Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Maine author reviving Marvel character

Published in the Portland Phoenix

The Son of Satan is being reborn in the brain of a Maine writer.

Alex Irvine, a former Portland Phoenix staff writer now teaching English at the University of Maine at Orono, is doing what he calls a “reboot” of Daimon Hellstorm, a character in the Doctor Strange section of the Marvel Comics universe.

The new comic, the first in a five-part series, will be out in October. Irvine has a short-story collection, Pictures from an Expedition, coming out in the next few days, and a novel about Batman, called Inferno, being released by DC Comics shortly, too. (That one includes a new villain, but that’s all we can tell you.)

Irvine landed the Hellstorm gig while on a visit to New York to read a short story at a bookstore, after which his agent introduced him to a Marvel editor, with whom Irvine “kicked around” some ideas for characters to work on.

“The Hellstorm thing dovetailed really nicely with a story idea I’d had in my head for a long time,” Irvine says.

He says the process of creating a comic is “completely different from writing fiction,” involving illustrators and colorists as well as editors. It’s Irvine’s first comic, though he says “I actually wanted to write comics before I wanted to write fiction,” and is talking with Marvel about doing more after this series.

In this story, which Irvine calls “horror-noir-ish,” Hellstorm is “much less super-hero-y,” and is instead depicted as a son struggling with his own independence as well as how to please his father, Satan — a congenital liar who stands for evil but who gets his son’s admiration all the same.

The basic plot involves “an infestation of demons in post-Katrina New Orleans,” which Hellstorm discovers, along with “a woman who appears to be Isis,” the ancient Egyptian goddess whose main task is to reassemble the body of Osiris, the judge of the dead and the granter of life, to resurrect him.

The demons in New Orleans, Irvine hints, are the key to the final piece of Osiris’s body — what Irvine gently calls the “generative organs.” And, not to disappoint fans, the story has plenty of demons and “bloodshed and gruesome stuff,” he assures.