What If? Ghost Rider #1

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By Sebastian Girner and Casper Wijngaard

There was a time not long ago when Marvel had monthly issues of What If?, and it gave us a peek into how dark the Marvel Universe could be. These books would usually end badly for the main character, but would also just be a really cool alternate tale. As time passed, the series fell off and Marvel would occasionally put out a few issues here and there. Now, What If? is back with a whole new batch of stories with new and different characters. This week, What If ? Marvel went heavy metal with Ghost Rider hits shelves, and fans of both the old series and Robbie Reyes should be excited for his time to shine in the spotlight.

At face value, this sounds like an interesting concept. Ghost Rider has always attempted to be an edgier character who has dealt with darker storylines. Sebastian Girner pens a tale of a band named Hassenwald that has taken the world by storm. Some suspect the band is involved in witchcraft, others just love their product. Robbie Reyes is tasked with showing them around Marvel comics. This whole thing feels a little meta. Reyes is a fine character, but as you read through the issue, it seems like this should be something Deadpool would be doing. Girner does make Reyes very likable, which isn’t hard, but this issue doesn’t have the spirit of the old What If? Series. Things seemed dire and there were no guarantees on who would make it out of the book alive. Girner makes this issue feel more like an annual for Ghost Rider where things don’t feed into the main storyline, but aren’t as interesting either. Ultimately, this issue lacks the excitement and fun that came along with the old What If? Stories. Girner spent half of the issue in Marvel headquarters, which again is a Deadpool gag, and then seemed to rush through the second half of the book. This isn’t a bad read, it just doesn’t live up to the expectations of the series that came before it.

 

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The pencils, colors and inks are all done by Casper Wijngaard. The pencils look great in the issue due to Wijngaard’s attention to detail. Spikes on the band’s outfit and bullets on their belts are all very visible and can be seen individually. On a page where Robbie takes the band into a room full of Marvel employees all at their computers coloring or doing other things, Wijngaard has a great individual look for all of the different employees, including different outfits and colors. Now, as we move onto the coloring portion of the issue, Wijngaard keeps things light, almost pastels in some spots. This style works for the issue, because it’s a light book that has Marvel team members in it. As the book takes a turn toward the dark side, so do Wijngaard’s colors. Panels begin to use more black and darker shades of red. The art is impressive for this issue and Wijngaard seems to have a bright future ahead of him.

What If? Marvel went heavy metal with Ghost Rider is probably a story for a select group of people. There were some decent things about the issue, like Robbie’s characterization, but ultimately it falls flat. The art by Casper Wijngaard is a huge boost to the book. As far as What If? Goes, this is middle of the road.

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As far as What If? goes, this is middle of the road.
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