The Asgardian demigoddess Hela is synonymous for running the realm of the dead, Hel, but that's about to change.
This Wednesday, Angela: Queen of Hel launches Todd McFarlane/Neil Gaiman creation into classic Stan Lee/Larry Leiber/Jack Kirby lore as the one-time Asgard's Assassin attempts a coup on theQueen of Hel. Venturing into the depths to save the recently deceased Sera, Angela must do it up against -- who else -- the current queen, Hela.
Writer Marguerite Bennett is on-board for this, continuing with the character after co-writing Angela: Asgard's Assassin and 1602 Witch Hunter: Angela. Joining her is artists Kim Jacinto and Stephanie Hans, plotting this new chapter of the literal red-headed stepchild of the Asgardian royal family.
Newsarama: Marguerite, how would you describe Angela: Queen of Hel?
Margueritte Bennett: Angela: Queen of Hel is what happens when you release an English major with a lit degree into a world of monsters, magic, and kissing with tongue.
It's Orpheus and Eurydice meets Norse death metal--a journey to the underworld to rescue your cutieface companion, raise a rebellion among the dead, slaughter some giant body horror monsters, and have some fun emotional trauma along the way.
Nrama: If Angela is the queen -- or wants to be -- what does Hela think of that?
Bennett: Hela is opposed to that, radically enough.
Nrama: And what does Sera think of all of this?
Bennett: Sera is pretty stoked to be sprung from Hel, frankly. She's not a huge fan of being dead. Admittedly, it's more complicated than "save the day, win the girl," because to hell [Laughs] with that trope--women are not rewards.
Sera and Angela's friendship and relationship have suffered exponentially due to the whole "Murdered and In Hel" thing, and both have very strong, very clear arcs in this story. Sera is the more emotionally mature one, and Angela the more emotionally repressed (stunted?) one. They love each other and they'll need each other to get out. What Sera thinks of the situation will change from the first issue to the last.
To that point, I didn't want Hel to be fire and torture and demons of the pit--I wanted Hel to be memory, emotion, the past, guilt, forgiveness, understanding. I wanted to flow backwards and forwards through their memories, their fears, and their longings--the best and worst things they ever did, or would do, for one another. There's plenty of crazy monsters, Asgardian brawlers, and insane battle sequences--there's also a tour through Angela and Sera's greatest (and worst) hits, so to speak.
Nrama: Hela is a part of the ten realms. Any chance we could see other faces from Asgard in this series?
Bennett: Oh, definitely. Angela, as aspirant Queen of Hel, is therefore Queen of the Dead, and she has created rather quite a lot of dead people in her mercenary swath-cutting across the galaxy. We also get a rather explosive family reunion in the shape of a few of Angela's blood brothers, too...
Nrama: This is a continuation of Angela: Asgard’s Assassin and 1602 Witch Hunter Angela, but this time you're writing it solo. What's that like for you?
Bennett: I miss Kieron, naturally. He gave me everything and gave me the best guidance in taking over the series, too--beginning as writing the sub-stories, then writing the master stories, then writing the whole thing. I think of him when I work on the book. It's still ours, even if I'm the only one writing. I'm so happy to have the team we do--to have editor Wil Moss and artist Stephanie Hans, to have had Jon Moisan, Phil Jimenez, Romulo Fajardo, and Le Beau Underwood… and now to have Kim Jacinto, Israel Silva, Chris Robinson, and Clayton Cowles, too.
Even though I'm the solo writer, I'm never alone on this title. There's not a person on this team I don't admire, don't love. I'm blessed.
Nrama: You mentioned Kim Jacinto. This is the first series he’s launching on his own. How is he fitting in with the stories you have planned?
Bennett: Kim is wonderful! He has this terrific kinetic energy, crackling through the pages--a big, dark, Asgardian adventure, full of crossed swords and horrifying monsters, at breakneck speed. He brings such urgency to the story.
Nrama: Stephanie Hans is also continuing on -- is she doing back-up stories like you've done in the past? If so, can you tell us about those?
Bennett: Stephanie is so brilliant, and her pages are more haunted and haunting--memories from out of Angela and Sera's pasts, rather than tales, ebbing and flowing--sometimes one or two pages, sometimes nine or ten. The past slows down with Stephanie, lingers, where the present speeds along with Kim, rocketing towards some reckoning.
Nrama: Big picture, what are the themes you want to explore with Angela: Queen of Hel?
Bennett: Major themes are memory and sacrifice--the things you give up out of love, or revenge, or mercy. How much of you can you lose or change until you cease to be you? Are you still the person your loved ones knew? How does any love, any friendship, come back from the realms of the dead? In gaining your throne, what do you lose? And how will you win it back?
At its truest, and at its heart, it's Angela and Sera's story. And I can't thank the readers enough for coming down this long and dark and winding path with me. There are some beautiful things down there in Hel.