Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Ghost Rider #12 (April 1991)

J-Max was challenged to review 30 issues of Ghost Rider in (roughly) 30 days. Should J-Max succeed he shall earn his freedom (probably not). However should he fail in this task then he shall be subjected to an attack by Bees...DEADLY BEES.

So let's join him for his review of Ghost Rider #12

Strange Tales

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Javier Saltares (artist), Gregory Wright (colourist), Mark Texeira (inker)

Overview: Free of the nightmare realm, Ghost Rider once again pursues Zodiak while the mysterious biker arrives at New York city.

"Stay lucky, kid." - Unknown Rider                                   

Review: One year into the comic and we’ve certainly covered some ground. Dan has advanced as a character from a weakling to an active individual where Zarathos has regressed to a shouting, bellowing maniac who demands action and vengeance at all costs even at the expense of common sense. We’ve had main characters killed, villains killed, retcons, expanded universe characters used as foils, expanded universe characters doing nothing, and of course hints at some massive amnesia induced underlining story about why Ghost Rider seeks revenge in the first place.

I was never a big fan of "onoing mystery" narratives, I think my aversion to them came from seeing so few turn out like Battlestar Galactica and so many turn out like Lost or Fringe where all these questions are simply thrown at an audience expected to care, instalment in; instalment out, that eventually they will receive a massive, mind blowing, universe shocking pay off to make all the investment seem worthwhile only for the writer to cop out and it turns out everyone was dead or dreaming or crab people or something. I can only hope that’s not where we are heading here, but I havemy preconceptions.

In the previous issue, we realised Zarathos wasn’t exactly a major strategist when he found out a demon/creature/whatever was feeding off his penance stare and his immediate reaction to this on arriving home from Oz was “I’m going to penance stare some villains” Luckily Dr Strange showed up. And, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ve never really been much of a fan of Dr Strange either but Iwas curious what his introduction would add to the story. 

Well, it turns out Dr Strange needs Zarathos power to free one of his sidekicks, the attractive woman named Topaz - not Rintrah the minotaur – who needs his hellfire along with a list of other mystical items to free a spirit inhabiting her body. A by the numbers scavanger hunt that is going to force Dr Strange to hunt down Ghost Rider in this and the following comics. It seems everyone is after him at this point.

Of course, all Zarathos wants to do is punish Zodiak. He approaches Zodiak’s car - I’m guessing he had time to memorize the license plate - which is now parked at a halls of residence. The driver craps himself when he sees Ghost Rider in the wing mirror - which reads “Warning objects In mirror are closer than you think” for some reason, and dashes into the building. Zarathos enters and gets down to the business of battering them all to a pulp. Since it was introduced in issue six, the no killing policy hasn't been brought up again but here he violently runs over an armed gangster, crotch first, with his flaming motorbike whilst travelling down a stairwell. I guess some policies die hard.

And if I thought that was over the top, I was in for a bigger surprise because in the basement in a massive, mystical orb filled with screaming children; being worshipped by a cult of basement dwelling warlocks. It turns out that Zodiak’s employer wants him to do some sort of weird cult thing that’s going to summon a dragon which will arrive just in time for Dr Strange to show up and beat it. All this talk about the orb being operated by “some sort of magic” that came from “the other side” to satisfy his “employer” who also apparently employs drug addicts is driving me insane. I thought Zodiak was an assassin disguising himself as a mindless killer? Little did I know he was a child sacrificing occultist disguising himself as a covert assassin disguising himself as a serial killer who had a modus operandi as an occultist. Who could have really thought this was a good idea? Wouldn't simpler have been better?

The dragon is defeated. The children are saved. Zodiak is a robot; I’m glad at least that robot part was consistent. None one of his other star sign themed astro-gadgets even remotely make an appearance here. I was hoping we'd really ramp up the volume of nuttery with Ghost Rider’s bike being knocked over by hooves of Capricorn or him being made well-mannered by the laser of Virgo, hell whip out that  hose of Aquarius again. Instead, we’ve overshot the stop at crazyville here with some sort of dragon, demon story which only Dr Strange can close - which he does in one quick boring page. If all of this doesn’t seem pandered enough toward Dr Strange for you don’t worry: the conclusion of this arc appears in Dr Strange #28.

So none of this makes any sense. We’ve made a simple idea like the Zodiak villain overly complicated, Ghost Rider’s penance stare is still a big mystery and now we’re not even going to be concluding an ongoing story arc in the main series.

As for the mystery biker subplot, he once again has the quote of the comic which he mutters after taking out two would be muggers. Now, he is in New York, and I hope his presence will help push this back on the right path. For now, it’s on to Dr Strange.

Editor Note: Hey Guys hope you're enjoyed J-Max's review, Why not drop him an encouraging message below (he REALLY doesn't like bees), Please check out the rest of the reviews HERE or if you're feeling brave why not join in his adventure HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment