Published September 6, 2017

Spirits of Vengeance: To Hell and Back

Writer Victor Gischler details the resurrection of the classic series!

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When an angel dies, the Spirits of Vengeance are the first to respond.

Ghost Rider has tried to manage the situation on his own, but it’s time to bring in some reinforcements. As Marvel Legacy dawns, Satana, Hellstorm, and Blade ride with Johnny Blaze once again…on October 4, writer Victor Gischler and artist David Baldeón heat up the cold war between Heaven and Hell with SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #1!

We gave Victor a grilling to learn more about the return of this supernatural quartet. What can you tell us about how this story begins?

Victor Gischler: The Marvel Universe is a huge place, but our story takes place in its own macabre little horror corner…The Spirits have entered into this eternal cold war between Heaven and Hell, and Earth stands as the battlefield.

There’s a constant struggle to nudge Earth and humanity toward good—or a little bit toward evil—but it’s an ongoing balance. When something significant comes in to try to tip that balance toward evil, our Spirits arrive to figure out how to stop it. How does it feel to reboot a series like SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE?

Victor Gischler: I don’t know! [Laughs] I mean, nobody really put it to me like, “We need you to reboot this series.” They said “Here are some characters that we can bring back and do some cool stuff together.”

I didn’t think of it as a reboot; I thought of it like, “These characters would be great in a certain kind of story.” What are the dynamics between these characters like?

Victor Gischler: They work well together because they’re professionals—but a couple of them will raise an eyebrow at one another. You know, Satana and Hellstorm are siblings, so they have a little friction there. But when it comes down to getting the job done, they can set that aside—they’ve got bigger fish to fry! Did you draw from the past incarnations of these characters? Or did you approach them with a fresh perspective?

Victor Gischler: A little bit of both! We have some of the past flavoring—you’re not going to see Ghost Rider turn to Blade and say, “Hey, this is just like issue #22! Remember that from the ‘90s!?” They won’t do that. [Laughs] The vibe of the past exists, but we’re refreshing them and updating them.

David Baldeón gave Hellstorm a makeover into the sort of super spy of the Spirits of Vengeance; he’s always dapperly dressed, but he’s also in his civilian clothes a lot. We’re also waiting for him to bust out with that pentagram on his chest, of course, but he covers a lot of mileage. It’s not just about his powers, but also what he knows and how he experiences everything. It seems like you’re bringing your own style while honoring what came before.

Victor Gischler: I think that’s the perfect way to put it. Maybe we tip the balance a little here and a little there, but we are trying to walk that line. It would be wasting an opportunity to forget everything that came before. Part of it feels like rediscovering treasure we already had.

We’ve also got a couple of bad guy characters and, in a way, they’re exactly what you’re saying—we’ve created a totally new villain but we’ve also reached back into the archives for one…and gave him a revamp. It’s the best of both worlds. When we were in the process of creating them, I thought about whether we should dig up a villain or invent a bad guy. If you invent a bad guy, you can tailor that person to be exactly what you need for the book—but on the other hand, the revamp gives you a chance to have some history and continuity. It’s so cool to have a callback! You know, some other writer—however many years ago—already put such hard work into making a character that I can reshape and update a little. Again, it’s about walking that line. How would you describe the art in the book?

Victor Gischler: I have a pretty poor vocabulary when it comes to art stuff…I tend to say that things look “neat” or “cool”…but basically, David’s pages are kickass. And how would you describe your characterizations in the story?

Victor Gischler: The characters have some edge but are still obviously good guys. These guys aren’t Captain America, but in spite of that edge, you know whose side they’re on. We tried to show that from the outset. When we introduced Satana, for instance, I wanted to remind readers of who Satana is—the kind of stuff she does. Yes, she’s one of the “heroes,” but she’s also literally Satan’s daughter. This is a Marvel Legacy title, so what does the legacy of Marvel mean to you?

Victor Gischler: Oh, man…where to start

Well, I remember when I started buying comics as a kid. You’d have to walk into a convenience store on the corner and they’d have these racks and there’d just be comics crammed in. Nobody thought these things would be valuable or collectible; we only thought about reading the stories and the characters.

But what a wealth. What a wealth of story and characters and history. I can remember being 8 years old and getting a copy of THE INCREDIBLE HULK at the store. So why wouldn’t we create a series that remembers what we have?

You know, when I first picked up a copy years ago, Johnny Blaze was my Ghost Rider. And now I get to write him. How awesome is that?

Victor Gischler and artist David Baldeón’s SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #1 drops on October 4!