This is it. This is what we've all been waiting for ever since the hint that former Ghost Rider Danny Ketch was back and working for the rogue angel Zadkiel. It's Johnny Blaze versus Danny Ketch in an all-out, no holds barred Spirits of Vengeance brawl that surely only one will walk away from. It's been months in the making and now it's here. But, Can Jason Aaron and Tan Eng Huat deliver the goods?
Following a quick primer on the history of Blaze and Ketch's relationship, the two throw down in a fight that doesn't really follow through on the hype, but considering that this is only the first round, it's a good taste of what's to come. The main problem with the fight is that it reminds me of the stereotypical idea of what war was like in the 1700s: the two sides approach, one side attacks, then the other, and they just take turns until someone wins. It's too neat, too organized... and not at all what you'd expect in this balls-to-the-wall grindhouse comic book.
The brawl isn't entirely lifeless, thankfully, but it is different from fights in previous issues. The scale here is bigger and the use of wide, faraway shots to demonstrate the two colossal powers at war here really hammers that home. Those distance shots are contrasted with the dialogue, which is very personal and is where the comic shines. These two are brothers on two sides of a war, trying to beat the living hell out of one another -- literally. Aaron captures the emotion here perfectly, with Blaze as angry as we've ever seen him, while Ketch is more detached.
Huat's visual work well as he gets more emotion out of a blazing skull than any artist I've ever seen. The skulls are grotesque in their looks, but that's also a characteristic he carries over to his people, which is where his style is lacking. The fight, though, is handled well with Huat able to convey the slow, methodical nature of Ketch and the quicker, more passionate fighting style of Blaze.
What really makes this issue stand apart is the resolution to the fight, which is a very smart and shocking manner in which to end this first confrontation between the brothers. This issue may not deliver the fight that everyone expected, and hoped for, but it is just a first taste -- and a good one at that.
(And get your first taste of this brawl by checking out CBR's preview of the issue!)