Axel-In-Charge: Inside Marvel's Major Editorial Shifts

Fri, February 7th, 2014 at 1:58pm PST

Comic Books
Axel Alonso, Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief

Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso developing storylines as envisioned by Skottie Young

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 overseen both critically acclaimed and best-selling comics, Alonso stepped into the spot of Marvel's editorial department in early 2011, and has since worked 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, two special guests join Alonso for the Q&A: New executive editor Mike Marts and Nick Lowe, the freshly installed senior editor of the Spider-Man family of books. Together, the three discuss Marts' return to Marvel after eight years at DC Comics, Lowe's switch from the X-titles to Spidey and the enthusiasm that comes with new editorial challenges. Plus, Alonso gives his insight on two of the big launches of this past week -- the full-fledged debut of Kamala Khan in "Ms. Marvel" #1 and the trickster god's latest exploits in "Loki: Agent of Asgard" #1.

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Albert Ching: Axel, there have been a couple of big editorial shifts and additions at Marvel in the last few days --- starting with last week's announcement that Mike Marts is returning to Marvel as an executive editor. What has you specifically excited about having Mike back at Marvel?

Axel Alonso: It's great to have Mike back. Losing [senior editor] Steve Wacker to Marvel Animation was tough, so it's great to replace him, in a manner of speaking, with a veteran editor who's edited some of the decade's biggest series. Also, this isn't Mike's first rodeo – he was one of the first people to befriend me when I first came to Marvel 14 years ago -- so he knows how to do this job, and he'll hit the ground running.

EXCLUSIVE: Nova and Beta Ray Bill cross paths in "Nova" #14.

Given that he's coming off several years editing some of DC's most high-profile books, and started at Marvel back in 1993, it seems he definitely has a unique perspective among Marvel's current staff. How important do you see that aspect to what he's bringing as an editor?

Alonso: There are certain… advantages that you get from having surveyed the full lay of the land. I know my experience as a Vertigo editor really benefitted me and shaped my editorial voice, so I expect Mike's experience at DC would have had a similar effect. Nothing creates knowledge and perspective like experience.

Mike, what can you say about what motivated your decision to return to Marvel?

Mike Marts: Marvel has grown so much as a company in just the eight years I've been absent. It's amazing to see all that the House of Ideas has accomplished in that relatively short amount of time. The opportunity to return to this creative juggernaut was just too good to pass up. I'm beyond elated that Marvel asked me to come back at such an exciting time.

Let's get into details --- what will his job as executive editor entail?

Alonso: This will be Mike's second tour of duty as X-Men Group Editor and I'm fascinated to see what he does in coming months. X-Men is a universe unto itself. It's both an integral part of the Marvel Universe, and a self-sustaining ecosystem within the Marvel Universe. Mike will preside over all the X-Men titles, as well as supervising a group that includes [Editor] Daniel Ketchum ("X-Force," "Magneto," "Nightcrawler") [Associate Editors] Tom Brennan ("Wolverine," adjectiveless "X-Men") and Jordan D. White ("Deadpool," "X-Factor," "Thunderbolts") and [Assistant Editors] Alexander Jarowey and Frankie Johnson.

Mike, what has you excited about returning to the X-books -- which, of course, are in a very different place than you left them back in 2006?

Mike Marts: There's such an amazing roster of creative talent working on the X-Men books these days… Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, so many others—what a fantastic time to return to the X-books!

EXCLUSIVE: Lee Garbett's pages for "Loki: Agent of Asgard" #2.

That's a natural transition to talk about the news that was announced on Tuesday, that Nick Lowe is moving from his long stint on the X-books to the Spider-Man family of titles. What makes Nick the right choice to take on the Spider-Man line?

Alonso: When Steve [Wacker] left [to go to Marvel Animation], it created a big hole and Nick made it clear that he was ready for new challenges. Hint-hint. Now, Nick started as an intern, and worked his way up the food chain over more than a decade, and he's primarily worked on the X-books, so we figured the Spider-Man line would be a good challenge. What Dan Slott has planned is nothing short of brilliant, and the scope of one of his upcoming stories will be right up the alley of a former X-Men Group Editor.

Nick, obviously it's early, but what are you looking forward to as the new senior editor in charge of the Spider-Man titles?

Nick Lowe: Spider-Man is the best super hero ever created. He's funny, he's smart, he's got great powers and the best costume, but most importantly, he's relatable. We're all Peter Parker. I mean, just like us, he faces incredibly complex situations with no easy solution and he always tries to do the right thing. Nothing's ever easy but he strives to do the right thing. I find that inspiring and beautiful. As far as the current crop of Spidey titles, I'm a big fan of what Dan, Humberto [Ramos], [Giuseppe] Camuncoli and their amazing inkers, colorists and letterers do and my first goal is to not screw it up!

Steve Wacker was also working on cosmic books like "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Nova" -- is that now Lowe's turf?

Alonso: Mike will be editing “Guardians of the Galaxy. We haven't decided where "Nova" will land yet because of future developments in his storyline. He's got one foot on planet Earth and one in outer space.

EXCLUSIVE: A first look at Javier Pulido's "She-Hulk" #1 pages.

You described Nick's mindset going into the switch -- from your stance as editor-in-chief, do you see a lot of value in shifting roles for editors every so often, no matter how successful they might be in any given spot? To keep things fresh, and make sure everyone has new challenges in front of them?

Alonso: Change is healthy. And most editors welcome new challenges. When Mike left Marvel for DC many years ago, I confronted my biggest fear when I was tapped to become X-Men Group Editor. I hadn't read X-Men comics as a kid, so I didn't respond to them the way that I did to other characters, but a deep-dive into all things X made me see why people were so passionate about them, and I grew to love them myself. Speaking from experience, I can say that you don't always know what characters -- what universes -- are going to excite you until you dive in -- or are thrown in. There are definitely benefits to working out of your comfort zone.

Following two big editorial shifts at Marvel in less than a week, are there any more editorial moves on the horizon?

Alonso: No. Between Nick taking over the Spider-Man books, Mike Marts returning and Mike's fellow DC alum [Editor] Wil Moss joining us last month, there aren't any more editorial moves on the horizon.

Wanted to end by touching on a couple of the big #1s of the week -- starting with G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona's "Ms. Marvel" #1. The initial press for the book back in November got a lot of mainstream interest, and upon reading it, the book definitely seems aimed at non-typical comic book audience, while not excluding existing fans. How deliberate was that approach through the whole process of putting the book together?

Alonso: Part of Kamala Khan's appeal, of course, is that she is a mirror to a part of the world that is under-represented in pop culture -- and that's what the mass media is picking up on. But really, Kamala Khan is part of a long tradition that harkens back to Peter Parker -- she's a teenager, struggling to find her own path, who's suddenly granted great power and learns the responsibility that comes with it. The fact that she's female, and a first-generation American, and that she continues to struggle with the values and authority of her parents give her story extra nuance, but ultimately, her story is a universal story, a story that anyone should be able to relate to.

The best Marvel stories reflect the world outside your window, as we say, the world in all its diversity, but ultimately fans will fall in love with Kamala the way they did with Peter Parker or, say, Miles Morales -- because of who she is, and because her journey speaks to them. That journey already seems to be resonating with fans. [Editor] Sana Amanat has been flooded with letters and tweets from fans saying “Ms. Marvel” #1 was their very first comic. We're very proud of how it turned out and we've just announced we'll be heading back to press for another printing.

Could it get more exciting than this?

This week also saw the release of "Loki: Agent of Asgard" #1. Though it's firmly in the Marvel Universe of the comic books, it definitely feels inspired by the overwhelming popularity of Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of Loki in the Marvel Studios movies. How important was it for Marvel publishing to capitalize on that?

Alonso: Certainly, the popularity of Loki in the "Thor" films and "Marvel's The Avengers" created a window of opportunity for us. I mean, Loki stole more than a few scenes in all the movies he was in. But ultimately, we're publishing this series because we've got a creative team -- Al Ewing and Lee Garbett -- who've got a unique story to tell with the character, a book with a real distinct vibe that will appeal to Thor readers and beyond.


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!

TAGS:  aic, axel-in-charge, axel alonso, mike marts, x-men, nick lowe, spider-man, guardians of the galaxy, nova, wil moss, ms marvel, loki agent of asgard

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