Ghost Rider #25
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #25
The issue starts off with what turns out to be a video recording of a past event. Ghost Rider is heading over to the Cypress Hills Cemetary when he's attacked by a Rambo wannabe that knows enough about Ghost Rider to know that he has to kill people to get his attention.
Ghot Rider calmly walks up to the guy, despite taking multiple shots, and eventually delivers his penance stare. Really good horror movie sequence.
The video is being played by a "Mr. Stern", from "The Firm" for the benefit of Blackout, who has agreed to fight Ghost Rider in exchange for getting his face restored.
That is probably just fine with Ghost Rider, who has recently settled things with Deathwatch, leaving Blackout as the major remaining loose end.
Blackout heads out after Ghost Rider, leaving a trail based on the way his powers work.
But Blackout actually has no intention of honoring his deal with the Firm. He kills his minders...
...and then calls Danny Ketch to threaten him, telling him that he's going after someone close to him first, but if Danny comes after him as Ghost Rider then he's going to kill all the people close to him (his mom, Stacy, and Jack).
Meanwhile, the other members of the Firm aren't pleased with Stern. Stern seems to be invulnerable, although he can feel pain.
Back to Danny, who tries to play Blackout's game and rescue his loved ones without turning into Ghost Rider. But it doesn't work out and Blackout captures them all. Blackout then confronts Danny, and (seemingly) kills him.
Danny's spirit floats outside his body, which starts to transform into Ghost Rider. And then we have our gimmick: a pop-up centerfold. A normal scan won't do it justice, so i took a photograph.
Literally a pop-up like the books you had as a kid.
Ghost Rider pursues Blackout, again the unstoppable horror monster, and is about to kill him when the police (led by Michael Badilino) arrive.
Blackout takes the opportunity to flee, but he's caught by Stern.
Then Ghost Rider catches up with both of them. He grabs them and takes them away. It turns out that he's locked them inside a coffin inside a mausoleum where Paulie Stratton and the other Cypress Pool Jokers hang out.
Ghost Rider is trapped in his flaming skull form. If he transforms back into Danny, he'll die. So Ghost Rider decides to travel down to New Orleans, where Johnny Blaze currently is.
So it seems like there's a couple of turning points. Blackout is finally defeated, and Ghost Rider is stuck in his skeletal form with Danny seemingly dead. Not bad for a 25th issue. Neither of these situations are permanent, of course. But it feels like the series has been re-focused a bit. I'm very happy to have Ghost Rider take leave of his very large but pretty much non-contributing supporting cast. The idea of getting him on the road and stuck in Ghost Rider form sounds like a great move to me.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Ghost Rider is stuck in demonic form, and is heading to New Orleans for a crossover with the X-Men. He'll next be seen in X-Men #8, but the crossover doesn't really start until next issue. Technically he can appear in other books as long as he doesn't turn into Danny Ketch, but most likely X-Men #8 and then Ghost Rider #26 should be his next appearances.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
Wonder how much that pop-up jacked up the price over the previous issue?
Posted by: Bob | February 16, 2016 4:46 PM
It's hard to believe this is the same writer of the book as it was in the beginning. The quality is just so bad. It's like Mackie just didn't know what to do after issue # 8.
Posted by: Chris | February 16, 2016 8:53 PM
Mackie would later suggest that the Firm had been created by Centurious and he was using it to further his schemes against Ghost Rider. This is clearly not what Mackie had in mind when he wrote this issue, since the Firm clearly significantly predates the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. Although, since Centurious has engaged in all kinds of sin during his immortal life, it's possible that he created the Firm sometime prior to his imprisonment in the Soul Crystal in Ghost Rider 81 and just took over shortly before this story to resume his campaign against Ghost Rider.
Posted by: Michael | February 16, 2016 10:39 PM
Michael, you really don't need to rationalize Mackie. :) It's clear from his writing that, usually, he had no plan and kept changing things as it fit him.
BTW. One thing I don't understand about this issue is how casually GR imprisons Blackout and Stern in that coffin. Shouldn't he be worried that they might starve or suffocate..?
Posted by: Piotr W | February 17, 2016 5:05 AM
It's possible neither of them need to eat, drink or breathe like a normal human- Stern is virtually invulnerable while Blackout is a descendant of Lilith.
Posted by: Michael | February 17, 2016 7:53 AM
Well, Rogue is / was nigh-invulnerable, too... and she need(ed) to eat and drink (I think?). As for Blackout, the Lilin could still be killed, right?
In any case: even if Stern is literally immortal and Blackout's Lilin background made him immune to starvation, Ghost Rider had no way of knowing this. Blackout wasn't known as half-demon at this point and nothing in Stern suggested he could survive without food. Maybe Mackie felt that throwing these two guys into a coffin wouldn't harm them and wrote this into the story (because it was cool), but... from in-story perspective, it looked like GR basically sentenced these two men to die horribly. Or was just too stupid to think of the possible consequences of his actions...
Which is one of sings of the GR book becoming horrible at this point. Although, scarily enough, it will become even worse in the future issues...
Posted by: Piotr W | February 17, 2016 5:24 PM
Wasn't it just last issue that a goon with a reason to want revenge on Deathwatch and little reason to act in good faith towards Ghost Rider simply went all "hey, GR, it is totally OK to make an exception of your vow not to take human life when it comes to Deathwatch because he is not human. Honest. You have my word. I am totally not using you to attain my revenge on him. Except that I obviously am, but never mind that"?
Howard Mackie hardly ever denies a character a chance to commit a ridiculously violent and over-the-top act if he can find half an excuse to make it sound remotely believable.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 18, 2016 1:48 AM
That is a pretty sucky pop-up. Like the art was done first and they went "damn, we need another gimmick... let's make it a pop-out".
Posted by: AF | February 18, 2016 8:25 AM
@Chris... It's just possible that, yes, Howard Mackie actually did not know what to do with the Ghost Rider series at this point.
There is an interview with Mackie in which he states that when he was pitching the Ghost Rider revival, various people at Marvel fully expected it to be a massive flop and attempted to stop the book from ever getting off the ground.
Of course, as we now know, the new Ghost Rider book was a gigantic success. This apparently took everyone at Marvel completely off-guard. I would not be surprised if Mackie himself was totally unprepared for Ghost Rider's insane popularity. Initially he may have only planned out a year or so worth of stories, believing that was probably the most time that he'd have before the series got cancelled. So by the time this issue rolled around, it's possible Mackie had no idea where he should go next and was just making stuff up on the fly.
Anyway, here is a link to that interview...
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 20, 2016 9:40 PM
Mackie has a pattern on every one of his series though that it seems like he is making it up on the fly.
And shouldn't he be getting constructive feedback and plotting sessions from and with his editor? I guess they haven't been doing that since Shooter left?
Posted by: PeterA | February 21, 2016 2:56 AM
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