All-New Ghost Rider #1Written By: Felipe Smith Art By: Tradd Moore
I know I’ve been a bit Marvel-centric as of late and in my defense I have been trying to find different material to review—and reviewing “Ghost Rider” this week certainly won’t help. For goodness sake, I went with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” last week; I even tried the Amanda Waller one shot DC put out this week and I couldn’t think of a single mean thing to say about it—that came out wrong. My point is, with Marvel unleashing a torrent of number one issues, it would be silly to ignore them; especially since most of them have been absolutely face punching fantastic, hence “All-New Ghost Rider”.
There wasn’t a lot of “Ghost Rider” I read in the past mostly because Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch are usually as fun to read as fiberglass is fun to chew. It’s hard to care about a character you could crack like a handful of dry spaghetti noodles and then watch them get back up five minutes later by the power of Hell. I always thought the main conflict was that Johnny and Danny were spirits of vengeance against their will but that kind of went by the wayside once the realized they were immortal murder machines. That’s why Marvel saw fit to recruit a new Ghost Rider, Zayn Malik from One Direction—I mean Robbie Reyes.
He’s a brash and young Latino living and working in LA with his disabled brother. We can discern this because writer Felipe Smith set up the character perfectly. One panel to establish setting, the next to establish character design, the next for his name. Seriously, this book has the best set up for a character I’ve ever seen in a comic book—most times they drop a brooding text bubble in the corner that explains everything down to why they wear blue shoes. This book has a far more organic feel to it. Everything is happening in a natural progression and yet us as the reader are getting all of the information we need about Robbie without it seeming forced. All of the information is relayed in scene.
One of the first confrontations Robbie has is when his handicapped brother is harassed by three local gang members. Robbie jumps into the fray and the whole battle looks astounding but that’s beside the point. What’s important is that Robbie is not a hero. He isn’t fighting for the good of everybody; he’s fighting for his brother exclusively. To him, the entire world rotates around his brother—to the point that he breaks the law and risks his life to make things better for his brother by stealing a car and entering it into a street race.
Something common in brand new characters is the mistake. You know: not stopping the armed robber, doing the dangerous experiment in space, accidentally draining the life from your boyfriend with a kiss. In Robbie’s case, he wagered a stolen muscle car that his driving skills were enough to win a whole heap of cash. What I really enjoyed about this is it didn’t end the way I thought it would. Now, not to drop any spoilers, I’ll say the way I expected it to go. Robbie enters the race and everyone laughs him off. Then, once the flag waves, he pulls into the lead. It’s impressive but what’s more is it’s embarrassing the seasoned drivers so—since it is an illegal street race, one of them either smashes him or cheats to victory. Very standard, easy way to introduce trouble into a main character’s life. But no, instead the race ends on quite the cliffhanger—Also? Robbie is dead. So no, the race didn’t end quite how Robbie expected either. Though it does facilitate the transformation into Ghost Rider because we all know how awkward it is when Mephisto shows up at a soiree and lights your skull on fire.
Robbie is quite the departure from traditional teen heroes. Mark Grayson was keen to jump into the super hero gig, it was something he looked forward to, a strange career goal to explain to the school guidance counselor. To Mark Grayson, becoming a super powered teen was a boon that lifted his life to new levels—literally, he learned how to fly. Robbie is in much more of a precarious position, the one support for him and his brother. His power is a burden that won’t make life any easier for him—though it will alleviate that being dead problem.
I give “Ghost Rider” a 90% Invincible.
**Zayn Malik gifs courtesy of Tumblr.