Saturday, 7 May 2016

Ghost Rider #3 (July 1990)

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 #3


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

Overview: The search for the missing briefcase concludes

Review: This issue begins with a rhetorical question, “Where could anyone be safer than within the secured walls of a police station?” Leading me to believe that last issues Terminator poster may have foreshadowed more than just a home invasion scene.

We find our briefcase thief interrogated by police officers. It seems its contents have been removed, placed in different areas, and promptly forgotten about. Two of the capsules have already been recovered from the cemetery. Yep. The cemetery. Come on!? Who in their right mind steals a briefcase from a gang of ninjas who, moments ago, murdered a courier owned by a crime syndicate; finds out what they had stolen was mysterious canisters then, rather than leave it and run, decides to scatter its content at random locations of the crime scene? Gee, that won’t make the villains think? So, Deathwatch does the obvious. Shows up, kills the police, and begins executing the girl’s friends until she brings all the canisters back. And rightly so!

Following this startling suprise, it turns out the stolen canisters are biological agents. They contain a gas which results in a "slow and torturous death" its toxins devouring both "mind and body." Deathwatch wants to unleash it for two reasons. The first; he is being paid to do so by an unknown organization. The second; for its damaging effects on the area because quote, "for one with my sensitivity to death that will be ecstasy." In a very small space of time, Mackie has managed to craft two undeniably twisted freaks for villains. They are the best elements of the comic so far, I love to hate them, and I cannot wait for Ghost Rider to show up and penant stare the pair of them.

Unfortunately, Dan's powers only seem to work when innocent blood is spilled. So, we have to wait until at least one of the children HAS been executed before he can intervene. This is easily his biggest flaw. Ghost Rider is a redeemer. An elemental force rather than a hero; only summoned in times of tragedy. To resolve the situation, The Kingpin's army intervenes led by a butler. He and Deathwatch aim to prevent a firefight by engaging in perhaps the craziest defusion sequence I have ever read. Namely, being overly polite to each other with titles such as "Sir" and "Gentleman" whilst backing away slowly. Blackout, having none of this, slashes the butler's throat and makes a run for it with the capsules. This scene should be funny. However, given it’s following up a scene where a young offender had just been murdered it comes across as badly judged and insincere at best.

Just like last issue, Ghost Rider turns up at and has a violent confrontation with Blackout, this time ending with the villain being scarred, when he attempts to sink his fangs into Ghost Riders neck, and the capsules being permanently sealed. Before Blackout fleas, he swears vengeance and there is a poignant moment between the two which seemingly goes unnoticed. Both Ghost Rider and Blackout are killers, both of them are forces of nature compelled by urges to commit horrific actions and both of them are pawns of a tyrant. Afterall, the one who inadvertently profits from all of this is The Kingpin. We also find out that Blackout isn't a real vampire, but uses mechanical fangs. Perhaps he simply took the moniker due to his bloodlust and out of some sense of irony for his own weakness to sunlight? I have no idea. The comic hasn't told me yet.

For all its faults, this issue at least competently wraps up a story arc. However, character writing definitely seems to be an issue with this series. The villains are far more interesting than the hero himself and Dan is just unlikeable. He really needs to take a more active role than saying “I won’t sit by and watch more people get killed.” Before doing exactly that from a bush waiting to transform into The Ghost Rider.   

Week 1 Summary: The art is fantastic, the vilains dislikable, the story has good surface level philosophical areas that I hope are developed further later. I love to hate the villains BUT I wish they were fleshed out more. The book ultimatly ends up being about violence for violences sake which can only be resolved by further violence.

Quote of the issue: “Do what? Are you mad?" - Blackout ponders Deathwatch's plan to retreat

The way we were: A full page teaser advert for the movie Dick Tracy.

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.

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