Ghost Rider #19-20
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #19, Ghost Rider #20
...but can't pull it off, so he makes a deal with Mephisto (and yes that is Mephisto despite the unfamiliar look).
But Mephisto cheats him, giving him the courage to kill himself but making him invulnerable to anything except an attack from Ghost Rider. So the guy, naked thanks to his transformation into a super buff dude, goes across the hall to borrow some clothes, and gets a ride on his neighbor's motorcycle to Brooklyn, where he senses that Ghost Rider is.
I mean this is Howard the Duck comedy stuff, which is really weird in a story with Ghost Rider and Mark Texeira art.
The rest of the issue has Suicide interfering in a fight between Ghost Rider and Zodiak (when he's not jumping in front of buses and subway trains trying to die).
This works out for Ghost Rider, since it turns out that Zodiak has too many eyes for the penance stare to work on him (which is also ridiculous).
So since Ghost Rider can't hit Zodiak with the penance stare, and he has no way to arrest him or anything like that, and he refuses to kill, it's up to Suicide to kill him.
Suicide of course survives that fall/impaling, and Ghost Rider won't kill him. So Suicide has to adjust to being called a hero (after saving some civilians during Zodiak's rampage). And Ghost Rider turns to focusing on Deathwatch now that Zodiak has conveniently been killed off for him.
If Howard Mackie is trying to be funny in a Better Off Dead kind of way, it's not coming across and it just feels like a strange and trivial treatment of a suicidal character. Zodiak's death feels like Mackie just sweeping away a character he didn't know what to do with anymore (if ever), and Suicide's intervention feels like a cheat resolution. That was potentially an interesting dilemma for Ghost Rider (even though the idea that the penance stare doesn't work because Zodiak has too many eyes is redonkulous), but Suicide gives him an easy way out and Ghost Rider doesn't seem at all bothered by the outcome. To top things off, Ron Wagner pencils issue #20, and his art doesn't mess well with Mark Texeira's inks.
The other development in this issue is that Danny's girlfriend Stacy is getting increasingly annoyed that he's been neglecting her because he's too busy being Ghost Rider, even while she's been spending time helping Danny's mom get her life back together after Danny's sister's death.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showDoris Ketch, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Mephisto, Noble Kale, Stacy Dolan, Suicide, Zodiak
I'd say that Mackie jumped the shark the previous arc. Early GR issues had potential, but that stuff with Reverend Styge was idiotic. And then, the book went downhill *fast*...
Seriously, I've read about 50 issues of that series (as well as the Spirits of Vengeance spinoff) and that stuff was atrocious. I can't believe this book has ever been popular...
Posted by: Piotr W | November 12, 2015 5:32 PM
I don't see why the Penance Stare not working because Suicide has more than two eyes is ridiculous. The real problem is that the Penance Stare is too powerful.
Posted by: Michael | November 12, 2015 8:49 PM
I have to agree on the book's decline. Not sure when I abandoned the title, but it's not much longer than this. The new villains often had good names and nice visual designs, but weren't actually interesting either as characters, or as someone for Ghost Rider to fight against.
Mackie had a hard time determining what kind of villains would lead to good battles. Ghost Rider should easily mop up ordinary criminals, but ultimately I see him as someone around the Wolverine/Spider-Man level of power. It should be possible to defeat him and have villains present real challenges, not just escape total defeat from Ghost Rider because of odd ways to defeat the Penance Stare.
Mackie originally had a good feel for the combination of street crime and occult horror, but he's lost his touch after the first year. It was really coasting off the fumes of that first year of comics when it was very exciting and intriguing.
Posted by: Chris | November 12, 2015 9:03 PM
I think the multiple eyes thing is ridiculous because obviously Zodiak can see, so he should be able to see whatever causes the penance stare to work. More importantly, the penance stare should be a mystical thing; it shouldn't be stymied by physical problems. Can ordinary people simply close their eyes to avoid it?
I also don't think it's too powerful as long as it's used as a finishing move, which has generally been the case. Ghost Rider should have to subdue his opponent with his other abilities and then, since he can't send his enemies to jail, he gives them the penance stare to do the equivalent, essentially removing them as threats, either permanently or until they're cured by someone else or otherwise recover (the same as getting out of jail).
Posted by: fnord12 | November 12, 2015 9:06 PM
Tex's art keeps getting worse, too.
Posted by: Bob | November 13, 2015 3:21 AM
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