Don’t Miss This: “Ghost Rider” by Benjamin Percy, Cory Smith, Bryan Valenza & Others

By | January 12th, 2023
Posted in Columns | % Comments

There are a lot of comics out there but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we take a look at Marvel Comics’s “Ghost Rider”

Cover by Kael Ngu

Who’s This By?

Benjamin Percy (“Wolverine,” “Teen Titans”) takes the reins of the almighty Ghost Rider and strives to bring a new angle to both Johnny Blaze and the Spirit of Vengeance’s lives and the lives of those they touch. Percy makes this series equal parts horror story, superhero adventure, and character study and succeeds at nearly every level.

The art team is made up of illustrator Cory Smith, (“TMNT,” “X-Men Blue”) inker Oren Junior (“Hawkeye – Kate Bishop), colorist Bryan Valenza (“Miles Morales: Spider-Man”) Rounding out this team is VC’s Travis Lanham (“Star Wars: The High Republic”). This group of creatives are some of the best working consistently and they have made this book look fantastic. Every detail comes down to their talent bringing this world to disgustingly gory life.

Art by Smith & Valenza

What’s This All About?

Johnny Blaze has been disconnected from his Spirit of Vengeance for quite some time, but there is a darkness coming and an icy chill in the air that will once again get his blood running hot. Thinking that, just once in his miserable life, he may be free of Hell and all of the supernatural horrors he’s faced, Blaze settles down with his family in a nice, quite small town. But evil, and vengeance, have other plans for him.

Art by Kael Ngu

So, Why Should I Read This?

“Ghost Rider” is a terrifying nightmare road trip. It encompasses everything that fans could want from a Ghost Rider series. Hideous creatures, horrific gore, dark secrets, wild violence, and more are all on display, but done in a way that truly works for a horror series and these details don’t exist just for the sake of existing.

Art by Smith & Valenza

With Johnny attempting to be a normal Joe happily married with kids, he can’t help but feel like something bad is looking for him, lurking around every corner. And he isn’t wrong. All this time away from being the Ghost Rider has not softened him as much as one might expect, but he is definitely getting closer to happiness.

“Ghost Rider” is a tour de force horror story that never relents with the gore, the action, the insane monsters, or hellish creations. Every page is covered in blood, guts, slime, and hellfire. A glorious blend of classic horror and fantasy, as well as a surreal character drive series that is truly scary and a pleasure to read. Every issue moves at a break-neck pace without sacrificing quality or depth in the writing. Sure, it’s still a “Ghost Rider” book so expect B-horror schlock as well. It’s a perfect mash-up of what should be expected and what is desired out of a comc like this. We get equal parts Johnny and the Rider, which series of the past have been lacking in one or the other.

This series gives us the full humanity of Johnny and continues to flesh out (so to speak) more of the lore for the Spirit of Vengeance, Blackheart, and more. It all ties to everything that has come before, but it never leaves new readers scratching their heads. Anything that calls back to the past is explained enough to catch you up or work as a refresher.

“Ghost Rider” is a must read for Marvel and horror comic fans. It is so much more in terms of quality writing and story crafting than the majority of past books featuring the character. Between the expansion of character building with more adult situations and the violence and gore, this series not only feels like it is made for adult readers in a two-dimensional way, but in a truly more mature manner. But don’t worry, it never gets pretentious with its writing; it is just a lot more empathetic while still featuring plenty of schlocky goodness.

Continued below

Cover by Bjorn Barends

How Can You Read It?

The first ten issue arc of “Ghost Rider” came to a close this week with more tales of Johnny Blaze on the way. These ten issues will be collected in two trade paperbacks. Available anywhere comics are sold.

Christopher Egan

Chris lives in New Jersey with his wife, daughter, two cats, and ever-growing comic book and film collection. He is an occasional guest on various podcasts, writes movie reviews on his own time, and enjoys trying new foods. He can be found on Instagram. if you want to see pictures of all that and more!