UPDATED 4/19 at 5:13 AM PT: This story originally stated that “The Devilers” will launch in August. The series is actually scheduled for July.
This July will be hotter than the fires of Hell if Dynamite Entertainment has its way.
This summer, the publisher will debut “The Devilers” — a new horror action series developed by the company over the past several years with writer Joshua Hale Fialkov to be drawn by “Sherlock Holmes” artist Matt Triano with covers by Jock and an early variant contribution from Marc Silvestri. Dynamite announced the book’s launch this weekend at WonderCon as the first in a wave of titles headlined by the likes of Peter Milligan, Duane Swierczynski, Andy Diggle and James Robinson.
“The Devilers” focuses on a multicultural remix of the “Hell on Earth” story trope; when the gates of Hell open wide, it’s up to a team of seven chosen adventurers with connections to Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and other world religions to stop whatever pours out. CBR News spoke to Fialkov about his development of the story which he likened to his work on DC’s “I, Vampire” in tone with an ensemble of characters who each see the world (and its evils) in completely different ways.
CBR News: Joshua, “The Devilers” is a series that’s been talked about before, but now it’s ready to roll. What’s the gestation of this project been like from your point of view?
Joshua Hale Fialkov: This is a project Dynamite’s wanted to do for a long time, and they’d been looking for a writer who was the right fit. Nick Barrucci and I have known each other for a while and had been talking about working on some stuff when I was writing “I, Vampire.” I think he saw an opportunity for this because of how we approached that book — that tone that was dark, but funny. It took some really heavy source material and delivered it with a bit of a lighter touch. That was the kind of tone they wanted on “Devilers,” so they gave me a rough concept of what this book could be and the room to do whatever I wanted with it.
Part of this coming together has been a matter of timing because of my creator-owned projects and “Cataclysm” and Marvel and everything else. But now we’re up and running, and we’ve had issues drawn through #3. I’ve scripted into issue #5, so it’s clicking along great.
The concept of the book feels in the vein of horror classics like “The Exorcist” with more of an action team built around that kind of mythology. What about those elements most interested you as a writer?
There’s a lot of things. I like the world religion aspect. As you go from religion to religion, they share a lot of fundamental ideas. Many of them come from the same place, and they each have evolved in their own way, but each of them have their own conception of what evil is. With Buddhism, it’s the idea of imbalance that represents evil. There’s no being of harsh evil. Or in Hinduism, there’s a giant pantheon to draw different ideas from. So drawing this kind of story out of that old dichotomy of “God Versus Satan” was interesting. And finding a way to make the traditional story of Hell opening up on earth work for every iteration of religion or for all these different people was a cool thing. It gives me a chance to explore a lot of the ideas I played with “I, Vampire” but with a different landscape and a lot more freedom to tell the stories I want to tell.
The Devilers themselves are a group that represents that wide swath of world religions, so did you zero in on any one character to take point, or is it a true ensemble book?
We rotate between them. I love doing point of view stuff, so the first issue is about a lapsed Catholic priest who has been chosen to be the Deviler. Then we go one by one in the issues to learn about who everyone else is. Everyone comes together as a team in issue #1, but we learn a lot more about each person as it goes. Each issue paints a different picture of who they are as they go along on their first mission.
The model Dynamite felt was a cool reference point was “Giant-Size X-Men.” We’re approaching this as though there was another team of people who were the Devilers, and they’re all gone. We’re now picking up the pieces and trying to form a new team. It’s not a team of experts or holy men. It’s people who don’t know exactly what they’re doing her or even that this is their destiny. But suddenly, they’re all thrust in this because there are no other options.
Artist Matt Triano has been working on Dynamite’s “Sherlock Holmes” books, so his style leans into realism quite a bit. What does having that realistic quality add to the surreal aspects of Hell coming to earth?
It works really well. That’s something I always try to do with my books, no matter how wackadoo they get. Whether you’re in deep space fighting a giant purple man or looking at my creator-owned stuff, you can see that I always try to ground my stories and make them feel real. Matt really brings that to the table, and it compliments the story nicely. In particular, his demons are great. It’s not like there are classes of demons he set out to make. I wanted them to all represent a lost soul that’s been trapped in hell, so each one that you see is a little different and unique. He manages to bring a humanity to the monsters, which is really cool. It’s just beautiful work.
Not to make an unflattering comparison here, but whenever I think of action stories with devils and demons, I think of this Arnold Schwarzenegger movie called “End of Days.” I’ve never seen the movie, but for years my friends and I would only call it “The movie where Arnold punches Satan in the nose.”
And I don’t — he actually does! If I’m remembering this properly, that does not happen, despite that scene potentially being the one redeeming quality that movie could have. [Laughter]
Well, I doubt you’re going to correct the historical imbalance in “The Devilers,” but a series like this does ultimately beg the question of whether Satan himself has a role to play. As you build this team in the series, what can you say about the ultimate force of evil who is behind it all?
You’ll find out the answer to that question by issue #4. Their very first mission in the book is to literally walk through the gates of Hell, and as they do it, they find that Hell is not what it’s supposed to be. The compact that’s existed between God, the Devil and earth has broken down, and new management has broken in. So part of the journey here is answer the question of “Where is Satan?” Where could he have gone, and what is so much worse that could have replaced him?
“The Devilers” debuts in Jnauary from Dynamite Entertainment.