Ghost Rider #7
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #7
Scarecrow is not supposed to have that hood in the mental institution where he's being kept, and the doctors aren't sure how he got it. They take it away. But then we see that Scarecrow is being passed items through the window by his trained crows.
This is an altogether more creepy guy than the one that we saw agreeing to go back in his cell at the point of Hawkeye's arrow in Avengers Spotlight #26.
After he escapes, two months later, people start getting hung from lampposts.
Meanwhile, Danny Ketch is getting into some serious melodrama with his girlfriend Stacy Dolan.
There's a couple things going on with Danny. First, of course, he's the Ghost Rider, and he's still not happy about that. Second, his sister Barbara is in the hospital, and he's been avoiding going to see her. Stacy convinces him to do it in this issue.
But the Scarecrow is on a rampage. He's obsessed (hence the issue title) with Captain America, and wondering why Cap hasn't come to stop him again. To draw Cap out, he's been performing the murders, and now attacks a woman pushing a stroller.
Danny and Stacy come across the crime scene on their way home (interesting to see a guy wearing a jacket saying "geek" along with a picture of Spider-Man; as far as i know this was before people used the label "geek" as a badge of honor).
And with innocent blood having been spilled, Danny's Ghost Rider bike suddenly appears.
So he ditches Stacy and goes after the Scarecrow as Ghost Rider.
Scarecrow's contortionist abilities are given major play, and Scarecrow, who is still only interested in Captain America, is able to slip away.
Mark Texeira's full art, which is really great looking - atmospheric and menacing - does kind of whiff on the storytelling during the fight. Scarecrow slipping out of Ghost Rider's arms just... happens, with Scarecrow suddenly being several feet away from him. His slipping into the sewer also could have actually been shown. While the story is emphasizing Scarecrow's contortionism, the art is missing the opportunity to demonstrate how it works or how creepy it could be. I guess the idea is that it's happening faster than we/Ghost Rider can perceive it?
While Ghost Rider is fighting Scarecrow, the villain Blackout shows up in Barbara's hospital room. His face is now scarred after his previous fight with Ghost Rider. And he knows that Ghost Rider is Danny Ketch, so he's taking it out on his sister.
Danny is called to the hospital the next morning, and finds out that Barbara is dead. The guilt hits Danny pretty hard, and he goes off to turn into Ghost Rider. But he winds up fighting Scarecrow again, not Blackout.
Scarecrow brings up the fact that Captain America would never kill him, and Ghost Rider says that he isn't going to, either.
Instead he's going to use his penance stare.
But Scarecrow proves immune to it. "I can't suffer from yours or anyone else's pain. I can only be stopped by death." And since Captain America isn't showing up and no one else is providing him with the death he apparently wants, he kills himself (although if you're just looking at the art, it looks like Ghost Rider tosses him onto the pitchfork).
"Minutes later", though, after Ghost Rider leaves, someone comes along to retrieve Scarecrow's body.
Now that i'm a little over half a year into the book, an assessment: i think it's a great vehicle for Javier Saltares (who i know is not on this issue) and Mark Texeira to do fun adventure stories in a horror setting. The writing continues to feel a little old school to me - Danny's outbursts make him seem whiny, and even the sequence where his sister is killed "because" he was busy fighting villains as Ghost Rider feels like standard Silver Age irony, albeit with a much darker result. In a sense, this isn't a bad thing. The dark and violent 90s aspect of the book is restrained by the writing. In some ways because the writing just balances out the tone, and sometimes because it almost literally undermines the art: cases where anyone scanning the art without dialogue would see Ghost Rider killing people turn out to not be the case when you read the text. But the problem is that there's almost no character work being done here. We know virtually nothing more about Danny Ketch than we did at the beginning of issue #1. There's been no attempt to really show his relationship with his girlfriend or anything about him as a character (the closest we've come, in a pretty good scene, was where in the last arc the boy Eddie thought Danny was cool enough to trust him with the fact that he was going to get a gun, only to find that Danny really wasn't that "cool" after all). I'm holding off on further judgement because, at least plotwise, Mackie is obviously (or "obviously"!; see the Comments) building to something, with the baby kidnappings and the scene at the end of this issue with someone taking the Scarecrow. But in the meantime these issues are fun horror adventure stories that still wind up feeling a bit hollow.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Scarecrow's escape on the first two pages happens "two months" before the rest of the issue. Barbara's funeral on the final page takes place "two days" later.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
Regarding the guy in the Geek jacket: He's also wearing a beanie with a propeller. Somebody was lashing out at the fans here.
Posted by: JP | June 4, 2015 4:27 PM
Actually the first time the phrase "penance stare" was used was in issue 3. Which you pointed out in your review of that issue. :)
Posted by: Michael | June 4, 2015 7:59 PM
Whoops, thanks on the "penance stare".
Posted by: fnord12 | June 4, 2015 8:02 PM
Great use of Scarecrow. I was disappointed at his death at the end, but figured the body robbers would bring him back from the dead somehow. Making Scarecrow more terrifying was long overdue although I dislike making yet another criminal effectively insane.
Great analysis on the title so far. The creative team was giving a solid B, usually B+ effort, but kept falling short of a true A. At the time, I had confidence the book was going to reach it though.
Posted by: Chris | June 4, 2015 8:56 PM
Michael's right, Fnord. "Mackie is obviously building to something"--oh my. Are you sure you want to take your project into the '90? ;-)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 4, 2015 10:36 PM
Well, that'll be the fun of me reading this series for the first time as i'm reviewing it. Except you guys RUINED it. :-)
Posted by: fnord12 | June 4, 2015 11:02 PM
fnord, I have a question that's especially suited for this site. All these years I've wondered where Captain America was during the events of this story when the Scarecrow was going on his rampage. Okay, obviously Howard Mackie did not use Cap because he wanted to have Ghost Rider fight the Scarecrow. But I was wondering what the nearest chronological appearance by Cap was to this story. Was he off on a mission with the Avengers in outer space or another dimension or something? I'm just curious if there was an in-universe reason why he wasn't around to fight Scarecrow.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 19, 2016 10:26 PM
Based on the comic inserted so far, the appearance of Cap before this story is Spectacular Spider-Man # 168-170, the one that follows him is Captain America # 379. So either he was fighting Spider-Man and Puma together with the Avengers or Nefarious with Quasar.
Posted by: Midnighter | April 20, 2016 7:52 AM
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