In the previous issue of Ghost Rider, there were two separate storylines going on at the same time. It’s hard to tell which of the two is the main storyline, or if they somehow merge together at the end. One is all about Ghost Rider taking on a bunch of gangsters at night, while trying to balance his life at day. The most enjoyable part of the issue was Robbie (Ghost Rider) talking with his little brother, Gabe. The other storyline is all about the Totally Awesome Hulk taking on a weird monster that very quickly borrows traits from anything it bites. It’s now got a bug-like outer shell, a bit of a rodent look, and the Hulk’s size and strength. The comic’s ending introduced Laura Kinney (All-New Wolverine) and Gabby (Laura’s clone sister) into the mix.
This comic, written by Felipe Smith, is fun. This issue doesn’t touch on Robbie’s personal life as much as the previous issue. There’s a brief discussion between Robbie and Eli (his Ghost Rider half) in the mirror. There’s also a bit of focus on someone who’s now working at Robbie’s mechanic shop, after having just been released from prison. It’s hard to tell where this story is going at this point, but the two stories kind of mix together at the end of the comic. What is here is compelling though, with a slight look into how the Ghost Rider emotionally affects Robbie in the morning after, and the kinds of people he’s surrounded with. This issue focuses more on the monster plot though, and it seems to be the driving force that brings together four legacy heroes.
In the monster plot, Laura briefly fights the monster, where she quickly learns that her claws aren’t sharp enough to pierce the monster’s armoured skin. When the Hulk shows up, he unintentionally makes things worse in an amusing way. Amadeus Cho’s characterization is fun. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it’s a good balance between being a genius and an awkward teenager who makes mistakes. Laura’s characterization isn’t what I would call great, but it’s not terrible like the first 12 issues of Dennis Hopeless’s All-New X-Men. It’s true that she’s developed a sense of humour in the last few years, and it can be a bit dark, but lines like “I feel like I know you intimately, like I’ve got a deep understanding of who you are now” after she’s used as a human dagger, feels more like something Gabby might say. Laura would much more likely apologize. Some of her other lines, like “You need to work on not getting us into unnecessary trouble” work much better though. That and Amadeus is hilariously awkward with her, as are his internal thoughts when she easily rejects his not so subtle advances.
The art by Danilo S. Beyruth is good. The monster looks straight up scary when it’s facing off with Laura at the comic’s opening. The action flows well from panel to panel, making good use of motion blurs and broken glass flying around. Facial expressions do a great job at capturing emotion, like Gabby’s concern after Laura’s hit hard, the Hulk’s smug look after he smashes the monster into a building and Laura rolling her eyes after some of Amadeus’s comments. Jesus Aburtov’s colouring adds life to the art, plus he gets everyone’s eye colours right. On the flashback where Ghost Rider is fighting gangsters, the panels are overwhelmed by the orange flames that seem to make everything glow.
This is a fun comic. Although Laura’s characterization could be a lot better, it’s not the worst I’ve seen lately, not by a long shot. I just hope that her characterization in other appearances is closer to All-New Wolverine. In the meantime, the story with the monster is fun, Amadeus Cho is entertaining, and Robbie’s situation with Eli is compelling. It’ll be interesting to see how Ghost Rider gets along with Amadeus and Laura. Also, please tell me I’m not the only one who hopes that Gabby meets Gabe at some point. Overall I would recommend this issue, but for X-23 fans, I’ll make that a cautionary recommendation.