Friday, 26 December 2014

Ghost Riders: Heaven's On Fire Review (Jason Aaron, Roland Boschi)

The angel Zadkiel has toppled Heaven and, with the angels turned bad, it’s up to the demonic-looking but good Ghost Riders to unite and burn some wings! It’s Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch and an army of Spirits of Vengeance against the celestial forces – the ultimate battle between good and evil!

Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider series has been really, really good so it’s a bit disappointing that this final volume isn’t as good, if not better, than the others. It’s partly due to my expectations of thinking this was going to be almost entirely a battle between the Ghost Riders and Zadkiel, which does happen but only in the last issue, and partly because the story’s so scattered for most of the book. It also has the feeling that Jason Aaron’s trying to cram too much into this last volume so a lot of it feels rushed.

There’s a storyline featuring the Antichrist that doesn’t really go anywhere (though I liked that he looked like Eddie Munster!), the Deacon, the monstrously vicious man with the twin swords, and the gun nuns battle because why not? Meanwhile, Johnny and Danny battle everyone from Daimon Hellstorm, the son of Satan, to Trull the Mighty, an evil spirit that can possess machines, zombie bikers, an evil Ghost Rider, whose identity is never explained, and two of the lamest Marvel villains, a Scarecrow knockoff whose superpower is blackbirds (the actual birds) which attack, and The Orb, who’s got a giant eye for a head.

I suppose we’ve come full circle as the first book felt very Grindhouse-y and so does this last one. All the women dress like strippers, the plot is totally unrestrained, and Aaron is just gunning it with the over-the-top nonsense. Roland Boschi’s back as the artist and, while his art is still just ok, at least to me, the colours don’t really do him any favours – some of the pages look like they were coloured in with crayons!

The final battle itself is predictable and unimpressive and the aftermath is a series of single panels that summarises what everyone did next – again, leaving it to the last issue means everything is a bit too compressed. But it’s a fine way to end things I suppose – not immensely satisfying but not terrible either.

Though I continue to wonder how exactly Zadkiel was able to beat God - he’s GOD! I was hoping God would show up in a tank to blow up Zadkiel himself, accompanied maybe by Jesus rocking twin machine guns and a cigar. But I suppose there are some lines Marvel won’t cross (boo!). 

Do check out Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider series. It’s four volumes (or one giant omnibus) of some of the best stories I’ve seen the Spirit of Vengeance in and are hugely entertaining comics. The finale might be a bit weak but there’s a lot – a LOT – of good stuff throughout the series to recommend it.

Ghost Riders: Heaven's On Fire

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