With issue six Filipe Smith shows how he is doing something different with the story of the All New Ghost Rider and its hero Robbie Reyes. Firstly I will miss the crazy kinetic art of Traad Moore on this title but I have to say that by the second read through I really warmed up to Damien Scott's graffiti influenced lines mixed with manga style and I can say now I dig it and I can look forward to Traad other places. I have my worries about the titles longevity and I think with how much I really loved the new issue I have to give it a bit of review age and signal boost.
From the first issue All new Ghost Rider read like a mix of east and west comic images tropes and sensibilities; since I've been a long time Japanese anime, superhero and manga fan it did touch that Devilman, Fist of the Northstar, Baribari Densetsu and Riding Bean fan in me as well as my enjoyment of the Spirit of Vengence. Looking into Filipe's background he's got a very interesting history in comics including the fact he's one of the few western creators who has written and drawn Japanese manga in Japan and been a success. He has also worked on several american comics and strangely this is the first project where he actually has to produce scripts for his stories. Coming from a manga background he is used to both writing and drawing his stories but I would not have guessed that from reading the series. I would love to interview him about his history in manga and his influences.
The All New Ghost Rider is set in a poorer neighborhood in Los Angeles about teenager Robby Reyes, high school student car mechanic and guardian for his differently abeled brother. The series wastes no time throwing us into his life and his extra curricular activities that include borrowing cars he's working on for the garage and using them to street race for more money to support him and his brother. He's not the obvious nerd in school, he's not the popular kid he is just one with more adult respincibilites then most. By the end of the first issue he finds himself on the wrong end of the henchmen of Hyde/Dr. Zabo's guns and in the gunsights of a local gang banger.... oh and also most probably dead in an alley. He soon becomes the racing suited cool helmeted skull visaged character with the flame effects and the flameing wheeled supernatural muscle car.
The series proceeds apace as you'd want with a muscle car centric theme. It has as much in common with my memories of Speed Racer ad it does with the Fast and Furious film franchise. The first story keeps it focus on the players in LA, there are no guest appearances; no ubiquitous Wolverine, Spider-Man or Avengers guest shot. Robbie has to deal with the violence invading his neighborhood and life in addition to the mysterious ghost that he's now bound to who has yet to reveal anything about itself. As the second act opens with new art that is more graffiti influenced that take some getting used to but Damien Scott the artist seems a good choice given the not totally super hero nature of the story.
I'm really writing this to hopefully creat interest in the story because I'm worried it is not hitting its possible audience. Robbie seems a great new addition to the diversity in the marvel universe given he is Hispanic and he's certainly a different sort of character then the usual and the story is going somewhere else then the usual coming of age teenager tale. He is someone saddled with much more responcibility then usual and I think it will be an interesting journey to see him grow into being a local hero. The opening of issue six points to the neighborhood thinking they have a hero of their own and one I'd love to see him get the chance to become. There is a collection of 1-5 coming out so its likely to be easy to check out soon and the current story promises an appearance by the second Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze....
So yeah a plea to keepa superhero horror comic out there for those of us who dig them.... The collection comes out Oct 14th.....
Here is the cover of issue ... 7