I have to first admit that I am having one hell of a time trying to wake up this morning. I have a huge post of Café Bustelo brewing and hopefully after a couple of mugs I will be ready to crank out a half-way descent review of Ghost Rider #2. The Revolution has always liked Ghost Rider. And Texiera is by far my favorite Ghost Rider artist. As any regular followers of the Revolution know by know, I have never been impressed with Daniel Way’s writing skills. Unfortunately for me, Marvel turned over the writing duties on Ghost Rider to Way.
I am trying to keep an open mind, however, I haven’t warmed up to Way’s writing after issue #1. Will Way be able to change my mind with his story in Ghost Rider #2? Maybe. What I do know, is that since this is a Daniel Way comic book, that we are guaranteed at least one “shocking” scene as well as some “tough talking” dialogue from at least one character I have my first mug of Café Bustelo ready, black with two sugars, so let’s hit the review.
Writer: Daniel Way
Breakdowns: Javier Salvatares
Finishes: Mark Texeira
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: This issue starts with Johnny Blaze stuck on the side of a desolate road out in the desert. His motorcycle is out of gas. A big tractor trailer stops and out hops a smoking hot cowgirl truck driver. (Yeah, so many truck drivers are attractive cowgirls wearing Daisy_Dukes.) The truck driver’s name is Dixie. (Of course it is.) Dixie tells Johnny to leave his bike on the side of the road since no one is going to steal it while she takes him to the nearest truck stop. Dixie then calls Johnny by his first name. Johnny grabs her by the neck and barks that he never told her his name. Dixie responds by pulling out a pistol and telling Johnny to let go. Johnny realizes that Dixie isn’t Lucifer in disguise. Dixie then kicks Johnny in the nuts. (Nothing makes a comic a good read like a nut shot. You just knew that this was coming.)
Dixie explains that she knew Johnny’s name because her older brother had one of Johnny’s posters on his wall. Dixie used to dream of marrying Johnny and riding off in the sunset on his motorcycle. That she always loved the bad boy. She continues by saying that she did marry a bad boy who ended up beating her until she told him to leave or she’d kill him. (And there it is! Only five pages into the comic and we have our “tough talking” character!)
Johnny then begs Dixie not to leave him. (Very heroic. Make your main character look like a total bitch.) Dixie says that nobody was there for her when she needed help so she isn’t going to do that to another person. She picks up Johnny and puts him in her truck.
We then cut to funeral home van that is full of grieving family members and being driven by the dead family member who has been possessed by Lucifer. (And I believe we have the ingredients for Way’s obligatory “shocking” scene. You know that these innocent family members are going to end up being killed by their dead relative. It is an absolute given. And then we are supposed to be “shocked!”)
We shift to the Truck Stop where Dixie drops off Johnny and gives him some cash to help him get some gas and food. We then see Johnny cutting his hair into a military style crew cut and shaving his beard. (What? Dude, Johnny is a bad-assed biker! All bikers have long hair and facial hair. Johnny now looks like a dork.)
We then see the funeral home van pull into the same Truck Stop where Johnny is getting some food. A young boy in the van is crying and asks his mom that he thought grandpa died. (Pile it on, Way. You really have to “shock” us when you kill these innocent women and children.) The dead grandfather possessed by Lucifer then pumps the van full of gas and overflows the tank so the gas pours all over the ground around the van. (Gee, what could possibly happen next?)
The dead grandfather then enters the truck stop diner. Johnny is getting some food and Dixie is on a payphone. The dead grandfather asks the cashier for a book of matches. The dead grandfather then turns to Johnny and says “Hi, Johnny.” Johnny transforms into Ghost Rider and proceeds to lay a serious beat down on the dead grandfather. Ghost Rider tells Lucifer that he isn’t so tough up on Earth. Lucifer agrees, but says that he is working on that.
We then see the family in the funeral home van panicking. The mother reaches for the steering wheel saying that she is getting her son out of here. Ghost Rider continues to beat Lucifer like a rented mule. Lucifer ends up standing next to the van in a pool of gasoline. Lucifer tells Ghost Rider that if he comes any close then Ghost Rider will set off the gasoline on the ground and kill the family in the van. Lucifer then pulls out the book of matches is gets ready to light one. Lucifer asks Ghost Rider what is he going to do. Ghost Rider decides to use his chain to take out Lucifer before he strikes his match. We then see the mother inside the van start up the engine which causes a massive explosion and the van and Lucifer burst into flames. (And there is your “shocking” scene. What a surprise, huh? Yeah, right.)
A pick up truck drivers past Johnny and the driver, possessed by Lucifer, says “Sucks to be them! Suicides go to Hell, Johnny!” (Pile it on Way. It just wasn’t “shocking” enough.) Lucifer tells Johnny that he shouldn’t have hesitated, but that he’ll get another chance. That Johnny will actually get 665 more chances. With that, Lucifer drives off.
Suddenly, Ghost Rider is transported to a middle of a graveyard. A voice calls out demanding to know Ghost Rider’s name. Ghost Rider responds saying “You first.” Suddenly we see Dr. Dr.Stephen Strange. End of issue.
The Good: Well, Ghost Rider #2 wasn’t exactly what I would call a well written comic book. Let’s see, the Revolution’s Positive Rule dictates that I must find something positive to say about this issue. Ok, I can do that. I think that Way delivered a great ending in this issue. Dr. Strange is a great character! How this guy hasn’t gotten his own monthly again is totally beyond me. With the correct creative team, I think that a Dr. Strange monthly could be very successful.
At any rate, it was great to see Dr. Strange and this was a nice hook that immediately got me interested in reading the next issue. And that is the power of a great ending. Even after a very pedestrian issue, an excellent ending can make the reader forget about the rest of the comic and get excited to read the next issue. Way certainly succeeded in getting me interested in seeing what Way has planned for Dr. Strange and what role he will play in Ghost Rider’s mission.
Of course, I loved the artwork my mis hermanos Texiera and Saltares are simply the ONLY artists who should ever draw Ghost Rider. They are phenomenal and I would hate to see anyone other than them draw old flame head. I know their style isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it. It may not work on titles, but for Ghost Rider, it is perfect. The draw a wicked cool Ghost Rider. It is interesting that they chose the Danny Ketch style Ghost Rider outfit for Johnny Blaze. At any rate, Texiera and Saltares’ excellent artwork makes Ghost Rider #2 a great looking comic book and bolsters an otherwise very ordinary story.
The Bad: Way delivers a very dull story. Maybe it is just me, but I simply don’t think Way is a particularly talented writer at all. Way’s dialogue is either: A) Terribly cheesy B) Hackneyed “tough talk.” C) Ordinary and slightly generic. Take your pick. Ghost Rider #2 is no exception and all of Way’s dialogue falls into one of these three categories. Also, Way has a problem giving any of his characters any type of unique voice.
Way failed to get me interested in Dixie’s character. I guess if I was a 16 year old boy, I’d find a smoking hot pistol packing cowgirl who drives a tractor trailer and talks tough more appealing of a character. However, I’m no longer 16 and her character is just a combination of various clichés. Not only does she lack any depth, but Way also gives her some of the cheesiest dialogue.
Way’s Johnny Blaze is so boring and shallow. There is little depth or originality in Blaze’s character. Way has done nothing to flesh out or develop Johnny’s character. Way succeeds in making Johnny look like a total bitch by having him look like a fool in front of Dixie and then kicked in the nuts. Then we get to see him beg for a ride to the truck stop. That entire opening scene did nothing to make Johnny more interesting at all. He just looked like a total tool.
I’m also not thrilled that Way had Johnny get a buzz cut and shave his beard. Blaze is a haunted biker. The long hair and facial hair suited his character far more than the generic clean shaved and buzz cut look. Again, Way just makes Johnny even more of a “vanilla” character not only in personality, but also in appearance.
The scene with Lucifer possessing the dead body of the grandfather and holding the family members captive in the van was just typical Way. Way is the most predictable writer in the industry. Like I said in the beginning, this was the foundation for Way’s inevitable “shocking” scene. You knew that they were all going to get killed in some terrible fashion. Here is a little tip, Way. When something is painfully obvious and predictable, it ceases to be “shocking” or compelling in any fashion whatsoever.
And then Way does his typical heavy handed over the top writing by having the crying little boy asking mother what is going on with Grampa. Sheesh. When you go so over the top the scene ceases to have the writer’s intended impact on the reader. Instead, it begins to read like a parody and I find myself laughing at the heavy handed writing. And, I’m pretty sure that isn’t the reaction that Way wants to elicit from the reader.
We then get the inevitable brawl between Lucifer and Ghost Rider that leads them over to the gasoline soaked van full of innocent family members. Finally, we get the obligatory “shocking” scene that Way has been so desperately building up to the entire issue. Are we “shocked?” No. We knew we would get a “shocking” scene before we even opened up this issue. Plus, we guessed this scene the minute we first saw the van in the beginning of the issue. Instead, I just chuckled at Way and moved on. Of course, just to make sure we were properly shocked, Way has Lucifer mention how the family members were all going to Hell since suicide is a sin. Yup. The entire build up to that scene simply wasn’t over the top enough. With Way too much is NEVER enough.
This is exactly what makes Way’s writing so painful to read. Way’s writing reads like that of a 16 year old fan fiction writer. I can hear Way now. “I’m dark, man! I’m effing hard-core! You can’t handle me! I’m x-rated shocking!”
After two issues, Way has still failed to craft a focused and strong storyline with a clear direction and purpose. Instead, we have a wimpy Johnny Blaze wandering around on a mission to stop Lucifer who is engaged in some vague and uninteresting campaign on Earth. Way really needs to get this story tightened up and moving in a definite direction.
Overall: Ghost Rider #2 was a rather dull read. The only thing that this issue has going for it is some fantastic artwork and a very interesting ending. I don’t know if I am ever going to enjoy reading an issue written by Way. Maybe it is just me. I just don’t get why anyone would be a fan of his writing. If you are a big Daniel Way fan then please post why you dig his writing. Seriously, I am very interested in why someone would actually be engaged and interested in Way’s writing.
I’ll keep buying Ghost Rider because I love the character and I want to support him. I don’t want to stop buying it and have Marvel decide to just cancel the title. This really makes me a pathetic loser, huh? Continuing to purchase a title out of loyalty and support of a character when I find the writing to be less than impressive. Hopefully, either Way will actually crank out a story that I find interesting or Marvel will replace him with another writer.