This week we’re introduced to a new Ghost Rider, and The Silver Surfer returns to comics!
All- New Ghost Rider #1 (Marvel Comics)
To me, a Ghost Rider book needs to fill certain requirements: He needs to be on a badass bike, not be written like a redneck, and most importantly, be Johnny Blaze. For a book that doesn’t feature any of this, All-New Ghost Rider had to do a lot for me to pick up the second issue. So imagine my surprise when I opened the pages of writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore’s Marvel Comics debut and ended up really enjoying it. It’s not a perfect debut issue of a series, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun, with a very engaging main character.
That main character is Robbie Reyes, a down on his luck teen who lives in the bad area of Los Angeles. Struggling to support his disabled brother, Robbie works as a mechanic by day, and street races at night. When one particular race goes south, Robbie finds himself on the wrong end of some very, very bad people who leave him for dead and torch his car. Amazingly, Robbie heals from his wounds by transforming into a new version of the Spirit Of Vengeance, and drives off into the night in his transformed muscle car from hell.
The biggest strength of this issue lies in the characterization of Robbie Reyes. Felipe Smith’s script excels at making us feel for this character who has a lot on his plate. Smith’s script sets up Reyes’ life beautifully, and you really come to sympathize with him when you get a glimpse into his day-to-day life. From protecting his brother from neighborhood bullies to reminding his brother not to look at the latest gang killing across the street, All-New Ghost Rider does a phenomenal job at introducing us to a character that you really want to root for.
Also doing a phenomenal job in All-New Ghost Rider is Tradd Moore. The Legend of Luther Strode artist has been a favorite of mine for a few years now, and his Marvel interior debut is nothing short of astounding. Much of Felipe Smith’s script forgoes the usual narrative boxes; so much of Reyes’ internal monologue is presented to us from Moore’s illustrations. Moore takes this and runs with it, and expertly conveys what Reyes is thinking with just a simple eyebrow raise while looking over his week’s pay.
Of course, the action by Moore is fantastic as well, with the drag race scene being the highlight. Many times car chases are done horribly in comics, but not here. Moore’s highly kinetic art style is on full display here, with panels showing Robbie, then his car, then the police, then his location on their GPS, and back to Robbie again, creating some of the tensest moments I’ve read in a comic all year.
All-New Ghost Rider was a very pleasant surprise for this Johnny Blaze fan. I’m sure the fact that Blaze ‘s Ghost Rider is currently running around with the Thunderbolts helped me accept this new Ghost Rider, but even if he weren’t, I’d probably still really enjoy this book. While the book glosses over the “how’s” and “why’s” of Robbie’s transformation at the end of the issue, I think it’s an even bet that we’ll be getting more information on it next issue, which I will definitely be picking up.
Silver Surfer #1 (Marvel Comics)
The Sentinel of the Space ways returns in Silver Surfer #1, from Dan Slott and Mike Alllred. Unlike past Silver Surfer books, this debut issue definitely has a very retro feel, and that’s not just because of the art style of Mr. Allred. Also, it’s essentially Dan Slott’s Doctor Who pitch, with a lot of similarities to the man in the TARDIS. But I have to admit; I did find a lot to like in this book.
The story starts with a little girl named Dawn whishing on a shooting star with her sister. Unbeknownst to her, that star is actually the Silver Surfer, who at the time was patrolling Earth for his master, Galactus. The story then moves forwards a few years, where the now free Silver Surfer is flying through space, helping any alien life that requires his assistance. We also get glimpses into the now adult Dawn’s life as she works at her parents’ bed and breakfast. Everything is going smoothly until the members of the “Impossible City” call upon the Surfer to be their champion against a dark enemy, and Dawn is somehow transported there as well. Yes, it’s the start of a very “Doctor and companion” relationship, but the Surfer’s reaction to seeing her is pretty hilarious.
Dan Slott ‘s Doctor Who fandom clearly shows in this comic, and it’s really hard not to notice it at times. From naming a place “The Impossible City” to the “Anywhere and Everywhere-hang on!” tag line, there are a lot of similarities between this and the Doctor. Actually, there was so many that at one point I wondered why Slott didn’t just try and pitch a Doctor Who comic to Titan Comics. However, there are a lot of really funny moments in the script, like when the Surfer grills the leader of the Impossible City about the “champions” that came before him. Slott also has a great hold on how the Surfer should sound, which can be tricky for many writers. As long as he can reign in the Who similarities in future issues, we’ll be in good shape.
The art, on the other hand, is great. At times it seems like I’m the only person on the planet who likes Mike Allred’s art. People who hate his style aren’t going to be won over with this issue, but I thought it was a fantastic fit for the retro feel that this book is going for. The comparisons to jack Kirby are going to pop up all over the place, and it’s for a good reason, because Allred nails the crazy Kirby sci-fi that Silver Surfer demands.
Silver Surfer was a fun comic, and like this week’s All-New Ghost Rider, I’m surprised I liked it as much as I did. While the Doctor Who similarities are a bit much, there are still plenty of cool ideas that work in this issue, and seeing Allred draw the Silver Surfer is ton of fun. I may not be as in love with this as I am with Ghost Rider, but I’ll definitely be giving issue 2 a shot.