When Jason Aaron first arrived on “Ghost Rider,” he brought a voice and exuberance to the character that I, personally, had never seen. With a tone on the level of Garth Ennis’ “Preacher,” he turned Johnny Blaze into a supernatural cowboy with a motorcycle instead of a horse and, much like Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker did in “The Immortal Iron Fist,” he created a wild new pulp mythology for the character, featuring centuries of all kinds of Ghost Riders, riding everything from Mack Trucks to elephants. Alongside all the high concept craziness was a steady stream of gritty midwestern horror stories.
And then everything kind of ground down to a halt. All of a sudden it was announced that Aaron would be taking a break and that his massive and entertaining storyline would be finished in a six issue limited series, which concluded in this issue. Maybe it was the extended break, but something just felt missing. Aaron threw an enormous amount of balls into the air, featuring pretty much everyone who had been in his original run plus the actual Anti-Christ and every even remotely cool Ghost Rider villain in history. Also, Zadkiel, the big bad of the whole series, had taken over Heaven. It was a lot to keep tabs on, even in some kind of twenty issue maxi-storyline; but in just six issues? That’s a herculean task. And anyone hoping that a ton of extra pages might help, most of them are taken up by old Ghost Rider reprints, really one of the least inspiring developments in modern comics.
Luckily, in this final issue, everything that was great about Aaron’s run on “Ghost Rider” comes back out in a final bow before the curtain drops. There are pages of amazing other Ghost Riders arriving as the cavalry, and plenty of opportunities for the cooler ones to get their own little moment in the spotlight. It also wraps up pretty much every loose end left in his run, and gives the mythology he built a feasible path into the future.
Roland Boschi, who was the first artist on Aaron’s run, returns as the last. While his style might be better suited for the kind of homespun horror stories at the beginning, he doesn’t fall very short here, depicting pages of widescale carnage as an army of Ghost Riders takes on the armies of Heaven.
While there might have been a bit of a lull as the series transitioned into its conclusion, “Ghost Riders” #6 is a fitting conclusion to Jason Aaron’s historic run on the character. It’s as weird and imaginative a story as there’s ever been for Johnny Blaze.