Revamping a character can be a tricky process — change too much and you run the risk of losing the pre-existing audience, change too little and the revamp isn’t viewed as anything worthwhile. In the case of “All-New Ghost Rider” #2, Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore seem to have found that happy medium; some of the identifying features have changed, but at the same time there’s no mistaking this book for anything but a Ghost Rider comic.
“All-New Ghost Rider” #2 continues the story of Robbie Reyes, who was killed during an illegal drift race through the streets of Los Angeles, only to be reborn as Ghost Rider. This issue is very much the aftermath of that traumatic first issue, as Robbie struggles to figure out what happened to him and what to do as everything continues forward. It’s as much a mystery to him as it is the reader (perhaps even more to Robbie), and his attempts to just go back to life-as-normal are of course futile at best. Readers hoping for lots of revelations and exposition might be a little disappointed, but for the moment I don’t think they’re needed. It’s less about the answers at this stage of the game, and more about the questions that Robbie is asking himself.
What we do get in this issue is transformation, and a lot of it. I don’t think it’s any small coincidence that three different characters transform this issue, with two of them unlocking another side of themselves. That just leaves Robbie, and the insinuation appears to be that this version of Ghost Rider might be less about a spirit and a little more about what’s lurking inside Robbie. We’ve been seeing his frustration and anger that’s bottled up with the people around him, so “All-New Ghost Rider” also shows what happens when he’s finally able to let it out. It’s a good tactic while at the same time not losing the basic ideas (fast-moving vehicle haunted with a spirit that is infused with the rider) too much.
Moore’s art is gangbusters like always. Ghost Rider is the star of the show, visually, with all of the little flames bursting out of his body in a way that feels very smooth and streamlined. Val Staples’ colors area good addition to the mix, keeping the different streams of fire distinct while all meshing together in a unified palette. “All-New Ghost Rider” is also playing to Moore’s strengths when it comes to the rest of the cast, with that strange middle ground that Moore draws in between realistic and cartoonish. It makes the transformations feel that much more outlandish, while every-day characters still look distinctive and attention-catching. Still, it’s the larger-than-life moments that are the best. When Robbie transforms back at the end of the second issue, the human-shaped swirls of smoke are entrancing, and that alone would be enough to make me come back for more.
“All-New Ghost Rider” #2 is a good comic. Eventually we’re going to need answers, but until then, it doesn’t matter. Smith and Moore have cooked up a new take on Ghost Rider, one that feels a little more modern but doesn’t lose sight of the old character concept. If you’re going to revamp a character for the modern era, this is a great template on how to do succeed.