Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chronic Review: Ghost Rider # 0.1!

Ghost Rider # 0.1
Marvel Comics
Script:     Rob Williams
Pencils:   Matthew Clark
20 pages for $2.99

Let me just skip the preamble about how stupid a "0.1" issue is and say that this is a comic populated entirely by aggressively poor writing decisions.

This iteration of Ghost Rider features Johnny Blaze, although not a Johnny Blaze you're likely to recognize.  For some reason, this roughneck stunt cyclist has adopted the speech patterns of a 19th century wild west outlaw.

Early Cuyler - not a role model
Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that sometimes Blaze adopts that voice.  He refers to Zarathos as "some demon cuss."  He punctuates phrases with "y'understand."  Now, this kind of character treatment would be completely intolerable even if such an approach were on the same continent with Johnny Blaze's history.  Alas, no.  Not only are we subjected to Ghost Rider the Squidbilly, but also for no discernible reason.

Blaze has never spoken or acted as he does in this issue, and what's more, he doesn't behave consistently.  One of Blaze's internal monologue "zingers" in the opening is "incorrect Nirvana reference!"  First of all not funny, secondly not particularly in keeping with an old time gunfighter, is it?

The Johnny Blaze in this version is also a very mopey one.  The action begins with Ghost Rider attempting to rescue a damsel in distress, but it turns out to be a vampire luring him in for a sneak attack.  One would think that being the spirit of vengeance, vengeance would know who was actually suffering and who was playing possum, but whatever.  The point is that at the end of this scuffle, Blaze blubbers this story out while pounding tequila and resting his head on the bar.  He actually utters the words "Vampires, I ask ya!"  It hurts.

Who should appear but a mysterious cipher named Adam who rather conveniently arrives out of the blue to make Fear Itself references.  He also offers to take Blaze's pain away by ridding him of the Ghost Rider. 

Johnny considers this briefly, then turns him down because he steps out of the bar and notices that the entire town is burning down around him, and its residents are engaging in wholesale looting, vandalism, and rape.  And the Ghost Rider decided he was just going to sit that one out at the bar and see if he could get to the worm?  Are you fucking kidding me with this shit?

And by the way, this redneck wild west old timey gunfighter, when he sees this outside, describes the people as "getting their riot on."   Somebody please, make it stop.

At this point, you're probably thinking to yourself that this comic has hit rock bottom.  Oh, you are so very, very wrong.  Blaze finds yet another damsel in distress within the crowd.  He decides to go and help her.  Pretty easy, yes?  Because not only do you have a lot of gumption, but you have the spirit of goddamn vengeance inside of you specifically to take care of these situations.

So naturally, he decides to forego his alter ego and just wade into battle as a mortal fleshy jackass, because he's afraid the Ghost Rider will puke, and who needs that aggravation?  It's WAY better to let that girl get sodomized and have that asshole put you in traction, because you know.... vomit.  Gross.

It's at this point that I feel it important to point out to Marvel that I am in fact available to write comics.

There's gratitude for you
Aaaaand back to the story.  Somehow the action of punching Johnny Blaze in the face over and over again must have plum tuckered out that rapist.  Blaze wakes up the next morning in the distressed damsel's house, and she looks no worse for wear, and she even cooks him breakfast.

Naturally our guy Blaze and his significant trust issues fire up the Ghost Rider, who kicks the crap out of the breakfast dishes, then runs away.  God I want to be him! After another suitable period of mopery, he clicks his ruby shoes together three times and wishes he could take Adam up on that Get Out of Ghost Rider Free card, and Adam instantly appears to give him a nasty tasting tree root.  Here's what passes for humor in this comic, by the way:

Blaze got jokes!

Then Blaze is instructed to ride fast until the Ghost Rider falls off his bones, which he does, while shouting "Trippeeeeee" at the top of his lungs- and you know what?  Done.  Just done.

I'm trying to figure out how the purported marketing geniuses at Marvel got together and said "You know, Jason Aaron couldn't make this thing fly, but this take will definitely have everyone on board!"  I guess if you strip away the execution, maybe they just saw the hook inside the pitch?  And to be fair, the hook is fairly strong.  It's probably interesting that Johnny Blaze has just been psychologically beaten by this thing.  The idea of passing the vengeance spirit to a different host has possibilities.  As much as I despise Ghost Rider 0.1, I can still see something viable buried beneath the excrement.

I just can't get over the execution, though.  Not one goddamn thing in this issue made a lick of sense.  Steve Wacker is listed as an editor on this book, but I can't fathom that anybody looked at these pages and gave a thumbs up.

When you've got a distressed property, one that's already been recycled multiple times in recent memory, the smart money is to let the field lie fallow, so people can regain a taste for it.  If you're going to jam it down your consumer's throats again, it just has to be special to get over the internal objections.

Ghost Rider 0.1 will be a strong contender for worst comic book of 2011.

- Ryan

1 comment:

Nick said...

"It's at this point that I feel it important to point out to Marvel that I am in fact available to write comics."