Monday, 9 May 2016

Ghost Rider #4 (August 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 #4

Featuring MR HYDE!

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

Overview: Ghost Rider has his first dealing with the extended universe in this issue as he battles a cowardly, power mad, C grade Marvel villain: Hyde. At the same time, Dan decided to dispose of the bike and the dangers it possesses for him and his family.

Review: In many ways reviewing monthly comic books is like reviewing a canvas: the world and its characters are being painted before your eyes at a pace that is very gradually revealing. It is impossible to skip ahead, especially if your fellow blogger has locked away all your comics stubbornly refusing to release them until a day in advance. Most of the time, you find yourself relying on faith that sketchy, brushed over details will finally have more layers added. Thankfully, faith is not something Dan Ketch has in abundance.

The last issue had Dan running to the Graveyard stating he was going to do something only to not do anything at all when the power within the motorcycle was dormant until a boy had died. Realising how little control he has over the power, how it gives him amnesia when he is in the form and how the violence the being deals out is often excessive, he comes to a firm decision: with the villains and canisters out of the picture, he wants no further part in the dangers the bike brings into his life even if, somewhere deep within him, he feels excited by it.

In an undisclosed part of New York, we see an incident in a bar where a C grade Captain America/Hulk villain - Dr Zabo - is being humiliated as he tries to procure sex from a woman - perhaps a prostitute. He is shown in a very poor light, bragging about himself and what he can offer her, only to be attacked first; by her and then; a biker gang leader who physically throws him from the premise. He picks himself up, sulks that if it wasn’t for his head injury he would have won, sneaks back inside, and bottles the gang leader before fleeing the scene.

Eventually, all the character are lead into confronting each other. Dan is trying to dispose of the bike by sealing it in the basement locker of a friend’s showroom, insisting he is after top security. This showroom is then attacked by the biker gang when Zabo secretly breaks in to hide amongst the stored bikes. Dan’s friend is knocked unconscious when he defends his business and Dan, in typical fashion, is too scared to help before he is embarrassingly pushed and sealed within a locker alongside his unconscious friend. Naturally, in order to do anything about the current situation and save his friend, he needs to take a leap of faith and use the bike.

What makes this issue interesting is the contrast between Zabo and Dan. Both are weak characters yearning for a hidden power to solve their problems as they lack the ability or conviction to deal with them in any other way. However, this is where the similarities end. Zabo is a megalomaniacal coward who uses his powers to fuel his own ego; creating chaos and destruction. Where Dan, of course, wants to defend those around him who he couldn’t defend otherwise. The issue has both characters seeking their power back resulting with Dan fully coming to terms with what he now is. 

The extended universe is introduced fantastically here; it really serves as fuel for the story and the characters within it rather than feeling contrived in anyway. The effects of the last arc are also made tangible. In the beginning, the rider stops a racially motivated attack only for the thugs to state rather comically, "Oh no, not him!” Ghost rider has become an urban legend thanks to the numerous news reports dished out by none other than The Daily Bugle among others. However, most of the headlines seem to be painting the creature in a positive light. Perhaps Jameson feels a sense of affinity with the riders brutal, take no prisoners attitude.

In the same scene, we are given a criminals perspective of what it is like to be hunted by Ghost Rider. He picks off a gang of three, one at a time, driving them screaming into the darkness before appearing again, following a silent pause; full speed and inches away, the thug nowhere to be seen. When the last man remains, the monster stands towering above him on a cargo box like the visage of death and says, “It’s time for you to join your friends.” When this book's writing is as good as the artwork, as it is in this issue, I almost feel sorry for these criminals.

This is easily the best issue so far and I really like this new proactive protagonist. Here’s hoping the upswing continues and that Captain America and The Hulk aren’t going to show up in these gritty alleyways anytime soon.

Quote of the issue: Thug: "Get away! Leave me alone! I didn’t do nothing!"
Ghost Rider: "Then you have nothing to worry about!"

The way we were: The comic ends with an ad for Arachnophobia the movie "eight legs, two fangs and an attitude." 

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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