|*gasp* a timely review!|
Ghost Rider is a character that I have always been interested in, but I never really got around to reading many books about him, yet still I consider him to be one of the coolest characters in the Marvel Universe; maybe as a result of my liking of characters who use powers considered to be demonic, or dark in nature for good without being corrupted by them. And while I usually scoff at characters whose entire gimmick is killing people *cough Punisher cough*, Ghost Rider at least battles demons, and people who are truly evil enough to invoke the Rider. Needless to say, when I heard of a new Ghost Rider title for the All-New Marvel NOW launch, I was ecstatic, though I do admit to being skeptical when I saw the redesign of Ghost Rider, and the replacing of the Hellcycle with a demonic muscle car, however after reading the first two issues, my skepticism gave way to optimism, and a vicious sense of glee!
For teenager Robbie Reyes, life is a living Hell; between living in a dangerous gang-ruled neighborhood, and having to work to support both himself, and his handicapped younger brother Gabe. The only thing keeping Robbie going is his drive to somehow find a way to get his brother out of this cesspool and into a better life, so one night he borrows a foreboding black car from the garage he works at to use in a high-stakes street race to win a much needed $50,000 to help fund his and Gabe's flight to a better life, and while thing initially go well, it takes a turn for the far worse. Robbie is cornered by what he thinks is a police squad, but is actually a highly armed cartel who violently shoot Robbie and remove a bag of unknown drugs hidden in the car's trunk, and burn both the car and Robbie's body to eliminate the evidence; but little do they know that in his dying moments, Robbie is transformed into the latest incarnation of the Ghost Rider, with the muscle car taking on a fiery form to accommodate the new Spirit of Vengeance!
The thing that I love about these two issues is the liberal use of "show, don't tell" to introduce us to the characters; without one single narrative box we learn that Robbie is an intelligent, hard-working young man, who deeply cares for his brother, and will do anything for him, including taking a savage beating from some gangbangers. Robbie's predicament is made very clear to us, and within just a few short panels, we find ourselves rooting for him due to his status as a very likable character, and he and his brother currently being the only good people in this rather cruel world, the characters of which we'll be looking forward to being burned by Robbie's shiny new Hellfire powers in future issues. Demonic presences aside, we're looking at a rather nasty realistic depiction of life in the rougher areas of LA, thus making this comic honestly one of the darker ones available from Marvel, however there is still enough levity in it to prevent it from being depressing or unpleasant.
Naturally the art is going to turn some people off, but I honestly find it to be another strong point for the comic, since the manga-esque design helps to offset the dark tone of the book, and make the book nice to look at. The character's expressions are nicely detailed, and help to tell the story and define character traits in lieu of narrative exposition, thus helping the story move along at a fast pace. The action sequences are spectacular as well with the artwork depicting high energy, viscerally fist pumping moments such as Robbie's flight from the cartel, and The Ghost Rider's fight with two flunkies, though I do have to warn you that this book is fairly gory despite it's T rating.
I am very happy that I decided to give this book a chance. In fact in a mere two issues, it has managed to become one of my favorite comics from Marvel NOW. For future issues, I will be expecting a few more answers and plot development, but I have faith that I'll be sticking with the new muscle car riding Spirit of Vengeance for quite a while.
- Excellent manga-esque art
- Organic story-telling
- Robbie Reyes is a great hero-in-making
- Visceral action
- Mature story, but still manages to fit in some happy moments
- While the art is great, it is not for everyone.