Jason Aaron introduced an ambitious idea to the Ghost Rider universe in the first War for Heaven collection, revealing there are many across the world that serve as the spirit of vengeance. I liked the last volume, but with a few of the pleasantries out of the way, this second volume really gets to wail as Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch get to team up and take down the big bad guy Zadkiel. What’s at stake? If Zadkiel takes over Heaven, all of creation.
This trade is divided into three parts. It opens with a five-issue miniseries Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, cuts to Ghost Rider #33-35, then wraps things up with Ghost Rider: Heavens on Fire #1-6. Simon Spurrier and Javier Saltares take on the opening five-part story with Ketch and Jason Aaron follows that up writing the rest of the stories with Tony Moore and then Roland Boschi. This book is an easy pick-up if you haven’t read the previous story, although it would help to generally know who Ketch and Blaze are and where they are in their journeys up to this point. As a whole, this is a good book that feels like it has a proper lead up to the big fight and an equally proper climactic finish.
The opening five issues introduce Ketch as a drunkard who pines for the power of Ghost Rider and the heroism that comes with it, but can’t get out of his own way. Soon a mysterious crow gives him the power of Ghost Rider once again, but only for a minute. As the story progresses, Ketch learns there are more Ghost Rider characters and there have been many over the centuries. As he gains the trust of the crow to wield the power of Ghost Rider–even though the danger of Ketch losing his mind with the lust of that power–Ketch gains in strength. Spurrier plays around with the themes of addiction and confidence which builds up the character for the final confrontation later on.
Following this is Ghost Rider #33-#35, which drops us into a recap of the history and why Ghost Riders exist at all. At this point, it’s clear the Ghost Rider isn’t evil at all, but a black ops for Heaven. These two issues, drawn in great detail by Moore, play around with the history of Ghost Rider, bring back familiar characters from the first War for Heaven trade, and expand the Ghost Rider mythos. When Aaron and Moore introduce the “Ghost Riders of tomorrow” you’ll begin to realize the sky is the limit with this character and the more robust take going forward.
Finishing off this trade is the six-part Heavens on Fire which allows Aaron and Roland Boschi to wrap up the Zadkiel story. Never forgetting how wacky this character is, Aaron and Boschi stick as many crazy characters as they can into the narrative like Gun Nuns, Hellstorm the son of Satan, The Orb, and more. The team-up of Ketch and Blaze is possibly the coolest aspect even when the unrestrained nature of the story that’s way over the top can be a hell of a lot of fun on its own. The ending can feel a bit compressed as it rushes to find endings for everyone–and there are certain elements that aren’t explained and we’re forced to accept them and move on–but it’s boisterous and for fans who like their comics over the top.
This is a great place to start if you’ve ever doubted Ghost Rider as a character. The work the creators are doing to expand the idea of the Ghost Rider is impressive and it should properly get you excited for more as Ed Brisson expands it further in the latest series.