Ghost Rider is back and better than ever from Ben Percy and Cory Smith, but many questions still remain as he drags himself back into everyday life. More than that — our everyday world. In the second issue, Johnny Blaze is free from the prison he escaped from in the first issue, but what horrors will he come across as he makes his way back to who he was?
Alcoholism was a theme in the first issue conveyed through Johnny drinking to avoid the nightmares. In Ghost Rider #2, Johnny wakes up, apparently after a bender in the woods. He soon realizes he drove off the road with not much of a scratch on him. The biggest scratch is a gash in the back of his head that opens to reveal an eyeball which is all kinds of creepy. Johnny doesn’t seem to be aware of the eyeball nor does he really know where he is.
As the story pushes on, the narrative takes a lone traveler angle with Ghost Rider. Johnny is trying to keep his head above water and keep the Ghost Rider at bay, but with horrors everywhere that require penance, how long can he last in his human form? Per this issue, not very long.
Percy and Smith, with artist Brent Peeples, do a good job establishing a monster in human form doing terrible things. I won’t spoil it here, but it uses a hotel in a way we’ve seen before, only not so demonic. It’s a clever way to get Johnny close to some evil while revealing a heck of a monster. Yet another great monster design from this book that’s equal parts creepy, original, and disturbed.
This issue also develops a mysterious woman who looks goth but is chipper than you might expect. Over two pages we get a quick look at her powers which will most likely draw her closer to Ghost Rider and have them cross paths. She adds a human element to the evil hellish powers Ghost Rider has in the series.
This issue features multiple glory shots of Ghost Rider superfans will enjoy. From motorcycle riding shots to some chain-whipping action, there’s a lot to take in. The costume looks great and the colors by Bryan Valenza are good too. There are some good effects in regards to windows being looked through and excellent melting flesh effects when Ghost Rider changes.
One odd thing with the visuals that threw me off is a death blow for a pink character that ends up being gray when hit. Maybe it’s turned to stone, but it’s unclear why the color changed. There’s also a quick shot of blood that is supposed to show Johnny is directed by it to find the killer, but it’s not quite clear. In both cases, I had to go back and piece together what was going on.
Ghost Rider #2 is a good second issue that cuts to the chase with monster action and new character development. Percy is great at putting us inside Johnny’s head through captions with a voice that feels lost and unsure. He’s a victim of the Ghost Rider, but we get to see he’s also a hero in his own right here. This new direction for Ghost Rider reads like great episodic TV in comics form.
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