I didn’t read the previous volume of Ghost Rider. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it though, and I enjoyed Robbie Rayes when he showed up in the Secret Wars: Secret Love one shot. On that matter, I also don’t pick up the Totally Awesome Hulk series, but I do enjoy it when he shows up in other comics – just not quite enough to pick up his solo. So when I heard that the Hulk would be showing up in this series, and my favourite X-Men character, All-New Wolverine, I decided to check this series out. I’m so glad that I did.
This issue begins by showing Robbie’s relationship with his little brother, and it’s an instantly endearing relationship. Robbie is clearly happy when his brother’s around, and Gabe sounds like a normal kid without being annoying. There’s a minor situation where he shows off some of his ghost rider powers, and although I don’t know what’s going on, it’s clearly a bit of a different setup than the original.
Meanwhile, the first story arc kicks off properly with the Totally Awesome hulk, who’s dealing with a strange situation involving a purple being that seems to borrow genetic traits and appearances by blood. The creature adapts to them very quickly. It’s a fun action scene that uses the right balance of Amadeus’s intelligence, arrogance and optimism with a situation that he’s not ready for at all. And of course the ending teaser introduces Laura Kinney and Gabby, suggesting that they’ll be in the next issue a lot. Gabby’s characterization feels spot on. Laura’s dialogue raises questions as to how she’ll be portrayed, but there’s nothing necessarily bad about it here.
The art by Danilo s. Beyruth is great. The opening panels show off Robbie’s car mechanic shop with some nice graffiti on the side of the building, a couple books about dealing with a little brother in the foreground and billboards full of notes on the back wall. These shots perfectly set up Robbie’s relationship with Gabe before they even talk. The monster that Amadeus fights looks fascinating as it keeps at least some visual traits from each creature it draws blood from. The fight scenes flow well, and there’s great use of debris when the hulk smashes the creature around, and intense flames and melting metal when Ghost Rider takes on a human smuggler at night. The colouring by Val Staples and Jesus Aburtov is great. I can’t tell where one colourist ends and the other begins because it’s all bright and colourful, with good use of shadows, and the glowing flames in the dark.
There’s also a fun backstory, also written by Smith and coloured by Staples, but art from Tradd Moore. It’s about a potential car thief that tries to take Robbie’s ride, only to find that its owner is a lot more dangerous than she predicted. Her skateboarding ability is fun though. The art here has a cleaner look than the main story, and there’s great use of motion blurs, smoke from Ghost Rider’s flames and some fantastic lights from the attempted car thief’s “time powers”.
Even if it wasn’t for the guest stars, this issue would be worth picking up. This issue makes me want to pick up the previous volume in trade, and I’ll definitely be picking up issue 2. If you’re interested in a more optimistic and fun take on Ghost Rider, this issue is worth checking out.