Saturday, April 16, 2016

Reader's Diary #1296- Felipe Smith (Writer), Tradd Moore (Artist): Ghost Rider / Engines of Vengeance

I've wanted to discover more about Ghost Rider ever since I heard that Marvel Studios got the movie rights back. I'm not sure that Felipe Smith's Ghost Rider: Engines of Vengeance was necessarily the right place to start though. A quick Google search reveals that the more popular versions of Ghost Rider revolved around either Johnny Blaze (played infamously bad by Nicolas Cage— though I've not seen those movies) or Daniel Ketch and in both cases the Ghost Rider rode a signature motorcycle. In Smith's version, the new Ghost Rider is a teenager named Robbie Reyes and he drives a muscle car. But, though not necessarily the more recognizable Ghost Rider, his is also one of the few titles reviewed well. 

And I did enjoy it. The Los Angeles gang-torn setting and the main characters (Robbie is Mexican-American and raises his developmentally-delayed and wheelchair bound brother) were such a welcome break from the norm. At this point, I still feel like there's a lot to learn about Reyes, but that seemed like an intentional part of his appeal. He comes across as a guarded young man, trying to do the right thing, but in a tough situation with many obstacles in his way. 

As for the Ghost Rider premise in the first place, I didn't find it as silly as I feared. The name Ghost Rider, for the uninitiated, is quite literal. Reyes becomes possessed (but not fully taken over) by a ghost named Eli who seeks vengeance against the gangs that killed him. Oh, and the ghost also gives the car supernatural abilities including the ability to merge with Robbie. Come on, no sillier than Thor. 

Moore's art was very interesting. There were things I didn't like (I wished the Ghost Rider's head better resembled a skull, and— as I'm not a fan— I didn't enjoy how much Moore's curvy lines reminded me of Paul Pope's work), but it certainly didn't resemble the typical superhero comic and so I respected that. Plus, the colouring was fantastic.

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