Review: Spirits of Vengeance #1

Mitch Nissen Mitch Nissen
Expert Contributor
October 9th, 2017

Grew up reading comic books in the 90's. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel's cosmic universe are my favorites.

Review: Spirits of Vengeance #1
Comics
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Marvel revives a few of their supernatural heroes in the new book Spirits of Vengeance #1. ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen reviews this new book from Marvel Comics.

Review: Spirits of Vengeance #1

Spirits of Vengeance #1 has hit comic shops everywhere. A part of the recent Marvel Legacy initiative, Marvel Comics has released a new book resurrecting a few of their dormant supernatural heroes.

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Writer Victor Gischler, artist David Baldeon, and colorist Andres Mossa take Johnny Blaze, Daimon Hellstrom, Blade, and Satana to war at the gates of Hell.

Synopsis

Johnny Blaze was sitting at a bar when an angel staggered through the door, bleeding, and on the verge of death. He handed Johnny a mystic bullet before bursting into flames, his last words begging Blaze to take the bullet to Hellstrom. Blaze honors the angel’s dying request and pays a visit to Hellstrom. The duo learn that the demonic community are battening down the hatches, preparing for war. If Blaze and Hellstrom want to survive the coming war they’re going to need help.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Breakdown

Victor Gischler’s story is short and sweet. This issue is basically all setup as one would expect from an issue #1. Yet, within such a short amount of time Gischler handles the characters very well. We meet Johnny Blaze in a bar in the middle of nowhere, like stumbling upon an outlaw in a dusty saloon. Daimon Hellstrom is portrayed like the demon king of Wall Street dressed in a sharp suit, everyone knowing his name and owing him favors. And Blade is doing exactly what you’d expect: killing vampires with extreme prejudice. Sadly however, Satana is not in this issue.

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Daimon’s world and Johnny’s world are the antithesis of each other, Daimon a demonic businessman and Johnny a flameheaded cowboy. Johnny becomes the silent observer once Hellstrom takes point. Gischler neither takes their characters too far or leaves them underrepresented, demonstrating yet again that the writer has a good grasp of the characters. The demons they interrogate are cryptic and vague as to what is going on, but revealing enough information to point to something big in the near future.

The story is everything one could want from a premiere issue.

The Art

David Baldeon was a peculiar choice for this book. He typically displays a lighthearted cartoony style. Baldeon’s work over the past few years on such titles as Nova and Monsters Unleashed has been high quality and his style was employed expertly within those books.

Baldeon flexes his talents here offering some crisp pencils and dynamic sequences. The book looks good for the most part. Johnny Blaze and Daimon Hellstrom are rendered quite well. Baldeon’s signature cartoonish style is still present albeit scaled back.

The strange choice by Baldeon comes in the brief sequence where Johnny Blaze goes full Ghost Rider on some low level demons. The art becomes highly stylized and exaggerated. The art takes on an ethereal quality, warped, and losing shape. It’s a strange contrast to the rest of the issue which is clean and sharp. Hints of this seep back into the panels near the end when Blade makes his big entrance too, coinciding once again with an action sequence.

Credit: Marvel Comics

This particular shot could represent the demon’s point of view, staring up at Ghost Rider through the hellfire, the haze and heat of the flames distorting the image as the demon burns alive. If so, then that’s way cool. If that’s the way Ghost Rider and the action sequences will always look then I’m a little less enthusiastic. For future issues, I hope Ghost Rider and the rest of the cast look as good as they do on Baldeon’s covers for the book.

As for the colors, this book leans towards the drier end of the spectrum. Andres Mossa’s color pallet is faded and parched, utilizing dull browns, bleached yellows and oranges. The color choices lend the book a sense of twilight, for both the characters and the world itself, as if Armageddon were near. The colors work perfectly with the tone of the story and complement Baldeon’s pencils well.

Overall the book looks very good.

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A Marvel Horror Revival, please.

Marvel’s supernatural/horror characters have been languishing for quite some time. But Marvel is trying. In the last few years Marvel has peppered their horror characters here and there with the Man-Thing mini-series by R.L. Stine, the five issues of Robbie Reyes: Ghost Rider, and the Howling Commandos of Shield. All these books lasted no more than five to six issues.

My personal favorite Marvel horror book of late was the last volume of Carnage written by Gerry Conway with art by Mike Perkins and Andy Troy. The book lasted sixteen issues and was easily the best written and drawn horror comic from Marvel in years if not decades.

If Marvel should continue with a serious attempt to revive their horror line I would prefer them to take the same approach as they did with Carnage.

Mike Perkins has made it known that he wants to do a Marvel horror book. Perkins would be my top pick for a Midnight Sons revival. If only Marvel would team Conway with Perkins and Troy again for a Children of Midnight book. Fingers crossed that once Perkins and Troy finish their amazing run on Iron Fist we’ll see them take on more of Marvel’s horror characters like Morbius or Werewolf by Night.

I truly hope Spirits of Vengeance continues delivering high-quality issues for the subsequent months and maybe, just maybe we’ll get a stable ongoing horror series with these great characters in the future.

As of now this first issue handles the characters well, looks good, and shows great promise.

What did you think?

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Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche

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