1255633845Blowing one’s own head off is bound to change a man, but who knew that it could also readjust one’s moral alignment?

That’s the question at the very heart of “Image United,” the upcoming six-issue crossover series written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Image Comics founders Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. At the recent Diamond Retailer Summit in Baltimore, Kirkman made the shocking announcement that the recently deceased “Spawn” protagonist, Al Simmons, is the villain of “Image United,” delivering an emotional sucker punch not only to the characters of the Image Universe, but to longtime readers as well.

Kirkman spoke exclusively with CBR News about Al Simmons’ role in “Image United,” what it means for the book’s characters and how his shocking return will effect the Image Universe in the months to come.

Al’s change from good guy to not-so-good guy is certainly a big surprise, but that’s not the only surprise regarding the character. After all, Simmons recently killed himself in “Spawn” #185, which begs the question: how on Earth is he even alive? The answer, it seems, lies not on the mortal world’s surface, but a few significant strides beneath it.

“Anybody that’s read ‘Spawn’ recently knows that Al Simmons got fed up and, for reasons that are yet to be revealed in that series, he just decided to kill himself,” Kirkman explained. “There is a new Spawn named Jim Downing that’s still learning what’s going on, but nobody really knows what’s been going on with Al Simmons. ‘Image United’ is going to reveal a little bit of that. There are a lot of changes he’s undergone since he technically killed himself — he’s been in Hell and has kind of risen through the ranks of Hell. Time works a little differently there. Now, he’s come back to Earth and he wants to take over.”

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