King in Black: Ghost Rider #1 Review

by Nick Devonald on March 29, 2021

Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colours: Jason Keith
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna

The issue begins with Johnny Blaze, Ghost Rider, current ruler of Hell, as he drags the dethroned Mephisto from the back of his bike. This one-shot is a continuation of the Ghost Rider series from last year which was yet another unfortunate casualty of COVID. It acts as an epilogue of sorts to that series and allows Ed Brisson the opportunity to wrap up most of the loose threads the series had left dangling, at times feeling less an ending and more the start of a new chapter in Blaze’s life. It has serious consequences for both Blaze, Mephisto and Hell going forward.

Of course this isn’t just a Ghost Rider one shot, it’s also a King in Black tie-in, and while Knull doesn’t make an appearance here it’s a great opportunity to see Ghost Rider going up against symbiote dragons, and more intriguingly a chance to see symbiote demons. One of the real strengths of the King in Black event has been that a number of the tie-in one shots don’t feel like unnecessary filler, instead they’re telling a story which just so happens to be set against the backdrop of Knull and his symbiotes. It isn’t essential reading for the larger event, but is a well told story that lays out enough of the groundwork for previous events that readers new to Ghost Rider will be able to follow along well enough to appreciate the story. Of course the real attraction is for the fans of Ed Brisson’s prematurely ended run. And for those fans who haven't had a chance to read that series yet? After this they almost certainly will seek it out to learn more about Ghost Riders escapades and more backstory for this issue.

One of the strengths of the issue is the way it takes a good hard look at the character of Johnny Blaze. As ruler of Hell he has his hands more than full with Lilith plotting against him and escaped demons on Earth. So what does he do when faced with Knull’s invading army and the threat that represents? Can he turn his back on that fight to focus on the one which demands all of his attention? Of course not. But it’s this moral dilemma that proves to be the crux of the issue and leads to some interesting twists as well as the conclusion to Brisson’s run.

The art from Juan Frigeri looks absolutely stunning. From Ghost Rider blazing onto the scene with Mephisto in tow, to the first symbiote dragon, each action packed frantic panel looks fantastic and leans more heavily into the horror of the event than most of the other King in Black issues does. Of course a large part of the horror vibe is down to the hordes of grotesque demons lining the pages. Jason Keith’s colours pair really well with Frigeri’s art, and Ghost Riders fiery head, and Mephisto’s bright red, really pop off the pages, especially as the rest of the backdrops are quite bleak.

This issue is a conclusion to Brisson’s earlier run on Ghost Rider, and nicely wraps up most of the outstanding plotlines as well as offering some important changes to the status quo in Blaze and co’s life, as well as the more general backdrop of Hell itself. Gorgeous visuals, demons, symbiotes and Ghost Rider going head to head, an action packed comic that fans will love, but will appeal to fans of King in Black as well as just Ghost Rider. If you only pick up one tie-in issue to King in Black make it this one, it won’t disappoint.

Our Score:


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