Introduced this past August, Alpha — Andy Maguire, Spider-Man's ultra-powerful "sidekick" — exited nearly as soon as he entered it, two issues after his debut in the 50th anniversary edition of the book, #692.It was clear then that Andy's story was far from over, and writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Nuno Plati are picking it up in February with a five-issue Alpha miniseries. Though much of Spider-Man's future is shrouded in mystery — between the fateful events of December's , and the super-secretive debuting the following month — it's clear that Alpha is somehow related to all of that, but the exact nature of the connection isn't yet known. Newsarama talked with Fialkov at this past weekend's Long Beach Comic Con to learn more about Alpha, and also got an update, plus hints on his new series for Dynamite, . Alpha #1 cover. Newsarama: Josh, though you've written a number of books here and there for Marvel, Alpha is your first project there at length, correct?
Joshua Hale Fialkov: It is certainly the longest thing I've done for Marvel. I did the Marvel Girl one-shot, I did the story in the back of [Amazing Spider-Man] #692, I did an Outlaw Kid story — I love that story. I wrote an issue of Iron Man 2.0. I've done stuff here and there, but this is the first proper, whole story that I get to tell.
Nrama: And a lot of your Marvel work has been with the artist of Alpha, Nuno Plati.
Fialkov: When they talked to me about it, I immediately said, "Nuno, can I do it with Nuno?" He's so amazingly talented, and his art is super-expressive and alive. I love working with him — we have a really good relationship, I think we communicate really well.
Nrama: Between Alpha and I, Vampire you're one of the few creators currently working for Marvel and DC at the same time. When I was a kid that was pretty standard — like, Mark Waid writing The Flash and Captain America at the same time — but right now it's fairly rare. How fun is it to get to write in both fictional universes simultaneously?
Alpha #0.1 cover.Fialkov: I grew up reading both Marvel and DC, so it's nice on that front. I love the Spider-Man characters, the Spider-Man universe. The funny thing is how, at DC, I'm the "dark" guy — I do the super-edgy, super-complex, adult, horror-y stuff. Then at Marvel, I'm the wacky, fun guy. So it's almost as if I am in fact two different writers.
Nrama: And Alpha seems, in general, like a different type of book for you.
Fialkov: I think it's closer to the independent books that I started with. I started in comedy; I did webcomics and mini-comics. I do Punks over on MTV Geek, which is a comedy book. Elk's Run was my first "proper" comic book, and it's about teenagers finding out things about their parents that every teenager ultimately finds out about their parents.
Writing about teens, kids on the verge of adulthood, has always been of interest to me. There's just not as much room for it in mainstream comics. I'm really excited, and I love that Alpha is essentially a new character, that he's kind of a blank slate.
Nrama: Yeah, you're writing a character with only three prior appearances up to this point.
Fialkov: The research was so easy! [Laughs.]
Nrama: Since Alpha is so new, there is presumably a lot of room there for you to create and add to his world.
Fialkov: Exactly, and really flesh out his character. The way the character was presented in Spider-Man was from Spider-Man's point of view. Now I get to give this kid an internal life, and more of what's going on behind his eyes.
I think Andy has gotten a bad rap. Clearly, Andy was a jerk, but the reasoning from where I stand is that most people, if they were suddenly given the power of a god, would probably be jerks. He got all the things that he always wanted, which is the most human, teenage reaction — because that's what teenagers are. Teenagers are greedy and selfish, and they make bad decisions, because they think they're going to help themselves in the short term. That's what every teenager, everywhere in the world, is like.
In that sense, I feel like he is really universal, and now he's had something to make him learn — he's had this event that's really changed him and shaped him. It's giving me an opportunity to tell a coming-of-age story about this guy.
Nrama: So is the series something of a redemptive arc for Alpha? And are you also embracing the fact that he is sort of a jerk, which is probably fun to write.
Fialkov: I look at all of my characters, villains or heroes, as human first. For me, it's really more about getting to the heart of his motivation, and what makes him tick. I think by doing that, it makes him more relatable.
I did a Skeletor one-shot that came out this week. Instead of trying to write Skeletor like the cackling bad guy that he is, I focused on, "What makes somebody do that?" It's like Doctor Doom. From Doom's point of view, he's trying to take care of his people. His primary interest is taking care of Latveria. Does that mean that he will try to kill the Fantastic Four? Well, yeah, because the Fantastic Four are a threat to Latveria. In his own story, he can't possibly be the bad guy — or the things that would make him the bad guy of his own story are going to be different things than what make him the bad guy of a Fantastic Four story.
Nrama: The USA Today article made it clear that Alpha will spring out of the major Spidey developments coming at the end of the year. What can you say this point about how your book is interacting with what's coming up in Amazing Spider-Man, and later Superior?
Fialkov: #700 has a major impact on this series. I don't want to spoil stuff that's in Dan's book.
Nrama: Well, since it Alpha is clearly tied-in to Dan Slott's work, do you still have a lot of latitude with where you can take in character, or are things locked in place to an extent?
Fialkov: I talked to the Spider-office, Dan and I have talked a tiny bit about what they're looking for, and the story they want to tell, and where the story is going long term. They work with talent really well.
Nrama: What else should people know about Alpha?
Fialkov: It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm thrilled, I'm really proud of the first script; Nuno's doing an amazing job. I get to write about my hometown. I don't think it's the book that anybody expects it to be, and that's a lesson that I'm taking from the work that Dan is doing. How do we reinvent the wheel? And that's what we're trying to do. I'm thinking it should be square. Maybe a diamond shape, even.
Nrama: And I, Vampire is still going strong?
Fialkov: We're going into our second year. I get to change the status quo, which is a lot of fun. Our former villain is now our protagonist, and our former protagonist is now our villain. It has been so much fun to get to write these characters in new contexts, but still preserve what's great and unique about them.
I'm working on two books where people have preconceived notions of what they should be. I think with I, Vampire, we've proved a lot of these preconceived notions wrong, so I hope when people read Alpha they go in with the same open mind.
People complain that there's not enough new stuff. This is a new character, it's a formula you haven't seen before in a superhero comic, especially from the big two. I'm going to do everything I can to take advantage of it while I can.
Nrama: Anything else you've got going on currently?
Fialkov: I'm doing The Devilers for Dynamite. It's really far off. It's an original property. It's like The Magnificent Seven with exorcists, fighting the devil. It's a big, crazy, action-adventure book about religion and faith.More from Newsarama:
- The 10 Greatest SPIDER-MAN Villains of ALL TIME!
- SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN Hits Marvel NOW! With New Suit, Attitude
- Origins of the Undead in I, VAMPIRE #0