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(AP) - Walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and there is no reason to fear evil, but Max Brooks and Mark Waid have taken the 23rd Psalm and made it real: A nexus where hell and earth meet and evil is poised to explode into the world of man.

Such is the plot of "Shadow Walk," created by Brooks and Waid and illustrated by Shane Davis, which sees a team of academics and soldiers exploring a literal valley that has been discovered amidst the fighting in Iraq that may, or may not be, the gateway to the Biblical hell.

"What if the valley of death was a real place?" asked Brooks, tasked with creating the world it exists in at the behest of Thomas Tull, chairman of Legendary Entertainment, which published the graphic novel out on Wednesday.

"This goes to one of Thomas' core interests: He loves trying to take myths and legends and imagine the reality behind them and the real source behind them."

It opens with a team of U.S. soldiers taking a wrong turn into an oasis unlike any other, one that proves viciously fatal. From there, it jumps ahead with the team being assembled and the valley being explored for political and religious reasons.

Brooks' creation was handed over to Waid, whose previous comics efforts have included "Irredeemable," "Superman: Birthright" and "Daredevil."

What transpires, says Brooks, whose meticulous works "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z" deftly melded fiction with contemporary issues, is an examination of faith, survival, cynicism and skepticism.

"We're not just going into the valley of death, we're going into the valley of religion, which is a real thorn bush," said Brooks. "These characters, literally, go into the mouth of hell."

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Moore reported from Philadelphia. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/mattmooreap


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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