The Spirit of Vengeance is back…with a vengeance! Ghost Rider returns in an all-new ongoing series, which finds Johnny Blaze having assumed the role of the King of Hell. Will he and fellow Ghost Rider Danny Ketch be able to defeat the demons who’ve escaped from Hell? Does Danny even want to try? And what threat will be waiting for Johnny once he returns to his kingdom?
We’ve got discussion of that title, plus a Rapid Rundown of other notable Marvel releases, all up ahead in this week’s Marvel Rundown!
Ghost Rider #1
Written by Ed Brisson
Illustrated by Aaron Kuder
Colored by Jason Keith
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover by Aaron Kuder & Dean White
Joe Grunenwald: Marvel’s resurrecting the Ghost Rider ongoing series with two Spirits of Vengeance for the price of one. Sam, what did you think of Ed Brisson and Aaron Kuder‘s first issue steering this flaming motorcycle?
Samantha Puc: I have very little familiarity with Ghost Rider, but I found this #1 pretty accessible and easy to follow! That cold open is wild — so much adrenaline right from the jump, and then some genuinely (in context, maybe not so much, but as meme potential, absolutely) hilarious lines of dialogue. I also really liked Jason Keith‘s use of color! What did you think, Joe?
Grunenwald: I also am pretty much a Ghost Rider newbie. I think I read an issue or two of the first Robbie Reyes series that Tradd Moore drew, but even in that one he’s driving a car, not a motorcycle, so this is my first taste of classic Ghost Rider fare. I agree that it was pretty accessible, even if it’s clear there’s a lot of history that’s come before this new series. Readers are sort of dropped in and expected to hold on and keep up, and for the most part I didn’t find that too difficult. And I totally agree with you about the dialogue. There’s a capital-i Importance to every line, every caption, that would feel ridiculous if Brisson and Co. weren’t so clearly ‘all-in’ on it. They’re all committed to the bit, which in my mind is the only thing that keeps it from descending into self-parody.
Puc: I agree whole-heartedly. The line that really got me was about smelling the air on Earth and how there’s “Something else under it… Sin.” The placement of those text boxes and the emphasis employed by letterer Joe Caramagna is just phenomenal — the comedic timing is excellent. I also grew strangely attached to the tiny, chicken-footed demon in the cold open — what a cutie!
Grunenwald: That little demon was excellent. This is a comic filled with literal demons, and Kuder and Keith present a ton of weird creatures of different shapes and sizes throughout this issue. Their designs are all impressively interesting and distinct. There’s also a visual moment about two-thirds of the way through the book that is so viscerally disgusting it loops right around to being beautiful. Again, commitment to the premise and strong execution all-around.
Puc: I normally have a really hard time with all-out gore, so I appreciate that the one truly gory moment in Ghost Rider #1 is vaguely cartoonish in nature, because it allows me to appreciate the execution of the drawing and the intense colors. I can honestly say I have never felt compelled to pick up a Ghost Rider solo book because I always feared they would be too serious and grimdark, but even with the dark elements here — which are warranted and organic and very human — I thought it was a pretty fun romp through a hellish playground.
Grunenwald: I’ve never been drawn to Ghost Rider as a character, either. I don’t know that I would call this comic particularly fun, but it was certainly entertaining, and I found it interesting to look in on a part of the Marvel Universe I don’t usually spend time in. I can’t say if I’ll come back, but it’s at least got me thinking about it. If I was disappointed by anything, I’d say it was the back-up story. It almost feels inaccurate to call it a back-up story, since it’s really just a three-page snippet of the beginning of a scene. If the main feature was easy to get into, I found those final three pages nearly impenetrable. It seemed to me like those pages are heavily steeped in the Ghost Rider mythology, and will probably be more satisfying for longtime fans. Ultimately it’s a minor complaint, but worth noting.
Puc: You know, I think I was so excited about the appearance of Lilith and her gang that I wasn’t too concerned about those last few pages… Oops?
Grunenwald: They’d be easy to skip, seeing as they come after a pair of text and graphic pages. I’m probably over-concerned by them, so we’ll call it even between the two of us. Any other thoughts on this issue before we get to verdicts?
Puc: I give this a BROWSE, primarily because I’m not invested enough in the story and lore to know whether or not it’s worth adding to a collection!
Grunenwald: That’s kind of where I am as well. It’s a solid first issue that I bet fans of Ghost Rider as a character and a property will thoroughly enjoy. As a casual reader it was a nice diversion, but probably not something I would seek out. That makes it a BROWSE for me as well.
Final Verdict: Sam and Joe both give Ghost Rider #1 a BROWSE verdict!
- Black Cat #5
- Felicia really stepped in it, trying to rob Yancy Street — but she believes in her crew and they believe in her and whatever setbacks they hit, they somehow make it through. This issue sets up more intrigue with the Odessa storyline and provides some truly excellent commentary on how the male gaze has treated Black Cat and other characters like her for decades. I’m still so into this ongoing and I’m thrilled to see what high-stakes heist Felicia attempts next. — SP
- Champions #10
- The final issue of the series provides as much resolution as is possible for a book whose big plans are being cut short. Jim Zub‘s characterization of Marvel’s young heroes is as spot-on as ever, and Steven Cummings and Marcio Menyz‘s visual storytelling is impressive given the large number of characters at play. It’s a satisfying conclusion for a title that presented classic super-heroics and character drama in the vein of early Claremont X-Men or Wolfman/Pérez‘s New Teen Titans. I really think people are going to look back and regret sleeping on this series, and I’m sad to see it go. — JG
- Contagion #1
- You got horror on my superheroes! Ed Brisson, Rogê Antônio, and Veronica Gandini present the beginning of a pandemic within the Marvel U, and it’s gross in the best way possible. Brisson writes the Fantastic Four with ease, nailing each of their personalities as they react to the beginnings of the disease’s spread, and Antônio and Gandini do great work on the aforementioned grossness for those already infected. This was way more fun than I ever expected it to be. — JG
- Daredevil #12
- The second part of the “Through Hell” arc by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto digs right into who Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk are as people and forces them to confront those identities. Matt refuses to become Daredevil again; Wilson is finally matriculating with the 1 percent — but are these roles truly sustainable? I love what the reintroduction of Elektra has done for this series, as well as Foggy’s involvement, and in spite of myself I find the Fisk storyline compelling too. This creative team is doing stellar work. — SP
- House of X #6
- This issue is so celebratory — the first laws of Krakoa have been made, punishment doled out, fireworks launched. We’ve seen Moira’s No-Space. The Quiet Council (minus one key player) has met. This feels like a proper conclusion to House of X, though of course, it’s only the penultimate issue in the HOX/POX saga. Whatever happens next week will usher in the Dawn of X, which is thrilling and terrifying all at once. Also, the art in this issue and the character moments are just perfection. Utter perfection. — SP
- Marvel Comics #1001
- This book reads like the DVD extras from Marvel Comics #1000: you can always tell while you’re watching deleted scenes why they got cut. As with its predecessor, it’s a mixed bag of one-page tales touching on all corners of the Marvel U. Unlike #1000, though, a lot of these one-pagers feel incomplete. This book was marketed as revealing more about The Masked Raider and the Eternity Mask, but readers who come looking for that will find just two pages featuring those things—one at the start, and one at the end—that ultimately reveal nothing about either of them. That’s just false advertising, and this book is an easy pass. — JG
- Spider-Verse #1
- This is a great, fresh start that introduces an intriguing new character and passes the the Web of Life and Destiny to the new guard: Miles Morales, Annie May Parker, and Spider-Zero. There is some history going into this mini-series, but the basics are explained, so new readers shouldn’t feel put off. I loved the fast-paced, fleeting thwips of this issue and how every artist involved brought a unique spin to a different part of the multiverse. I hope the rest of the series is just as fun! — SP
Next week, Doctor Doom takes center stage in a new ongoing series!