Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Ghost Rider #22 (February 1992)

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 #22

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

Overview: Having wiped out his rouge gallery, Ghost Rider heads for the final villain remaining - Deathwatch.

Review: The last few issues of Ghost Rider have really been doing things I wouldn’t expect to happen this early into a comic series – killing off all the villains systematically one after the other. Mackie is moving with a fever here which is making me wonder if he is clearing house before walking out of the comics writing duties. I’m not entirely sure how entertaining the comic will be without its major players, but what the hey! at least in the short term we’re going to have some great issues.

Dan contacts Johnny blaze who is back at his carnival with his family and informs him Deathwatch is the last on his hit list but he hasn’t been having much luck hitting his smaller operations. Blaze tells him to relax, take some rest and be more subtle. He’s talking about focusing on a normal life but Dan instead interprets this as an undercover operation.

Dan has never seen Deathwatch’s face unmasked but watching a news report about the grand opening of a building for charitable purposes by a CEO  named Stephan Lords down town catch his eye and he is instinctively convinced that this man is Deathwatch.

Of course, he is right. Deathwatch has created this building as a front. On the surface it is open to organizations set up to help the needy with the bottom two floors dedicated to sheltering the homeless. In actuality, the lower floor houses a training area for his men and a control centre from which he can study surveillance footage of global operations he is covertly funding through his company international contractors unlimited

Deathwatch is a good example of a one dimensional villain with a premise that is pushed to the nth degree. He is an evil business man who offers money and stock without any regard for profit, which he has in abundance. All he cares about, all he is interested in, is inflicting misery and pain on the world and those around him. The stats that he demands updates on and that take his interest at the casualty stats. The stats that show the level of governmental corruption or rising terrorism in each pool that he continues to fund.

Dan ensures one of the deliveries on his round is to the headquarters of the company Mr Lords runs. The secretary there is a crazy, talkative, professional airhead who seemingly doesn’t even know how she got her job. She looks like a supermodel. Dan shows minor interest in a date and she practically throws herself at him. On asking if she would like to do something for him, having no clue what this is whatsoever, she immediately agrees and writes her number down for him.

Later, the two are out presumably after a date on Dan’s motorbike as she continues to talk… and he is about to ask her about Deathwatch when the two are tailed by a police car for speeding. It’s Stacy. She pulls him over and shouts at him believing he has been having an affair.

After failing to convince Stacy otherwise on the phone, he contacts the woman back and begins to press her for information on Deathwatch. Deathwatch keeps tabs on his employees phones and soon enough a group of Ninjas are sent to her apartment.

There are a lot of stupid heroics in this issue and at times it seems Dan is about as naive as the secretary he decided to probe. What did he hope to gain through all of this groundwork? Did he really think a secretary working for a contractor firm would know about a super villain named Deathwatch? She’d already told him she knew little about her boss and, to her, he was the silent and type who occasionally walked past her in the hallways. How could he have expected her to know he was a evil, telepathic war monger? And even if she did, what was he expecting? Evidence to use in court? Deathwatch is a powerful CEO who has most of the cities police on his payroll.

Everything backfires.  Dan takes her to Jack’s house (the friend who offered to store his bike in issue 4) he then decides to set off for Deathwatch’s company headquarters only be knocked out by a gang of ninjas when he leaves the front door. 

The heroics are instead left to his girlfriend, who arrives at the scene following a phone call by Jack and shoots a few of the attacking ninjas while Jack scores a lucky punch on one outside. Dan pulls himself to his feet and the bike transforms him just in time to assist the pair before driving over to Deathwatch’s office. On fighting his way in, he faces his enemy over a video feed. It’s a trap. The building filled with his assets and men is wired to explode. Deatwatch detonates it from his limousine and is driven away gloating with the rush of euphoria.

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