Spirits of Vengeance: War at The Gates of Hell – Victor Gischler & David Baldeon (Marvel)

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You know those tubs of chocolates you get in abundance at Christmas right? They all look lovely and are dressed sparkly, but unwrap them and they are all very different.  The toffee barrels and the fudge are the first to go- everyone loves those, even people who don’t really eat chocolate will have a go at them. Then there are the nutty and coconut ones. People like them too, but not as much as the former and then right at the end are the strawberry and orange centred ones. They look nice but are very much an acquired taste. You can’t even palm those off on distant relatives, who’ve graced you with their presence. Now apply this thinking to the Marvel brand and you’ll realise that Ghost Rider, Blade and the like are very much the unfancied strawberry and orange centred ones. Sure they have resurgence every ten years, but ultimately the chocolate makers don’t know what to do with them and mostly remain in the tub until March before being discarded.

Luckily for us, Marvel have found the solution, package them all together in another team up and flog them in a comic-brilliant and what’s more, it works. The story is pretty standard stuff-somebody is killing angels, the balance of heaven and hell is at stake and Johnny Blaze realises he’s going to need some heavy duty back up on this one, so ropes in Blade, Satana and Hellstorm for the ride. It’s darker than your average Marvel book, which perfectly suits the nature of two criminally under used characters in Blade and Ghost Rider. Hellstorm, as a character, is a grower who brings an air of mystique to the story, while Satana, although not used much in the book, definitely makes an impact when called upon.

I’d still desperately love to see Mr Blaze and Blade integrated into the cinematic Marvel universe a bit better, but while I wait for that, this book is just enough to tide me over. As mini-series go, this is a belter… Chris Andrews

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