The return of Johnny Blaze has been exciting, to say the least, with the OG Ghost Rider written to perfection by Benjamin Percy. In a new special issue, Percy and Juan José Ryp aim to celebrate Johnny Blaze and many other iterations of Ghost Rider throughout the years. It’s an extra-sized story that feels like a continuation of the tale started in Ghost Rider #1 that celebrates the legacy of Ghost Rider.
The main hook of this special focuses on Johnny Blaze getting some tattoos. These aren’t any normal tattoos, but supernatural tattoos that reveal the legacy of the Ghost Rider already there deep in the skin. As the preview shows, Blaze is getting tattoos from an eyeless man named Necro, the Tattooist. These tattoos allow Percy and Ryp to explore multiple iterations of Ghost Rider, from the mammoth-riding Ghost Rider of the year 1,000,000 BCE to a cowboy Ghost Rider and even the purple-headed Vengeance. It’s a smart way to not only feature multiple Ghost Riders, but connect Johnny Blaze directly to each one.
As a celebratory special, the comic works. It’s fun to see different Ghost Riders through history, with each one either taking out an enemy or surviving long enough to live and see another day. The longest stories take up five and eight pages, with the remaining lasting three pages each. Using the tattoos, Johnny gets to see these different Ghost Riders and essentially understand the legacy and how the spirit has lived on and will live on.
Ryp draws each version of Ghost Rider well with great color work by Bryan Valenza. Fire effects look great, and there are good details in each story, be it the talking tree in the story set in the 1800s or the broken glass shattering around Vengeance as he lunges at Dracula. The visual of the tattoos is also well done, capturing the story within the story on his skin in a believable way. There are also great full-page splashes that’ll have Ghost Rider fans cheering.
The story here is entertaining and a good celebration of Ghost Rider, but it does lack conflict. Since Johnny Blaze relives these tales through tattoos, there’s a lack of danger and stakes even when past Ghost Riders are in danger. There are plenty of supervillains in the story, but you know it’ll turn out okay no matter what.
Whether or not this issue will matter going forward is also up in the air. One can assume Johnny Blaze is stronger for experiencing these stories, but will his tattoos remain, and how will his knowledge of past Ghost Rider characters matter? Likely it’s a fun special and not much more, but they are questions that, if answered, could make this story matter a lot more.
Marvel celebrates 50 years of Ghost Rider right with Ghost Rider: Vengeance Forever. Cleverly done, the story celebrates multiple iterations of Ghost Rider while connecting Johnny Blaze to each experience. Whether or not this story will matter going forward remains to be seen, but it’s not often you get a clip-show-style story that honors the past and doesn’t feel like a cheap rehash.
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!