Saturday, 14 May 2016

Ghost Rider #6 (October 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 #6

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

Overview: Supported by The Punisher, Ghost Rider serves up harsh justice to a gang of weapons traffickers.  

Cultural References: A homeless man on seeing the shark fins states "I hope it ain't those gill breathing Atlanteans again." This is a refrence to the Marvel race who recently - at the time - assaulted the mainland in the crossover Atlantis Attacks arc.

Review: This issue concludes The Punisher's appearance in Ghost Rider. Though the dialogue is not as clunky this time, the action definitely out ways the plot. This isn't a bad thing at all as it sets up some incredible art and cool moments that are fun and wall sticky worthy for all the kids and kiddies.

In one crazy, cartoon scene, the villains head beneath the bay toward the dock with shark fins only to fly out of the water on snow white, armoured, hover bikes suited to the brim in 70s styled, equally white, sci-fi armour. Geez, I thought when Flag Smasher mentioned anarchy he didn't mean Wacky Racers style anarchy.

This seems a little odd in Ghost Rider, but what the hey - it's unexpected. The Punisher even does something this time, taking out half the hover bikes - although GR may have done this himself - and preventing skull head from being, I guess, annoyed by bullets.

The plot, so far as it exists, is linked together by the cause and effect chain of Ghost Rider's actions. He avenged his sister’s attack, giving a child thug a chance to steal Deathwatch's chemical weapons. Deathwatch began executing members of that gang. Now, young offenders around the city feel defenceless leading them into the web of an arms dealer. If more themes than revenge could be said to inhabit this series it is the theme of conflict of loyalty and irony. While Dan is amending his past sins, he is neglecting his family and may even be running from it. Furthermore, the arms traders; lead by Flag Smasher, are planning to assault Wall Street with high powered weapons. And, of course, Death Watch works high above Wall Street in the World Trade Centre - though none of the other characters have a clue about this.

Like the last issue, we get snippets of Dan's life around the action for a few pages. These human elements are now beginning to feel tacked in, it's almost as if the writer is answering questions posed in fan letters. I'm going to start summarising these as Dan facts. So, in number six we find out: Dan's motorcycle does not need to be filled up. Dan has a job in delivery. Dan is hiding his bike in a cemetery. Those are the Dan facts of the month. Tune in next time to see if he has a dog companion, what his favourite sandwich is and where he lost his virginity.

 At the end of the issue, we are informed via the lead characters quarrelling that the Ghost Rider doesn't kill anyone. For those who has followed the first six months of the comic, this is a bold faced retcon. We have SEEN Ghost Rider impale thugs with sais and punch them in the jaw with his spiked gloves so hard they are left apple bobbing in their own blood. In this comic, he wipes out hover bikes with no regards to their rider. Are we expected to believe he uses controlled force? The Punisher even states "most of (the) men walked away" it doesn't take a kid genius to work out this means some of them did not.

As time moves on, it's becoming less and less clear what the metaphysical rules are in this comic. Take Dan's power. In the first four issues, it would activate when an innocent person was critically injured. This fitted with him being an elemental force or a Spirit of Vengeance. The header narration box each issue even opens with "when innocent blood is spilled, Dan Ketch is transformed" etc. Here, as in the last issue, we have Dan transformed upon nightfall automatically. Marvel or Mackie, evidently, have started toning down some of the more adult elements of the Rider's character. 

This was a fun comic. Mind disengaged, I could site it as terrific. Unfortunately, I have to weigh up everything not just the explosions. The series has now reached a point where it read like three competing writers arguing. One wants to tell a human interest story about a man who has been possessed by a force that is gradually driving him away from his loved ones. Another is an action writer who loves unrealistic guns, massive explosions and high body counts. And finally, the last writer is a Guardian writing agony aunt, leaning over the action writers shoulders and making sure everything is kept PC and dinner party friendly for younger audiences. It is ultimately this writer causing the most problems for Ghost Rider not The Punisher.

Week 2 Summary: Six months into the series and Dan has developed into a far more active character. However, the story has begun to show major plot inconsistencies. Facts of this world are beginning to be sloppily thrown in or even altered seemingly at will. The art and villains, still, remain the strongest elements of the book.

The way we were: A full page teaser advert for Total Recall on The Nintendo Entertainment System.

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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