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, the slate of Marvel news for 2014 has already ramped up to a crazy degree in the early weeks of 2014, and Axel has thoughts on all of it. From Marvel's expected takeover of the Star Wars license next year to a wave of new mini series and All-New Marvel NOW! launches, there's a ton of new stories featuring Deadpool, Carnage, Doop, Thanos and more on the way. Plus, he shares the story behind the story of Jason Aaron's incoming "Orginal Sin" event while answering fan questions about the story's wide reach. Read on!
Kiel Phegley: Axel, it's been a big week for Marvel in terms of the current publishing slate with a lot of the All-New Marvel NOW! books hitting and another wave of announcements for April. But before we get to all that, I've got to ask you about Star Wars coming to Marvel. This was news a lot of folks maybe expected, but what was the process like on your end?
Axel Alonso: Those discussions are kind of above my pay grade [Laughs]. All I know is that we are very excited that "Star Wars" is coming back to its comics home. Believe it or not, a lot of us feel a deep connection with that world and those characters! [Laughs] All our preliminary creative discussions have gone extremely well, and we are psyched.
I know last year everyone flipped their lids for Patton Oswalt's "Parks & Recreation" monologue that mashed the Marvel Universe and the Star Wars world together. Is it too early to have had any similar, if joking fanboy discussions in the halls of Marvel?
Alonso: I'm sure the announcement inspired some Internet rants that would give Patton's monologue a run for its money! [Laughs] Gotta wonder, though: Who'd win in a fight -- Wolverine or Darth Maul?
With this piece of the Disney company now coming to Marvel in full force, it reminds me of something that comes up every now and again: the classic Disney cartoon characters. Have there been any recent discussions on whether some of those comics might come to Marvel in some way?
Alonso: Hey, "Deadpool Vs. Goofy: This Time It's Personal" is on my bucket list! [Laughs] Look, we'd relish the opportunity to play with those characters, but that's not on the horizon.
Shifting to more immediate releases, this was a big week for All-New Marvel NOW! launches from "Black Widow" to "Avengers World" to the new arc of "Avengers A.I." on down the line. But you've also announced a string of additional new projects this week. How has it been finding the level of new series you want to launch in this overall initiative?
Alonso: Well, our publishing plan is laid out against a business backdrop; we've got marks to hit. We build things around our tent-poles -- our core title and event books -- and we can usually anticipate a shortfall several months in advance. That's where editors' "tickle files" -- characters in some form of development or another -- come into play. Most of the new series that launch during All-New Marvel NOW! -- "Black Widow," "All-New Invaders," "Iron Fist: The Living Weapon," etc. -- were in someone's tickle file, waiting for the right moment.
I wonder what the mindset is after so many months of promotion when these long simmering projects finally see the light of day.
Alonso: Hey, if you're not chomping at the bit for people to read the book you've been toiling over, you're in the wrong profession! Take "Black Widow," for instance: Issue #1 just came out, and Phil [Noto] is almost finished drawing issue #4. We've been waiting for months to see how that series would connect with fans, and the response has been tremendous. This is an instance of a truly inspired creative team realty owning a character.
Looking at the new books that have just been announced, it seems that there are a lot of smaller projects like mini series and Jim Starlin's incoming "Thanos" OGN on tap alongside the new ongoing series launches. Was that a planned balance or more of that growth based on what the editors built?
Alonso: Pretty much. Not every story warrants an ongoing series. In this case, [SVP -- Publishing] Tom Brevoort approached Jim Starlin with the notion of him writing and drawing a Thanos story in the OGN format, and Jim delivered. Simple as that. It's a self-contained story with scope and a good pedigree, given Jim's history with the character, and we figured fans and retailers would respond to it in that format.
Meanwhile, parallel to the "Deadpool" ongoing series, Cullen Bunn has built a franchise out of his Deadpool limited series -- "Deadpool Killustrated," "Deadpool Kills Deadpool" and the upcoming "Night of the Living Deadpool." They perform extremely well as comics and even better as trades. The high concept driving each of these isn't built for a long-term narratives, so we don't force it.
And with this latest series from Cullen, "Deadpool Vs. Carnage," you've got another character getting brought in who's been strictly mini series for a while now. Was that combo a way to maybe get some more mileage out of the format in general?
Alonso: Exactly. The Deadpool and Carnage limited series sell well independently, so we figured, let's see how they perform together! Nutjob versus psycho! [Laughs]
Speaking of Deadpool, we haven't talked much about the incoming "Wedding of Deadpool," but did you need much beyond that phrase to green light this story pitch?
Alonso: The story that Gerry [Duggan] and Brian [Posehn] pitched for the Deadpool Infinite comic -- which is as relevant to continuity as their ongoing series -- just led us here. And if anything, those guys downplayed the importance of the marriage, and we were like, "Wait a minute! This is a big thing!" [Laughs] I can't say more for fear of giving away the identity of the bride. And, boy, is she going to cause some big complications for Wade.
The other big mini series announcement of the week was "All-New Doop" from Peter Milligan and David Lafuente. I got the impression talking to Peter about this that you and he have been looking for an opportunity to get back into the X-Statix world for a while. Why did "Battle of the Atom" provide that launching pad?
Alonso: It was [X-Men Group Editor] Nick Lowe who pursued this. Jason Aaron had been using Doop in "Wolverine & The X-Men," so he was in play, so to speak, and Nick saw a window of opportunity to do this. So get out your Doop Translators.
Or not. Your call.
On a different kind of limited engagement, Marvel has announced "Original Sin" as an upcoming event series, and this project seems to be paying off on the promise of some earlier ideas seeded through the Marvel U. What brought this story together and into Jason Aaron's hands?
Alonso: The setup for this story goes back to an editorial retreat from six or seven years ago. As I recall, Allan Heinberg and Ed Brubaker were big contributors to shaping the inciting incident and the high concept of the overall series, and Joe Q, who was Editor In Chief at the time, loved it. We batted the story around over several summits, but the stars never aligned for it to take shape in the mind of our writer, largely due to shifting events in the Marvel Universe.
Recently, however, the stars did align, and Jason Aaron saw the shape of the story. "Original Sin" is -- and it's not just hype when I say this -- totally different from any event we've ever done. It's a classic murder mystery played out against the backdrop of the Marvel Universe -- and everyone is a suspect. Everyone. The Watcher -- who, of course, holds all the secrets of the Marvel Universe -- has been murdered, and Nick Fury and a handpicked team of investigators that span the Marvel Universe will leave no nook or cranny unexplored to find out who did it. The scope of the mission, the obstacles they face -- yes, there will be plenty of action! -- the list of suspects, and identity -- and motive -- of the killer are going to shock and disturb readers, and I can think of no one more qualified to tell the story than Jason and Mike [Deodato].
Like any event, there will be tie-ins, but these, too, will be structured very differently from our normal tie-ins. The stories they tell are deeply personal. The Marvel Universe's deepest, darkest secrets are out.
Let's wrap with a few early "Original Sin" questions from fans, starting with Spidey616 who asks, "Jason Aaron has said that Original Sin, like most big comic events, will have some tie-in books. Will any current ongoing Marvel titles have tie-ins or will they be separate one-shots and/or minis? Given the scope of the story and the characters involved, will the Nova or Guardians of the Galaxy titles have tie-ins."
Alonso: At this point, Spidey616, almost all of the "Original Sin" tie-ins are in regular issues of ongoing Marvel titles. There's one tie-in that's in an Annual, but that's the one exception. At least for now. But, like I said, the manner in which these tie-ins intersect with the main series is going to be quite different from the way we've handled such things in the past.
He follows up with: "Similarly, since Moon Knight is involved, will the upcoming Warren Ellis Moon Knight book have issues devoted to the Original Sin event?"
Alonso: Wait and see, Spidey616. But if there is a Moon Knight-centric tie-in story, it will appear in the ongoing "Moon Knight" title.
The Ravin' Ray had two, staring with: "With Jason Aaron confirming that Scott Lang is the Ant-Man appearing in 'Original Sin,' will his knowledge of events in Uatu's history be referenced, such as 1) his recent visit with the rest of the FF to his lunar home and meeting his pregnant mate Ulana (and will we see her?); and 2) his witnessing of Uatu 'kill' (or actually transform into living energy) his nephew Aron the Rogue Watcher way back in Fantastic Four #400."
Alonso: For at least some of these answers, Ravin' Ray, I'd direct your attention to the final issue of "FF" -- #16 -- shipping in just a few weeks. The events of that story will have an impact on whether any of the issues you outlined above are of relevance moving forwards.
And for an even deeper cut, he follows up with, "Also, years ago Dan Slott wrote an incident where She-Hulk, as a member of the Living Tribunal's magistrati (another cosmic being who is currently seemingly incapacitated) ruled that another Watcher, Qyre, should maintain his silence over his knowledge of an invasive race, said decision leading to the Reckoning War glimpsed at in a possible future. Will there be allusions to that as well?"
Alonso: Only time will tell. I'd imagine that if there are tie-ins that Dan writes, that's where such allusions might be made. But as we're not yet ready to give you the list of tie-in books, you're going to have to wait a little longer for the answers.
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!