After playing a surprisingly large role in Doctor Strange: Damnation, it was only a matter of time before Johnny Blaze returned to the forefront in his own title. The time has arrived and Blaze has a killer co-star in Danny Ketch, certainly a welcome move to fans of the Spirits of Vengeance everywhere. Even though this version of Ghost Rider stars two Hellfire-enraged demons on their respective motorcycles, it's pretty slow out of the gate.
If you've been keeping up, you already know Blaze is King of Hell after taking over from Mephisto during the events of Damnation. On top of that, he's been featured in the events of Jason Aaron's Avengers run in the past few months which helps create a little bit of confusion surrounding the storytelling involved in this series, though it's admittedly not as big of a problem as it could be.
As you've maybe noticed from future solicitations of this title, Blaze and Ketch don't see eye-to-eye here, creating the main conflict without the need for a prominent "Plot A" antagonist. That's something that might irk readers—especially as they approach a reasonably large reveal towards the end—but it goes far in contrasting the two main characters involved. Instead of being one-dimensional flame-wielding anti-heroes, it allows Ed Brisson to provide an in-depth character analysis of the pair, something much-welcomed when it comes to seeing Ketch in a starring role again.
That said, Ketch's too-serious brooding throughout the issue is a slippery slope the team is treading on as it could get old quickly — but again, at least in this context, it's needed to create the contrast and friction between he and Blaze.
Like many other number ones, this issue does an excellent job of setting up more than enough plot lines to carry the title through two or three story arcs should the House of Ideas actually let it run that far—including one plot involving the imprisoned Mephisto and a gnarly scene involving Lilith and one of Blaze's demon lieutenants. It's far too early to judge those subplots right now but at the very least, they have piqued my interest enough to see them take center stage sooner rather than later.
After thoroughly enjoying Kuder's artwork on All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, I was ecstatic to see him on this title and he delivers. His style is a tremendous fit for the scenes in Hell as it allows a certain level of gore without being nauseating or excessive. Continuing on that front, Keith's colors are dynamite when it comes to the panels using flames and fire—there's a certain watercolor texture to it all that scales it back so that it isn't too bright or gaudy.
Ghost Rider #1 is a promising start from a talented creative team, there's no denying that. Though it might be a bit slow at times, when the action hits, it hits hard. Brisson and Kuder team up to pack a hellish punch in a debut issue many will likely see as a return to form for these ol' hotheads.
Published by Marvel Comics
On October 2, 2019
Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Aaron Kuder0comments
Colors by Jason Keith
Letters by VC's Joe Caramagna