It’s been a weird week or two at the House of Ideas.
Last week, Brian Michael Bendis signed an exclusive contract with DC. In the last few days, Axel Alonso quietly left the company, with C.B. Cebulski being named Editor-In-Chief.
Since I don’t have any connections to the inner workings at Marvel, I’ll do my best to make a few educated guesses as to what’s going on. Please remember – I could very easily be totally wrong!
WHO IS C.B. CEBULSKI?
C.B. Cebulski is probably just as well known now as Mr. Alonso was when he became Editor-In-Chief (E-I-C) back in 2011. Here’s a quote from the New York Times’ article on this subject:
After a stint as a translator and a freelance writer, Mr. Cebulski joined Marvel full time in 2002 as an associate editor. In 2011, he became the vice president of international brand management for the company. In his new role, Mr. Cebulski will be responsible for the editorial and creative side of Marvel’s publishing division. His duties will include recruiting new talent and helping shape the ongoing sagas of the company’s heroes.
The biggest success Cebulski was instrumental in making happen was Runaways as written by Brian K. Vaughan and with art from Adrian Alphona.
Apparently Marvel’s hoping he can make that kind of thing happen for other Marvel comics as well, likely including lesser-known heroes and other characters.
Interestingly, in that same article, the person who seemed to have the most to say about Cebulski was Dan Buckley, president at Marvel Entertainment. He noted that the new E-I-C “looks at the world differently than a traditional editor” and “knows how to put together creative teams to spark the right mojo.”
Cebulski issued a statement that included the following: “It’s crazy. It’s an honor. I’m blown away by the opportunity. We always hear about the writers and artists, but people forget the inkers and the colorists and the letters. Each of them is an artist in their own right.”
He seems like a good guy, one who is a team builder. Sounds like he could help Marvel move into the future pretty well.
WHAT HAPPENED TO AXEL ALONSO?
I’ve read around the always-trustworthy Internet to find out why Alonso left the company so abruptly. For once, most people are left scratching their heads, but there are a few points I think bear making.
The recent diversity controversy. I won’t rehash this whole event, but there was a LOT of discussion that said some of the heads of Marvel felt that the replacing established heroes with more “diverse” characters, such as the female Thor and the Falcon becoming Captain America, had resulted in a drop in sales.
What really frosted a lot of fans was that many of the folks involved seemed to think it was the fans’ fault, that they weren’t able to accept these new versions of Marvel’s heroes for whatever reason.
Now, I’ve long spoken out against stuffing a person of color into a costume worn by someone else for decades. I’d much prefer they build a new character more in line with today’s environment.
Personally, I think it’s more about telling good stories, though. But hey, Marvel still is the top-selling producer of comics, so what do I know?
Cap as agent of Hydra. This whole extended storyline still has some folks raging if you even attempt to bring up the subject.
Again, I won’t go through all the details of it, but to many, Hydra is a thinly veiled Nazi organization, and to make Steve Rogers one of their number, well, not everyone bought into or cared for that concept. Much. At all.
I have to say I don’t know Alonso personally. I have listened to him speak in public several times, and I wasn’t sure if it was just confidence or “swagger,” but he came across to me as someone who might be somewhat too certain of himself. But that’s just my impression.
Whenever there’s a gap in knowledge, we tend to fill it with something, and if we don’t know just what’s going on, our all-too-fertile imaginations can try to fill in the blanks.
Someone online actually suggested that certain folks had made allegations of sexual impropriety against Alonso. What? Yes, that’s something we hear a lot about these days, but I’d like to see some evidence of that kind of thing before we even begin to go there. So I don’t buy that one at all!
It has been rightly pointed out that Alonso had been in charge of the House of Ideas during several of their most successful years, particularly financially. Then, too, however, he was in charge when DC had briefly eclipsed Marvel when Rebirth began. All I can wonder is, was there a downturn in sales that made “the buck stop here” at his desk?
It’s probably going to be a while before we get to the truth in all this, or maybe we’ll never know, but I wish Alonso well wherever he goes from here.
Okay, putting the past in the past, what might happen at Marvel in the coming months?
I want to see more diversity in their books, but I also want to see the classic heroes and characters better respected. I don’t think one precludes the other. We can have both.
I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but I’d like to see a stronger emphasis on storytelling. I’m also for getting away from “the illusion of change” that I feel has haunted Marvel’s comics for years. You know, Cap is dead until, whoa, he never really died. That kind of thing. Don’t yank on our chains and then say, “Oh, that was all just a misunderstanding.”
As I pointed out last week, every ending is a jumping on point. It’s also a jumping off point, so it’ll be interesting to see how many Marvel readers, if any, maintain their devotion to the House of Ideas. Or is this, as some have suggested, another nail in Marvel’s coffin, like Bendis’ leaving was?
What do you think? Will this new era at Marvel be what you’re hoping for? Or are you concerned that Marvel’s best days are behind them? Or will we even notice a difference at all? Whatever your opinion, please share your thoughts in the space below!