REVIEW: ‘Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Spirits of Vengeance Spirit Rider #1 - But Why Tho

Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider #1 is a one-shot published by Marvel Comics. Written by Taboo and B. Earl. The art is by Paul Davidson and the colours are by Dan Brown. Joe Caramagna is the letterer.

Kushala is the Sorceror Supreme from the 1800s, the last survivor of a massacred tribe. But she also has a demon inside her—plaguing her despite her prowess of magic. She is now in the present day, brought here by Doctor Strange. Strange approaches her in this issue with Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider. Johnny has a demon inside of him, and not his usual one. Something is interfering with his Spirit of Vengeance, causing him to lose control of his body. The two recruit Kushala because this demon may be connected to the one inside of her, too. She has the ability to physically enter other people’s bodies and travel across planes of existence, which she does so with Blaze. Kushala and Johnny are taken on a journey through both their pasts against a threat that may endanger everything.

The plot of this comic is a winding, multi-layered epic. Although the 36 pages may not feel like a lot, there is an absolute wealth of content that makes the experience more like a full novel. The concept is great and though the ideas involved may be complex, it is explained fully and efficiently by Taboo and Earl. What is a nice change from other superhero comics is that Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider #1 manages to take its time yet excite on every page. The battles are physical and intense. Many magical adventures can be too big in their scale, yet this is incredibly personal. The ending feels earned and complete while also setting up a world of possibilities. 

This comic is entirely character-driven, every aspect of the story centering around either Rider. The majority of the plot literally takes place inside Johnny Blaze as his past is traversed upon. This is wise by the writers as his backstory is arguably more well-known by the raiders. There are some very touching moments within this comic as Blaze relives the key aspects of his life, including encounters with both of his parents. An interesting spin is placed on this character’s history as it is explored by an outsider, as opposed to through the viewpoint of Johnny himself. That being said, he cannot be trusted as an ally with this terrifying and powerful demon corrupting his decisions.

Ghost Rider is good in this one-shot, but the true shining star is Kushala. Whilst Johnny’s body is used as the battleground, this is Kushala’s tale. There are connections to the awful things she has faced, and her past is what gave her a spirit of vengeance in the first place. There is so much development inside this comic, and those new to the character will put the comic down loving her. The exploration of Native American culture is loosely explored and appears respectful.

The art is stunning. Change is a frequent occurrence in Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider #1 and the way it is depicted is terrific. Both of the main characters have a hidden being within them, and the transition is creepy and awe-inspiring at the same time. Their faces shift and present the monstrous forms underneath, the actual colours of the lines changing too. The way Davidson uses smoke and fire is also fascinating. The artist uses these to create beautiful patterns from the lines. The designs of the monsters send shivers down the spine. Kushala’s costume is an incredibly intricate creation, full of patterns and small dots and lines. It should be mentioned that there is one single page added by Native American artist Jeffrey Veregge, detailing the origin of a creature inside this comic. This one page is a powerful piece of art—one that could be studied for hours and details may go unnoticed. It is one of the most unique pages in Marvel Comics’ history.

The colours are just as beautiful as the art. The shades used by Brown are bright and vibrant without being overpowering. The line art on Kushala’s costume is exquisite, but the colours are just as amazing. The blue lines underneath her eyes are particularly striking. When the panels are full of detail, Brown ensures that the colours accentuate these pieces instead of adding confusion.

It should be mentioned that there is a massive amount of dialogue in this comic. There is a large caption box or word balloon in nearly every panel, and in some instances the lettering makes it seem like there’s just a wall of text. This slows down the reader, but this is a good thing. The dialogue and captions are eloquent and poetic, also managing to be dramatic and funny when needed.

Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider #1 is a wonderful experience that should be savoured. This one-shot is not going to be a quick read. It is a book that requires time, and the high quality of the art and writing means that it is a pleasure to do so. Multiple readings may be required to fully grasp every plot thread. Kushala is a terrific character that stands out alongside two stalwarts of Marvel Comics.

Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider #1
5

TL;DR

Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider #1 is a wonderful experience that should be savoured. This one-shot is not going to be a quick read. It is a book that requires time, and the high quality of the art and writing means that it is a pleasure to do so. Multiple readings may be required to fully grasp every plot thread. Kushala is a terrific character that stands out alongside two stalwarts of Marvel Comics.