Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Ghost Rider #5 (September 1990)

Issue 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 #5

Featuring The Punisher!

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

Overview: Ghost Rider faces off against The Punisher

Review: On picking up this issue, it became abundantly clear that the series had become fully enshrouded in the extended universe. The Punisher isn’t an extremely bad choice for this comic. Assuming there was a choice to begin. It is often hard to judge with 90s marvel how much control writers had over who appeared in their story against how often they were simply told to include a number of universe characters to a calendar date regardless of how well it worked. Well, it looks like I am about to find out.

It seems the way these titans are going to cross paths is via a media report that Ghost rider sexually assaulted a woman and attacked children. A delinquent and nasty image if there ever was one. If I was the punisher, I would want to blow his flaming head off too. This report comes out of the mouth of an unknown anchor who had followed the Ghost Rider to an earlier scene where he brutalised the gang of rapists. the media, naturally, opts to warp this perspective so he is instead fleeing the scene of a rape and assault. The Punisher can’t believe his ears, as he polishes his massive, massive gun that literally bursts from the panel.

“That same night”, she goes on, “The Punisher was on at hand at Washington Square”, que an image of the punisher shooting, “could they be one and the same person?” Dan and Frank (The Punisher) Castle are seen watching this same report at their homes, or base of operation for you Punisher fans out there, and we see their immediate reactions to it. “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about” says Dan. ‘She’s way off the mark. They usually are’ thinks the punisher - his speech boxes are the narrative boxes you see. Well, I guess the fights off ladies and gentlemen. Let’s wrap this comic up. Sadly, The Punisher proclaims ‘oh well’ and loads the massive, massive gun anyway.

All of The Punishers dialogue and action scenes are very boring, very sammey and very over the top. Not in a violent way. Not in a clique way. In a boringly violent and clique way. Earlier he turned up in Manhattan (as mentioned) and had a gun battle with a gang of stereotyped, trash youths that were murdering “yuppie”citizens  and driving what appeared to be a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere - all the rage in the nineties I'm sure. He murderd most of them whilst throwing out choppy dialogue and taglines from movies like Dirty Harry and Maniac Cop. This entrance could not be more cardboard if the pages were literally made out of it.

What's more, when we move away from some badly formulated showdown, we are left with solid and interesting issue. Dan’s hospitalised sister is now in a coma and his mother states she is "in God’s hands now". He begins to worry about his family and wonders if he can use Ghost Rider to make money somehow but quickly decides, given how little control he has over it, using the bike for his own benefit would be wrong (it seems the Hyde encounter is paying off). Violence in the first arc against the teenage gang that stole the canisters is making the neighbourhood children and gangs consider their safety, and we learn from one of Dan’s neighbours that a rumour is circulating of a downtown warehouse offering free arms to any kids who will show up. Realising this is something he can fix, Dan once again is proactive: he scolds the child and heads to the warehouse himself to investigate the claim.

The villain in this arc is a soothsaying, manipulator of the working poor who gives revolutionary speeches to disenfranchised youths. Essentially, a loony left Frank Miller villain. He weaves a tale of government conspiring with big businesses against the young to keep them mired down in poverty and violence. These kids, full of anger, are then provided guns and told to rise up against their oppressors.

Dan has the worst luck ever trying to gain entry. First he plays the part of a na├»ve child looking for weapons and, when he is threatened, finds his power is not working - seemingly Ghost Rider doesn’t give a damn if Dan is hurt. So, he leaves only to come back later as Ghost Rider to find The Punisher waiting for him. The Punisher thinks he’s bad. They have fisticuffs. Ghost Rider and The Punisher fall through a window. The Punisher thinks the Ghost Rider is good. They team. Curtains.

Now, I have a big problem with this issue. It’s not all bad, but it falls into Raiders of the Lost Ark character trajectory - I’m sure Big Bang enthusiasts know where I’m going with this. I’m unclear what the official term is but for all intents and purposes let’s call it Fowler’s Theory. Namely; The Punisher has absolutely no effect on the movement of this story at all. The lead character is framed, discovers the location of the hideout, gains his power and enters the hideout without support or help. I have no idea if this will happen again next issue but I really hope The Punisher does more than – and I hate to say this – Punish me for reading this comic.

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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