AGE OF ULTRON: Hitting the Halfway Point with AXEL ALONSO

 

In the first part of our recent interview with Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, we discussed upcoming event story Infinity, the forthcoming Marvel NOW! Wave 2, and got word that a much-anticipated announcement concerning the character Marvelman is coming "soon."

For the second half, we discussed the Brian Michael Bendis-written event series Age of Ultron, which hit the halfway point this week with issue #5. The latest installment (the last of the series to be illustrated by Bryan Hitch) features a look back at the reconstruction of The Vision — destroyed by a Scarlet Witch-possessed She-Hulk back in "Avengers Disassembled" before reappearing towards the end of Bendis's Avengers run — as well as the remaining heroes coordinating a time-travel plan with Nick Fury in the Savage Land to attempt to set things right.

We talked with Alonso about the series so far, as well as last month's high-profile news that Angela is coming to the Marvel Universe in the final pages of June's Age of Ultron #10. Courtesy of Marvel, we're also debuting new interior pages from the upcoming Age of Ultron #8.

Interior art from Age of Ultron #8.

Newsarama: Axel, we're now at the halfway point of Age of Ultron, the first real big event story for Marvel in 2013. It's one where Marvel is rather deliberating doing some things a bit differently, in terms of the schedule of the main issues coming out, and the number of tie-ins being lower. What's your take on how it's gone so far? Between sales numbers, fan reactions — has it met your expectations?

Axel Alonso: And then some. Brian had been working on this story for a while, and this was the perfect time to publish it. To see Age of Ultron come in at No. 2, right behind Guardians of the Galaxy, is very encouraging.

When you do an event, you always promise it's going to be universe-changing, then it's up to you to deliver upon that promise. Avengers vs. X-Men, for instance, set up Marvel NOW!, and transformed X-Men and the Avengers stories you're reading now. Age of Ultron will set up big things — transformative things in the Marvel universe, both at the character-level and the macro/universe-level. The arrival of Angela in the Marvel Universe is just a little piece of that.

 

Nrama: The press around Avengers A.I. showed that there looks to be a palpable impact to Age of Ultron, seemingly dismissing any lingering notion that the story is somehow removed from current continuity, or that everything will be completely back to normal at the end of it.

Alonso: Right out the gate, we were very clear: This story takes place in the Marvel NOW! universe, not the future or in an alternate reality. Who of our heroes can survive the experience and/or restore the Marvel Universe back to what it was, are the big questions. And, of course, what will it be, if they do restore it? That last part is what's going to knock readers on their heels. Angela was just the tip of the iceberg — I have to be careful, I don't want to say too much. [Laughs.]

Nrama: Also notable in the first half was that it featured five consecutive issues of Bryan Hitch material, which was another example of how Marvel has worked ahead with this story. How important was it to launch with an artist like that, and releasing that much material in a few weeks?

 

Alonso: We referred to Age of Ultron as "the best problem ever" — the evergreen event, with A-list talent, that just needed to find the perfect home in our publishing schedule. When we saw a slot emerge, the only question was whether or not we could pull off an accelerated shipping schedule, and because we'd banked so many issues already, we knew we could. Like Avengers vs. X-Men, Age of Ultron has a lot of momentum because of its accelerated shipping schedule. It's become a water cooler read.

Nrama: Backtracking to that well-publicized spoiler for the end of Age of Ultron — Angela coming to the Marvel Universe — it's certainly an interesting situation for many reasons. She's a character that hasn't been in comics in many years, and hasn't really even been in that many comics total. What kind of potential does Marvel see in the character? What made her important to get involved, and pursue?

Interior art from  

Age of Ultron #5.

Alonso: Angela's importance — how she fits into the Marvel mythology — will be revealed over time. And with Neil at the helm, count on her having a unique and fascinating place in the Marvel Universe. Judging from the way the Internet exploded after the announcement, it's clear there are a lot of interested readers out there.

Nrama: From the outside, it seems that a lot of the appeal of using the character is Neil Gaiman's involvement, and bringing him back into the Marvel fold.

Alonso: Yes, Neil's involvement is key. And Angela's arrival is just the first "oh @#$%" moment.  

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