Axel-In-Charge: Inside Steve Rogers' Captain America Return, Reviving "Thunderbolts"

Fri, January 22nd, 2016 at 2:16pm PST | Updated: January 22nd, 2016 at 2:17pm

Comic Books
Axel Alonso, Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief
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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 in comics receiving 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!

RELATED: Spencer Explains Steve Rogers' "Captain America" Return, Sam Wilson's Status

It's been another newsworthy week for Marvel publishing, highlighted by the announcement -- made on national TV during ABC's "Marvel's Captain America: 75 Heroic Years" special -- that Steve Rogers will return as Captain America this summer, as part of the fallout of upcoming crossover "Avengers: Standoff." That was combined with the twist that current Cap Sam Wilson will also remain in the role, giving Marvel two Captain Americas. Alonso talks the behind-the-scenes details of the return, writer Nick Spencer's role in penning both ongoing Captain America series, plus what makes artist Jesus Saiz Marvel's choice for the "Captain America: Steve Rogers" series. Also spinning out of "Standoff" is a new "Thunderbolts" series by writer Jim Zub and artist Jon Malin, and Alonso gives his take on why now is the right time to return to T-Bolts. Plus talk of the newly launched "Captain Marvel" series, Free Comic Book Day insight and answers to your questions, direct from the CBR Community.

Albert Ching: Axel, based on the sheer response that we got from our coverage this week of Steve Rogers returning as Captain America, people are definitely interested in what's in store. Nick Spencer has made it clear that it was his idea to bring Steve back as Cap at this point, but within Marvel, was there a rough timeline as to when you wanted this to happened, or was it open-ended?

"Captain America: Steve Rogers" #1 cover by Jesus Saiz
Marvel made a major splash this week announcing the return of Steve Rogers as Captain America on primetime television

Axel Alonso: It was open-ended, no timeline. Nick had an idea for a story that allowed for this to happen. What does this means for Sam Wilson? Wait and see. The return of Steve Rogers is a big moment and it's going to be the subject of a lot of heated discussion and debate when you see what Nick's got planned.

We do know that Sam Wilson will also remain as Captain America, and Nick Spencer is going to write both books. There's been some inevitable criticism following the announcement that Steve Rogers, who is the Captain America, coming back to that role will dilute Sam Wilson's importance as Captain America -- how do you respond to that notion?

Alonso: Simple: Read the story before you make a conclusion about whether this diminishes or dilutes Sam's role as Captain America.

Two concurrent Captain Americas starring in their own series is something readers really haven't seen before, but it's not entirely without precedent. Right now we're seeing two Spider-Mans, for instance, with Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Do you view this as potentially a long term thing that Marvel can sustain?

Alonso: Perhaps. Perhaps not. One of the things that make this story interesting, is that it raises the compelling question: Can there be more than one Captain America? I mean, let's face it, there's in inherent symbolism in a superhero dressed in red, white and blue. Having two of them is fundamentally different than having two Spider-Mans or Hulks or Iron Mans. It will provoke a range of reactions from fans and also characters in the Marvel Universe.

Let's talk a bit about Nick -- not only is two Captain Americas new for readers, it's somewhat uncharted territory for a writer, as well. (Ed Brubaker wrote Bucky and Steve Rogers simultaneously, but Steve was "Super Soldier" at that point.) It's also what must be a very coveted spot -- what makes him right for this point in Captain America history?

Alonso: I think Nick has really come into his own in the last couple years. You know that athlete who finally puts it all together -- the natural skill set blends with maturity born of experience so they're functioning at their peak? That's the zone Nick's in. And the fact that he pays such close attention to what's going on in the world -- that he has strong opinions about what's going on in our world -- certainly makes him a great fit for a book featuring a character dressed in red, white and blue, especially at this moment in time.

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It's interesting to see those skills on a book like "Superior Foes" translate to higher-profile stories like "Captain America."

Alonso: It is. What a lot of people forget, including some writers, is that a lot of the most respected writers in comics mined gold on smaller, lower-level books. From Alan Moore on "Swamp Thing" to Brian Bendis on "Alias," a lot of writers get noticed because they bring a unique perspective to a series and make it something people notice, people talk about. Smaller books like "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" pave the road for "Ant-Man" and "Captain America."

Art from "Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill" by Jesus SaizArt from "Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill" by Jesus SaizArt from "Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill" by Jesus Saiz
EXCLUSIVE: Art from "Avengers: Standoff - Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha" by Jesus Saiz

Jesus Saiz is artist on the "Captain America: Steve Rogers" series, and he's a relative newcomer to Marvel, as he's primarily known as a DC artist. What made him the right talent for this book?

Alonso: Jesus is somewhat overlooked. In "Standoff Alpha," his work reaches an entirely new gear that will take people by surprise. Once you see the "Alpha," you'll see immediately why he's taking on the Steve-Cap series. Oh -- and he's a good stylistic match for Daniel Acuña, who'll be continuing on the Sam-Cap series.

Marvel Announces Winter Soldier-led "Thunderbolts" From Zub & Malin

This week we saw "Thunderbolts" teasers roll out for a new series from Jim Zub and John Malin; something of a cult-favorite book (and I definitely am a part of that cult). Why is now the right time to revisit that concept?

Alonso: The landscape is ready for them, and we have a cool hook to get things rolling. Spoiler alert: The original T-Bolts -- Atlas, Moonstone, Mach-V and Fixer, along with a new character from "Avengers: Standoff" -- will launch into action under a new team leader: Winter Soldier.

Thunderbolts 1 Bagley VariantThunderbolts 1 Cover
The Thunderbolts are back, this time led by the Winter Soldier

Between "Thunderbolts" and the return of Steve Rogers, it looks like "Avengers: Standoff" -- a story that some may overlook given its proximity to "Civil War II" -- will have some major impact. Is it fair to say this is one Marvel devotees should keep an eye on?

Alonso: Without a doubt. If you're an Avengers fan or a fan of Captain America in particular, you don't want to miss this story. If you sleep on it, you'll be looking for back issues by the time "Civil War II" hits the racks.

This was announced late last week, but we haven't gotten a chance to talk about it yet: The "Civil War II" Free Comic Book Day issue will also include a story by Mark Waid and Alan Davis introducing an All-New Wasp. Is there any insight you can share about what's planned there?

Alonso: Hey, we're answering a demand that was started by the "Ant-Man" movie, [Laughs] We're on a real roll with female characters, so we're going for it. Wait till you see Alex Ross' badass design!

The other Free Comic Book Day release has a lead-in by Nick and Jesus for "Captain America: Steve Rogers," and a prelude to "Dead No More." Again, I won't be saying anything, other than it's a big storyline coming in 2016.

RELATED: "Captain Marvel" #1 Introduces the New Alpha Flight

Released this week was "Captain Marvel" #1, which introduced a new status quo for not only Carol Danvers but Alpha Flight, as that's now the name of Earth's galactic defense team that Carol is heading up. The issue was also the comic book writing debut from the "Marvel's Agent Carter" showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas. What's compelling to you about this latest take on Carol Danvers, as the character moves to an even more prominent position in Marvel?

Alonso: It's just an effortless read. You slip right into Carol's new world -- her new job and the enormous responsibility that come with it -- meet some of the key players in her life moving forward, and get just enough looming questions to keep you hooked: Who invested in her with this power? Who can she trust? What the hell was that she saw in the final panel of the issue, and what does it mean?

Tara and Michele have repositioned Carol for bigger things in the Marvel Universe -- within her own series and, of course, in the upcoming "Civil War II." It's fortuitous that we find ourselves here; the fact that Captain Marvel now presides over Alpha Flight paved the road for her to play such a big role in our next event, and it will really move her into the foreground of the Marvel Universe. Carol is going to go head to head against Tony Stark.

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"Captain Marvel" #2 variant cover by Phil JimenezArt from "Captain Marvel" #2 by Kris AnkaArt from "Captain Marvel" #2 by Kris AnkaArt from "Captain Marvel" #2 by Kris Anka
EXCLUSIVE: Phil Jimenez variant cover to "Captain Marvel" #2; interior art by Kris Anka

For the first comic issue from Tara and Michele, it's definitely an impressive debut.

Alonso: They're naturals. Tara and Michelle and [upcoming "Black Panther" writer] Ta-Nehisi Coates effortlessly transitioned to write for this medium. That's not always true for writers of screenplays and/or novels. The skills that made them successful in the first place are making them successful within comics.

Let's wrap with a couple fan questions from the CBR Community: Spidey616 has "Civil War II" on the mind, asking, "Hulk and Thor weren't involved in the first 'Civil War' series 10 years ago since they were off the table. Can we expect these two Marvel heavy hitters to get in on the 'Civil War II' action this summer?"

Alonso: Yes you can.

We'll end with a straightforward query from Tracks: "Any updates on the Blade series?"

Alonso: Nope. The art looks great, though.


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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TAGS:  axel-in-charge, marvel comics, axel alonso, all-new all-different marvel, steve rogers, captain america: steve rogers, captain america, nick spencer, jesus saiz, thunderbolts, winter soldier, civil war ii, fcbd2016, captain marvel

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