It’s a battle decades in the making: Johnny Blazer Vs. Danny Ketch! Choose your Rider! Your Major Spoilers review of Ghost Rider #2 awaits!
Writer: Ed Brisson
Penciler: Aaron Kuder with Craig Yeung, John Lucas & Luciano Vecchio
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Chris Robinson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 6, 2019
Previously in Ghost Rider: To save the Earth, Johnny Blaze took control of the throne of Hell while its previous ruler, Mephisto, was jailed in Las Vegas. Blaze remained trapped in Hell, unfamiliar with the full power and duty he now wielded. In Brooklyn, Johnny’s half-brother and fellow Ghost Rider Danny ketch tried to put the Spirit of Vengeance behind him by opening up a bar called the Fadeaway. While cutting off a demon breakout, Blaze found himself back on Earth but corrupted by the power of Hell!
THERE’S THAT SAYING ABOUT ABSOLUTE POWER
As our story opens, we get the most terrifying image in a book full of demons and hellfire: Johnny Blaze walking BAREFOOT through the streets of New York. That’s just a recipe for tetanus. Of course, he’s not flesh for long, as he finds an escaped demon and transforms into the burning spirit of vengeance to capture it. Not far away, Detective Stacy Dolan arrives at Danny Ketch’s bar to question him about another Ghost Rider sighting, having seen first-hand Danny’s transformation into a “leather-clad skeleton man with a flaming head” in the past. He’s not the Ghost Rider in question, but hearing that Johnny targeted and killed one of his regulars sets Danny out on his flame-cycle again. When Johnny attacks a cruise-ship, Danny arrives to stop him, leading to skull-to-skull combat and angry words being thrown back and forth between the brother Ghost Rider, leading to a race through the streets to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, where Johnny’s extra powers give him the edge, allowing him to drain the flaming vengeance from Danny’s body… then dropping him into the river.
THAT’S… NOT AN ENCOURAGING ENDING
I really like the fact that, while Johnny is certain that he’s catching and capturing escaped demons, it’s never 100% clear if this is the case or if he’s just terrorizing and murdering random bystanders. it gives a little ambiguity to the question of how far gone Blaze is, under the influence of Mephisto’s crown, but leaves some leeway that the Johnny we know and love is still in there… somewhere. I wouldn’t take too much time to think about their power sources (Zarathos and Noble Kale don’t seem to be part of the equations here), but the vaguely-Richard-Corben-inspired art should keep you from focusing too hard on that aspect. The sight of two flame-cycles racing up the bridge moorings is impressive, and even though I have some occasional issues with the clarity of facial expressions, there’s a nice focus on details, backgrounds and settings throughout the issue. I’m not sure whose book this is meant to be, but I like the decision to have multiple active Ghost Riders, and the use of Blaze/Ketch history is well-done, giving us just enough without overwhelming the story with exposition.
BOTTOM LINE: REIGNITING SOME FAN WARS
The decision to have Johnny so decisively defeat his brother here is at least softened by his extra hell-powers, but I imagine that if you’ve ever been part of a “Who’d win?” argument, this book may provide extra argument ammunition. In general, though, Ghost Rider #2 keeps up the creepy atmosphere and builds on the new status quo for the oft-forgotten Danny Ketch, deepening the questions about Johnny’s corruption and looking pretty good doing it, earning a better-than-average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. You do kind of wonder where the other superheroes are while they’re flaming through the streets, though…
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GHOST RIDER #2
Things are looking bad for Johnny, possessed by evil, and Danny who... Um... better be able to swim. It's a pretty impressive chapter.