Spirits of Vengeance #9-10
Issue(s): Spirits of Vengeance #9, Spirits of Vengeance #10
This is the last of Troll and Hag. Steel Vengeance is effectively done as well (she will manage one posthumous appearance in a 2011 Ghost Rider series).
The boss sends Steel Wind after Blaze again. He wants Blaze alive, says not to bother with Ghost Rider, and says that she can "destroy all that you wish" beyond that. He gives her an eyeball on a chain to help her; it's Reverend Styge's eye, and she can use it to summon demons that he created.
Blaze and Ghost Rider are investigating the effects of a blizzard that began in the last arc. They're approached by members of Blaze's carnival, including Wolff, who blames Ghost Rider for the destruction that the carnival has suffered. Blaze talks Wolff down from attacking Ghost Rider, and then they go back to the remains of the carnival, where everyone is regrouping in a large tent. It's said that some people are missing, and Wolff tells Blaze that one of the carnies, Kody, "the strongest among us", didn't lend a hand during the fight. The psychic, Clara Menninger, warns that the bad guys are returning. Blaze goes out to look for them. He tries to leave Ghost Rider behind to protect the tent, but Wolff won't have it, so they go out together.
Meanwhile, police detective Michael Badilino approaches someone and says that he's willing to sell his soul for a chance at Ghost Rider.
The mystery person turns out to be Mephisto, who turns Badilino into a "mockery" of Ghost Rider called Vengeance. Not to be confused with Steel Vengeance, who has conveniently been killed off just in time.
Steel Wind attacks the carnival again, leading a horde of Rev. Styge's demons. Since Ghost Rider and Blaze are separated from the tent, they have to fight their way through the demons to get back. Ghost Rider gets stuck fighting Steel Wind.
And Vengeance joins the fray, wanting Ghost Rider for himself.
Vengeance is under the impression that Ghost Rider is Zarathos, despite Ghost Rider's corrections.
Some nice art from Kubert.
During the fight, the carnival's impossibly good mechanic, Eli McIntyre, is mortally wounded by Steel Wind.
Before he dies, McIntyre gives Blaze an envelope that he says will "point you in the right direction".
This time, Kody joins the fight, and he turns out to be some kind of werewolf or something.
A number of the carnival characters are slaughtered by demons. This is meant to be a traumatic experience for Blaze and for us, but since these characters have been undeveloped and just hanging around in the margins, it leaves me cold. Franky, i'm happy to have them cleared out. There were just too many characters, none of whom reached beyond stock development (if even that).
The fight is ended thanks to, er, some character named Miranda who was, er, the mother of some other character named Timmy. She, uh, whatever.
With his minions wiped out, we finally learn who the mysterious boss was. And it's a good thing he says his name, because he sure doesn't look like Centurious.
Note that he wonders if Vengeance is who he appears to be.
It's actually not clear what happens to Vengeance. It looks like he's wiped out by Miranda with the rest of the demons, but clearly he'll be back.
Kubert provides some nice visuals, but the story is still a cluttered mess, a fault that can be spread between Kubert (whose storytelling is not a match for his static art) and Howard Mackie. Mackie hasn't really justified the need for this second Ghost Rider book, and wiping out half the cast already seems to be an acknowledgement that the current setting wasn't working. We're now down to a more manageable group of named carnies, but did we really need Johnny Blaze to have a super-powered group of hanger-ons in addition to the perpetual team-up with Ghost Rider? Ghost Rider himself continues to be overworked. A number of his appearances have had to be crammed back in publication time prior to this thanks to the events of this arc, and he continues to have guest appearances all over the rest of the Marvel universe. Mackie theoretically makes this book more about Blaze thanks to the use of the Steel sisters and Centurious, but of course everything that goes on here is tied into Ghost Rider's story as well. You might think that with twice the space available, Mackie might actually get to move things forward a bit (and i guess we do finally get the overdue Centurious revelation), but really that space is devoted to introducing more characters, like the carnies and Vengeance. It's worth noting that the payoff for all the subplotting around Michael Badilino happens in this book with his transformation into Vengeance; the two books are deeply intertwined even though Ghost Rider's own book is currently doing solo (non-Blaze) stories.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: See the considerations for the previous arc. This should be Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze's first appearance since then. It's said that the blizzard from last issue lasted two days, but that Ghost Rider and Blaze have been missing for 24 hours. So this should appear soon after Spirits of Vengeance #7-8, but not necessarily directly. Note that the demons that appeared in this arc and last are said to be Rev. Styge's, but Styge himself does not appear in either arc, so there's no conflict with his appearances in the Darkhold series (which also features a Ghost Rider guest appearance).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Note that it's not clear that Badilino is Vengeance in this story.
Posted by: Michael | August 23, 2016 7:50 PM
You know it's 1993 when even Ghost Rider is tame and you need to bring in an edgier version.
Posted by: Red Comet | August 23, 2016 8:10 PM
Eli is... an absurdly good mechanic. The carnival gets attacked and... he manages to whip up high-tech guns for the carnies. Coupled with what we'll see in the futher issues, this guy seems to be at Forge's level. Which begs the question, what is he doing working as a carny...
The story, just like Fnord said, it as total mess. Steel Vengeance got killed, even though she was introduced only a few issues ago. Hag and Troll get captured by Centurious and just vanish. There's no sign of Heart Attack, even though she was abducted by Centurious, too...
And isn't that just convenient that, somehow, all of the surviving carnies turn out to have superpowers?
I realize that the 90s were a low point for American mainstream comics, but I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Marvel published such a crap book.
Posted by: Piotr W | August 24, 2016 3:19 PM
"I realize that the 90s were a low point for American mainstream comics, but I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Marvel published such a crap book."
Yeah, that is what I typically think when I remember this Ghost Rider series.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 24, 2016 11:05 PM
Well, somebody (not me) rated this issue with four stars, so go figure....
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | September 27, 2016 11:14 AM
Comments are now closed.
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