Ghost Rider (Marvel Knights) #1 Review

Reviewer: Jimmy Lin
Story Title: The Road To Damnation
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Clayton Crain
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I’m a bad comics geek. Aside from the flaming skull biker, I don’t know squat about Ghost Rider. Dunno who created him, what the origin story is, if he likes hanging around leather bars, nothin’. The only Marvel title I read with any regularity was Spider-Man, and that was well over 15 years ago. Sure, I’ve spooged all over Ang Lee’s Hulk, but that was more for aesthetics and sheer cinematic mastery than for finally being able to see the big green guy beat up tanks in the desert.

So when Mahoney, in his infinite but questionable wisdom, assigned me the new Marvel Knights Ghost Rider #1, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. Was he taunting me, poking at me with a prehensile tail covered in 4-colored feces? Was he punishing me for not turning in a review for a book I had failed to locate in four stores in three cities?

Well, fortunately, GR #1 didn’t suck. It was actually kinda fun. Not the greatest thing I’ve ever read, but certainly enjoyable in an expository sort of way.

The book starts out with a rather Stygian scenario of an unending punishment of flight, capture, and dismemberment. Cut to a couple of angels talking in Manhattan, discussing someone called Kazann (apparently, nobody good) and an impending battle between “Hoss” (again, nobody good) and Ruth (questionably good) in Texas (the greatest state in all of history, and you’d best remember that). Cut to Hoss, who mystically f*cks up some bikers and then shoves the head punk’s cranium next to his rectal floor (just for you, Jamie). More angel chat, giving the backstory of Johnny Blaze, The Ghost Rider, and then we meet Ruth, who’s apparently just as much of a dick as Hoss, only without the penis. Apparently, Ghost Rider can tip the tables in some sort of Prophecy-style conflict, but before the “angel” Malachi can use him, he’s gotz ta get sprung.

I’ve never read Ghost Rider before now, but it seems a bit like Ennis dressing up Preacher in a Marvel orthodoxy. There’s a thaumaturgical war waged by divine and demonic beings, all of whom seem to be morally reprehensible. We’ve got Arseface Rearview, the mutilated human. And we’ve got a human soul bound to something otherworldly shoved into the midst of all this mayhem. Thus far, we haven’t met Johnny Blaze, but I’m willing to bet that he’ll be a smart-talking and pragmatically moral while kicking ass and taking names.

Can’t say that the art impressed me at all. Digital technology is inserting itself into comics more and more these days, and the results thus far just haven’t been that impressive. The fabulous computerized coloring is, but I have yet to see a book full of completely CGI fully rendered 3D-esque that looks good consistently. The scenes in hell look fine and dandy – exceptional, even – but everything else looks pretty lifeless or ridiculous.