Comic Book Review: Ghost Rider #4

The Revolution loves that Ghost Rider has his own title once again. And The Revolution is definitely happy that Salvatares and Texeira are handling the art duties. Unfortunately, The Revolution has been less than enthused over the fact that Daniel Way is handling the writing chores on this title. Way’s writing is like an albatross around the neck of this title. If this title had solid writing that matched the artwork, then we would have a great read on our hands. Since Way has never impressed me with his writing, I have my reservations that Ghost Rider #4 is going to be anything more than a pedestrian read. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Daniel Way
Breakdowns: Javier Salvatares
Finishes: Mark Texeira

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue starts with Ghost Rider stunned that he now has Danny Ketch’s power of the Penance Stare. The Ghost Rider then realizes that Dr. Strange is indeed Dr. Strange and not Lucifer. Ghost Rider frantically tries to revive a comatose Dr. Strange. Suddenly, Numecet appears. She is a friend of Dr. Strange. Numecet tells Ghost Rider that there is much he doesn’t know. Ghost Rider asks Numecet what Lucifer meant when he said he had “six hundred and sixty-five more chances.” Numecet says she can’t get involved. Ghost Rider, again, acts like an idiot and wraps his chain around Numecet’s neck and demands answers from her.

Numecet tells Ghost Rider that he can’t stop Lucifer’s plan, because Ghost Rider is a part of Lucifer’s plan. That this world was never meant to host a celestial form of Lucifer’s caliber except in the form of an apparition. That Ghost Rider was able to cross over into this world intact. Lucifer did not. That only Ghost Rider possess the ability to traverse between the planes and that is why Lucifer used Ghost Rider to escape. But, unlike Ghost Rider, Lucifer has no physical repository on the mortal side in which to reside so when he crossed over he disintegrated.

These particles rained down on earth and entered the bodies of those who were dying and reawakened them. There were 666 particles that reawakened 666 dying people. Lucifer wants Ghost Rider to kill him. When one of the host bodies is destroyed then the remaining number will become that much stronger. Eventually only one will remain and Lucifer will have consolidated all his infernal power into one form in one place on Earth.

Ghost Rider vows to kill all of Lucifer’s forms until only one remains and then he will drag Lucifer back to hell since only Ghost Rider has the powers to traverse between the planes. And with that, Ghost Rider gets on his iron horse and blazes off into the night. Dr. Strange then wakes up to a crying Numecet. End of issue.

The Good: Let’s cut right to the chase. Loyal followers of The Revolution know by now that there is probably no chance in hell of me complimenting Way’s writing. So, clearly, the only thing that I really enjoyed about this issue was the artwork. Salvatares and Texeira, the ultimate Ghost Rider artists, continue to be the only bright spot on this title. I love their art. Their heavy lined painted style fits this title perfectly. And for me, their Ghost Rider is the definitive version. I thought this was an excellent looking comic that really made up for an otherwise uninspired story.

Of course, Ghost Rider #4 was special in that it lacked the trademark Daniel Way “shocking” scene that he seems possessed to force into every single issue he ever writes. The fact that this issue didn’t have an obligatory “shocking” scene was rather shocking.

I did find that Johnny Blaze possess Danny Ketch’s Penance Stare power to be a neat twist. I’m curious to find out what other new powers Blaze has and if there is some connection between Blaze and Ketch.

The Bad: Once again, Way delivers another terribly pedestrian read. I get the feeling that he is just mailing it in on this title. It is such an uninspired read that it feels like Way could care less about Ghost Rider as a character and could care less about this title. It seems like Way is just on this title to collect a paycheck and that is about it. Either that or he just isn’t a very talented writer.

We have concluded the fourth issue and out main character, Johnny Blaze, is still lacking anything that might even remotely be confused with an identifiable or fully developed personality. That is simply inexcusable. Johnny Blaze has as much personality as a piece of cardboard. Having such a colorless and bland personality for a main character makes this title a boring read. I can excuse a writer for not fully fleshing out each and every character that appears in a comic book. But, not even developing the main character? C’mon, that is just ridiculous. That is the one character that absolutely has to be fully developed in order for a comic book to succeed.

I still have absolutely no clue why Way even bothered to have Dr. Strange appear in the previous issue or in this issue. Dr. Strange served no practical purpose and failed to add anything of substance to the storyline. I guess this was the only way that Way could present to the reader what in fact was Lucifer’s grand plan and then present to us Ghost Rider’s task and purpose on this comic book. I think it could have been done in a much more interesting and faster paced manner. Ghost Rider #3 and #4 were excruciatingly slow paced and boring. These two issues could have easily been combined into a single and much more interesting and faster paced issue.

And that leads me to my next issue. The pacing is just horrible. We have gone through four issues and practically nothing at all has happened. I mean, honestly, Way could have easily condensed these first four issues into just two issues and made them better paced and more interesting. Instead, here we are after the fourth issue with this title already stuck in neutral.

At least, we have a clearly defined direction and purpose on this title. Ghost Rider must track down and kill 664 people possessed by Lucifer and then drag the remaining one that houses all of Lucifer’s essence back to Hell. That’s it. There is your entire series summed up in a more basic plotline that you see in a majority of shonen manga titles. I can’t believe that is all Way has planned for this title. That is so simplistic and unoriginal that it is practically mind numbing. This doesn’t leave much for the reader to anticipate or to get excited about. We know exactly what Ghost Rider is going to do and the end result. This doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

It is one thing to let the reader know that the writer has a clear direction and purpose in mind with regard to the overall storyline of a comic book. It is another to lay out the exact direction of the overall storyline at the very beginning so that the reader knows exactly what he will be getting over the course of the writer’s run on the title. That leaves very little suspense or wonder for the reader when reading this story.

I’m sure this basic direction for Ghost Rider will provide Way the platform for Ghost Rider to hunt down various twisted people who are possessed by Lucifer and are doing plenty of “shocking” acts. How very predictable and very suitable for Way’s style of writing.

Overall: Ghost Rider #4 was a very substandard read. I have a feeling that this title isn’t going to last very long. That is unfortunate. Ghost Rider is a great character and deserves better than the treatment that Way is giving this title. I’ll keep getting it because I am a loyal Ghost Rider supporter. However, I cannot recommend this title to anyone other than a long time Ghost Rider fan or a big time Daniel Way fan.

1 thought on “Comic Book Review: Ghost Rider #4

  1. I find it funny that Way uses, as you say, a plot from Inu-Yasha to flesh out Lucifer’s grand scheme. And why are we calling him Lucifer instead of Mmephisto?
    Neo-Monster Island

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