Ghost Rider #26

Story by
Art by
Tan Eng Huat
Colors by
Jose Villarrubia
Letters by
Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Marvel Comics

Before I started writing for CBR, I reviewed Jason Aaron's first issue of "Ghost Rider" and compared his entrance on this series to the way Grant Morrison took over "Doom Patrol" back in the late 1980s. "Aaron comes from a much different background from Morrison," I wrote, "and their approach to comic book storytelling is distinctly different, but they both have a strong voice, and strong personal interests, and their writing bleeds with passion and vigor." After reading "Ghost Rider" #26 I realize how on-target I was. Not only did Aaron drive a grindhouse-crafted stake through the heart of Daniel Way's dull take on the character, but he's now begun to inject a Morrisonian absurdity and glee into the ruckus.

You may think I'm exaggerating, but wait until you get to page three of this issue.

Danny Ketch's motorcycle in the background of page three is the only thing that gives it away as a "Ghost Rider" comic. Ketch himself is on the page, smack in the foreground, but Tan Eng Huat's expressive line and twisted anatomy render him almost unrecognizable. That's okay though, because we can see the bike, and his identity is pretty clear by the context. But the rest of the characters on the page? They look like they stepped straight out of the Brotherhood of Dada Auxiliary. They are Morrison rejects, and their presence here livens up the comic to a gleefully twisted level.

If you're interested -- and who wouldn't be? -- the characters are the all-new Orb, dressed like an orange Evel Knievil with a giant eyeball instead of a head; Doghead, part man and mostly pit bull; Death Ninja, the zombie ninja dressed in crimson; and Blackout, with the braided white hair and purple trenchcoat. Based on the dialogue, I'm guessing some or all of these characters have appeared before. But they're new to me, and they are great additions to Aaron's menagerie.

Johnny Blaze barely appears in this issue. He's mentioned a few times as the gang assaults the Caretaker -- an old compatriot of Blaze and Ketch -- under the direction of the angel Zadkiel. And he shows up at the end to save a nunchuck nun from the perils of the highway. Well, the nunchucks are promised for next issue, but still...

"Ghost Rider" seems to have a low enough profile -- and exists far enough outside the Marvel mainstream -- that Jason Aaron can do what he wants here. And as he says in the letters page for this issue, "All of us here at Flamehead Central are committed to making this the craziest and most exciting book Marvel publishes." After reading the first seven issues of his run, I believe him. And trust me, I am definitely along for this ride.

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