joe Kelly's old Deadpool run, it was the first Marvel book I read. Will we be seeing Wade bare his soul a little bit more in upcoming stories? I've always maintained that there is more to the merc than just a mouth. It just seems that a lot of the complexity of the character is overlooked for the action and comedy these days. A story re-examining his unique relationship to the Death abstract for example?"

Alonso: Yes, particularly in a one-off story that's coming, which is part of a big Marvel initiative that you don't yet know about. In the meantime, in case you missed it the first time around, you may want to pick up the "X Marks The Spot" trade, which includes an issue wherein Deadpool deals with all of the issues you mentioned...and even comes face-to-face with Death, herself!

Finally, after seeing the new solicitations strathcona asked "Is 'Hawkeye & Mockingbird' canceled? Not is it on hiatus, or 'we'll see after Widowmaker is finished'... at the Marvel offices, is the book considered canceled or not?

Brevoort: Is it cancelled? No. Is it going through some changes? Yes. Might it be cancelled in a little while? That's always a possibility, I'm not going to lie to you. But right this moment, there's more to come after Widowmaker from those characters and that creative team.

EXCLUSIVE: Widowmaker" #3 cover by Phil Noto and pages from "Hawkeye and Mockingbird" #5


Have some questions for Marvel T&A? 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 staff that CBR will pull questions for next week's installment of our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer column! Do it to it!

TAGS:  t&a, tom brevoort, axel alonso, heroes for hire, hawkeye and mockingbird, rocket raccoon, groot, thor, widowmaker, black panther, avengers

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