In the mid 90’s, Ghost Rider was pretty awesome. Recently rebooted, with a new bike and a new kid Danny as the Spirit of Vengeance, the Rider rode again with Mark Texeira providing the creepy artwork.
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Mark Texeira
Publisher: Marvel Comics
After a few years of Danny Ketch Penancing bad-guys, the Spirits of Vengeance crossover brought back Johnny Blaze with a hellfire shotgun, and a whole new generation of comic readers were introduced to the original Evel Knievel-like rider.
Ketch’s days were numbered, as the Blaze was bound to return.
When Daniel Way took the reins of the bone-head, he decided to put Blaze back in the driver’s seat (ha!), take some of the powers from the Danny Ketch run, and get to the bottom of how powerful GR really is.
In Ghost Rider by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection, we’re given a deeper look into the man and the monster and what makes both of them tick.
First off, if you’ve never read the original GR, it’s not a pretty story. It’s about love, loss, and selling a soul to the devil. Johnny’s original attempt to save a father figure and the subsequent fallout is captured in this volume in flashback, and it shows just how horrible Johnny’s life (and death) has become.
Overall, the Daniel Way run is well put together in a way most superhero books aren’t: a defined narrative arc. The synopsis–the Devil wants out of hell and he tricks Johnny into releasing him–is nothing we’ve not read a million times before, but this has an interesting twist: he’s possessed 666 individuals, and every time GR kills one back to hell, the remaining are made stronger.
This would lend itself pretty well to a video game narrative, but it also works here in that there’s a true feeling of motion. This isn’t the X-Men Mansion being destroyed for the nth time. Every destroyed Devil means Ghost Rider is closer to fixing his mistake, but it’s also making his project harder.
The other thing Way does very well? He makes Johnny a moron.
Look at it this way: selling your soul to the devil out of desperation is a pretty dumb trick, and Way doesn’t gloss over that Johnny’s mistakes are his own doing. And that maybe, just maybe, he deserves it. His decisions are bad, and his attempt at strategy is even worse. When he lets loose, and lets the demon Ghost Rider take over fully, he’s ten times more powerful and far more intelligent.
Overall, this is a good read for Ghost Rider fans, a decent jump on point if you want an encapsulated tale about the character, and the Rider takes on the god damn HULK at one point.
The artwork, when it’s not Texeira, is meh at best, the various narrative tie ins to old GR stories are a bit confusing and you’ll find yourself asking yourself why if Johnny is so dumb. Regardless, I enjoyed it. I read it in a single sitting. There’s a lot of Ghost Rider out there, and while Johnny might be the original, he’s only sometimes the best.
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