Albert Ching: Axel, it’s certainly been an interesting week for Marvel, following the big “Secret Wars” press conference on Tuesday with yourself and Tom Brevoort. There’s definitely been a reaction — how do you think everything went?
Axel Alonso: It went the way I hoped it would. We answered some questions, and in doing so raised some questions that we’ll answer in coming weeks.
And on that note! First question I have for you — no matter what the outcome of “Secret Wars” is, it looks at this point that the Marvel Universe is being shaken up to a fairly large degree. This has been in the works for a while, but what makes now he right time to do something like this — to introduce a big status quo shift in the Marvel U?
Alonso: It’s not really a question of “why is now the time?” This wasn’t an instance where we said, “Let’s transform the Marvel Universe!” and then hatched a plan to do that. It all started with an idea that Jonathan had that exploded into something larger. When we realized that we were looking at potentially transforming the Marvel Universe, we liked the shape of what we saw.
I’m curious to get your take on this — after Tuesday, there have been a lot of outlets who have run with some form of, “The Marvel Universe is ending.” “Marvel announces the end of the Marvel Universe.” That’s not quite how I interpreted things — there’s melding and significant change, yes, but it doesn’t feel like a definitive end to what readers have come to know over the decades. Is Marvel viewing this as the end of the Marvel Universe? Or the end of something, at least?
Alonso: Well, on one side, there are fans saying, “Oh my God, it’s a reboot!” On the other, there are fans saying, “Thank God it isn’t a reboot!” All I’ll say is that, like our teaser suggests, “When everything ends, there is only Secret Wars,” but that doesn’t mean we think our continuity or history as broken and needing to be fixed. Far from it.
But that doesn’t mean that we’re not willing to take chances and bend some stuff. Come May, “Secret Wars” is the Marvel Universe and all of its stories lay down the building blocks for the Marvel Universe moving forward: the characters, artifacts, territories and other stuff that will be the Marvel Universe when the event is over. “Secret Wars” is not an intermission from our regularly scheduled program; it is our regularly scheduled program. If you are reading “Amazing Spider-Man,” it’s going to be abundantly clear which series you need to be read, during the event and beyond. Ditto for non-flagship series like “All-New Ghost Rider.” We have plans for Robbie Reyes.
And those building blocks involve Marvel’s past history, then, instead of wiping it away?
Alonso: Yes, our history provides the building blocks — from “Future Imperfect” to “Civil War” to “Marvel Zombies” to “Old Man Logan.” These stories are the building blocks.
Recently Marvel has had a lot of success with books that offer something of an alternative for people who may not be quite as invested in the larger picture of the Marvel Universe — “Ms. Marvel” fits that category, “Hawkeye,” now “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” just to use a few examples. With an event this sweeping, which looks to be encompassing nearly everything at Marvel, will those people who may only be reading a couple of the under-the-radar titles still have something to look forward to during “Secret Wars”?
Alonso: For starters, we have our “Last Days” stories, which will focus on Marvel characters living out their last days before the onset of “Secret Wars.” They’ll answer the age-old question: What would you do if you knew it was your last day on Earth? But it won’t end there; we will launch a number of more alternative or idiosyncratic series during “Secret Wars.”
“Last Days” was the first of the three “Secret Wars” groupings announced, and sounds sort of like an in-continuity version of “The End” stories from years back at Marvel. Is that an accurate way to look at it?
Alonso: They’re different. The Marvel “The End” stories oftentimes flashed forward in time and took great storytelling latitude. Like the “Punisher The End” one-shot that Garth [Ennis] wrote for Richard Corben — that story was set after the apocalypse with Frank Castle a much older man. The “Last Days” stories are set in the current continuity of each series. They’re not flash-forwards or detours. If we were to do a “Last Days” story for, say, “Ms. Marvel,” you’re going to need to read her story.
Then there’s two other types of “Secret Wars” titles — “Battleworld” and “Warzones.” What types of stories are being told there?
Alonso: The “Battleworld” stories deal with the inner-workings of Battleworld — the rules of Battleworld: how it functions, how it’s governed, how the different territories interact. Some stories deal with one territory, some with multiple territories. They are true satellites to the core event story.
And then there’s the “Warzones” books, which are stories set within an individual zone or examine the relationship between two zones that border one another. These are events within the event, stories that tap into some of the biggest stories in Marvel history or completely new concepts, all set here and now in what has become the Marvel Universe. And all of them will bring something new into the Marvel Universe.
Fans should definitely take a look at those teasers we released after NYCC and try to guess which titles are which. Over the next few weeks it’s going to become clear.
I guess by nature of the story, this sounds like more tie-ins than we’ve seen from an event series at Marvel, at least in recent years.
Alonso: “Secret Wars” is an all-in event that transforms the Marvel Universe and requires all books to acknowledge it. Our creators had plenty of time — years in some cases — to prepare for it. By the same token, we’re taking great pains to make sure that people who are invested in current series stay invested.
By the time “Secret Wars” debuts, there will be comics like “Howard the Duck,” “Silk” and “All-New Hawkeye” that will still be quite early into their runs. Will those books be affected just as profoundly?
Alonso: Wait and see as our announcements move forward.
To wrap the “Secret Wars” talk for now — this certainly sounds in a lot of ways like the biggest storyline from Marvel during your time as editor-in-chief, and clearly one you’ve been working on for a while. On a personal level, how excited are you about this?
Alonso: I think it’s safe to say I am very excited, Albert. [Laughs] This is a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of time to plan. This is something that all of our creators bought into, and have been building towards for some time. No one was caught by surprise and everyone is able to tell the story that they intended to… and that includes everything from “Avengers” to new launches, like “Howard the Duck.”
Speaking of “Howard the Duck,” that book has gotten a lot of attention as of late due to both Mahmud Asrar’s Run the Jewels-inspired cover and Marvel’s April 2015 solicitations revealing that the “Guardians of the Galaxy” post-credits scene would get a “sequel” of sorts in issue #2 of the series. I think that also caused some confusion, though, as to exactly how literally that should be interpreted, given that the book is set in the Marvel Universe of the comics and not the films — any insight you can share about that issue?
Alonso: The solicitations text was tongue-in-cheek. Yes, Rocket Raccoon will appear in “Howard the Duck” #2 — whether or not the Guardians do, wait and see — but the story is squarely set where all of our stories are set: the Marvel Universe, not Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. This story isn’t the sequel to Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy,” it’s the second chapter of a comic series that you don’t want to miss. I am so excited about this comic series.
Let’s take some fan questions from the CBR Community, starting with two from the venerable Spidey616 (and this is actually several questions in one), “Since being announced last October there hasn’t been much news regarding the ongoing ‘Gamora’ title by ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ co-writerNicole Perlman. Is the title still in the works or has it been postponed? Is this a title being affected by the recent ‘Secret Wars’ announcement? If it is still happening, can you announce the artist on the book?
Alonso: “Gamora” is still very much alive and underway, and let me tell you, Nicole is definitely the right choice for this series. Stay tuned for further details early this year, including who is drawing it.
Alonso: Stay tuned. For now, Olivier is recovering from drawing 10,000 Spider-People…
We’ll stick with the “Spider-Verse” theme as we wrap for the week with Macho Mustachio: “With several characters in ‘Spider-Verse’ becoming fan favorites (like Spider-Gwen) will we see more ‘Spider-Verse’ characters get their own series or mini as well under a Spider-Verse banner? I would love to see more of Supaidaman, Sp/dr, Ham, and Spider-Punk.”
Alonso: We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about so many of these characters. Right now, it’s just Spider-Gwen, but who knows what the future might bring…?