Now that Marvel Legacy #1 is out of the way, we’re ready to dive head-first into the publishing initiative with a diverse roster of books this week. Some books are simply renumbering this week while others are debuting with a new #1’s. Take a look at the first books of Legacy this week in The Marvel Rundown!

Spirits of Vengeance #1
Written by Victor Gischler and Robbie Thompson
Drawn by David Baldeon and Anthony Piper
Colored by Andres Mossa
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Reviewed by AJ Frost

A piece of silver. Explosions that smolder with riddles and mind games. Angels and demons fighting for unknown purposes. Hellfire and mystery. These are the ingredients for an ambitious and ambiguous mystery at the heart of the first issue of Spirits of Vengeance, which turned out to be an utterly-bizarre (in a good way) comic that combines fast-paced action and ostentatious camp in a delightfully equal measure. At the core of the comic is the beginnings of a major quest, though as readers, we are left to wonder the broader concerns of the characters and their role in the story.

Admittedly, I was a tad skeptical going into this issue. Merely the thought of a bunch of horror tropes coming together to fight a bigger evil wasn’t the most appealing thing in the world. But, to my great surprise, I found myself perpetually engaged with the spot on art and the inklings of a great and enigmatic tale that is being told within these pages. And indeed, there is much to admire about Spirits of Vengeance #1. First things first, as teased in last week’s Legacy one-shot, Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider takes center stage. He is the spark, as it were, to propel the story forward, and writer Victor Gischler complements the amount of Johnny’s attitude of sangfroid with the literal hotheadedness that is Ghost Rider.

Gischler’s obviously had a challenging task with this issue if only for the reason that the issue is unadulterated exposition. Everything in the story is positioned to move onto the next beat. But, in context, this is perfectly acceptable and even more so because of how everything coalesces. Character interactions—such as those between Johnny and Daimon Hellstorm or, to be sure, Daimon and everyone else—feel loose and natural (or, surely as natural as the spawn of Satan can be, but it comes with the territory). David Baldeon’s art reinforces the enthusiastic inclinations of Gischler’s story by employing understated choices of space and depth. Evil spirits and slick Wall Street dining clubs are both drawn with eyes towards subtle details. There are nuances to each visual cue which supports Gischler’s outlandish prose. There is an offbeat tastefulness to this approach, where more naturalistic design choices juxtapose nicely with the inherently outré subject matter of a bunch of hell creatures teaming up to fight demons. I’m not complaining! I really dug this unorthodox approach.

So, what then is the verdict? Spirits of Vengeance #1 accomplishes its main goal of setting up a major arc with aplomb. Ghost Rider, even when not doing much in terms of kicking touches and taking names, presents a strong presence. Even the supporting characters, including those that only show up for a page or two before disappearing completely, have a lasting impact. There are some pacing issues and it does take a little bit too long for the action to really grab momentum. Nonetheless, this is a strong effort and the perfect set-up for a wider story.

Final Verdict: Buy. Ghost Rider is back!

Avengers #672
Written by Mark Waid and Robbie Thompson
Drawn by Jesus Saiz and Daniel Acuna
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

I think Mark Waid loves comics, superheroes, and the Avengers. Throughout Waid’s run on the heroes lasting over a few years and several different titles–I’ve always gotten the sense that he truly loves these books and his heart and soul is on each and every page–which is why I’m happy to see this book finally take off with a strong script and blend of enticing characters, wonderful art and a great sense of humor and drama. Avengers #672 brings a potent sense of energy and excitement to the title just in time for Marvel Legacy. The issue see’s the Avengers teaming up with The Champions to fight a natural disaster. The book takes on a very simple premise but makes sure to weave in some of the different plot threads between the characters and their interpersonal relationships beautifully. Virtually each player in the comic is given the chance to do something fascinating here all while Waid balances the hefty cast and tone of the book with the beautiful art of Jesus Saiz assisting the creator along the way.

Waid establishes a direct threat early on in the issue which must be stopped. Over the course of just a few pages, he has the two teams of superheroes coming directly together to stop the threat. The writer wisely adds a ton of visual elements of action so Saiz can show off the tremendous power each character has. For someone just getting into comics and trying to get the hang of all the newer elements of Marvel on the publishing side setting them apart for the movies, this is a wonderful place to start and see what all of the fuss is about. Readers will get a pretty good sense of who each character is from their interactions and how both teams feel about each other based on some of the conversations. It might be difficult to analyze Marvel Legacy as a whole but as it currently stands, the idea of the line seems to be a celebration of past and present which makes this comic the perfect embodiment of the premise.

Saiz’s pencils really serve to elevate the material. The artist vividly illustrates the action that goes on in the title and makes sure to show reactions from heroes on the same page depict just how harrowing this story is. Each hero from the sprawling cast of the book is drawn very clear from one another and oftentimes thrown directly into the action. Even when the main plot the begins to simmer, the final page of the book plays a reveal which would only work with fantastic artwork. There’s a lot to like about Saiz’s work from his painterly style to the sunny hues he lends to interior pages of the book. There’s a great spread showing off the newest team of Avengers in an epic, posed style that shows off just how different they are in a captivating but beautiful fashion.

For the first installment of a crossover story, Avengers #672 is light on its feet. The issue is taking time building a story together and I hope a deeper sense of whimsy can propel the book towards a big threat when it counts in future installments. With the main cover for the book, Marvel editorial and marketing does seem to be teasing a much larger story going forward. After the main problem is resolved, the pacing of the story does considerably begin to slow down before the final page hits. Waid’s script is slightly too wordy here and the Vision story opening up the issue may be too dark for the rest of the material–but those critiques don’t stop this comic from being delightful.

Final Verdict: Buy. With a more focused direction in both writing and art infused with standout moments from each character, Avengers #672 impresses.

See you next week for the debut of Falcon #1!