Comic Review – “Essential Ghost Rider Vol. 1”

This collection came out in plenty of time for the movie.

General Information

Title: Essential Ghost Rider Vol. 1
Credited to: Roy Thomas, Gary Friendrich, Tony Isabella, Marv Wolfman, Michael Ploog, Jim Mooney, Tom Sutton, Herb Trimpe, John Byrne and friends
Original Publication Date: This collection from 2005 collects issues first published from 1972 to 1976.
ISBN: 0-7851-1838*1
Cover Price: $16.99 US, $27.25 Can
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Past comic reviews can be found here.

Issues Collected

This collects the following issues:

  • Marvel Spotlight #5-12
  • Ghost Rider #1-20 (noting that issue 10 reprinted Marvel Spotlight #5, so this only contains the cover.)
  • Daredevil #138


A stunt motorcyclist sells his soul to the devil to save someone he cares deeply about. However, the devil has some trouble collecting, and Johnny Blaze (eventually) starts using his Hell-spawned powers to help those in need.

High Point

When the character finally becomes a hero instead of just a guy on a bike running from a particularly nasty creditor.

Low Point

Drawing the skull with intact eyeballs looks goofy. I don’t know why they switched to it, but I think it was a mistake.

The Scores

Making a hero out of a Satanist is definitely original, though the actual power set inherited isn’t original at first. (He was a low-grade human torch with a cool look.) Still, the lack of secret identity and lack of recognition as anything but a gimmicky stuntman is interesting. I give it 5 out of 6.

As with most of the Essentials line, we have artwork without the originally intended colours created by a huge list of creators. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story contains at least two massive changes in powers and direction here. The lack of a status quo is generally a good thing, but the implementation of these changes often feels sudden and forced. I give it 4 out of 6.

The characterization effectively transforms Johnny from a self-centred celebrity wannabe into a man angry at his life to a hero in a fairly smooth manner. The supporting cast, however, lacks depth. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response isn’t bad, but it could be better. My biggest problem was that it takes half the collection to turn the character into a hero. When the first half of the book is about a guy trying to run away, it’s not the most thrilling reading option. I suspect the recently released
volume two
will be more entertaining, as it’ll have stories when he is a hero the entire time (collecting Ghost Rider #21-50), though I’ll pass on that one in favour of latest DVD-ROM from GIT Corp, which was announced and released last week, and which contains all issues of the various Ghost Rider series cover dated before December 2006. I give this collection 4 out of 6.

The serialized nature of the story helps the flow, but sometimes the rushed changes in direction make the story hard to follow. On top of that, the 1970s had some experimental panel arrangements that we don’t see any more because they are so hard to follow. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent collection that will let you know what’s going on with the character if the movie has piqued your interest. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Essential Ghost Rider Vol. 1 receives 29 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

While there are no definite plans to get a review of the movie posted this weekend, it is something we’re working on. (I should be seeing it Monday.)