Ghost Rider #1
By Felipe Smith, Danilo S. Beyruth, Val Staples, Jesus Aburtov, Joe Caramagna, Tradd Moore, and Joe Sabino.
Ghost Rider is synonymous with a few things like a skull engulfed in flames, muscle cars, and bad movies with Nicolas Cage. Ghost Rider #1, therefore, was a real opportunity for Marvel to show us some fun moments with Ghost Rider while he is fulfilling his pact with the devil to deliver souls, but instead we are delivered a watered-down version of Ghost Rider in Robbie Reyes. This issue makes it abundantly clear that Reyes is a reluctant hero who shies away from the spotlight, instead preferring to spend time with his disabled little brother, Gabe.
This first issue is split into one main story and another mini-story. The first story centers on Reyes dealing with his everyday life and sating the urge of Ghost Rider while Amadeus Cho, who you might know as The Totally Awesome Hulk, is investigating some space goo that appeared on a nearby beach. The second story is a little more what you would expect from a Ghost Rider story; there are attractive women, people trying to steal cars, and Ghost Rider chasing people down.
The second story, titled “Pyton Nitro Strikes” has a lot more character to make the reader feel connected to what’s happening. This story introduces a new villain for Ghost Rider, Peepo Choo a.k.a. Pyston Nitro. She is a social media fitness model by day, car thief by night who also has some to be explained abilities (she was able to outmaneuver the Hell Charger!) This story from Smith with art from Moore, colors from Staples and letters by Sabino felt a lot stronger than the previous story. You still get the Robbie Reyes is a good guy vibe from how he treats the Internet famous hottie and we get tons of Ghost Rider action. The bulk of this story is centered on the chase on Pyston Nitro after she attempted to jack the Hell Charger. The panels are fun and full of energy and we get to see some personality from Ghost Rider, as the dialogue between Reyes and Ghost Rider play out. If this had been the main story, it may have gotten readers a little more excited.
There is little no personality or uniqueness brought to this story to make a reader get excited for the next issue, which is a shame because there is a lot of great back-story that has led Reyes to his current predicament. Instead of taking time to relive that for readers, the recap page explains it all, which is a waste. Smith takes a lot of time during this issue to demonstrate how humble and good Reyes is, much to the discredit of the readers. Yeah we get it, he has immense power but instead of wielding it for his benefit he helps out his wheelchair bound brother. It is a little heavy-handed, and it feels like a waste of pages. There is opportunity to show his internal struggle with Ghost Rider, and see how that plays out in his daily interactions.
Ghost Rider #1 features some cameos from other Marvel heroes like The Totally Awesome Hulk and Wolverine. Amadeus Cho is investigating some debris that fell from space at a nearby beach. The little rock that fell is now turning into whatever it consumes, which is all great until it bites the Totally Awesome Hulk’s tongue and is now taking on Hulk-like qualities. This is a great set up for this arc, but it seems to be two separate stories at this point, and seeing how Ghost Rider will get involved seems a little far out of reach. It does feel a little mismatched to have a pairing of these two heroes, it would be nice to see the interactions between the two to see if it brings more personality and depth to Robbie Reyes.
The best part of the book, and possibly only good part of the first story, is the splash page of Ghost Rider in action. This happens about midway through the first story and artist Beyruth with colors from Staples and Aburtov give us a small flash of hope for this series. It was smart to almost tease the reveal of Ghost Rider in action. The skull head amidst flames is an iconic image that we all associate when you think of Ghost Rider. However, there was no real payoff for the readers because when we finally are introduced to Ghost Rider in his full glory; it is a bottom panel in the splash page. It feels like a missed opportunity to turn a great splash page into a memorable splash page with Ghost Rider front and center.
Ghost Rider #1 barely gets this story off the ground and leaves the readers feeling a little confused and bored. Not enough was done to endear the readers to any of the characters and give us a purpose to continue reading. If you can make it through the first story and read the second mini-story “Pyston Nitro Strikes” you do get to see the makings of a character and a Ghost Rider story we can get behind. This does provide some hope that this series could flesh out better than anticipated. Introducing a new villain like Pyston Nitro opens up the door to tremendous possibilities that would excite readers and give us a reason to keep reading.