Ghost Rider #13-15
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #13, Ghost Rider #14, Ghost Rider #15
The story starts off with a new villain called Snowblind (or maybe Snow Blind). Ghost Rider learns about him while dragging some super-predators after a woman that they were attacking, and later we see Snowblind contacting someone (Deathwatch?) asking for help with Ghost Rider and instead being told to take care of it himself.
He sets a trap for Ghost Rider. The first part of the trap, police with guns, fails to stop Ghost Rider. Then he confronts him himself. I love how Snowblind explains his overly complex powers to Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider just doesn't give a shit.
That said, being blind makes Snowblind immune to Ghost Rider's penance stare. I honestly didn't think that would work. It's a mystical thing, right? So i would have thought that physical blindness was besides the point.
The police show up and Ghost Rider leaves. The police turn out to be on Snowblind's payroll, and Snowblind has one of the cops shoot the other for failing to stop Ghost Rider. We then see Deathwatch getting a tip from "Linda"; i assume the reporter Linda Wei, since he mentions her broadcast. Deathwatch calls in HEART to hunt down Ghost Rider.
While Ghost Rider is transforming back into Danny Ketch and figuring out how the police seemed to show up so quickly, Johnny Blaze finally shows up.
Blaze ties Ketch up, covers his mouth with duct tape, and tells him that even though Ketch doesn't believe that he's possessed by Zarathos, Blaze knows that he is, and he's going to shoot him as soon as he transforms back into Ghost Rider. He's "risking it all", including his "family" (we later learn he's married to Roxanne Simpson, has two kids, and runs the Quentin Carnival that he used to work at), to stop Zarathos from unleashing evil on the world, "and all because some stupid kid got involved in forces he couldn't understand" (Blaze is of course projecting his own origin onto Ketch).
But while Blaze is waiting for Ghost Rider to resurface, Blackout is in the sewer, killing the Honeymooners.
That causes Ghost Rider's bike, which was left behind in the graveyard where Blaze captured Ketch, to come roaring into the room where Ketch is being held, and Ketch transforms into Ghost Rider.
If you were wondering how Blaze was going to stop Ghost Rider with just a shotgun, he's apparently been putting points into his wizardry stats.
We saw during the Dr. Strange crossover that Ghost Rider is not a demon, but Blaze's spell does hold Ghost Rider for a while. However, when Blaze goes to shoot him, he's able to raise his hand, and his flame involuntarily flows from him into the shotgun.
And when Ghost Rider tries to leave, Blaze shoots him and the gun surprisingly is able to hurt him.
Blaze shoots him repeatedly.
But Blaze hesitates when he worries that killing Ghost Rider will also kill Ketch, and Ghost Rider uses that opportunity to knock the gun away and flee. Or rather, pursue Blackout as he originally intended.
Injured, Ghost Rider is forced to transform back into Danny Ketch, and we see that transformation happening in detail, with blood and skin forming over Ghost Rider's skull.
Ketch is immediately attacked by super-predators (all clones of each other, it seems), but they are chased away by HEART.
They take Ketch's bike (which has transformed back into a regular looking bike), as part of a strategy that involves taking all the bikes in the area. Originally they were supposed to take on Ghost Rider directly. But after an argument between Blackout and Deathwatch, Deathwatch now wants HEART to back off after collecting the bikes, leaving Blackout to fight Ghost Rider. Deathwatch even blurts out the fact that Blackout is responsible for the murders that are being blamed on Ghost Rider, causing HEART to switch sides and pull guns on Deathwatch's men. Danny's bike, meanwhile, transforms back into Ghost Rider form and heads to Danny, who changes back into Ghost Rider in time for him to fight Blackout before he attacks two bystanders that are crossing Central Park. But Johnny Blaze shows up to shoot him. Ghost Rider tosses Blaze away, telling him again that he's not Zarathos, and then chasing after Blackout. But then one of the HEART agents, Tyler Meagher, attacks him and he has to toss her aside too. I don't know if it's intended to be, but it's kind of funny.
But by now Blackout has taken one of the bystanders hostage. But now Ghost Rider has both Johnny Blaze and Tyler Meagher with him. Meagher is able to distract Blackout with a shot, letting Ghost Rider get close enough to grab him. Ghost Rider then insists that Blaze shoot them both with his shotgun. The shot further messes up Blackout's face.
Ghost Rider then starts pounding away at Blackout, but Blaze stops him from killing.
Blaze allows Ghost Rider to leave as the police arrive.
We are over a year into this book now. As i mentioned on issue #1, i'm reading this series for the first time, so for the most part i don't know what's coming. If i hadn't heard from commenters on this site already, my complaint at this point would be that Howard Mackie is dragging out the reveal of Ghost Rider's origin too much. But it seems that it's more the case that Mackie doesn't have an origin for the Ghost Rider. It's pretty hard to believe that's not one of the things you nail before launching this series, and certainly once the questions start coming in and you devote several issues to talking about the origin, you should have something in mind. I can see an argument that the origin isn't important; this story is about a kid that gets thrown into a world where he turns into a spooky flaming skeleton and has to fight demons, and the story is about the kid and his adventures, not the nature of the skeleton. But when the flaming skeleton is based on a previous flaming skeleton that had an origin and was revealed to be an evil demon, you have to have an answer to questions about that. Maybe you just make up a quick cheapo origin and then get back to the stories you want to do. But at a minimum, if you don't have an origin, you shouldn't devote multiple issues to bringing that fact up.
Mackie instead seems intent to draw out the "mystery", and he's piling on additional mysteries as well (Danny's mom is seen coming out of the car of a strange man)
The true appeal of this book is really less the story and more the visualization of the cool character (to a large degree, that was true of the original as well). With these issues, Mark Texeira, who had been inking over Javier Saltares, goes to full art (with some help from Jimmy Palmiotti on inks for issue #13, and i wouldn't be surprised if there was behind the scenes help from all of the "Tex" studio artists). The Saltares/Texeira combination worked really well. We've seen Mark Texeira inking over other artists (Larry Stroman on #11) and it hasn't been great. But in my opinion, Texeira's full art (which we've also seen in Punisher War Journal) is really nice too.
It is sketchier than the Saltares art, but that creates a nice atmosphere that works well for a mystical/horror book. And it's more pin-up oriented but still manages to depict the action pretty well. It's definitely an improvement over Marvel Comics Presents #64-71, which Texeira penciled but didn't ink.
The combination of Texeira's nice art and Mackie's inconclusive storytelling give us a delicious if not nutritious end result.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Roxanne Simpson is listed in the Characters Appearing because she makes two attempts to call Johnny Blaze while he's on the road. She doesn't appear on panel. The MCP doesn't list Linda Wei as a Character Appearing, but based on the conversation with Deathwatch, i assume that is her on the phone.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBlackout (Demon), Danika Trevani, Deathwatch, Doris Ketch, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Linda Wei, Luz Delgado, Noble Kale, Renee Funaro, Roxanne Simpson, Snowblind, Stacy Dolan, Tyler Meagher
Something I just noticed, Fnord: you have Roxanne Simpson tagged twice: as Roxanne Simpson and, separately, as Rocky Simpson...
Posted by: Piotr W | September 25, 2015 3:54 PM
Thanks, Piotr. Should be fixed now.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 25, 2015 4:08 PM
Finally, a gang of thugs that wasn't ridiculously multi-ethic. I remember being surprised to see Texeira do that.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | September 25, 2015 6:04 PM
Mackie just makes Ghost Rider more convoluted in this story by suggesting that there's some sort of connection between him and Johnny.
Posted by: Michael | September 25, 2015 8:45 PM
Though you're reviewing this one first, Silver Surfer 50 kicked off the gimmick cover craze (unless you want to count the MacFarlane Spider-man variants of the prior year).
At first, the ideas fit the books and were kind of neat - metallic Silver Surfer gets silver foil, faming skull Ghost Rider gets glow in the dark - but, quickly, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to them. I vaguely remember seeing one where the Hulk was done in foil (Because his skin looks like green metal?)
And why go all colorless and shiny for Cap and the Black Knight? It makes no sense from a design point of view.:
The later ones were all done in bad, 5th generation Liefeld amateur art. No matter how many bells and whistles they stapled to the book, they couldn't polish those turds.
And things like this still make your eyes bleed, no matter how shiny:
Posted by: Bob | September 25, 2015 10:25 PM
Agreed. I didn't mind the Silver Surfer and Ghost Riders for the reasons you mentioned. Plus one other thing - the cover price was not affected by the gimmick. That didn't last long, unfortunately. Soon enough gimmick covers were nearly doubling the price of the comic itself.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | September 26, 2015 12:01 AM
Jumping on the "Gimmick" bandwagon, here's an interesting discussion on the gimmick covers -
Posted by: clyde | September 26, 2015 10:12 PM
An origin for this Ghost Rider does eventually turn up, but I honestly don't know whether anyone is supposed to care about it or even to believe in its accuracy. It does not help that it is both overly pretentious, ambiguous and retconned often, even after years with no new Ketch stories.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 27, 2015 12:23 PM
Comments are now closed.
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