Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Ghost Rider: The Last Stand Review (Jason Aaron, Tan Eng Huat)

Danny Ketch, the long-lost brother of Johnny Blaze, is also a Ghost Rider and he’s back (he was dead or something?). Danny’s travelling the world offing the Ghost Riders of various countries for the glory of Zadkiel, an angel who’s planning the first insurrection in Heaven since Lucifer. It’s up to Blaze to take him down – Ghost Rider Vs Ghost Rider! 

Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider series continues to amuse with its straight up silliness. This book could be called Ghost Rider Inc. given the Ghost Riders of different countries, a Ghost Rider of Japan, etc. a la Batman Inc. Except the Ghost Riders are celestially appointed – but countries/boundaries are man-made. So… why does God appoint a Ghost Rider of the Congo when that country didn’t exist until the 19th century? If we make up a new country, will God appoint a Ghost Rider of that new country?

Also, why doesn’t God just crush Zadkiel’s insurrection instantly? This is God we’re talking about aren’t we – the almighty, all-powerful, creator of the universe? Zadkiel’s very brazenly attacking Heaven’s infrastructure (which, by the way, hilarious!) – why not just snuff him out? Why send archangels that clearly don’t measure up? 

None of that matters really, this Ghost Rider book is too enjoyable to dwell on small critiques like this. Aaron brings the fiery intensity to the fight between the Ghost Rider brothers with Blaze’s yellow flamed Rider vs Ketch’s blue flamed Rider. They throw down, use their powers, etc. It’s an entertaining match-up that goes several rounds and I’m sure bigger GR fans than me will appreciate the (I guess long-awaited?) showdown. My favourite moment was, instead of a final fight, they decide to race their bikes across the world! What could be more Ghost Rider? 

And I loved that a minor character from the last book shows up with a hellfire shotgun for a decisive moment in the story. He was a minor player in the last book, he’s still pretty minor aside from that one scene here, but I like that Aaron’s building his own little world with everyone that’s appeared in his story regardless. It’s the mark of a quality storyteller to make every little thing mean something. 

I’m still not feeling Tan Eng Huat’s art. It’s fine for the most part and his Ghost Riders are cool-looking, but his human figures are so oddly proportioned at times. Some characters’ hands are massive in comparison to their bodies, sometimes their torsos are bigger than their lower halves – the effect is like looking through a glass bottle, weirdly distorting what you see. 

The few Ghost Rider stories I’ve read besides Aaron’s have been fairly lo-fi tales insulated to a city which is why I love that this Ghost Rider series is so unapologetically epic. We go from small town Americana in the first book to travelling the world and ending up with a literal celestial battle. Wonderful stuff. Want to read a fun, entertaining Ghost Rider comic? Look for the ones with Jason Aaron’s name on the cover!

Ghost Rider: The Last Stand

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