Boy, is Ghost Rider and his legacy way different in 2020 than when he first appeared with Johnny Blaze back in 1972. Now we have a Johnny Blaze who is the King of Hell and an even more powerful Ghost Rider (and his brother), Danny Ketch, who currently no longer has a Spirit of Vengeance and all the power it entails. Ed Brisson is looking to explore the depths of the Ghost Rider legacy and mythos and is starting to add some new elements with this issue.
First off, I like the fact that this series has been moving along instead of dragging its feet. We have had the four issues and also a small tie-in with Ghost Rider 2099 and a couple of pages in the Incoming issues, so it’s been a lot of Vengeance in a short amount of time. The Ghost Rider mythos was really changed when Johnny Blaze took over as the King of Hell back in the excellent Damnation story arc. So far the new series has been a wild ride, discovering all the demons and how they are making a play for the throne since Mephisto is jailed in Las Vegas, but in other Marvel comic series we have seen him running afoul…hopefully that’ll be touched on in future issues.
Johnny has been running around frantically and I wonder if there is more to him being the King of Hell, because honestly, he isn’t acting himself. Could he be under some other power? The issue finally had a confrontation between Johnny and Mephisto which was really nice to see, but it does end on a cliffhanger, which was a bummer since this issue was billed as a conclusion. Danny Ketch gets an amazing moment in the issue as he is teaming up with Caretaker to head over to Limbo to get the help of Belasco but has to do it on his own. I like the fact that we are establishing differences between Hell, Limbo, and other afterlife places in the book.
Danny’s part of the book is quite the journey as he finally meets up with Belasco and has to face a new powerful entity in the form of Necrosis, who we have seen in prior issues. Danny and Necrosis have a great battle that is drawn by Aaron Kuder and I love the way he lays it out by showing full body action then a quick headshot that shows the impact of the hits — beautiful stuff. There is also another artist on the book, Juan Frigeri, who handles a lot of the Johnny Blaze portion of the book. The two artists have different styles but they come together very nicely in the books as colorist Jason Keith keeps a great tone. I especially love the way Frigeri did the page with the Penance Stare — that was a great panel.
Overall the conclusion felt more like setup as Danny gets a new set of powers and he is a new Spirit of…well, I’ll let you discover that in the issue. I do like the way this could be going for future issues and I wonder how the Danny Ketch fans will feel about Danny not being a Rider, but again, this could be temporary for story sake. I am really excited to see what Johnny will do now that he has Mephisto in his possession, or at least that’s how it looks. Great art and intriguing story make for a solid first arc that sets up a wild ride of a series.