Comic Book Review: Ghost Rider #9

The Revolution has been depressed over how Daniel Way has ruined the return of one of our favorite characters: Ghost Rider. It is practically mind numbing the lack of anything that would be confused with a plot or a purpose to the story on this title. I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a comic book that did less in the first eight issues than this title.

The only saving grace is that Texeira and Saltares are back handling the art duties on this title. I am quite positive that Ghost Rider #9 will feature at least one trademark Daniel Way “shocking” scene and fail to further a single plotline or create a single interesting plotline. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Daniel Way
Artists: Javier Saltares & Mark Texeira

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 1 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with two boys out at night breaking curfew and having fun. Suddenly, Jack O’ Lantern’s fiery pumpkin head comes flying up to them. The boys jump off a bridge and into the water to escape the pumpkin head. We see a fiery explosion. One of the boys grabs the other one’s hand and pulls him to land. There the boy sees that his friend has been decapitated. (Ah, Way wasted no time delivering that trademark “shocking” scene.)

Jack O’ Lantern approached the surviving boy. Jack offers to let the boy live, but it will cost him his soul. Suddenly Ghost Rider appears on the scene and attacks Jack O’ Lantern. Jack tells the boy that they will talk again, soon.

Ghost Rider proceeds to kick the crap out of Jack O’ Lantern. Ghost Rider tells Jack that he knows Jack is really Lucifer. Lucifer says that his new costume is has great gadgets like high-impact body armor and a cool wrist-blaster, too. Lucifer blasts Ghost Rider with the blaster and then makes a quick escape.

We then cut to a local news report about how the local town of Sleepy Hallow has been rocked by several gristly murders. The reporter interviews Sheriff O’Conner about the situation. Sheriff O’Conner says the curfew will remain in force until the killer is caught.

We cut to Ghost Rider on his bike getting run into by Sheriff O’Conner’s patrol car. Sheriff O’Conner gets out of his squad car with a big ass assault machine gun in his hands and threatens to blow Ghost Rider’s head off just like Ghost Rider took the heads off those kids. Ghost Rider responds that he is not the killer. The Sheriff ain’t buying what Ghost Rider is selling.

We shift to Lucifer in the middle of a graveyard. Lucifer says it is Halloween and he wants to know who wants to go trick or treating with him. Suddenly, the hands of the dead bodies all break through the ground. End of issue.

The Good: Ghost Rider #9 was just a dreadful read. The absolutely only thing that I enjoyed about this issue was the fantastic artwork by Saltares and Texeira. Those guys rock hardcore. I love their style of art and it works great on a dark, grim and eerie title like Ghost Rider. For my money, nobody can draw Ghost Rider like Saltares and Texeira. If it weren’t for these two talented artists then Ghost Rider would be completely unreadable and possibly the worst comic book I have ever read.

The Bad: Ghost Rider #9 was just awful. I mean truly terrible. It is absolutely stunning at how bad of a read Daniel Way has managed to consistently crank out each and every month on this title. I don’t think that if a writer actually tried to write this poorly this consistently that they could achieve way Way has done on this title.

Way’s story on Ghost Rider seems to be completely devoid of any point or purpose. What in the world is Way trying to do on this title? Way is like a blind man stumbling in the middle of a desert. The story on Ghost Rider is meandering and rambling around with no rhyme or reason. I have never seen a title that was so completely lacking any plot or direction.

This is absolutely the worst way to start a new title. Way has failed to create a well plotted storyline that would hook a read other than a die hard Ghost Rider fan. All we have gotten is that Lucifer has possessed hundreds of different people. That Ghost Rider is going to kill each possessed person and with each death Lucifer will get stronger and stronger until the last person is left and Lucifer will finally be at full strength. That’s it.

Oh yeah, Way did hint at a new plotline involving Lucifer offering a deal to the young boy and then promising to talk to him real soon about this proposed deal. Wow. Who cares? Talk about a completely uninteresting plotline.

Way’s story is painfully predictable. It is a “paint by numbers” story. Ghost Rider fights a possessed person by Lucifer. Ghost Rider kills the person. Lucifer gets stronger. Ghost Rider goes after the next possessed person. Wash, rinse and repeat. Don’t expect for anything else or anything more interesting or with more depth. It just isn’t there.

And seriously, can Way just stop it with his obligatory “shocking” scene each and every issue? The overuse of these “shocking” scenes serves only to desensitize the reader to the violence and the “shocking” aspect of each scene. Less is more when it comes to trying to shock the reader. With each “shocking” scene, they have less and less impact on the reader.

Eventually, the “shocking” scenes become more of a running joke that the reader laughs at. And that is certainly not the desired effect that Way is looking to get from the reader. Way’s story ends up reading more like a parody rather than a serious effort.

And what is the deal with Lucifer being so excited about having Jack O’ Lantern’s high impact armor and his wrist gun? Lucifer has the power to raise the dead as we see at the end of this issue. Do you really think he’d be impressed with the lame gadgets of some D-list villain like the Jack O’ Lantern?

Way continues to fail to develop Johnny Blaze or Ghost Rider’s character. We have gotten little panel time for Johnny Blaze. And that is probably a good thing since the panel time that Blaze has gotten has been terrible. Way has given the reader the most boring and non-descript version of Johnny Blaze that I have ever read.

Way also continues to craft some of the stiffest and truly uninspired dialogue that you will ever read. This poor dialogue also contributes to the lack of any character development on this title.

I rarely call out a comic book writer. I respect the talents of comic book writers because it is very hard to write a single monthly title let alone multiple monthly titles. I know many fans think they could write better than many comic book writers. Those fans are wrong. The talent level of comic book writers has definitely improved since the 1960’s and 1970’s and it is only getting better.

Daniel Way is the exception. I think that Way is probably the only comic book writer in the industry that I fell comfortable labeling a total hack. I just don’t see where Way has much talent. Now, I don’t blame Way for the poor effort that we have gotten on Ghost Rider and over on Wolverine: Origins. I blame Marvel. Hell, I’d do exactly what Way is doing if Marvel offered me good money to write two of their monthly titles. Take the money and laugh all the way to the bank. The fact that a writer with such meager talent can snag two Marvel monthly titles is pretty impressive.

No, my problem is with Joe Quesada and the talent evaluators at Marvel Comics. How in the world can Joey Q read Ghost Rider and think to himself “Hey, this Daniel Way is really putting out a quality read every month.” That is absolutely impossible. And if Quesada realizes the lack of quality writing on Ghost Rider then why hasn’t there been a change of writers on this title.

What is amazing is that despite the poor writing on this title, Ghost Rider is still getting pretty solid sales numbers. That is a testament to the loyalty of Ghost Rider fans no matter how boring a read this title has been. Just imagine the sales numbers Ghost Rider could get if a writer with some talent was handling the writing duties.

Overall: Ghost Rider #9 was another pathetic read. Way continues to fail to establish any point, purpose or direction on this title. Saltares and Texeira manage to salvage as much of this issue with their strong artwork. Unless you are a die-hard Ghost Rider fan like me, I just can’t recommend you spending your hard earned money on this title.