Rob Liefeld has big plans this summer. No, we’re not talking about trips to the beach or family vacations — though those might be part of his holiday schedule — we’re talking about comics, specifically his character Avengelyne’s return in July. The result of Liefeld’s new working relationship with writer Mark Poulton and artist Owen Gieni, “Avengelyne” also marks the creator’s return to Image Comics, which he helped found nearly twenty years ago in 1992. CBR News spoke with Liefeld about Avengelyne’s new adventures, revamping her alongside Poulton and Gieni and how the industry has changed since Avengelyne first hit the scene in 1995.
“It’s the right time, but more importantly, [it’s] the right creative team,” Liefeld told CBR when asked why he was bringing his angelic warrior out of the vault for new stories. “These guys, Mark and Owen, took on the challenge of revamping Avengelyne per the guidelines I’d laid out. The storyline was specific in what it had to accomplish. Mark and Owen could get to the end of the story in any manner of way, but they had to incorporate specific elements that I won’t reveal here so as to not ruin the experience.”
Avengelyne began life in a three issue miniseries released in 1995 through Liefeld’s Maximum Press imprint. A fallen angel and member of the Warhost, Avengelyne was banished to Earth after being tricked into questioning the Almighty’s love for humanity. “Avengelyne” premiered in the middle of the mid-nineties “bad girl” boom, a trend Liefeld admitted played part in the heroine’s creation, though he feels she quickly transcended her obvious roots.
“I hate the term ‘bad girl,’ but the fact that comic books centered around females were selling and grabbing considerable attention was the motivation to create a female franchise,” Liefeld said of the character’s origins. “The success of Avengelyne and all her spin-offs was the power of her story. She has a great story, history and dilemma. She is an outcast living among humans, which [is a situation] she initially loathes before realizing they are essential to her growth and paramount for her to succeed.”
As the new series kicks off, Avengelyne has her heavenly hands full between a serial killer named Torment, the return of the villainous Red Dragon who’s on the hunt for a human host and a new apprentice as well as a brand new character named Heaven Starr. While Liefeld remained tight-lipped about the specific roles the villains play in this tale, he did give us some details on Starr.
“She’s a new, somewhat controversial character,” Liefeld told CBR. “What readers should know is that she has been in the works and part of the Avengelyne mythos from the beginning. I wasn’t able to get to her 12 years ago, but she’s front and center this time around. She expands the Avengelyne mythos a great deal [and] redefines it entirely.”
In addition to new heroes and villains, Avengelyne will also sport a new look as seen in the preview art by Owen Gieni. And when it came to revamping the character for a new decade — and millennium — Liefeld left the process up to the series’ artist.
“Owen had free rein to give [Avengelyne] a facelift within the realms of her traditional look,” Liefeld said. “She looks fantastic. Owen’s work reminds me of famed animator Ralph Bakshi in places. It’s very animation oriented. I love the depth of field and the detail he puts in the work. He’s fearless with his storytelling, really pulling out all the stops. He’s young and developing at a rapid rate, I can’t wait to see how his work continues to evolve. His women are very hourglassy, buxom, rounded; very feminine. It’s a departure from traditional ‘bad girl’ art, primarily because the focus is much broader than providing jiggle comics.”
Joining Gieni on the series is writer Mark Poulton. From the start, the creative pair have impressed Liefeld, something they had to do in order for him to turn over one of his most prized creations to their capable hands.
“Mark is a great talent. He’s been shepherding his own series, ‘Koni Waves,’ for years,” Liefeld said. “He and I have been talking about ‘Avengelyne’ [for quite a while]. I told him the storyline I wanted to explore, and he has been developing it. He and Owen, both of whom I met and have known for years from my Rob Liefeld message boards, worked up a spectacular presentation and blew me away. Owen has developed into an outstanding storyteller with a dynamic style. I think he is crazy talented and he and Mark have developed a great chemistry which shows in the final product. Mark has given the series a harsher, more horror-esque feel. Things get pretty dark, pretty violent very quickly. He has built quite a bit from my initial outline. I’m looking forward to reading his ‘Avengelyne’ and seeing Owen illustrate her for years to come. I’ve certainly made mistakes pairing creator and creation before, but the results are always interesting regardless. With these guys, they are over-achieving on ‘Avengelyne,’ given their relative newness to the industry.”
Speaking of the comic book industry, Liefeld took a few moments to talk about how things have changed over the years since Avengelyne first appeared in the mid-90s.
“It’s gone through so many ups and downs it’s difficult to tell,” Liefeld said. “But one thing’s for certain; the independent market is showing tremendous growth. Appetites and tastes are evolving, searching for new concepts and ideas. I don’t see another book on the market that looks reads and feels like ‘Avengelyne.’ For an entire generation, ‘Avengelyne’ is a new concept, fertile ground. I’m looking forward to growing her fan base again.
“[Image is] a great company with so much success and momentum,” Liefeld continued. “‘Avengelyne,’ then ‘The Infinite’ from me and Robert Kirkman are a great one-two punch to get books back into production with Image. It’s gonna be a great summer. Many, many new projects like this one that are coming sooner than you think. With creators that will blow your brains out!”
“Avengelyne” returns to stores everywhere in July