It’s rather unconventional to introduce a new series and have it be part of a mini-event, but here we are. Johnny Blaze: Ghost Rider #1 takes place midway through the “Damnation” storyline sending Johnny Blaze to hell after Mephisto murders him. It’s a killer place to start the story I’ll give Marvel that!
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
This is a Ghost Rider story set in Hell. Like, literally Hell itself. How much more awesome can that be? It also toys with a Johnny Blaze separated from the Rider and they even shoot the s--t.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This story picks up immediately where Doctor Strange: Damnation #3 left off.
To be honest I was skeptical about a new series that ties into an event, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of good character writing by Christopher Sebela and how this tale is rather self contained. It does open where the last chapter of “Damnation” left off, but from there on it’s focused on Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze’s journey in Hell. There’s an Oldboy element to this issue as it has our heroes fighting through all types of enemies to get to Mephisto’s throne room. That allows the characters to fight and talk keeping the pace going.
At its roots, the story is actually about Johnny Blaze attempting to convince the Ghost Rider they need each other. This is an interesting and unique direction since more often than not Blaze is a victim of the Ghost Rider and, while he’s learned to accept it, it’s still a curse. Sebela does a good job explaining via Johnny why they need each other, which adds a nice complexity to their relationship.
Phil Noto does an excellent job and longtime Ghost Rider fans will love all the motorcycle action. Some of the ways Ghost Rider fights is quite creative and adds nice variance to how they take out demons and what not. Noto’s ability to draw moving facial expressions continues here too and you’ll believe Johnny when he attempts to convince the Rider what is up. The color palette is interesting too with warm oranges and dark reds casting Hell in a evil looking light. There’s also some interesting uses of purple in a motorcycle scene that gives the sequence a cooler feel.
They sure do love poking him in the eyes.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The ending has me a bit confused. Much of the conflict is about fighting Mephisto, but then in the very end he’s nowhere to be seen. I wonder if this is because he’s fighting above ground with other heroes, but it’s not references exactly as to where he is creating some confusion. It also makes Ghost Rider’s big triumph less rewarding since he didn’t have the anticipatory fight at the end. Still a good action comic, but I actually wondered if I missed a page.
Is It Good?
Ghost Rider and Johnny Blazer are back and their relationship explored in cool new ways. If you dig the motorcycle riding hero with the Penance Stare you’re in good hands.