All-New Ghost Rider #1 was met with critical praise that I don't think anyone really anticipated any Ghost Rider comic would ever receive. From the very start I was confident that it was the best iteration of the character I had read. Writer Felipe Smith's characters were well crafted, sympathetic, and presented a unique perspective in superhero comics. But what really sold the comic was Tradd Moore's art. Full of bombast and energy, it jumped off the page and made it clear that All-New Ghost Rider was unlike anything Marvel was publishing.
So when Moore announced he would be leaving after issue five, the question was whether anyone could hope to fill his shoes. Today we received the answer: Absolutely.
Damion Scott with inker Robert Campanella has continued the story of new Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes with dynamic panache. Scott seems to be aware of the high expectations and responds with an explosive two page spread of Robbie street racing. Car chases and races are one of the most difficult things to pull off in comics. The excitement of tons of steel rocketing across pavement is hard to convey through static images. Scott makes this race feel every bit as exciting as something from a blockbuster though. He uses the momentum of actions in each panel, as well as sound effects, to pull the eye between every moment. It reads quickly and feels fast. The transitions between the second, third, and fourth panels are incredible. Robbie's hand on the shifter pushes you down into a bird's eye view of the race that spins out around a corner. It is a masterful composition. This spread embodies everything that Scott and Campanella bring to the table and serves as a thesis for their style.
His work is not without some flaws though. Scott is heavily influenced by graffiti art that translates well into bombastic forms and perspectives. It is not so helpful in less dynamic sequences. When page compositions become more standardized and character's action smaller in nature, the panels appear flat. The storytelling is functional, but the magic element found in the race is gone. The same applies to understated emotional reactions. Scott creates some incredible work with big moments, but the smaller ones lack something.
Colorist Val Staples adjusts her own artwork to mesh with Scott and Campanella's. The colors in All-New Ghost Rider #6 are flatter than before, in order to work better with the rougher line work and less fluid forms. The overall tone of the comic has been maintained though. The sequences that take place at night feel very similar with long shadows and deep purple and orange hues.
Scott's lead characters continue to carry the story. The loving relationship between Robbie and his younger brother, Gabe, has me deeply invested in what happens to them. Their relationship feels honest, bringing out the best in both of them, but also exposing their flaws. The supporting cast is less well conceived. The clichés of supportive inner city teacher and high school bully have been given names, but their personalities remain limited at best. Scott includes a scene at the end that is emotionally manipulative, but still works like crazy. The final panel of which is absolutely heart breaking.
All-New Ghost Rider is continuing to be a stand out title amongst the current line up of Marvel Comics. By bringing on board artists like Moore and Scott, with powerful, individualized voices, the publisher has resurrected a C-list character and made him feel all new.