David Baldeón looks back at the introduction of the FF’s greatest foe!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

Sometimes a comic comes along and changes everything for a reader. For SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE artist David Baldeón, it turned out to be FANTASTIC FOUR #5. As he explained in yesterday’s Kirby 100 installment, seeing the King’s work in that classic 1962 issue in a Spanish reprint completely changed how he looked at comics. He left behind other books and fully focused on Kirby!

Looking back at this issue, it’s no wonder that it so completely captured the future artist’s imagination. Not only does this installment introduce the world to none other than Doctor Doom, but it also features kidnapping, villainous origins, time travel, and the male members of the FF playing pirate!

“I’m not sure I took it all in,” Baldeón recalls. “Not in the first read, at least. It was all image after image after image. The nets, Blackbeard Thing, the sequence of Thing putting on his pirate disguise—I had never seen something like that. Mr. Fantastic stretching from boat to boat! That panel alone broke all the ideas I had in my head about comics. And Doom’s story! It was just too much. But I do remember the feel of ‘there’s so much more.’ There [are] other stories behind and around this thing I’m reading, it’s all part of something bigger, and not knowing exactly what was exciting and enticing.”

To get into a little more detail, the issue kicked off with this new villain, Doom, vowing to defeat the Fantastic Four. Back in their building, Johnny and Ben get into a fight over the Torch’s Hulk comic book before Reed and Sue break it up. They really stopped, though, when Doom surrounded their building with electrified cables and asked for Sue to come up, followed soon by the others.

Fantastic Four (1961) #5

Fantastic Four (1961) #5

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“I think this probably was the first time I saw Doctor Doom,” Baldeón remembers. “I had already read quite a few Marvel comics, but mostly Spider-Man. And of course, I didn’t have the slightest idea of who he was and what he meant! I did know, though, that that was not your average, run-of-the-mill villain. That design!”

Doom showed his true evil by bringing the team back to his castle and then demanding Mr. Fantastic, Thing, and Human Torch go back in time to steal Blackbeard’s treasure and return with it. Thrust into the past, Thing donned Blackbeard’s togs while Reed and Johnny dressed as standard pirates and they got the job done. Though Doom clearly became the most memorable part of this story, Blackbeard Thing has also taken on a life of its own.

“Honestly, I think it was just Kirby’s magic,” says Baldeón. “The Thing as Blackbeard is just one of those ideas that just cannot work or make any kind of sense, unless you’re Kirby and do it effortlessly, with just the right amount of epic and comedy and power and pure raw energy to make it not only possible, but iconic.”

Upon the team’s return, Doom turned out to be a robot, setting the stage for a recurring twist still used to this day. The real Doom then began to suck all the oxygen from the room, but Sue saved the day by rescuing her teammates. In the end, they escaped with their lives, but didn’t get their hands on the villain who would become nearly synonymous with the team itself!

“Looking back at it now, it’s just incredible that there’s so much information and so many concepts seamlessly contained in just one issue,” Baldeón concludes. “It has not lost one ounce of power, and it still works like clockwork. It is strange to think of ‘clockwork’ when talking about such an apparently raw, untamed sci-fi/fantasy story. But still, there it is. The pacing, the comedy. You can see why it is a classic. I go back to it and completely understand why it made such an impact.”

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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The Spirits of Vengeance artist speaks on how Kirby influenced him!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

For some, Jack Kirby’s artwork fit in seamlessly with the rest of their comic-reading habits. For artist David Baldeón, though, the artwork of “The King” proved so potent and captivating that he could only think of Kirby when it came to comics!

A devoted fan, Baldeón has drawn many of the same characters that gained life from Kirby’s pencils like Captain America and many of the pre-super hero monsters. He’s built off of the King’s work as well, with books like NOMAD and YOUNG ALLIES.

We talked with Baldeón about how Spanish reprints helped introduce him to Jack’s work, what that discovery did to his reading habits, and how he feels drawing some of Kirby’s most famous creations.

Marvel.com: How did you come to discover the King’s work and what struck you about it at the time?

David Baldeón: I discovered Kirby’s work before knowing it was actually Kirby’s. I guess it happens quite a bit when you’re a kid, but the Spanish editions of some Marvel Comics back in the day were not the best at crediting creators.

Anyway, I must have been 10 years old. I was already an avid comic book reader without giving much mind to where or from whom they came from. An issue of the FANTASTIC FOUR fell into my hands. It was the one in which The Thing ends up as the pirate Blackbeard, which I later learned was [Stan] Lee and Kirby’s [FANTASTIC FOUR] #5. I knew nothing; who those guys were, where they came from, what the hell was going on. I only knew it looked different; brash and energetic and fun and dramatic.

I never went back to my old comic books. I kept looking for that energy when I scanned through a new one, before buying. Kirby became the measure bar for every comic book I bought, without me really knowing his name.

Marvel.com: As a developing artist, did you take any inspiration or learn any lessons from looking at Kirby’s pages?

David Baldeón: Well, he was and is the standard. Even when you try to go in a different direction, his work very much determines that—precisely because you’re trying to not go Kirby! But if I have to say one thing, it goes back to what I said above: the lesson was the crisp energy, the clarity.

Marvel.com: NOMAD is an interesting book because it’s about an alternate-dimension version of Bucky. Did you look back at any classic Kirby Cap books when developing your take on Rikki Barnes?

David Baldeón: Funny thing is, back when I got the Nomad job—and it was my first kinda-sorta ongoing Marvel work!—I was going through some classic Cap in one of the editions I had collected. I kept going back to it because Steve Rogers and his man-out-of-time feel were a perfect companion to our “Girl Without a World,” Rikki. Of course, a good deal of those books being so powerful was Kirby’s work.

Marvel.com: Rikki carried over into YOUNG ALLIES, another book soaked in Marvel history while also looking fresh and current. How was it playing with those characters?

David Baldeón: It was like having a little taste of history. It was so in sync with everything I love about the [Marvel Universe]. And as you say, it sunk its roots deep and wide into Marvel history.

Marvel.com: Kirby also helped create many of the creatures seen in MONSTERS UNLEASHED. How fun has it been going back, looking at those designs, and rejuvenating them?

David Baldeón: Oh, that was fun. I must confess I knew way less about Kirby’s monsters than I thought and digging into that part of his work and finding out what he did, that was awesome. Even more when you start studying the designs, and capturing their essences and pour a bit of that into the book. That’s when you learn that some things only worked when it was him doing them. It certainly does not make the work less fun, but it makes you admire him even more.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Open up artist David Baldeón's dark book of demonic drawings!

What do Satan’s kids, a flame-headed demon, and a vampire hunter all have in common? They intend to keep the balance between heaven and hell as seen in the October 4-launching SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE.

Written by Victor Gischler and drawn by David Baldeón, the five-issue limited series will bring Johnny Blaze’s Ghost Rider together with Blade, Satana, and Daimon Hellstrom to stop a mysterious force from using an incredibly powerful weapon to plunge existence into chaos.

We talked with Baldeón about bringing his unique vision to these denizens of the dark and digging into the horror genre with an expert like Gischler!

Marvel.com: You’ve drawn a lot of different books in a lot of different genres. How has the supernatural/horror corner of the Marvel Universe been treating you?

David Baldeón: So far, so good! Horror is not the first thing that comes up when I think about my work so far—except maybe for ZOMBIES CHRISTMAS CAROL—but it sure feels good to stretch my horror fan legs a bit and see how I adapt to it.

I [grew up on], like any decent 80s kid, on my fair share of gory VHS tales, and quite a few of them come into play for this SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE run. Add to that the fact that I’m working with some of the very best supernatural characters around, which happen to inhabit the Marvel Universe and, well, I’m having much more fun than the guy who did the art for MARVEL TSUM TSUM should be allowed to be having!

Marvel.com: Did you look back to any of these characters’ previous runs to get a better feel for them?

David Baldeón: A little bit, mostly their more recent runs and appearances, just to keep in tune with what they look like nowadays and build on that. Their classic runs were of course present, because they have been part of my comic book diet consistently. I have had a Ghost Rider and a Hellstrom and a Blade version of mine in my head for a long long time. When this book came along, I just had to articulate them into the tale that Victor had come up with. Funny thing is what I had in my head seemed to work perfectly with what was written in the scripts!

Marvel.com: When we first talked about this book, you sounded very excited about the designs for the villains. What can you tell us about that process?

David Baldeón: As usual, it all comes from the script. Victor’s story is wonderfully layered, and the influences and connections it requires are the best ground for some very rich design work. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, it all seemed to work perfectly with the versions of the characters that I have had in my head as a fan for years.

For instance, Daimon Hellstrom, as described for this book by Victor, is very much a James Bond of the supernatural, which allowed me to weave his signature pentagram into the most dapper-looking suit I could design. And just with that the character is both designed and described visually! Our Rider is not too different from his classic look, but my long-time dream of drawing him as a death metal version of Jack Skellington worked perfectly with the look our demons needed.

And of course in my head they all came from more or less the same place, so it made sense that they shared an elongated, unnatural look. The book is filled with these little visual motifs, small clues and connections that I hope will help give it a distinct tone and a visual identity that is up to the story’s standards. And then there are the design candy characters and environments that I get to draw in every single issue, that of course I cannot comment on without going into full spoiler mode. But I’m sure they will be easily identified when the book is released.

Marvel.com: When it comes to figuring out some of the more supernatural-heavy scenes in the series, does the script have a lot of detail or does that come from you?

David Baldeón: Just the right amount of detail to let me run with it. Victor lets me do the groundwork on the visual storytelling, but of course that’s really easy to do when the script is so well crafted and the characters so wonderfully fleshed-out. I have tried to add to that, of course, and have tried to give each scene a different tone and use different visual narration techniques, depending on which character “carries” it. Which, again, is easy when the characters are so well written.

And by the way, I can’t say enough either about Andres Mossa’s gorgeous work on color. Andres’ lighting of all scenes in general—and the most gruesome and terrifying ones in particular—certainly close the deal. Not only do the pages look gorgeous, they’re pitch-perfect. If this was a movie, we could not have a better Director of Photography.

Marvel.com: Victor’s done a lot of work in the horror space. Would you say that came through in the scripts you used to draw the issues from?

David Baldeón: Forgive me the pun, but hell yeah. Victor sure knows his horror, and he is playing the classics and the references to my absolute delight, and most assuredly, the readers’. But he’s not just playing clichés or tropes, he’s using the basic and best rules of the genre to expand that supernatural corner into a wonderful wide playground. And best of all, what he’s doing—and hopefully I’m bringing it through with the art—follows what every good horror author knows: that it all works through and for the characters.

SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #1 from Victor Gischler and David Baldeón burns its way into your hands on October 4!

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Johnny Blaze, Satana, Blade, and Hellstrom unite!

Writer Victor Gischler and artist David Baldeón have spirit, yes they do. They’ve got spirit. How about you?

More accurately, they have SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE coming at you! On October 4, the Marvel Universe’s most infernal characters join forces in this fiery five issue limited series.

Back in the ‘90s, Marvel gave Ghost Rider and his horror-themed pals their own dark corner of the House of Ideas to play in. In addition to a series focusing on the Rider, the line also included a team-up called SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE that starred Johnny Blaze alongside another Rider, Danny Ketch. While this new series certainly acts as a spiritual successor to the original, readers need no familiarity with the original concept to enjoy the new series.

We caught up with Gischler and Baldeón to speak about working inside the Marvel Legacy initiative, the new team’s origins, and exploring the darker parts of the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: 1990s comic book fans will definitely recall the original SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE—how does it feel taking that title and using it to tell a new story as part of Marvel Legacy?

Victor Gischler: It feels just fine. And if hitting those notes brings out readers who were fans in the ‘90s, then that’s awesome. But in no way are we approaching this book in a fashion that leaves out new readers. We’re looking forward. I guess it’s the best of both worlds. We’re taking some great characters who maybe haven’t gotten enough play in recent years and reintroducing them.

Marvel.com: So far we know that the series features Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider, Satana, Blade, and Hellstrom. Victor, how did it feel to nail down this line-up?

Victor Gischler: Not a chore at all really. There was some brief discussion with the editors about different possibilities, but it would have been cumbersome to fit in every character that might be in a book like this. I mean, it’s a five issue limited series. We got to make it a tight little team. The best and most obvious choices are the four you mentioned.

Marvel.com: David, was there much of a redesign process when it came to these characters?

David Baldeón: There’s a little bit of everything. As Victor says, we want to take the very best possible of the original title and its era, and look forward with that. Hopefully that comes through in the designs! With that in mind, in some cases, I have just had fun with the original look of the character, ran with it, and tried to give it a twist. In other cases, we’ve dug deeper to give new versions that still are true to the character’s core. And also following that line of thought of adding and moving forward rather than going just for repetition. There’s a lot of layers there, design-wise. Oh, and the antagonists! I’m so looking forward to everyone seeing them!

Marvel.com: These characters have run into each other over the years—and they’ve even worked together. What brings them together this time around?

Victor Gischler: They come together fairly organically. It’s not like S.H.I.E.L.D. had a meeting and said, “Hey, let’s invent a super hero team to fight bad guys.” Not this time. One of our heroes recognizes a threat and one thing leads to another.

Marvel.com: How deep are you going into the supernatural and horror genres as you dive into these stories?

Victor Gischler: We reach deep into some familiar mythos.

Marvel.com: The classic SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE title and the Midnight Sons umbrella featured plenty of crossovers and guest appearances. Do you have plans to continue that tradition with this new series?

Victor Gischler: Not at the moment, since it’s just five issues. We need to stay focused on our story and the four characters we already have to work with. But if there’s a call for more, there’s a huge potential for crossovers and other familiar faces. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

Marvel.com: How has it been collaborating with each other to bring this group and this book to life?

Victor Gischler: Pretty easy for me. I just sit back and watch David’s excellent art roll in. It’s going to knock your eyes out!

David Baldeón: It’s a delight—pure and simple. I’m having the time of my life with this book and it is in great measure thanks to Victor’s amazing take on the characters. For instance, as fun as it is to “unleash” the Rider, the real joy is drawing Johnny Blaze as Victor writes him.

Victor Gischler and David Baldeón delve into darkness with SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #1, available October 4!

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