Ghost Rider #2

Smith, Moore, Staples

SPOILER ALERT!

I will most certainly be SPOILING.

The twin burning tire tracks that lead out of Ghost Rider issue #1, lead straight into a gunfight in the first panel of this issue. In true Rider fashion, bullets do no damage to the demonic vigilante or his vehicle.

Before continuing with my summary, I want to comment on the interesting art style employed for the design of this new Ghost Rider and his vehicle. Instead of fire, smoke, spikes, and skeleton motif that fans of the character’s earlier incarnations are used to, we find ourselves looking at a face that looks like a mask combined with a more sleek design to the costume. Most effective, however, are the use of lines when depicting fire as it pours out of the mask and car. Pulling tight against the curves of the car and Rider, and streaking off behind them creates this feel of skin-peelingly fast speeds. The intensity of the images lend themselves to the relentlessness we know the Rider possesses in an incredibly satisfying way.

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Back to the mobile gunfight. Seeing the bullets are having no effect, the swat officers up the ante with an RPG. Their cheers of victory die on their lips when the Rider’s car completes a flip and lands, unharmed, on four fiery tires. Then, in what should have been just a typical pit maneuver, the Rider splits the armored vehicle in two.

The next scene offers us a window into the reasons behind the attack on Robbie. The military men that attacked him are lined up in front of a harmless looking man in a lab coat. They discuss the relative success of the mission before levying out a punishment and arranging a new leader for the men. This new leader is tasked with completing the mission.

Robbie wakes up, believing he has dreamt his untimely death and the violence that followed. Noticing that one of his eyes has changed color, he goes about dealing with the life he had almost left. A neighbor offers him a wheel chair to borrow for the time being, while the boys who stole the first wheel chair bring to his attention that he is fully healed from the beating they gave him the day before. If the rider could handle dozens of bullet holes, a broken nose must not be much of a chore for his healing factor.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, the missing bags of pills that the swat men had been hunting for are being sold as party favors. The sleaziest of the sleazy are buying them thinking that they are ruffies, or rohypnol, the date rape drug. During this exchange, we find out that the charger that became the catalyst for Robbie’s drama last night belongs to the pusher. Robbie is further shocked to find the car, undamaged, back at his shop when he goes to work after school.

The next scene made me laugh out loud at the intentional irony. The girl that the greasy thugs gave the ruffie to has no idea that it was exactly the opposite. The pills take effect, and instead of becoming a docile, suggestive victim, she becomes a raging, super powered berserker. The art here once again enhances the scene, distorting to suggest the unhinged nature of the girl under the influence of the drug.

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Robbie can’t resist any longer and sneaks out after putting his brother to bed so he can take the Charger for another spin. Only this time, the pusher who saw the girl transform wants the pills out of his own trunk. They catch Robbie as he is preparing to make off with the car, and they open fire. The Rider moves through the hail of gunfire, and then the thugs firing, with typical brutality and speed.   Finally, he once more steps behind the wheel and tears away only to stop at a salvage yard, where the rider speaks for the first time, and it is to Robbie himself.

“…The real question is what are we?”

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There are two things that caught my attention in this months issue. First, the art is hyper stylized and it is wholly effective. The action and violence, particularly when the Rider is dealing with the thugs is pulpy and full of poise. The distortion from the “ruffie girl” defending herself and the use of smoke and circular light flares all bring to mind the classic anime movie, Akira. The second is the edge-of-your-seat story telling. From the bullies mocking Robbie to the henchmen leadership change and the powerful brutality of the Rider this title delivers on every claim to be pulse pounding and adrenaline fueled. I find myself looking down the night time street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the burning charger, as it burns towards next month’s issue.

My rating: 5 / 5