Writer Victor Gischler primes heaven and hell for war!

The Spirits of Vengeance stand between the armies of heaven and hell, holding each at arm’s length in an attempt to save all Earthly life—and the afterlife—from destruction.

On January 17, writer Victor Gischler and artist David Baldeón present the penultimate chapter of their epic tale with SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #4! As Necrodamus forges a pathway to war, Ghost Rider, Satana, Blade, and Hellstorm unite again to arbitrate the conflict between darkness and light.

We spoke with Mr. Gischler about the otherworldly battle ahead of issue #4.

Marvel.com: What makes Necrodamus such a great villain?

Victor Gischler: He’s exactly the sort of villain I like. Because he’s all powerful? Nope; because he’s third rate in every way and has been reminded of that every day of his life. “I’ll show you” is his mantra.

He does have some legit magical powers, but compared to somebody like Doctor Strange, he’s something of a nobody. And he knows it. It’s eaten him up all his life, and the only way he can accomplish anything is to punch above his weight. And then along comes the Judas silver…

Marvel.com: How do you get into the head of a character like that?

Victor Gischler: We’ve all had those times we feel we’ve been treated unfairly. So just take that to its darkest possible place…and there you go. It’s easy to put ourselves in the shoes of the hero. But we should be able to see the world from the villain’s point of view too—otherwise he’s just a cardboard cutout.

Marvel.com: Can you tell us about his endgame in SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE? Why all the angel-killing?

Victor Gischler: Hmm…that’s begging for a spoiler. I’ll answer like this: for once in his sad life, he feels he’s concocted a way to come out on top. The angel-killing acts as a test for him to hone his new weapon. Let them laugh at Necrodamus now!

Marvel.com: How will the Spirits of Vengeance hope to stop the mad sorcerer?

Victor Gischler: When you put the four of them together you have everything…brains, muscle, cunning, sass…and lots and lots of fire.

Marvel.com: It’s pretty cool to see Ghost Rider fighting alongside Blade. What proved to be the most exciting aspect about putting those two heroes together?

Victor Gischler: They really are cool in the actions scenes…but the bonus for me ends up being when Blade and Johnny Blaze are just talking. I feel like, in another reality, they’d hang out and get beers and be buds.

Hear the drums of war in SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #4, by Victor Gischler and artist David Baldeón, on January 17!

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Victor Gischler on the threat the Covenant poses to Ghost Rider, Blade, Satana and Hellstrom.

In the beginning… Marvel created their own version of Heaven and Hell for their creators to have a devil of a good time with. Much later, writer Victor Gischler brought together a grouping of the Marvel Universe’s shadowy anti-heroes in SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE and said, “Let there be a story!”

SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #3, available December 6, will mark the half-way point in the limited series that teams Ghost Rider, Satana, Blade, and Hellstrom against all-powerful Covenant, and we thought’d be the perfect time to check in with Gischler about what he’s done and where he’s going.

Marvel.com: Victor, when you were outlining this series, what did you feel would be your greatest challenges in bringing these characters together?

Victor Gischler: They’re all such good characters that one of the challenges was making sure they all got quality face-time. These characters could easily each have their own books—and have, I guess—so when you bring that much star power together, it’s important to give each of them some room to strut.

Marvel.com: Who among the cast could or should be the leader in any given situation, in your opinion?

Victor Gischler: I suppose that any of them could step up, depending on the circumstances, but the way we’re approaching Hellstrom in SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE makes him the natural leader. He’s sort of the Reed Richards of the group. It’s pretty cool because the guy is really two characters in one: the dapper Hellstrom and the fiery Hellstorm.

Marvel.com: That’s a great analogy. So, Marvel’s had many different “takes” on Heaven and Hell in the comics over the years—where did you begin to pull together your “mythology” for this project?

Victor Gischler: I had a very religious fire-n-brimstone grandmother who told me just about every Bible story there is. There’s a lot of unfinished business there. Just seems like Hellstrom and company would be some of the people to get in on those things.

Spirits of Vengeance (2017) #1

Spirits of Vengeance (2017) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Marvel.com: Where did the basic idea for the Covenant come from? What about it made you feel it would be perfect to be in this story?

Victor Gischler: If you think about it, the Bible is full of “agreements.” I mean, the very first two people on Earth are told “eat from any tree but this one and you’ll be fine.”  So agreements—and the consequences for breaking those agreements—are something we see a lot of in the Bible. The Covenant is an extension of that theme. Also, the Covenant provides us with a big “threat to the world” event. You don’t bring Ghost Rider, Blade, Hellstrom, and Satana together just because there’s a couple of minor demons picking pockets down at the bus station.

Marvel.com: Absolutely not! If asked, would you like to bring this group back for another go-round? And if so, which Marvel characters would you like to add to it?

Victor Gischler: I’d absolutely consider it. There’s a lot of potential to tell more of these kinds of stories. And I think the group is perfect as-is. A great, tight little team, so I wouldn’t look to add a permanent member to the team. But, [that said] it’s the perfect situation for guest stars, and there are plenty of Marvel horror types who could show up. Our old pal Danny Ketch would also be an obvious guest star. Just so many things we could do.

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Cataloguing the most dangerous artifacts in the Marvel Universe!

Even super heroes and supernatural beings can use a little extra firepower sometimes.

Across the Marvel Universe lie artifacts, weapons, and tools that have provided that punch for decades—and on November 8, in writer Victor Gischler and artist David Baldeon’s SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #2, the team finds itself up against a new, dangerous object that has the power to destroy the Spirits…and the world.

To put that weapon into context, we’ve assembled the greatest, most reality-altering, life-extinguishing, Earth-destroying objects in the Universe.

Black Vortex
A quasi-mirror that reveals the user’s cosmic potential—and if the beholder submits to the Vortex, they can achieve that potential. Corruption, however, seems like an inevitable conclusion of its use; those who submit often experience personality changes and cause destruction and heartbreak as a result.

The Casket of Ancient Winters
An Asgardian artifact that, when opened, can plunge any, or all, of the nine realms into eternal winter.

Cosmic Cube
The number one reality-altering object in the universe. The Cosmic Cube lends its user the power to control matter and energy—and yields terrible and destructive results. This object is frequently used by The Red Skull, which lends an insight to the Cube’s problematic nature.

The Crimson Gem of Cyttorak
Created by a magical ancient being, the Gem possesses the power to turn whomever touches it into The Juggernaut. An Exemplar of Cyttorak, the one who captures this identity gains nearly unstoppable physical power.

The Darkhold
Also referred to as The Book of Sins or Shiatra Book of the Damned, contains the text of all the evil magic spells of the world. While some appear in other tomes, this cursed volume acts as the source.

Valkyrie’s sword—passed to her from Doctor Strange who himself inherited it from The Ancient One. The sword can shatter mystical barriers and absorb magic when in contact with blood.

Ebony Blade
Created by Merlin and sourced from an alien metal, this sword detects metal objects, cuts through nearly any surface, and protects the wielder from death. It also appears to be cursed—and often craves spilled blood.

Enchanted Hammers (Mjolnir, Stormbreaker, Thunderstrike, Manbreaker, Soulbreaker, Oceanbreaker, Worldbreaker, Faithbreaker, Stonebreaker, Willbreaker)
A collection of Asgardian implements, with the most famous among them, Mjolnir, frequently brandished by Thor, those acting as Thor, and Thor-colleagues like Thunderstrike and Beta Ray Bill. The other hammers resurfaced as Cul, brother of Odin, attempted to claim the kingdom of Asgard as his own by bestowing these weapons upon several of Earth’s heroes and villains. They granted the users incredible power, but also seemed to control their minds, emphasizing their most selfish, paranoid, and dangerous traits.

Evil Eye
An Avalonian artifact made of nearly indestructible material, the Evil Eye allows its holder to generate force fields, concussive blasts, energy nullification, and matter manipulation.

Eye of Agamotto
One of three Eyes, The Eye of Agamotto—also known as The Eye of Truth—can only be used via “white magic” and cannot be wielded by anyone with evil intent. It grants the user a telepathic power, reveals truths, issues an all-revealing light, and can visualize past events.

Gem of Infinite Suns
Another Asgardian artifact, this one contains the essence of a thousand suns and acts as an equal but opposite measure against the effects of the Casket of Ancient Winters.

Infinity Gauntlet and Gems
Longstanding as Thanos’ most coveted object in his quest to romance Death, the Gauntlet allows the wearer to hold each of the Gems (Power, Time, Space, Soul, Reality, and Mind) and wield them all at once. As a result, the wearer gains, in essence, omnipotence.

Ka Stone
A fragment of the Lifestone Tree that, when discovered, turned a normal man into the villainous Sphinx, this stone’s powers include immortality, time travel, photographic memory, strength, flight, energy manipulation, and increased durability.

Mandarin’s Rings
A collection of ten rings sourced from alien technology, these are most often associated with Mandarin—though he neither created nor wielded them first. They offer a wide range of powers including energy blasts, beams, gases, levitation, and power over fire, ice, light, air, and electricity.

Created by the Kree as a response to Eon’s formation of the Quantum Bands, the Bands give those who wield them flight, strength, durability, interdimensional travel, and cosmic awareness. They also prevent the user from needing food, air, or water.

Neptune’s Trident
The three-pronged spear of a Greek god, this weapon acts as a wand and allows the user to for manipulate water, energy, and matter.

Norn Stones
Yet another magic item of Asgard—and a Loki favorite. The Stones have proven unpredictable over the years, granting power to certain owners (like Loki and The Hood), but remaining entirely unresponsive to the likes of Norman Osborn.

Quantum Bands
Eon cast these for use by the Protector of the Universe, A.K.A. Quasar. While similar to the Nega-Bands, the Quantum Bands pull their energy from the Quantum Zone and, as a result, include such powers as invisibility, electromagnetic energy manipulation, and the ability to link with Eon and Epoch.

Staff of One
An object of unknown origin, The Staff of One sources its power from blood magic, and is most effective in the hands of someone with knowledge of magic spells. It can launch any spell, but can only do them each once.

Twilight Sword
Also known as the Sword of Doom, Surtur created this weapon to hasten the coming of Ragnarok. It contains the power to set the entire universe on fire.

The Ultimate Nullifer
Perhaps the only object in the galaxy that makes Galactus recoil, the Nullifier’s actual power remains somewhat a mystery, though, if used properly, it seems to promise the unmaking of all reality.

The Wand of Watoomb
Six, or possibly seven, such Wands exist—and typically get linked with the word “wicked.” It can enhance, increase, and control the power of any mystical owner.

Zodiac Key
An object created in another dimension and cast of an unknown material, it can be a source of infinite energy, grant users the ability to fire psionic bolts, and might be connected to the greater balance of the entire universe. And like many artifacts of such might, at times it seems to have a mind of its own.

Gear up with SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #2, by writer Victor Gischler and artist David Baldeon, on November 8!

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Writer Victor Gischler details the resurrection of the classic series!

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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.”

Marvel.com: 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!

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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.

Marvel.com: 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!

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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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