Ghost Rider is one of those fringe Marvel characters who truly appeals to me in every way. My introduction to him was with the titles original run bacGhost Rider is one of those fringe Marvel characters who truly appeals to me in every way. My introduction to him was with the titles original run back in the '70s when his alter-ego (or human host) was Johnny Blaze--the original Ghost Rider--stunt man turned demon. My first Ghost Rider comic came from a 7-ll, straight off the spinner rack, with its cover showing the leather clad demon taking on Dr. Strange. From then on, I was a fan.
I liked everything about him--the tortured soul, the hellfire which he shaped into his flaming chopper, the countless biker gangs who regretted picking a fight to the run ins with the oddball villains who populated the western lands. He lived in a strange world in which Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper, an early, very young Jack Nicholson, along with every character actor from an AIP biker flick would have felt right at home. Ghost Rider put the "Death" in Valley.
& then it all came to an end in 1982. Ghost Rider went off into the vanishing point--he had done the impossible & reached the infinite horizon line. Johnny Blaze was no more.
Then along comes a new rider. This time it's a kid from Cypress Hill who finds a mysterious bike which possesses a strange medallion that turns Danny Ketch into the new Ghost Rider, Spirit of Vengeance. Howard Mackie designed the new Ghost Rider to have a true purpose & gave his path more of a focus which was lacking in the original series--less of a wanderer & more of a demonic agent of justice. I still prefer the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider over the Dan Ketch version but Ketch's Ghost Rider is still a lot of fun.
This book collects the first seven issues & introduces the reader to Dan, Deathwatch & Blackout--characters who will be regular villains for the new Ghost Rider to take on. You will also get a team-up with The Punisher, fights with Mr. Hyde, Flag-Smasher & Scarecrow along with an appearance of The Kingpin. The stories are okay & this is forgivable because the character is trying out it's new legs while the story is gathering its focus. It shows it has potential & this becomes a fact with later issues.
One of my main problems with the book is the artwork--it's not Marvel's best & I'm sure a lot of fanboys would disagree with me. Javier Saltares' pencils are a little too loose for me & Mark Texeira's inking looks very rough to the point of feeling like it was rushed. But then again, I was spoiled with the original series' first artist, Mike Ploog (Werewolf By Night), who is a favorite of mine. Nevertheless, Saltares & Texeira should have invested in an issue of Guns & Ammo for weapons references because none of the hardware the villains or The Punisher are packing look like the real deal--none. I've always hated this with comics--get a reference point to what you don't know about so you can draw it accurately. The city backdrop looks like it was rushed when drawn as well--you guys are in New York so you have plenty of reference points to use. Mackie claims in his Afterward that he took plenty of pictures of Cypress Hill for his artists to use as models but by looking at the comics panels, you wouldn't believe it.
In the end, what's important is that it's Ghost Rider. He will always be one of my favorite characters who lives on the edges of the Marvel Universe....more