The Civil War is almost complete. With three remaining issues of Fallen Son to come, and potentially more Moon Knight, the reviews are almost done. Next week should see the third chapter of Fallen Son and Moon Knight 10. The Moon Knight crossover was announced as issues 7-9, but those clearly don’t end the story. If the Casualties of War banner is still on issue 10, I’ll hold off on the review until it’s done. If the banner is dropped, I’ll review issues 7-9 next weekend.

General Information

Title: Ghost Rider #8-11

Author: Daniel Way

Illustrator(s): Javier Saltares (pencils), Mark Texeira (inks), Dan Brown (colours)

Original Publication Date: These issues cover dated between April and July 2007.

Cover Price: $2.99 US, $3.75 Can each issue.

Premise

Fresh off the (lackluster and unreviewed) advetures of issues 1-7, Johnny Blaze finds himself on a golf course, covered in blood, surrounded by golfers in a tiny little town that just played host to a murder. Naturally, the town is small enough that they assume any killer must be a stranger, and Johnny’s the only one around.

How does this tie in with Civil War? Well, the premise of the new Ghost Rider series is that Satan managed to escape Hell by hitching a ride with Johnny, who is the only entity that can make the journey intact. (Let’s ignore the precedents set by Dr. Strange, Mephisto, Son of Satan, and Satan himself, many of which were set in the original run of Ghost Rider.) Satan got out of Hell this way, but was shattered into 666 pieces, each of which took up residence in a recently deceased corpse. It’s Johnny’s job to track down and defeat all 666 Satan posessed bodies, though each time he does, that piece of Satan joins with the others, so doing so actually plays into Satan’s hand by reassembling him at full power. Anyway, one of the pieces took up residence in the body of someone killed during the Civil War, who was buried in this tiny little town.

High Point

“Never question my skills.”

Low Point

The sheriff’s sudden shift in attitude. We knew it was coming, but it came and went far too fast.

The Scores

This isn’t original. It’s a bad George Romero knock off set in the Marvel universe, right down to the cliche sheriff, the small town, the pre-murder activities of the first victims, and the horde of zombies accosting a house. I give it 3 out of 6.

The artwork is great, which is fortunate because nothing else about this title is. The semipainted look to the colours are very well suited to the title, and do more to set the tone of the series than the writing does. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is simple, predictable, and runs with a few too many “suspended disbelief” moments, including the sheriff’s sudden change of heart, his convenient hiding spot at the end, and the unexplained effectiveness of the final assault against the villain. Those of us who read the first seven issues may also be wondering why this defeat came so easily compared to the difficulty of the previous battle. In fact, issues 6 and 7 seemed to exist only to establish that the only way to win these battles was for Johnny to completely relinquish control to Zarathos and fight for his own identity, but that seems to have been dropped here. I give it 3 out of 6.

The characterization of Ghost Rider and Lucifer all come through nice and clear. The sheriff’s characterization involves too many sudden shifts to be effective, and Johnny himself is barely touched on. (Note that I regard Johnny as the human form, Zarathos as the demon he’s bonded to, and Ghost Rider as their combined persona when Johnny taps into the power of Zarathos. That blend should make him one of the most interesting heroes to write, but that doesn’t come across too well here, apart from the portion chosen as the high point primarily for that reason.) I give it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response is weak, because the story is so bland and predictable. I give it 3 out of 6.

The flow is hampered by the pencils. The poses of the characters make them feel stilted and stodgy, which is not the impression you want to give in high-octane, motorcycle bound combat. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, this lackluster set of issues seems to exist merely to cross promote Marvel’s biggest event with the movie. To their credit, this does tie in naturally to the events of the Civil War, especially compared to the similarly late-announced Moon Knight crossover, but it’s just not well executed. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, Ghost Rider #8-11 (collectively titled “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Illinois”)
receive 24 out of 42.

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