Guardians of the Galaxy #13 was cover dated June 1991 and was on sale April 1991, sharing the spinner racks with Action Comics #666, Avengers #333, Captain Atom #53, Damage Control #1, Flash #51 and The Mighty Thor #433.
Spirit of Vengeance is written and drawn by Jim Valentino and inked by Steve Montano and opens with Vance Astro training himself with Captain America’s shield, whilst giving a bit of recap of recent events. First time I read this, I hadn’t yet read issues 4-11 and found this particularly helpful in that way that comics used to do very well, a bit of recap in case this was your first ever issue of the title.
On the bridge, Charlie-27 is scanning the ship for a suspected bomb, left by the Stark in the previous issue while arguing with Nikki over the fire rose (also from last issue) they find that the bomb is in the gym, where Vance is. There is a scene running at the same time with Aleta trying to make peace with her ex-husband Starhawk. Who seems to give her relationship with Vance his blessing, while internally plotting to get his wife back.
Aleta wanders in to see Vance in the gym and she asks to go back to his room and then the room explodes.
On the nearby planet, Autolycus, the alien from last issue sees that there is a ship in orbit and his head turns into a burning alien skull and a fiery bike appears before him. He calls himself the Spirit of Vengeance, the Ghost Rider of Sarka. He launches himself into orbit to teach the blasphemers the true meaning of vengeance. There are also a couple of character scenes, where Replica puts forward her case to become one of the Guardians, which Martinex is wary of. There is also a scene with Yondu praying to his god Anthos, praying for guidance over his encounter with Photon. In the final cut away we see that an unseen figure, who is clearly Malevolence, recruiting Force by defeating them and negotiating with Brahl, who wants only one thing, revenge on the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Back on the Captain America II, the team fear for Vance who has been saved by Aleta. Then the problem is repairs. Martinex notes that there is planet nearby and they begin to get closer, when the Ghost Rider flies towards them. Starhawk. Starhawk seeks peace, but is attacked and burned by this Spirit of Vengeance. The fire burns him body and soul and severs him from his memores, he is no longer ‘One who Knows’. Charlie-27 fires on the Ghost Rider, despite Vance’s warning. It has little to no effect. Aleta flies outside to talk with him peacefully, while Nikki tries to contact Sarka to effect repairs.
The Sarkan authorities ask if they are universalites and when Nikki asks they are unco-operative. They then contact the Guardians and offer repairs, if they kill the Ghost Rider. Aleta convinces the Rider to come aboard the ship and see that they are not universalites, but warriors against oppression. Sensing no deception, the Rider accompanies Aleta and appears on the bridge of the Captain America II.
Things seem to have calmed down when Replica shows up and declares that the Ghost Rider is a demon and a slayer of priests, he must be killed. Seeing the Ankh-like symbol on her chest the Ghost Rider believes he has been lied to and declares that the Guardians will all die.
Notes: A nice issue, setting up new stories, while clearing away some of the older ones. Vance, Aleta and Starhawk’s love triangle heats up, which adds character to the first half of the comic.
The Universal Church of Truth, the Magus and the Ankh symbol are all hold overs from Jim Starlin’s work on Warlock in the 70’s and are leading towards the title’s next major arc.
Ghost Rider was inexplicably popular at this point in Marvel and so this character isn’t so much of a surprise really, just like Rancor in the world of mutants story. The Guardians are always going to be linked to the present day Marvel Universe and this is just another element of that.
Vance using Captain America’s shield has forced him to move beyond his self pity and stand up as a hero in his own right and not just some survivor of a bygone age.
All of the threads of the last dozen issues are starting to weave together and I’m remembering why I loved this title so much when it first came out.
Next Time: Destroyed by the Spirit of Vengeance.