Ghost Rider #2 Review

by Charles Martin on November 06, 2019

Ghost Rider #2 Review
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artists: Aaron Kuder with Craig Yeung, John Lucas & Luciano Vecchio
Colourist: Jason Keith
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What twists get us to Ghost Rider vs. Ghost Rider? The previous issue established Johnny Blaze had returned to Earth to Blade Runner some runaway demons. He offered a team-up to Danny Ketch; Danny wasn't interested. But a supernatural revelation at the end got Danny worried about the elder Rider: Might there be something wrong about the King of Hell hunting demons in Brooklyn?

Now the answer bends toward a deafening "yes." To literally everyone except Johnny (and us readers), his demon-hunting activities look a lot like a plain ol' murder spree. And much as Danny dislikes the Ghost Rider-ing business right now, he will ride out to put down a colleague gone rogue.

I credit Ed Brisson's script with navigating a tricky path as it freshens up that stalwart of Marvel plotting, the Mark 1 Misunderstanding Brawl. Yes, this is fundamentally a case where the antagonistic heroes could sit down and solve their differences with a thorough sharing of information.

But in classic Ghost Rider fashion, people are dying too fast to make that a realistic possibility. The issue's dialogue does a good job of making both Riders' positions look logical while limiting their respective information. The balance is excellent; you could root for Johnny or Danny and feel equally in the right.

So, of course, you do what Mr. Brisson wants you to do: You root for both of them. 

Artistically, this issue features a big carousel. The last time I reviewed a comic with this sort of line-up, I pointed out that sometimes a team effort is required due to "bigger than comics" circumstances. 

And a note on the letter page reveals that's exactly the case here; main artist Aaron Kuder needs backup because he's working through a nasty injury. 

I wish Mr. Kuder a speedy and complete recovery, and I'm also happy to report his backup squad is doing an excellent job supporting him.

The joints between the different artists are concealed with great skill, aligning differences in personal style (which are remarkably minor anyway) with big shifts in subject matter. It's perfectly reasonable for a hellfire-soaked demon-battle to look slightly different than an interview between a cop and a hungover bar owner -- and the art team preserves a unifying feel that all these scenes belong in the same story, anyway.

The strongest stylistic sense is Mr. Kuder's, which comes through most clearly in the more mundane Brooklyn scenes. The human characters retain his distinctive look at all times.

Colourist Jason Keith does a good job compartmentalizing the comic's palette. He buries the intensity needle when the hellfire comes out, but he also keeps a more reserved palette available for the less-supernatural moments.

The colours carry a strong thematic hint, too: the most muted shades belong entirely to Danny. Johnny exists in a more saturated world, even when he's in incognito mode. Surely that's no accident.

Though this issue's pace is admirably brisk as it hops from line to line, overall plot progress feels a little slow. This might be an inevitable consequence of the focus split between the two Riders; the slow trickle of clues revealing more about Johnny's tenuous situation in Hell also has a braking effect. 

And after putting a Misunderstanding Brawl front and center, it stings a bit to wrap things up with a heavily-overused ending trope. I won't spoil it with any specifics, but the final page may well induce some eye-rolling.

This title is settling in for a long haul, and the tidbits that have already been revealed make me hope it gets plenty of issues. It's burning hot despite its measured pace. Ed Brisson, Aaron Kuder and their collaborators have big plans for the Ghost Riders, and I can hardly wait to see them more fully revealed.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
King of Hell Ghost Rider running around Brooklyn with a Damnation Stare? Yes, please!