Ghost Rider continues the King of Hell story arc as Johnny Blaze has to deal with being a Ghost Rider and assuming the mantle of ruler of Hell since the Marvel Damnation event. The responsibility and horrors of Hell seem to be taking their hold on Johnny and we can see how much in this issue. Danny Ketch is also a part of this book and we see how his depression and reluctance to be a Ghost Rider has influenced his current state. So, rev the throttle, put on your helmet, and let us cruise into this issue, SPOILERS:
The issue opens and is focused on Johnny Blaze and he is still sporting his red, black, and barefoot combo from last issue. A very effective element of the issue is as Johnny is walking around and observing people their sins burn above their heads — it helps you imagine how horrible it would be to have such a curse. Reminds me of Green Lantern Rebirth #1 when Hal Jordan was the Spectre and he got the crowd at the baseball game to confess their sins — that’s a lot to handle. So, Johnny is on a specific hunt for the demons that escaped last issue and he is looking to drag them back to Hell. The visual of Johnny starting to light up on fire as he summons his motorcycle is way cool; I hope that sticks around for him.
When Johnny does catch one of the escapees he turns full Ghost Rider King of Hell on it and begins his questioning. I like how the demon reminds Johnny of his time trying to escape Hell and why they would do it, but vengeance won’t allow another to suffer in exchange for a demon to escape torture. I like the way the art team does Johnny’s Rider skull with the horns and maybe the look of it being a crown too. The new costume design looks pretty frightful and very unique given Johnny’s situation. Now I make sure to mention the art team as Aaron Kuder is the main artist on this book but he was injured and is currently in physical therapy so Craig Yeung, John Lucas, and Luciano Vecchio have stepped up to help keep the book going on time; for the most part the art blends nicely but you can tell other are working on it.
Let us talk about the other Ghost Rider that is in this book, Danny Ketch; so, we are treated to him having a discussion with his ex, Stacy. From their talk we learn that Danny actually lives in his bar, the Fadeaway, and that a regular of the bar was burned to a crisp, which we saw last issue. What is interesting here is that Johnny and Danny don’t see the demons the same way, so is that on purpose and who is causing that? We do see another character from Danny’s Rider run, Lilith and she is going around killing demons that support Johnny and recruiting demons of her own. So that’ll be pretty cool to see a throw down battle for Hell with Johnny Blaze, Lilith, and (hopefully) Mephisto.
For the last part of the issue we are treated to what is on the cover, Johnny vs Danny. It is a nice couple of pages of seeing them throw a couple of punches and then ride around on their Hellcycles; honestly, I wish it would’ve been a bit more as it does feel rushed, but they only have so many pages. What is very surprising is how far Johnny is willing to go on his quest and not stop no matter who is in the way, including family; since Johnny and Danny are brothers in case you didn’t know. So, the ending does seem pretty final for one of the Riders, but this is pretty early on with the book…so they use that as a good way to end the issue. A pretty big “splash” page and it does lead to some interesting questions for the next issue. Do yourself a favor and read the letters page for this issue as well, good stuff there from Ed Brisson and Aaron Kudar.
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