Review – Spirits of Vengeance – Spirit Rider #1
Colours By: Dan Brown
Letters By: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 4, 2021
SHE’S LIKE NO GHOST RIDER YOU’VE EVER SEEN! SHE IS KUSHALA—A SORCERER SUPREME, A SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE…AND THE SAVIOR OF JOHNNY BLAZE’S SOUL!
Blaze has been through a lot lately, from ascending the throne of Hell to nearly murdering his former allies on the Avengers. But his nightmare is far from over. Something — or someone—is haunting him, and only a Ghost Rider with the powers of a Sorcerer Supreme can find out why. The dynamic writing duo of Taboo (of the Black Eyed Peas) and B. Earl expand the Rider mythos with an action-packed special that will kick off a brand-new era of vengeance! Kushala’s about to be the hottest thing in hell.
Writers: B. Earl, Taboo
This is a very packed issue, perhaps a little too packed we start with a full-page Ghost Rider rampaging through Manhattan then jump to a cafe in the desert. Strange “dealt” with Blaze by trapping the demon until sunset but he needs the help of Kushala to get to the bottom of the Rider’s problem.
She physically enters Johnny (ooh matron!) and together they go through his memories attempting to find the problem. Dragged back to one of the worst days of his life Johnny meets with his father and they chat trying to find out the reason the demon has dragged them there. As his father dies in an explosion he is revealed to be part of the demon trying to steal both Kushala and Johnny’s spirits of vengeance.
Kushala finds out that the living memory of a dead planet, a leviathan, fell into our dimension as vengeance and its essence was scattered through time, Johnny has the last piece of the leviathan’ soul and it wants it back.
Earl and Taboo try to cram a lot in 32 pages, and I’m not sure all of it works. The over narration (one page is nothing but that) spoils what is actually a quite interesting story about the origin of the spirit of vengeance. Perhaps expanding it to a larger single issue or spreading it over a few would have helped. The writing especially the humour though is well written and lightens the tone of the whole issue.
Artists: Paul Davidson, Jeffrey Veregge
Davidson does an amazing job to turn this plot-heavy title into a masterpiece particularly focussing on the stages of transformation between human and spirit form. There’s a 1970s quality to their artwork harking back to the silver age of comics. The use of smoke, fire and colour work by Brown set the pages almost on fire with yellows, oranges and flaming reds.
the single page Native American artwork by Veregge is full of symmetry showing the story of the leviathan and helping the complex narration I critiqued above to come to life. It would not look out of place in an art gallery it’s that beautiful.
I’m torn on this issue between the amazing artwork and the heavy narration crammed into a single issue. It’s a very heavy plot to digest and many light readers will be scared off by the stodgy middle-section. The final six or seven pages are perfect and make up for the dense trip through Blaze’s memories. It will be interesting to see what they do with the character over the next few issues.
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