Saturday, 28 May 2016

Ghost Rider #17 (September 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 #17

 You've Got to have Faith

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Mark Texeira (artist/inker), Gregory Wright (colourist).

Overview: Ghost Rider, Blaze and Spider-man set out to save Mrs Ketch from a sinister cult leader.

Cultural references:  Judging from the title someone involved in the comic is a George Michael fan. This is the second time he has been referenced in the comic.

Review: Ghost Rider is a story about nothing but its villains. When it works, it works because the villains are interesting and bring a sense of drama and tension to what is happening in the few pages provided each month. Blackout is a good villain because he murdered Dan’s sister and kills vulnerable people without remorse. Deathwatch is a good villain because he holds the strings and manipulates events within the city from a point of impunity. Even Snowblind is a good villain if only by his blind assassin shtick and ties to Deathwatch. Hobgoblin is not a good example of a Ghost Rider villain.

When we first saw hobgoblin in this comic he was gluing people to walls like a xenomoph in heat, scarring children’s faces with acid and going full Frank Booth in Blue Velvet. The rationale behind this didn’t need to be explained because he was a complete fruitcake. The great thing about having bonkers characters is that you can do anything with them. Hobgoblin wants the world to see how pious he is and he kills anyone who questions his religious belief, his methods or just when the voices in his head tell him to.

There is a difference between being invested in a fight and wading through one. There is a difference between building up suspense and plodding along. And, there is a difference between an exciting issue of 90s Ghost Rider and a boring one.  In issue #15 Mackie toyed with the readers desire to see Blackout receive his just desserts by having Ghost Rider go from encounter to encounter as the page count continued to decline with multiple distractions preventing the final battle with the villain.

When he finally faced him, I found myself so absorbed in the chase and tension of the comic that I literally shouted out when he was being beaten to the ground. I was so caught up in the drama. Comparing that to the boring, bomb chucking snorgasm of the Hobgoblin appearance in Spider-man #6 issue - where I became so derailed I began counting panels in the hopes that my head wouldn’t explode - is like comparing night to day.

I appreciate that at least Mackie here is trying to tie the Hobgoblin in with the narrative by having Dan’s mother's grief manipulated by a cult that Hobgoblin is in cahoots with. It is also a more realistic look at the way real cults act, in this respect, but that doesn’t stop the Hobgoblin's gobbledegook from being any less of a chore to read as he rambles on about God, salvation and being pious.

Blaze and Dan end up in a bar, (an issue I’d much rather be reading) and Dan threatens the local snitch for information on the goblins hideout. Is this addressing the sheer wealth of shared criminal knowledge in the city? Maybe. But none of this matters because they get into a Mexican standoff, Spider-man comes in to web away guns; keep everything PC and fresh, then he jets off saying he knows where Goblin is hiding and they follow him there. How is information received in this comic world? I’m still confused.

The three burst in on Hobgoblin before he can harm Mrs Ketch and once again Spider-man is worried that Ghost Rider is going to be too brutal in his takedown. After rescuing Mrs Ketch, he makes Ghost Rider promise not to kill Hobgoblin and the proceeds to believe him without any burden of proof which is awkward because the last time they met he nearly brought a ceiling down on a child. In the end Ghosty keeps his word. The building blows up. But the Hobgoblin is safe and sound outside of it.

They reflect how Ghost Rider has changed his methods for the better (good for him) and Ghost Rider has a monologue about true heroism (wonderful) which no self-respecting Deadpool would listen too.
Goblin comes back at the end for the trope horror movie scare and the three take him down with a combination of web, hellfire and a chain to the face. Brotherly love there folks.

Well, I suppose I should at least be glad that Hobgoblin will be going to prison and hopefully not breaking out and returning to Ghost Rider for a few months, but I couldn’t get over how soft footed this issue was. I like the idea of Ghost Rider changing to become more of a hero after his experiences in earlier issues but I don’t think he should be the sort of hero who makes speeches about the inner greatness of an individual. Let’s leave things like that to Spider-man.

I can always hope after more training with Johnny Blaze Dan can find that middle ground between Captain America and Marvel Man. His firing a flame upgraded shotgun at Ghost Rider and Spider-man to stop them from arguing over ethics when they should be saving Mrs Ketch was the best part of this issue.
Sadly, it was the beginning.

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