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Ghost Rider

Like many fans of Metal out there, I am a nerd. Don’t deny it, we all are in some way. We either have a fascination with technology, are obsessed with video games, partake in role playing games or their live counterparts, enter local card game based tournaments Magic the Gathering, or even figurine based ones, or even so much as read comics. Well, I fall into plenty of those categories. I grew up gaming on the PC, consoles, handhelds, playing Magic the Gathering, Mage Knight, Shadowrun, and even Dungeons and Dragons. On top of that I have been collecting comic books nearly as long as I have been gaming. Over the years I’ve tried various publishers, but found myself enjoying the Marvel universe more than the others. DC did have some darker titles I’ve grown to enjoy though, and Image had its share of entries I enjoyed. However, aside connecting with the super hero Spider-Man for various reasons, I also had an affinity with Ghost Rider.

I don’t really own many comics of that character though aside many of the more recent renditions, and that’s largely due to financial issues, as well as concentrating more on Spider-Man than anything, and various other titles and characters at specific times. Sagas like Civil War, Planet Hulk, and many others like them had eaten up a good chunk of my revenue. So, when 2011’s Ghost Rider number zero hit the stands, I was floored to hear about the Give Up the Ghost story line. I sat in awe that Johnny Blaze had been convinced to forsake the Rider itself, in turn “cursing” a young girl named Alejandra, being coached by the first man, Adam, into purifying the world. Upon completing that very issue, I was actually more pissed off than anything. Not in the fact that Johnny was no longer the Rider, but how he managed to get rid of it…

By riding really, really fast!

That’s it?! That’s all he had to do was just drive really fast? Oh, how I declared shenannigans on that one. How many times has Johnny Blaze already driven as fast as dictated in the comic series? If not faster? It seems more like the Rider itself decided to choose someone else due to the blatent attempt to get rid of it, but perhaps that was more in the interpretation than Adam tricking him into ridding himself of it like the story wanted me to believe.

But, what hurt in the end was that the series actually wasn’t too bad. This small run introduced Alejandra well as an important character to future comics in this time line, and even put the Ghost Rider character into space, which was an interesting first if I recall correctly. It brought up a nod to the Jason X story line and other b-grade Science Fiction films, but overall wasn’t anything too dynamic like it could have been. It seemed like some of it was rushed, unlike the Ghost Up the Ghost story line that spanned a few issues, and even had a number zero to establish it all.

In the end, I found myself rather engaged with the recent Circle of Four story line, and having been a Venom fan as well, collecting those issues of the series to this date, it was easy to add the many sub issues of the story line without my OCD getting too demanding. This started up in issue thirteen then branched out into four additional issues, all designated as point one, point two, point three, or point four, before concluding in Venom number fourteen. This story found Red Hulk trying to bring in a rogue Venom, X-23 (a character I know very little about but may look into more after this series) on the hunt for whoever is making duplicates of her, Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze meeting with Mephisto. All the story lines end up having the five battle against the forces of darkness as Hell is opened thanks to Alejandra. This felt as though a Ghost Rider story line was expanded on the way that it should have been, unlike the few issues prior to it after the first mini story line that started up this series. And, honestly, after this one, Alejandra won me over.

However, it was when I sat down yesterday to read the following issue of Ghost Rider (number nine) that I was once again declaring shennanigans. After nine months of following this new Rider, watching the character grow as more of an apprentice to the last Rider, everything changed back to normal for month ten. Johnny Blaze became the Ghost Rider again due to a “climactic” battle against the devil when Adam enhanced Alejandra’s powers to go into Hell and kill the Devil in order to reclaim and free the souls of those she purified, but in the end falls into a lava pit to save them after a betrayal, and Johnny rushes in to save her, causing the spirits to split between the two, but largely Johnny.

So, after a short but very well done comic series, Alejandra steps out of the Ghost, and we return to the traditional Rider. And, to be honest, I actually don’t want him back. I’ve grown to enjoy her as the rider, having to come to an understanding of the way the powers and world work due to Adam having sheltered and trained her for all of her life. And who was this guy at the end of number nine that had a very short panel appearance in a flashback? Clearly he was someone else in the group that Adam was training, and there was some romance in the air. Where’s the character development?! I honestly want to see this instead of just watching it become a loose end that isn’t tended to!

But, alas, we don’t, because the last page is a farewell dedication after one of the briefest, tight nit closings to a character arc I’ve ever seen. I hate how quickly everything was wrapped up, I hate the tease of further development, and I hate that we’re just right back to where we were, probably nothing acknowledging this whole event again any time soon. I’ve unfortunately seen this before on various other titles that didn’t do so hot, such as the recent Blade series, and even the lackluster The Irredeemable Ant-Man: It was probably a shortage of sales and lack of money. Well, that or this character is just not relevent to the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men summer blockbuster title. Either way it’s a damn shame. There was plenty of potential here that sadly is going untouched, and given a little more time, this could have been one hell of a great comic for fans of the Ghost. Pun completely intended.

Ghost Rider #9