It’s October, the month of Halloween, so it is fitting that Marvel would release its first issue of their new supernatural team up, Spirits of Vengeance. The miniseries, written by Victor Gischler, art by David Baldeón, and colors by Andres Mossa, brings back some of Marvel’s supernatural characters that have been absent of late including, the original Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze, Daimon Hellstrom, Blade and Satana. With this title, one might expect a wronged super team out on the warpath seeking justice. Surprisingly what develops in this first issue is a murder mystery that if solved, could help avert the complete and utter destruction of existence.
The story begins with a mortally wounded angel approaching Johnny Blaze in a diner along a deserted stretch of Route 66. Before he expires, he provides Blaze with a silver bullet and the name of Daimon Hellstrom. Soon the mismatched team of the rough around the edges and clueless Blaze with the suave and refined Hellstrom are off to uncover the culprit and motives of the murdered angel. The pace can move slow as the duo investigate, and it does not help that the answers they receive are vague references to a catastrophic event. Such story telling can wear a reader’s patience thin, but the chemistry between Blaze and Hellstrom can make it a little easier to deal. If you can hang on until the end, you are treated with a thrilling action sequence that introduces the third member of the team, Blade.
What I enjoy most about this issue is the artwork. Baldeón creates a good mix of cartoony illustration with the right amount of ugliness to match the darker undertones. When needed, he can create a scarier and monstrous aesthetic as seen in his portrayal of demons and vampires. Not to be overlooked is colorist Mossa’s work. Combined with Baldeón’s art, they catch the exact feeling of fire and brimstone as Blaze transforms into his alter ego, Ghost Rider. They create a compelling battle that displays Ghost Rider’s fury and destructive powers. In addition, the overall story references the delicate balance between Heaven and Hell in order to maintain order. This is deftly displayed by the clever placement of characters and light sources to convey the contrasts of light and dark in each panel.
The combination of sluggish pace and minimal action can turn off some readers, however there is enough there to make this series worth a read. Mixing the Marvel occult world with a crime drama is an interesting approach and the great art are some of the more enjoyable aspects. Moreover, the series provides the rare opportunities to see Johnny Blaze and Blade front and center in a comic series.
Spirts of Vengeance #1 is currently available from Marvel.