Secrets from Marvel Comics’ latest creative retreat

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, we caught Axel during a moment away from the big Marvel creative retreat that welcomed a wealth of creators to the publisher’s New York office, though while his time was limited, the info he offered up was not. Below, Alonso pulls back the curtain on the recent rounds of debates surrounding the “Infinity” event, gives some backstory on the incoming “Spider-Man: Family Business” OGN and reveals new art from the incoming David Lapham arc of “Daredevil: Dark Nights.” Plus, view a special message from Ed Brubaker’s dog! Read on!


Kiel Phegley: Axel, I know I’m getting you at a hectic moment this week because you’re actually on a break right now from the Marvel creative summit going on this week. Who’s in town, and what’s on the discussion block today?

Axel Alonso: It”s usual suspects — Brian Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, Dan Slott, Mark Waid, Rick Remender — and Sam Humphries is here for his second retreat. We’re discussing all things Marvel in the aftermath of “Age of Ultron,” “Infinity” and its aftermath, and another story we”ve been cooking up for some time. We”re also discussing some new launches.

There are times when the summits are focused on smaller family titles like the X-Books, but after “Age of Ultron” is that happening less because we’re starting to see some shockwaves hit all over the line?
Alonso: Not really. We”ll always do retreats that focus on the various families, but these quarterly Marvel Universe retreats allow us to see the big picture — how everything fits together as a puzzle. They”re kind of like a big family dinner, where everyone sits at the table and discusses what’s going on in their lives. The informational download leads to debate and discussion, and good stuff inevitably comes out of it. An idea might come into the room as a lump of clay and leave as a statue, with clay added and removed along the way. Other times, an idea might arrive as a statue and get broken into pieces. You never know.
Overall, what was your most important takeaway from the week? What’s the thing that this summit created that fans should be keeping an eye out for?
Alonso: “The Inhuman Centipede”! [Laughs] Oh boy, lots of things, but if I had to pick one, I”d say, brace yourself for “Infinity” — because it”s going to affect everyone in the Marvel Universe. And by that I do mean “universe.” Earthbound and cosmic heroes will all unite for this one, and the landscape of the Marvel Universe will be transformed forever. Cue the Marvel retcon speculation! [Laughs]

One piece of recent news we haven’t been able to talk about yet that sits a bit outside the broader Marvel U plans is the “Spider-Man: Family Business” OGN. That certainly answers the question of where James Robinson will be popping up at Marvel in the immediate future, but what does this establish about the new graphic novel line and how did you hook James up with Mark Waid to write it?

Alonso: Bringing in James was actually Mark”s idea. It made sense because James has done work for Steve [Wacker]”s office in the recent past on “Captain America” one-shot during Marvel”s 70th Anniversary. Time will tell if there are further plans for James writing more for us… What I hope this says about our OGN initiative is that we are taking it seriously by deploying some of our best creators to it. It”s part of our overall plan to deliver accessible A-level content to readers — old and new — cued to big events — i.e., Marvel Studios films — that will provide a platform for sales.

The one thing we know about this story so far is that it will introduce Peter Parker’s sister, which to be frank is the kind of move that can be a Pandora’s Box in comics. Was there something particular about the guys’ pitch on this idea that convinced you it was the right move to make? Alonso: There was. Any care to elaborate on that?
Alonso: I do not. [Laughter]
Well, let’s see if some message boarders can’t loosen your tongue. Mix_Masta_Micah had this to say, “I’ve been particularly pleased with the recent announcements for creative teams of the new Original Graphic Novel initiative, especially the Spider-Man novel team. I was wondering if the characters for the announced ogn’s are going to be limited to that one entry (just one spider or one avengers novel) or if theses characters will receive more than one installment later on like a series of spidey or avengers ogn’s? I feel that other characters like daredevil and the x-men will get their due, this is more of a longevity of the initiative question.”
Alonso: Time will tell, Mix_Masta_Micah. Our current plan is to produce quality standalone story that is relevant to current continuity. We are not limiting any character or team to just one OGN.

On the other side of the universe, THANOSRULES asked, “I’m a big Nova fan, I know Zeb Wells and Paco Medina are coming aboard this book for an arc, but are their any announcements on who will be handling the regular duty on this book? Also, any chance we can see the New Warriors any time soon?”
Alonso: Lot of big “Nova” news soon, THANOSRULES, including news about his extra-special 100th issue. Keeping things cosmically inclined, a boarder calling themselves UltimateGuardiansFan wondered, “With Killraven’s appearance in Age of Ultron does it mean we will see him make other appearances perhaps in Infinity?”
Alonso: Killraven will not appear in “Infinity,” UltimateGuardiansFan, but he might pop up someplace else shortly…

They followed up on Killraven, asking, “I noticed he is sporting Captain America’s shield. As far as I remember the only time he ever had the shield was in DnA’s guardians of the galaxy run and that was as a member of one version of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Are you guys ready to reveal the return of some of those guys?”
Alonso: Nope. No plans. Killraven holding Cap”s shield in that “Age of Ultron” was a homage to the cover of Avengers Forever #6..
On the theoretical end of publishing, ENNISELLIS had this to share: “The release of Daredevil: Dark Nights got me thinking – one book from the Distinguished Competition that is still fondly remembered and often asked for a return is “Solo”. D:DN seems to me a move towards Marvel trying similar and I wondered if this is something that has seriously been suggested? You’ve certainly got the artists for such a series (imagine McNiven, Coipel, Kubert, Deodato, Romita Jr or Yu given free-reign to experiment!), and you could even launch it under the old “Marvel Comics Presents” title…”
Alonso: While I love that kind of series, ENNISELLIS, we have no immediate plans for one.
Finally, Icey1999 had a question I’m sure a lot of folks have been thinking, so I’m leaving every one of his questions marks in on this one: “Hey Axel, I’ve been dying these few weeks for a new monthly book announcement for Marvel Now Wave Two. When will you announce a new one???????”
Alonso: Soon.
Alonso: Before we go — I just had to share this letter to the editor that we got in from Ed Brubaker”s dog, Watson, who — like the rest of the internet — loved Hawkeye #11.

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!