Ghost Rider, Daimon Hellstrom, and Blade have united in response to the newest moves on the part of the forces of Hell. They do exactly what you’d expect them to… they go to a bookstore!
Meanwhile, Necrodamus furthers his plans with the silver and recruits some help of his own.
The first issue of Spirits of Vengeance had a lot of charm and a little intrigue involved. It united some of Marvel’s most demonic and cultish heroes to answer a new threat brought about from the very depths of Hell itself.
This issue decides to immediately form a holding pattern. Sure, Daimon informs his allies what the silver actually is (biblical reference for $400, Alex), and Necrodamus continues to forward his plans. But beyond that, the plot to this issue is all over the place. There’s a brief fight in the bookstore, Necrodamus does some things, and Satanna joins the team, as you knew she would from the cover of the first two issues.
Marvel has the tendency to release stories that assume they can get away with using tropes from a certain genre by making jokes or dialogue that bring attention to the fact that they are indeed tropes. However, that’s not really subversion. It’s just acknowledging that these tropes are tried and true.
Spirits of Vengeance #2 falls into this trap with biblical references, snark, and a plot not particularly interested in its lead characters. The hyperactive plot keeps jumping around, the plot points are pretty easy to call from the first issue, and it hopes that the jokes it keeps throwing out will distract you from that last fact.
The one area where it strays from straight biblical references is where it actually fails itself somewhat. If you’re going from the Bible itself, the war between Heaven and Hell isn’t actually a war. It’s a fallen angel dicking around with humanity while God uses it as a test for humanity’s resolve against evil. Making it a straightforward “both sides are equally matched” war actually takes some of the fun out of it. Satan being an asshole who knows he’ll never win but still wants to mess with humanity anyway is far more interesting than him just wanting to fight God because God is good and Satan is evil.
Another odd detail is how the comic skips how Hellstrom and Ghost Rider convince Blade to join their cause. Blade is a vampire hunter, not a demon hunter. He also has a notoriously difficult and obtuse personality. One would think their convincing him to join up would be a significant moment in the story. However, they skip over this part and start from the aforementioned bookstore with him making quips just like everyone else.
David Baldeon’s artwork starts to lose its charm this issue, as well. His work’s comparisons to Humberto Ramos last issue were actually a good thing, but here, his art mimics the less appealing side of Ramos. Characters look goofy and disproportional to their own bodies. The demon designs become really monotonous. Demons are at their coolest when each one has its own “thing” going on. Here, every monster looks like the same night-black and toothy beast, and none really vary from that until the end. Furthermore, the artwork is a bit more cartoony than an occult tale like this one warrants.
Andres Mossa’s color art does make up for that somewhat with creative use of shading and contrast, but it doesn’t manage to make the artwork appealing.
While I do still have hopes for how Spirits of Vengeance will continue from here based upon the promising first issue, I can’t recommend #2. It’s unfocused and cliched. It misuses its great cast by not featuring them enough, and it’s an all-around disappointment. Give this issue a pass, and you probably won’t be too confused by issue three.
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