Review: Ghost Rider #0.1

Published on June 9th, 2011

I’ll throw my hands sky high for you guys and admit that I’ve fallen behind the herd when it comes to keeping up with my weekly reading of single issue comics. Excuses aside, the relationship status I’ve had with my local comic store  has been on the rocks for a just over a year, but right now I’m once again in a more accessible position to get my head back in the game.

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This past week I’ve flung myself back into the front lines. I walked into my local store, presented myself before the ‘new arrivals’ section and got ready to grab a handful of comics… but was left dumbstruck and baffled by what I saw. Firstly, what on Earth are DC up to with all their comics at the moment?! Secondly, what is this ‘Fear Itself‘ nonsense? Whether you can or cannot appreciate my blind waltz back into this changed world, know that I have long been a bit of Marvel guy and that I wanted a place to start fresh in the maintstream 616. So I saw that a new Ghost Rider series had started this week with a writter I’m unfamiliar with, Rob Williams, and an artist I’m also unfamiliar with, Matthew Clark.

Having been a long suffering ‘on/off’ fan of Ghost Rider, I’ve nonetheless always had a soft spot for the character, and perhaps that is what partly led me to give this first issue a try. Whatever it was, I’m glad I did give it a try! Rob Williams puts Ghost Rider in a slightly new light to how I’ve seen him before. It’s almost as if the cloud of unnecessary mystery surrounding the character has been thinned a little, and we are witnessing a more human side to Johnny Blaze and even the flaming skullhead alter-ego itself. I enjoyed this comic for it’s good humour as well, and it’s realistic depictions of loneliness, isolation and mental struggle. For that I give it praise.
The issue is wonderfully accessible for new readers. Not just newbies to the character (for which the first 4 or 5 pages are praiseworthy), but also to the ‘Fear Itself‘ storyline too. I say that because as guessed I know nothing about ‘Fear Itself’, and hope that this series will ease me through it from the angle of ‘Hell’s Worst Angel’. Midway through the issue, Johnny Blaze claims he has no idea what is going on in the world as he stares blankly (and drunkenly) at a TV screen newsfeed streaming explosions and what appears to me to be a cosmic Juggernaut (don’t shoot me if it’s not, I havn’t a clue!). So this immediatly comforts me because now I know I can follow this series being in the same clueless position as Johnny Blaze.

As for the story-arc itself,  Blaze has managed to rid himself of the Ghost Rider curse by eating a magical tree root and then riding so fast that the Rider is literally ripped from his being and passed onto someone else. We don’t know who it has been passed onto yet, but the preview page at the back suggests a lady this time. Blaze was aided (and pretty much bitch-whipped) into this by a mysterious man whose final panel in this issue left him in a very untrustworthy light. Has Johnny been conned into something here by a demon from Hell? I’m guessing so. I hope that the combination of classic Ghost Rider Christian mythology and madness, along with the goings on of ‘Fear Itself‘ fuse together well and have inspired Rob Williams to write a decent story. I’m on board so far and I’m positive about this.

Matthew Clark’s artwork was perfect for this comic. It reminded me slightly of one of my favourite comic book artists, Tony Moore, in that the faces and action panels had a certain lanky flow to them (I get ‘lanky flow’ is an odd way to describe it, but go with me on this). I feel some of the panel layouts have also taken influence from Moore’s unique style too, and I always enjoy seeing that done well. Back to the artist at hand though, Matthew Clark; in summary, he makes both Blaze and the Rider look appealing and brutal. To go ontop of this, the colours by Robert Schwager were intense and fitting.

I have high hopes for this Ghost Rider run, and as long as the goodness lasts then similarly long may it stick around! This was an all-round decent issue and I look damn forward to more good art and solid writting in future months. If it doesn’t get me into ‘Fear Itself’, then that’s nothing I’m going to loose sleep over.

Rob Andrews
Rob@ComicImpact.com