Here we are at part four of the Challenge where in Johnny Blaze, the new King of Hell, has challenged Robbie Reyes to a race of power in order to be the Ultimate Ghost Rider. This has involved the Avengers and Cosmic Ghost Rider, while Robbie’s family has found themselves brought to Hell as part of the Challenge. Robbie’s evil Uncle Eli is involved as well, so this puts Robbie in a tough spot as Eli is also part of Robbie’s power source. So let us jump into this and see what happens to the Riders. SPOILERS AHEAD!
The issue opens with Robbie and his Uncle Eli fighting it out and I have to say that I really like the smack talking that Eli is doing here, but even better is Robbie’s response to it: he just calls out what being a Ghost Rider really does to the person and their loved ones. Robbie is finally starting to gain a voice and I appreciate what Jason Aaron is doing for Robbie here. Robbie is very proud of being an Avenger and that motivates him to take down Eli. Awesome scene and growth moment for the character, plus Stefano Caselli really brings the words to life with his visuals.
The Avengers come to Robbie’s side and help him complete the race with an ark bringing together Asgardian, Wakandan, and Stark Tech. One thing I’ve enjoyed with this arc is how Jason Aaron really has the team work to use their powers and resources together to create and do some great things. This is another great moment as Robbie comes to realize just how much the Avengers can be there for one another. It is also great when Robbie finally takes the ark’s wheel and puts some Hellfire on the ark to get ahead on the race. That is pretty much the big moment with the Avengers in this issue as the Riders has to figure themselves out.
To be honest, Johnny Blaze feels a little off this issue. The buildup to this storyline really didn’t show Johnny in an evil light, but last issue started to show an unhinged Johnny. This issue we finally learn he is trying to gain more power so he can rule Hell. We can see, by way of thought bubbles, that Johnny is trying to convince himself he is doing the right thing for the right reasons, but then he demands a group of demons bow to him…so heavy is the head that wears the crown. The fight between Thor and Johnny Blaze was great and I love how Thor is just like, “Oh another demon” during this battle, but Blaze surprising him was even better. Jason Aaron used the Ghost Rider power in a very fascinating way by having the Hell Cycle turn into a Hammer for Blaze; I hope to see more of that in the future.
Johnny is eventually slowed down and Robbie ends up winning the race, which does not sit well with Johnny. Robbie has come around to being a team player which doesn’t seem very Ghost Rider like, but honestly the Riders really haven’t been alone. Johnny was a Champion and Danny Ketch was part of the Spirits of Vengeance with Johnny as well and now Robbie has his team with the Avengers. I do like that Robbie offers to help Johnny, as he can see that things are not well. Robbie now has Ghost Rider power and is free from his Uncle Eli’s power, but it also seems to be that Robbie got his powers from the King of Hell, so what will that mean for Robbie in the future? Johnny seemed a bit dramatic at the end there by saying he doesn’t have the power to rule Hell and humiliated in front of the demons, but it does keep him grounded in Hell.
Cosmic Ghost Rider gets a moment fighting with Johnny and is mad at the remark about his family; remember, Cosmic Ghost Rider is actually Frank Castle, and you should never talk bad about Frank’s family. So at the end, Cosmic Ghost Rider wants to fight Johnny but Johnny just uses Hell to pull himself away. Robbie’s Hell Charger is now back and working for Robbie and he seems to be at peace with being a Rider. Then ending does take us back to Iron Man being stuck in the cave, which actually takes Iron Man back in time and he has been doing everything he can to survive the elements and the attacks. The part that piqued my interest was that the “relic helmet” says “Rege Mephisto” (what does that even mean?) and then Iron Man is blasted, so looks like the Riders are done with the Avengers, but maybe Mephisto isn’t? To be continued next issue if you want to find out more about Iron Man.
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