The last time we saw Johnny Blaze, the character was battling for the throne of Hell with the likes of Mephisto and Lilith vying for the very same position. One event led to another and Danny Ketch, now going by Death Rider in the Marvel Universe, seemingly cured Johnny of the Spirit of Vengeance or, at the very least, the part of it that was corrupting the wannabe king. Fast forward to today and another Ghost Rider relaunch has arrived, setting an entirely new status quo for this beloved horror character.
By the time readers catch up with Blaze, he's relocated to a little town called Hayden's Falls—and he's seemingly forgotten his entire time as a crime-fighting antihero. Ben Percy uses a plot device we've seen a few times before, most notably in Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld's Captain America series from the late 1990s, a false reality has been created around the main character to ensure they're kept in check.
Here, however, that particular thread resolves itself awfully quickly, dumping fans head-first into the good stuff within the first issue. Carrying a hefty $5.99 price tag, Ghost Rider #1 is an extended issue, giving Percy and Cory Smith more time to breath with the story at hand. It allows the team to do everything they need to in a debut issue. They set up a new status quo, introduce a conflict, and give time for character arcs to be introduced for both the protagonist and antagonist. In fact, that's one of the things that might make the issue so attractive in the first place—there's no clear-cut antagonist, which is exactly how a Ghost Rider comic ought to be.
Johnny Blaze is possessed by a demon, making him have an internal fight on whether or not he's truly evil, leaving fans to debate amongst themselves whether he's his own worst enemy or the people trying to stop Blaze from going on a rampage against the world's supernatural threats are who we should be rooting against. It's that idea, or dilemma if you will, that serves as the root of this introductory arc's foundation.
Blaze finds himself in therapy as a therapist continues to make the point that monsters aren't real. We, as readers, are then left to define what monsters are, and if the Ghost Rider has the right to snap the necks of the aforementioned monsters simply for existing. It's a moral conundrum set up here that will carry this story forward, and it will be interesting to see how future scripts work on the issue. Smith's lineart is ideal for a story such as this, and when combined with moody colors from Bryan Velenza, a dark and gritty issue of Ghost Rider is delivered.
Published by Marvel Comics
On February 23, 2022
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Cory Smith
Colors by Bryan Valenza
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Kael Ngu