Review: All-New Ghost Rider #3 – An Ugly World Full of Ugly People
A mysterious possession now revealed
With issue three of All-New Ghost Rider, Smith and Moore shift the story progress down into a bit of an idle (man, I really need to cool it on these car references). That’s not to say that nothing at all happens in this issue, as we get a fair chunk of exposition and a couple of action scenes. It’s more that while all of the above happens, I don’t feel like the story moves forward all that much.
We finally get a touch of face-to-face time with Robbie Reyes and the entity that has bonded with him. Claiming to be neither angel nor demon, but rather the spirit of a human named Eli who was himself killed under similar circumstances, the Rider entity offers Robbie the sweet promise of revenge on those who have wronged him and the power to start a new life for his little brother Gabe. Taken at face value, this explains why the Zarathos/Blaze Ghost Rider is still running around with the Thunderbolts. However, it’s almost guaranteed that there’s much more to this than is initially apparent. Because, you know, it’s not like strange supernatural creatures ever distort the truth (much less outright lie) in these sorts of situations, right? Clearly.
Felipe Smith continues to paint Robbie’s world of inner city life with broad strokes that would seem caricature-ish, were they not so unpleasantly close to real life at times. The machismo, posturing, and swagger, all of this born from a world where power and status (or at least, the perceptions of them) mean everything. It’s a twisted Darwinian hierarchy where only the most brutally violent and ruthlessly cunning stay on top. To make matters worse, Mr. Hyde’s tantrum-fueled monologue (is it still a monologue when you’re talking to your own alter ego? I should check into that) informs us that his West Coast relocation is similarly carried on dreams of empire building. And I dare say that a potential army of hulked-out behemoths certainly present a problem that the average SoCal gangbanger isn’t used to dealing with. Still, it’s not hard to see why Robbie wants to get the hell out of there, even without knowing about Hyde and his crew now being in the mix.
Tradd Moore’s cartoonish exaggeration seems to reach ridiculous heights when the Robbie/Rider entity is in full swing. The final fight scene in particular features bodies folding and contorting like ragdoll physics gone awry. I would like to see him flex his storytelling muscles somewhere other than the same two or three locations we’ve been seeing for the past three issues now, however. The auto body shop, Grumpy’s house and the high school are already starting to feel constraining and too familiar.
As I mentioned before, despite this issue having plenty of action and a fair touch of exposition, it still feels like things don’t progress all that far, story-wise. I’m sure the usual decompressed, “writing for the trade” pacing is partially to blame. And I really wouldn’t want to see Moore forgo his big fat panels full of action and Val Staples’ bright colors for a tighter, more compact presentation (which would require a more substantial script from Smith, to begin with). I suppose this is just that inevitable middle section of any six issue storyline where things shift into cruise control for a while. Damn it! I said I was going to lay off the car puns!