Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso spoke with fans at New York Comic Con on Sunday for his inaugural Axel In Charge panel.
Alonso was joined by Nova writer Gerry Duggan, Angela writer Kieron Gillen, Winter Soldier writer Ales Kot, Black Widow artist Phil Noto, Fantastic Four writer James Robinson, Death of Wolverine writer Charles Soule, Avengers World writer Nick Spencer and Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson.
"Could any of you have imagined a year ago that you lived in a Marvel Universe where Thor was a woman, Captain America was African American, Tony Stark was a bonafide bad guy, Wolverine was dead - at least on Wednesday Wolverine was dead - and Rocket Raccoon is arguably the most popular superhero in the world?" Alonso said. "It's a good time to have my job."
"At Marvel we only have one rule - there's no rules," added Alonso, who said that there was no house style at Marvel. "Our jobs is to find the best writers and artists, find the best stories for them to work, and get out of the way to let them do what they do."
He posted a number of covers for upcoming series, including Thor, S.H.I.E.L.D., Superior Iron Man, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers and Deathlok.
Alonso then transitioned to Hawkeye, announcing that Volume 2 would be helmed by Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez.
"It's an impossible act to follow - Matt and David set the bar to putting a personal point of view to a superhero comic," Lemire said, joining the panel. "I think it's a high water mark for modern comics. I cannot hope to replicate their success, but I can hope that I can tell my story as best I can... I'm really, really proud of what we're doing."
Alonso then moved to Fantastic Four and James Robinson.
"The challenges of taking over Fantastic Four is taking over the legacy of Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction and Mark Waid and all these amazing writers that came before me," Robinson said. "So I wanted to honor that, but also tell this story of my own." He said that at the moment, he is currently writing the rise of the Fantastic Four, coming back as the united heroes we've known and loved. (Including their classic blue costumes!)
Alonso showed a teaser with Fantastic Four #642, which challenges readers "witness the closing act of the first family" and "the end is fourever."
"The book is going to be going away for awhile," Robinson said. "I'm building up to the end of the Fantastic Four."
Next up in the panel is Charles Soule, writer of She-Hulk, Death of Wolverine, and the upcoming Wolverines. Soule said that he was so heartened by the response to She-Hulk, saying that he was pleased he could write a comic that he could give his young daughter. "You can always tell a great story when you have a great character like Jen Walters to hang it on," he said.
Speaking of Death of Wolverine, Soule thanked readers for supporting the book, and said that the last five pages of the book will be "an enormous gut punch."
Ales Kot spoke next of his new series Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier.
"Thank you everyone for coming, and buying it," Kot said. "Which is wonderful to me, because we're taking a lot of changes with this book, and that was my mandate from the start."
Kot said that he didn't to repeat himself on Winter Soldier, especially after his other books, Zero and Secret Avengers. He took two weeks to decide whether to take on the book, but then thought about Bucky taking over Nick Fury's job, assassinating threats from across universes and dimensions. "I thought, what can you do with that? Anything."
He mentioned Jim Steranko, Heavy Metal and spy comics as inspirations, praising Marco Rudy's painted pages. "This looks like nothing we've ever seen," Kot said. "We've had an amazing ride ever since."
Alonso then introduced Spencer, announcing that he would be writing Ant-Man, with art by Ramon Rosanas.
"I'm just so excited to be doing this book," Spencer said, saying this had been on his radar since the summer of 2013. Featuring Scott Lang, "Scott is a character I really connect with," he said. "Scott wants to be a hero and he wants to be a good guy, but he's got a checkered past, he has a tendency to take shortcuts and get in his own way... all these marks of a great Marvel character."
Spencer said that if readers enjoyed Superior Foes of Spider-Man or Cloak and Dagger, they would enjoy the laughs and drama of Ant-Man.
"I don't know if you heard, but there's a movie coming out next year, so I'm so grateful to Marvel and Axel and Wil Moss for giving me a chance," Spencer said.
Alonso then praised Wilson and her work on Ms. Marvel.
"I see her as a direct descendent of Peter Parker, in more ways than one... I see Ms. Marvel as the flagship book of Marvel Now!" he said. "Ms. Marvel is here to stay."
"We were thinking that we could have done this same book, panel for panel, 10 years ago, and we would not have found the audience that we did, so thank you for that," Wilson said. "When they called me about this book, at first, I thought they were crazy."
"We had the opportunity to tell the kind of story that we wanted to tell," Wilson said, praising artist Adrian Alphona and his description of Kamala Khan as "an off-kilter girl with off-kilter powers." "He just does an amazing job, and I'm so thankful that this book has found the audience that it has. It's just amazing."
Next up on the panel was Black Widow and artist Phil Noto.
"It was an artist's dream to work on this book," Noto said. "I had a super-long time in terms of comic book deadlines to get this style down... I had more than enough time to do what I do." Noto said that while there was a lot of spotlight on Widow in the movies, he wasn't sure if there was going to be an audience in comics, so he thanked readers for supporting the book. "I'm going to stay on until the train crashes on the tracks."
February will be a big month for Noto, as there will be numerous special variants from the artist, including Rocket Raccoon, Medusa from Inhumans, Black Widow and All-New X-Men.
Gerry Duggan spoke next, discussing his work on Deadpool with Brian Posehn.
"We were shocked and nervous and happy and didn't want to say, 'Really? Are you sure about this?' Because it's a dream come true," Duggan said. "We had a chance to do a #1, but this was a character already at a cruising altitude... we have to find a new way to do this, like an on-ramp for readers."
Duggan said that what he's trying to do is find new ways to hurt Wade Wilson. "We can chop his arm off, but we're really trying to find a way to hit him in the heart." They're already working on Issue #45. "We're finding new ways to hurt him, and you seem to like it, so hats off to you."
Kieron Gillen was greeted by thunderous applause, as Alonso posted covers from Young Avengers, his upcoming Darth Vader series, and Angela: Asgard's Assassin.
"Darth Vader is joining the Young Avengers," Gillen joked.
Discussing Angela, Gillen said that this series would define the character and how she works in the Marvel Universe. "Asgardian Black Widow is kind of how I phrased it - she exists in the same liminal space," Gillen said.
He said that Angela will do something "incredibly stupid," and that will provide the impetus to her latest adventures. "We're trying to find a different way to be different," he added, saying there was more than a little in common with his work on Journey Into Mystery. "Anyone who is interested in that particular kind of story should be interested in this."
The floor then opened to Q&A. A fan asked what Marvel had in store in terms of diversity in characters.
"I think we try to tell good stories and see where we land," Alonso said. "You don't force it - you wait until you get the story. Kamala Khan resonates with people because we all relate to that story." He said that Marvel would continue to do what it was doing in terms of expanding representation, and to count on further improvement.
Another fan asked about Isaiah Bradley, now that Sam Wilson is the new Captain America. Alonso said there had been discussions, but nothing is planned yet.
An audience member asked what was in store for Hank Pym. Alonso said that there were plans in store for him - "But he ain't Ant-Man."
"There's a lot of legacy to that helmet," Spencer added. "You'll see some familiar faces."
A fan asked if there were any other books that Marvel was planning on cancelling, in addition to Fantastic Four. "As you may have heard, we're killing the X-Men franchise," Alonso joked. "It's not making enough money."
"We like to bend things like taffy and break things like eggs," referring to the new female Thor, Sam Wilson as Captain America and the new Ms. Marvel. "We're not afraid to take chances."
An audience member asked about what new young characters the panel would like to create. "Nova is a new young Marvel character, and I read that to my son," Duggan said. Soule mentioned his new characters in Inhuman, as well. Gillen said that he would love to have a Miss America book. Spencer said that he was able to bring in the Next Avengers team in Avengers World.
A fan asked what was in store for Sabretooth following the death of Wolverine. Soule said that Sabretooth will be going up against X-23, Mystique, Daken and more in Wolverines.
A Jersey City resident thanked Wilson for portraying the city as a positive place. "It's incredibly diverse, it has a thriving Pakistani community," she said. "It's also right across the river from Manhattan, which is the hub of the Marvel Universe - she would have seen Captain Marvel saving someone, seeing all these heroes on the cover of the New York Times... she's kind of the front line when it comes to Jersey."
"I was born in Jersey, too," she added. "So it was time to represent."
Click here for a gallery featuring the latest announcements from the panel.
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