Johnny Blaze is back. But he’s not alone… In order to figure out his latest arcane mystery, Johnny will team up with the vampiric Daywalker and Satan’s favorite offspring. Your Major Spoilers review of Spirits Of Vengeance #1 awaits!
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorist: VC’s Cory Petit
Letterer: Andres Mossa
Editor: Chris Robinson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Spirits Of Vengeance: “A dead angel. A silver bullet. A kept promise. For ages, the war between Heaven and Hell rages in the unseen corners of society, both sides in delicate balance that could topple if the right weapons were in the wrong hands… When an undercover angel is murdered, Johnny Blaze the Ghost Rider must find the killers and punish them… but this time he won’t do it alone: HELLSTORM! SATANA! BLADE! They are the SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE!”
70’s HORROR IS ALL THE RAGE AGAIN
We open on Route 66 (and no, it’s not missing a number) as rough-ridin’ highway warrior Johnny Blaze stops for a cup of coffee. While he discusses the effects of caffeine with a counterman, a stranger enters and greets him by name. Johnny is confused as the man digs a silver bullet out of his chest and urges him to “take it to Hellstrom.” Moments later, his visitor bursts into flames and is reduced to Ash. Johnny seeks out his old friend (one of his oldest, in fact, as they were created mere issues apart way back in 1972), but even Hellstrom isn’t sure what it entails. They work together, searching for meaning in the bullet and discovering that it may mean the end of reality itself. While the mysterious Necrodamus (who also debuted in ’72, as one of the earliest foes of The Defenders) works to recover his silver property, Daimon and Johnny make a call to another of their colleagues: The vampire hunter called Blade!
QUIRKY ART, BUT IT WORKS
I wasn’t sure about David Baldeon’s art at first, but as the issue goes on, his unusual style really grew on me. Daimon looks subtly out-of-place everywhere, while Johnny slouches about in leather and Blade is all about actual, muscular and imposing. Here’s hoping that when Satana arrives (next issue?) that she will be equally well-treated by the art. Opening chapters of mysteries can be a balancing act, but Gischler holds it together ably, showing us unseen conspiracies and secret creatures that live in the shadows, perfect for a book in this vein, with these characters. I am bugged by the fact that this bears the “Marvel Legacy” trade dress, mostly because that dress hasn’t really meant anything at all for the stories presented thus far.
THE BOTTOM LINE: AN OKAY FIRST CHAPTER, WITH AN ABRUPT ENDING
The cliffhanger works at face value (and makes Blade seem very scary indeed) but the transition to it feels a little bit more like “ran out of time” than “meant to do that”, but the overall story is strong enough to weather the hit, leaving Spirits Of Vengeance #1 with a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. If nothing else, it’ll be nice to have some scary horror-style comics during the month of October, but this story has a lot of potential to be something memorable…