Written by Felipe Smith
Art by Tradd Moore
In the 90s, I had a hard time searching for dark and gritty comics which recognized my teenage angst and pragmatic worldview yet still had the mother approving seal of the comic code on them. Since I was enamored predominantly by Marvel (I flirted with Superman and Batman, but my love was the 616) I leaned towards particular titles. These included Wolverine, Spider-Man (by Todd McFarlane), Punisher, and the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. One of my main memories was picking up issue 25 with the gore filled covered of Danny’s transformation to Ghost Rider. I thought I had picked up something I wasn’t supposed to, but the seal in the top left corner meant it was okay. I say all that to say that I have a great fondness towards Ghost Rider, mainly due to him being one of my earliest forms of teenage rebellion. I’ve always looked at Ghost Rider comics as somewhere some kid’s first rebellion towards authority. He’s a spirit of vengeance that is basically a demon and has no issues killing those that deserve it, and those who are inhabited by him usually have to wrestle with this possession by basically a fire breathing Punisher. I think as the hormones start to course through a young man or woman’s body there is some aspect of this which translates to them. In certain ways I can see this idea being continued forward in the latest volume of Ghost Rider as Robbie Reyes takes the mantle passed from Alejandra (and Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze).
This series starts with the basic introduction of the character as he is doing his best to both take care of his crippled brother and sow his wild oats in a sketchy part of Los Angeles. Robbie cares for his brother and seems like a good guy, but is also shown to be reckless and quick to use violence. Felipe Smith does a great job handling the introduction of the character and helping us understand who Robbie Reyes is and what are his priorities. The sequencing and passing of the script make for a fairly quick but a solid read. I think my many problem with this book is the same problem I have with so many books: the quickness of the read. As is with many comics, there is a chance you have just dropped $4 to read something for ten minutes with very little left to give reason for a second read. I read this issue three times and gained nothing extra that I didn’t get from the first read. Maybe that is to say the writer did an extremely skilled job in telling the story (which I think he did), but the length of the book seems like what would have been covered in several pages, not a complete issue, in the 80s or 90s. That’s a grip I have with most books though, and that does include this one. Other than that it is well written and I was fairly engaged with the character.
The art by Tradd Moore may take some getting use to. The cover art is the art in the book, so if that greatly turns you off then you know you most likely will not enjoy the interior as well. There is a frenetic energy he brings with his style that I think is perfect for Ghost Rider, but his characters have a cartoony or anime feel which pulls away from the darkness I felt I should be feeling towards the end of the book. He is a talented artist, and I could see enjoying his work on Deadpool or even Spider-Man, but I’m not buying his Ghost Rider or the weight and scariness of the character. Instead of a flaming skull striking fear into the hearts of evildoers, it just feels like a guy in a mask and a cool car. The transformation he give Robbie into the Rider does harken back to the 90s cover of issue 25 that I loved so much though. The drag racing is where he really shines and the energy he brings through his style works perfectly. But overall in terms of the darkness and supernatural elements he has a lot of work in the next issue to sell me that he is the correct artist for this title.
This is a fairly well done introduction to the character and the story is left open to intrigue me to want to the read the next issue. With the quickness of the read and the frivolity of the artwork, if you are sitting on the fence for this title I can’t help but recommend you wait until the trade to check it out.
Rating 3 out of 5