In January 2015, Run the Jewels and Marvel teamed up for badass variant comic book covers for Howard the Duck and Deadpool. Soon it blossomed into a whole thing, leading, that year alone, to more than 50 variant covers inspired by classic and new-classic rap albums. The collector-friendly initiative was so popular they started it up again last fall, with mixtures like Doctor Strange x Desiigner and Mosaic x Earl Sweatshirt.
"When Nas comes out and says this is a dream come true," Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Axel Alonso tells Fuse in the interview above, "that's like God parting the clouds and saying, 'You got it.'"
And while the "ongoing cross-cultural dialogue" between Marvel and rap will continue (Method Man's doing Ghost Rider; vocally hip-hop–influenced MacArthur Genius/National Book Award–winner Ta-Nehisi Coates has writing a new Black Panther series for nine months), other genres will get their shine soon.
Here's what Alonso had to tell us:
"We absolutely intend to do something. I would love to do a limited run of punk rock variants, dating back to the early days of So-Cal punk, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, all the rest. ... I've even got a sort of tickler file of ideas, metal is a must as well. Who knows, maybe country and western.
We wanna do that in due time, we wanna approach it diligently. The hip-hop initiative, that was something that come from the heart, you understand? That's something we intend to continue doing, and I think it speaks to the larger cultural discourse out there right now. When we do these other initiatives—and we will—I think it needs to be understood that we need to provide the right context for it and do the right approach. And let's just say, I might not be the best person to pick out the metal covers."
Next, read Fuse's in-depth 2016 interview with Alonso, and watch him tell us how Marvel Comics will align with the prolific output from Marvel Television and Marvel Studios in 2017: