It has been a minute since Johny Blaze’s Ghost Rider had his own solo series, but he returns to burn rubber this week as Benjamin Percy and Cory Smith bring the character back to the forefront. But where has Johnny been, how will he rejoin the Marvel heroes as one of the greatest to ever do it, and what kind of fresh hell must Johnny escape this time? You can get all that and more from Ghost Rider #1!
As the preview shows, the issue opens with Johnny listening to a therapist. We learn Johnny’s under some strict rules due to an agreement he made with a judge. We also learn this book will be a bit unnerving in a horror-style story as Johnny touches his scalp and finds a horrible gash there and manages a drinking problem to silence the voices in his head. Percy makes the reader unpack some common suburban troubles with a slight hellish twist only Ghost Rider could supply. So begins a first issue that reads like a great pilot to a new TV show.
This is slow-burn storytelling, so buckle up and expect more psychological thriller than non-stop action. That’s okay though, especially with how Percy and Smith slowly unveil the situation Johnny is in. It helps explain why he’s been missing for so long, but also his headspace. The suburban setting makes this an easily relatable story, too. Imagine a middle-aged guy feeling miserable in what appears to be the American dream of neighborhoods–white picket fences, small-town friendly folk–and then turning to see a dog turn into a hell beast. Something isn’t quite right, and the metaphor of it being Johnny’s mental state is an interesting one.
Smith does an impeccable job with the many talking scenes, which balance out well with the hellish nightmare monsters that pop up. The design of these creatures is unreal and like nothing you’ve seen before. Much of this book is introspective for Johnny and Smith brings you into his headspace well. Colors by Bryan Valenza do the monsters justice with hues of reds and pinks. It’s nightmare fuel that matches anything horror comics have thrown at us in the last five years.
Johnny Blaze fans will also be satisfied with Ghost Rider’s motorcycle, which looks sick as hell. The flaming wheels are spot on and the bike almost has a skeletal structure to it in a subtle way.
As an extra-sized first issue, you gotta respect the slow-burn approach straight out of primetime TV. Does it make the $5.99 price tag a bit steep for most? Probably, but it’s a worthy comeback issue for Johnny Blaze.
Ghost Rider #1 is a reawakening for Johnny Blaze, working out old traumas in fresh forms. It’s a great blend of relatable unease with suburban life and the horrors rising up, sometimes literally from Hell.
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