It’s great to see the darker spiritual side of Marvel return in this latest issue of Ghost Rider by Ed Brisson and Aaron Kuder. Juan Frigeri and Aaron Kuder have carried the art for most of this series, and they play off each other very nicely which helps since issue #6 ended on such a cliffhanger. Lots of groundwork is being laid out in this series, so let us jump into this conclusion and see what it is made of.
The opening page is crazy, seeing King of Hell Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) walking right at Doctor Strange, who is on the ground, while imprisoning Mephisto in chains all while one of Lilith’s ladies watches. I really dig what the creative team is doing with Johnny and how being the King of Hell is taking a toll on him — as we learn with each demon he uses the Damnation Stare on, a part of their evil resides in Johnny and we see that with the horns on the skull, which is an awesome look in my opinion.
This journey Johnny is on since Damnation is wild and reminds me of Hal Jordan’s Parallax trip — both men are doing wild things but they have a good reason to do so. Johnny is super pissed at Doctor Strange for leaving him in hell and the art really shows just how much punishment Johnny is giving the good Doctor.
I love the color use here by Jason Keith — the orange and green help to make it feel out of the ordinary and adds to the intensity of the smackdown between Johnny and Strange. When the Hearts of Darkness (Danny, Punisher, and Wolverine) show up, that blue lighting color use makes for a great panel. The Hearts coming on scene is great because they can help Johnny Blaze but this also leads to a showdown between the Spirit of Corruption (Danny Ketch) and the King of Hell. These add-ons to the Ghost Rider mythos are fantastic — I really hope Ed Brisson gets to explore more supernatural places, and also the other levels of Hell.
The pages that showcase the battle with Danny and Johnny are great and what Johnny is saying really adds to his mission and why he is not just a plain villain here. While all that is going on, Wolverine, Caretaker, Punisher, and Doctor Strange have to hold off a horde of demons that are planning on taking down Johnny and/or Mephisto at the command of Lilith, who is making a play for the throne of Hell.
The use of nontraditional layouts is great because it makes the action look bigger and faster in a way; I know sounds weird, but that was the vibe I got from it. Luckily, things come together when cooler heads prevail and the brothers stop their fight, which concludes this “Hearts of Darkness II” arc, but I am super excited to see what Lilith has in store, what Johnny has to do for the upcoming war, and just how far Blackheart is going to go to stop Lilith. Exciting stuff, and I am really hoping this leads to a Marvel event.