Sunday, 14 December 2014

Ghost Rider: Hell Bent and Heaven Bound Review (Jason Aaron, Roland Boschi)

“You know how many people God kills in the Bible? I mean, if you add up all the floods and plagues and fire ‘n’ brimstone. All the ‘God Smote’ this, ‘God Smote’ that… you know how many people he kills? Millions. And what about the Devil? The big scary Devil. What do you think his body count comes to? A paltry TEN. The seven sons and three daughters of Job. And that’s only after making a bet with God. Look it up. Kinda raises a big question. Between Heaven and Hell… which one should we really be afraid of?” - Johnny Blaze aka Ghost Rider

If there’s one character type Jason Aaron can write the shit out of, it’s the mean surly type with a major chip on his shoulder. The Punisher, Wolverine, Dash Bad Horse all fit the bill as does Johnny Blaze the Ghost Rider who, in this book, is after the guy who made him the Spirit of Vengeance’s host. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s the supposed good guys: an angel called Zadkiel! 

Blaze fires up his wheels and sets out to find a way to get to Heaven and settle the score. And what better place to start looking than Aaron’s favourite location in the world: the American South. 

Aaron’s first Ghost Rider book is a bit of a product of its time. It was published in 2008 during the great Grindhouse revival which today is well worn out but back then was still very much in. So there are machine-gun toting nurses galore, cannibal ghosts, and lots of crazy stunts gleefully peppering the book. 

But as played out as Grindhouse is, this book is still so much fun to read. It’s a quintessential Jason Aaron book from the Southern setting to the angry loner lead to the excessive violence and joyful blaspheming throughout; if you’re a big fan of Aaron’s like I am, you’re gonna take to this like BBQ and beer. 

The art is the only real weakness of the book. Roland Boschi’s work is fine but nothing special. It’s a bit too sketchy with the pencils and doesn’t really live up to the rock’n’roll script Aaron delivers. Tan Eng Huat draws a couple issues too and his art again is acceptable for a Marvel comic but I wanted some real fire on the page and I wasn’t feeling it with Huat’s pages. 

It’s loud, silly and ultimately throwaway but Jason Aaron’s first Ghost Rider book is an enormously enjoyable read. It’s an energetic start to his run and I love the indicators for where he’s taking the story. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the writer or the character.

Ghost Rider: Hell Bent and Heaven Bound

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