REVIEW: ‘King in Black: Ghost Rider,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

King in Black Ghost Rider #1 - But Why Tho?King in Black: Ghost Rider #1 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Ed Brisson with art by Juan Frigeri. The colours are by Jason Keith while the letters are by Joe Caramagna. This is a tie-in to the King in Black event.

Johnny Blaze, aka Ghost Rider, is free from Hell. With a war going on in the depths of Hell, demons have escaped the underworld and are causing havoc on Earth. The demonic hold over Ghost Rider has been lifted, and he has Mephisto as his prisoner. But when the Symbiotes attack New York, Johnny is forced to abandon his mission and attack the dragons in the sky. He is soon joined by an old friend who seems to have allied himself with former enemies. Outnumbered by demons and symbiotes, the two close friends must work together to deal with two wars at the same time.

The initial concept of the issue is exciting with a great structure. What is effective about this single issue is that it combines Ghost Rider’s existing story with the ongoing King in Black event as the different realms collide. The symbiotes and demons present terrifying combinations, although for much of this issue they oppose each other. Interesting aspects that tie-ins such as this one can introduce are these other corners of the Marvel Universe, such as Hell, that may often be forgotten by the main storylines. 

While the action is exciting, with some interesting set pieces, the pace of the plot does suffer from slowing down too much. For a character that is explosive and fast and full of energy, when Ghost Rider stops to have long conversations, the comic can feel static and lack movement. 

One of the best attributes of this issue is the relationship between Johnny and his friend. It’s a heartwarming brotherhood where they will put themselves in harm’s way to protect the other. Both of them are required to make extremely difficult decisions with lasting and dangerous consequences, yet their trust is absolute. 

The other brilliant dynamic in the comic is that of Ghost Rider and Mephisto. Mortal and immortal enemies, the introduction feels like a buddy comedy between the demon hunter and the Devil. The dialogue from Brisson is great in these instances, making it funny but remembering the personalities of the characters. Mephisto is very similar to Loki in that he is always scheming, preparing for the future.

The art is fantastic. There are a lot of different figures, all of varying shapes, sizes, and species, but Frigeri tackles each with ease. There is Ghost Rider, who looks as fearsome as ever but out of his depth. Mephisto is excellently depicted, always present with a cunning smirk or scary snarl. The demons look monstrous, some instantly recognisable. And then there are the giant symbiotic dragons, bigger than anything else in the comic. And when the demons and symbiotes combine they become frightening amalgamations. The thin line weights allow Frigeri to fit more detail in, but the panel is still clean and uncluttered. The battles are intense but easy to follow.

The colours are also amazing. For much of the one-shot there are dark shades and tones, befitting the Hell-on-Earth atmosphere. But Keith still uses a lot of light, resulting in pieces of metal glinting. Ghost Rider’s skull gives off much more luminance than other objects around it. The shade of red that Mephisto is entirely filled with is much more vibrant than anything else on the page, resulting in him standing out every time he appears. 

The lettering is interesting as there are a lot of individual word balloons. Many of the characters involved, including the protagonist and Mephisto, have their own custom word balloons. While there are several colours and differences, Caramagna is very good at preventing it from cluttering the panels. The only one that may be hard to read is Mephisto’s, as there are dots underneath specific letters in every word. This results in it occasionally taking more concentration to decipher the text.

King in Black: Ghost Rider #1 is an important book for Ghost Rider fans. Pivotal events take place as the future of Hell and demons is hinted at and characters reveal new identities. The art and action create a visually exciting battle, and there are some fantastic pieces of dialogue. The pace may be too disjointed with the sudden stop and start aspect of the structure, draining the momentum of the issue. It also may be difficult for readers just jumping into this comic who are unfamiliar with recent events regarding the character and series. 

King in Black: Ghost Rider #1 is available where comics are sold.

King in Black: Ghost Rider #1
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TL;DR

King in Black: Ghost Rider #1 is an important book for Ghost Rider fans. Pivotal events take place as the future of Hell and demons is hinted at and characters reveal new identities. The art and action create a visually exciting battle, and there are some fantastic pieces of dialogue. The pace may be too disjointed with the sudden stop and start aspect of the structure, draining the momentum of the issue. It also may be difficult for readers just jumping into this comic who are unfamiliar with recent events regarding the character and series.