Today, Marvel released an unique Ghost Rider X-mas Special co-written by Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man. Working alongside storytellers Anthony Piper and Balak, the rapper turned writer and his compatriots tell a story about Robbie Reyes taking on Krampus, the evil half-goat, half-demon figure from folklore who kidnaps and eats naughty children each holiday season.
Marvel fans might remember Method Man’s recent surprise cameo in Netflix’s Luke Cage, where he played himself and freestyled an original song about the titular Defender. Those fans might be even more surprised to hear that Method Man was interested in working with Marvel Comics long before he became a member of the cinematic universe. Method Man has been a long documented fan of Ghost Rider, and as Ghost Rider X-mas Special editor Chris Robinson says, Method Man is a regular “Wednesday reader” of Marvel books. Robinson characterized his involvement on this Christmas special as a “happy accident.”
Expounding upon that point, Robinson said that, several years ago, Method Man took a tour of Marvel’s New York City offices. During his time there he stopped to talk to Senior Editor Mark Paniccia, who supervised the first Ghost Rider run that featured Robbie Reyes as the vengeful spirit. That same day, he met Chris. Then, several months later, when Marvel was planning a new lineup of Marvel Infinite Comics, which are specifically designed to be read on digital platforms, he thought of Method Man. When approached with the opportunity to write a story about his favorite Marvel character, Method Man immediately said yes.
From there, Method Man produced a detailed speculative script detailing the plot of the story. Piper, who created the Justice League parody webcomic Trill League, was brought on board soon after to bring further specificity to that storyline by crafting a full script and drawing the story with the aid of Balak’s layouts and Andres Mossa’s colors.
As a special treat, check out this exclusive process timeline that takes you through the creation of a scene from Method Man’s speculative script up through the final colors!
Warning: Spoilers follow!
Speculative Script Text by Method Man
Storyboards by Balak
Line art and Script by Anthony Piper
Colors by Andres Mossa
The Rider takes action only to be over powered again, then the cams miracle happens..
Santa Claus himself appears and with the help of the rider extinguish the anti spirit of xmas..
And by doing so injects the xmas spirit in all the kids captive in this lair..
“Santa Claus is Real”
Spoilers end here
While Method Man is the most obvious selling point for the Ghost Rider X-mas Special, Piper himself is a rising star at Marvel. He has worked on a number of variant covers including the Thunderbolts #1 Hip-Hop variant. He also recently wrote and illustrated a short story about the mutant Domino in Uncanny X-Men Annual #1.
Notably, prior to his work at the House of Ideas, Piper worked on animated series including Major Lazer and Axe-Cop. He ended up serving as the lead character designer for the latter project. He even worked in the animation department of Dan Harmon’s Dungeons and Dragons comedy webseries, Harmonquest. Presently, he works on animated Guardians of the Galaxy web shorts at Marvel in addition to his regular comics work with them. He attributes all of these opportunities to Trill League, which he said was “the best accident that has ever happened to me.”
When asked how it felt to work with a legend like Method Man, Piper said that it was “crazy– I had to make sure it was real.” The Ghost Rider X-mas Special was the first sequential story Marvel commissioned him for, and to work with Method Man on that first gig was an incredible experience for him. Robinson echoed those sentiments, expressing that he felt lucky to be at Marvel when Method Man agreed to create something with the publisher.
Not only did Piper and Robinson express joy at having had the opportunity to work with Method Man, but they were also extremely excited to be able to tell a Robbie Reyes story. Like Method Man, both men are big Ghost Rider fans. When asked about their favorite stories featuring the character, Ultimately, both men concluded that the Ghost Rider story that inspired them most was 2014’s All-New Ghost Rider by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore. Robinson said it was the “perfect origin story” for Robbie Reyes. Piper said it should be “the standard” Marvel measures all character relaunches against.
The Ghost Rider X-mas Special digital infinite comic is on sale now.
Alex is the Managing Editor of the Comics Beat. He is also a freelance comics editor with previous credits at Papercutz. He is your go-to fella for creator interviews, conversations about comic book structure, and general DC Comics nerding. Currently geeking out over movies, too.