Writer – Ed Brisson; Artist – Aaron Kuder, Craig Yeung, John Lucas, Luciano Vecchio; Colorist -Jason Keith; Letterer – VC’s Clayton Cowles; Editor – Chris Robinson; Senior Editor – Jordan D. White
The newest Ghost Rider volume is rolling along well in this second issue, written by Ed Brisson with art led by Aaron Kuder.
Ed Brisson excels at telling compelling stories and Ghost Rider is just more proof of his inimitable prowess. The narrative of this volume so far, we are only on the second issue, is very fun. It looks like this volume will define plenty of new lore for this character. While the story is serious, as one would expect from an anti-hero like Johnny Blaze, there are funny moments throughout this issue. It never goes to the level of outright comedy thankfully, as such a decision would likely be off-putting and make the story feel tone deaf at best, but the comedy moments work well here, ensuring the book doesn’t feel overly self-serious. Even for a serious book, some levity is nice.
The plot in issue #2 continues to be Johnny hunting down demons that escaped Hell after Johnny took over as king. Danny Ketch, another Ghost Rider, is trying to stop him because Danny doesn’t believe the people Johnny is tearing apart/burning away are actually hellions. For a moment, this works excellently, with the audience not knowing whether Johnny has become corrupted and is acting as an unreliable narrator. Unfortunately, the biggest criticism for issue #2 is that this ambiguity dissolves quickly as, a few panels later, we see Johnny is right and Danny is just blind to the truth. This could lead to some interesting actions for Danny later in the story; he’s on the wrong side and needs to accept his Spirit of a Vengeance to see the truth. Despite this potential however, the ambiguity was an interesting twist that was abandoned too quickly. Perhaps the reason was because the reader had already seen that Johnny had been right before, and it is still too early to tell if this is Johnny’s or Danny’s story, but that ambiguity still could have introduced some interesting nuance. Finally, I won’t spoil the ending, but it leaves a lot of room for trailblazing future story arcs. Ed Brisson is one of the best in the business, so here’s looking forward to the next issue!
Aaron Kuder leads the artwork in this issue with Craig Yeung, John Lucas, and Luciano Vecchio, as well as Jason Keith on colors. Johnny’s design in this volume is interesting, heavily influenced by his past costumes, but seemingly taking inspiration from the Robbie Reyes (All New) Ghost Rider costume as well. The way the team designed his head/skull while in Spirit of Vengeance form is fantastic. The skull is normal until the crown of the head, where it opens at the top in the shape of a literal spiked crown of bone with fire coming out. A fitting look for the king of Hell, blending years of Ghost Rider lore with a more traditional artistic representation of Hell and solid horror imagery. The place where this book’s art continues to impress most, however, is the monster design. While the design of the human characters can be simple, the monsters always impress. In issue #2, it is still looking scary and inspired, one panel with exquisite detail on a demon’s eye, perfectly colored with yellows and oranges, comes immediately to mind. That specific instance is indicative of the art quality of the rest of the book, as there are plenty of great monsters to go around, such as a demonic child. It is good to see artists make Hell look scary, a place that nobody would ever want to find themselves. It is a sizable challenge that many of the greatest artists in history have taken on, and this team executes expertly. A large part of that credit, especially here, belongs to Keith’s colors: the greens of succubus flesh and the use of reds and the creation of an oppressive dark feel in Hell warrant extra accolades focused his way.
Ghost Rider #2 is still an early issue in a nascent series, but inspires great confidence and excitement for future issues.