Johnny Blaze has the perfect life. A wife and two kids, a job working for his father in law as a mechanic in an idyllic small town in America. Yet something isn’t right. Johnny has violent, disturbing visions; he keeps seeing flashes of a dark and gruesome reality that seems to bubble under the surface of his seemingly normal existence. He’s trying to keep his alter ego – the demonic Ghost Rider – buried deep within him too, for fear of losing control. Yet the Ghost Rider may be needed – and Johnny surely can’t keep him at bay forever, right?
I’m not up to speed (pun not intended) with where the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider has been or what he’s been up to, but this first issue seems to be taking the character in a radically different direction to anything we’ve seen before. It’s got a very strong feel of the sort of small town Americana with dark, disturbing supernatural elements that you’d find in the work of Stephen King; combine that with the more visual medium of comics and there’s some genuinely unsettling imagery involved here. The story and set-up here are really well handled, with Joe Bennett and Cory Smith serving up some seriously horrific pencils from Benjamin Percy’s script.
A few elements feel unnecessary at this stage – the clunkily named Talia Warroad, for example – but will likely be key to the ongoing events which boil over in spectacular fashion by the end of this impressive first issue.
Though I was a big fan of the original Ghost Rider and even the Danny Ketch relaunch a little over thirty years ago, I must admit that the character has felt somewhat tired and dull in the intervening years. This reboot does something very unusual with the character and does it well enough that I’ll definitely be back to see where this particular road takes us.
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