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WW PHILADELPHIA - AXEL ALONSO ON THE RETURN OF HELLSTORM

Note - art is sample page from issue #1, and no, that's not Daimon Hellstorm

Those who thought or predicted that Marvel's MAX line of books, aimed at older audiences was done, or would never again grow beyond the current series it encompasses, The Punisher can change their outlook. At it's "Mondo Marvel" panel today at WizardWorld: Philadelphia, the publisher announced two new titles that will come out under the imprint, Hellstorm: Son of Satan and Zombie.

We'll have more on Zombie early next week, but in the meantime, we spoke with Marvel Senior Editor Axel Alonso, editor of the MAX line about the return of Hellstrom in a five issue miniseries, written by Alexander Irvine with Russell (Animal Man) Braun.

Newsarama: First of all, can you give us some details on the creative team and the book in general - you've got a couple of relatively unfamiliar names there…

Axel Alonso: Sure. The writer is Alexander Irvine, who wrote a terrific book called The Narrows that I can't recommend enough. Very unsettling stuff. He's making his comics debut. The penciller is Russell Braun, who's raising his game with this arc, to say the least. We're not ready to announced the inker/finisher yet, but let's just say he's really, really good at what he does. We're looking at October or November release.

NRAMA: A standard MAX question is, how does it relate - if at all - to Marvel Universe continuity? Is sort of a subtle "different neighborhood" approach Joe described as the MAX Punisher's relation to the main MU? Is this firmly removed from the Marvel Universe and its "continuity"?

AA: Alexander isn't looking to reinvent Hellstorm, just to dig a bit deeper into a character who is, after all, the Son of Satan. That said, if you're a fan of the character, the story will be up your alley. If you don't but gravitate to horror comics, ditto.

Alexander's story is set in New Orleans, where the membrane between our world and the demon-haunted underworld has always been a little thinner. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the outpouring of human misery, the Big Easy has become a magnet for demons and supernatural entities. Imagine a shark feeding frenzy, then cube it. What better place for paranormal investigator? In no time, Hellstrom discovers a pattern in a series of grisly murders: People are being killed, their bodies mutilated and devoured. Damian discerns a pattern that suggests the culprit. Even more, he discovers that parts of these bodies are being stolen, but for what purpose? Does his dad have a hand in it?

NRAMA: So, relatively speaking, you really don't need to know much, if anything about Hellstorm before going in to this?

AA: Right. All you need to know before you crack this open is in the title: Hellstorm: Son of Satan. Beyond that, it's our job to bring you up to speed. If you're a fan of the character, you'll appreciate the nods to the character's past. If you don't know the character, you'll definitely know who he is by the end of the first issue, if not the first few pages.

Like Charlie Huston on Moon Knight, Alexander did his research. He's not looking to give Hellstrom a makeover, just a haircut.

NRAMA: So cast Hellstorm for us - would you describe him as a hero?

AA: He's the "Son of Satan" -- how good can he be? Damian is a demonologist, an exorcist and paranormal investigator, but he is defined by his relationship with his father. Like any father/son relationship, it's complicated. Damian's got some issues to sort through with his dad. He's got a bit of love for his old man, to be sure, but that doesn't mean he wants to inherit the family business. I guess you could say, the Big Question of Hellstrom's existence is whether the apple must fall close the tree. That's what's tugging at his soul.

NRAMA: Will Patsy Walker play a role in this story?

AA: Patsy Walker and other supporting characters won't appear in this series, but Alexander does allude to them -- they do exist in his world. For the first arc, the only supporting character from past series is his dad.

NRAMA: So how "MAX" is this going to be? Obviously this has the potential to really go into areas Marvel never could with this character, and perhaps no other Marvel series ever. What can you tell us about the tone of this material?

AA: Like a good horror movie, the story's very violent. Demons do horrible stuff when they're let loose on the mortal plane--much of it to human flesh--and we've got the latitude to show it. Ultimately, however, the benefit of doing this under the MAX label is that it gives Alex broader latitude to explore unsettling themes. And that's what he does. In this story, Damian must draw upon all his expertise and guile and street smarts, as well as his trusty trident. There are some badass things in New Orleans and they don't give a damn who he is, or who his dad is.

NRAMA: Anything else to add?

AA: Only one thing: The opening line of issue #3 has to be one of the best - and funniest - lines I have ever read.

NRAMA: Anything you can share on an all-ages website?

AA: I'd love to, but it gives away too much about the plot. No joke.

Newsarama.com’s WizardWorld Philadelphia coverage:

DC’s Vertigo Panel

Marvel’s Civil War Panel

The DCU Panel

Cup ‘O Joe

Peter David: Telling Tales of the Fantastick

DC Nation

Bullet Dodged, Manhunter Saved

Mondo Marvel

Hellstorm Returns as MAX Mini

Guggenheim on Blade Ongoing

Marvel’s X-Men Panel

Greg Pak on X-Men: Phoenix – Warsong

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