Robbie Reyes—possessed by the ghost of Satanist mobster Eli Morrow—faces off once again against Johnny Blaze. Will they have a fight to the death that brings all of L.A. along with them? Or will it fizzle out like a wet sparkler? Your review awaits!
ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #9
Writer: Felipe Smith
Artist: Damion Scott, Cory Hamscher, Victor Olazaba, & Don Ho
Colorist: Val Staples
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in All-New Ghost Rider: Robbie Reyes gave in to the dark side of his Ghost Rider nature, being possessed by former mobster Eli Morrow who is hellbent on getting revenge against Boss Yeger Ivanov, the man responsible for his death. Johnny Blaze faced off against the Morrow-possessed Reyes, though he lost him in the end. Now, it’s up to Blaze to find Reyes before any permanent damage is done.
A BROTHER’S LOVE
Robbie Reyes encounters Johnny Blaze once again. Of course, Blaze, being the alpha dog in the Ghost Rider world, manages to exorcise Eli Morrow from Reyes via the Penance Stare. Once the evil spirit has been banished from his body, Reyes immediately rushes home to his now disillusioned brother Gabriel, not realizing that he’s been seen by second-in-command of the Blue Crew and school bully Guero. Hyde continues to grow his army using drugs and a false sense of family, drawing in new gang members amongst the youth of L.A. Now, though, he’s also managed to bring into the Russian mafia into the fold.
One of the best things about this series is the relationship between the Reyes brothers. Robbie Reyes takes care of his little brother, handicapable Gabriel Reyes. Everything Robbie does is for his brother in some form or another. When Robbie loses control and Morrow takes over, Gabe falls by the wayside, in this case literally. Of course, after Robbie gets ahold of himself, the relationship between the brothers is forever changed. By far, the relationship between the two is the most enduring thing about this series, so to see that altered because one loses control of himself, is heartbreaking.
This book is, though, a connector book. The fight between Blaze and Reyes is relatively good, but over quickly, and there is some development with the Hyde Blue Crew, but overall there’s not much going on. It is interesting to see how Hyde is using some of the impoverished youth of East L.A. to fuel his own crusade—though it’s a little evocative of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and the Foot Clan—and there’s something semi-political about how young people are used to fuel a gang’s selfish purposes, but other than that there isn’t much else going on.
It is worth noting that it’s nice to see a book that’s centered on a non-Caucasian main character. While Marvel has definitely been hitting it out the park as far as diversity in comics goes, this series has so far focused on an aspect of American culture that’s rarely seen: the Latino culture of East L.A. True, there has been Latino characters in the past, but so far this is one of the first that focuses on that particular aspect of Latino culture, a culture that normally is only featured in fish-out-of-water movies about an upper class teacher teaching impoverished youths. It’s nice to see a change.
STREET ART TAKEN SERIOUSLY
One of the best things about the All-New Ghost Rider series is the artwork. Damion Smith (teamed up with Cory Hamsher, Victor Olazaba, and Don Ho with Val Staples on coloring) has drawn a book that stands miles out from the rest of the Marvel books out there at the moment, giving the reader a taste of street and urban art in comic book form. While it’s not as clean as Trad Moore’s work in previous issues, it still keeps to the spirit of the L.A. Urban art scene and the series remains one of the few books in the Marvel line that breaks the mold of what comic art is.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that Trad Moore’s art was much cleaner and felt less scribbled than Damion Smith’s. It’s still really good as far as art goes, but lacks the smooth, sleek lines that Moore’s artwork embodied. The whole team of artists does manage to keep up with Moore’s fluidity and this book remains one of the few Marvel books out there that could looks as if it could easily be turned into a psychedelic cartoon one might fight on Cartoon Network’s adult swim. It well fits the Ghost Rider mythos of flame and Harleys (or in this case, muscle cars), giving it the movement the book needs. There are several sprawling spreads of the fight between Reyes and Blaze that are vivid and visually gorgeous, with Val Staples heavily taking the brunt of the work with coloration.
There are moments where Smith and co. frames each panel quite nicely. In the heart-breaking scene where Robbie comes home to his brother stranded on the kitchen floor, the art of Robbie carrying his brother provides the frame for the following panel of Robbie putting Gabe back into his wheelchair. It’s evocative of some Chicano artwork that features the Virgin Mary carrying various martyrs of Pachuco culture. Obviously, the religious comparisons here are fairly thin, but it’s nice to see the Latino art-scene influence in a book that’s centered on Latino characters.
OVERALL: GOOD BOOK IF YOU’VE BEEN FOLLOWING ALONG
Felipe Smith continues to write a great Ghost Rider series, tapping into a part of American culture rarely seen and creating a beautiful story about two brothers and their love. The artwork—while not as clean as Trad Moore’s—continues in the same vein of urban street art, making it one of the few books that really stand out. The art isn’t necessarily for everyone, as it strongly veers away from “typical” comic book art. This book isn’t a good hopping on point if one hasn’t been following the story. It’ll be confusing and it’s best to wait until the next story arc. However, if one has been following along, it’s a good one to pick up and this series continues to be an entertaining and fun read.