Warren Ellis’ Back Pages
Every day this month I will share with you the first (at least as far as I know) U.S. professional work by a notable comic book creator. Here is an archive of the creators who have been featured so far.
Today’s featured creator is Warren Ellis!
Warren Ellis made his comic book debut working in his native England, mostly on some smaller independent comic book magazines (like Deadline and Blast! – the latter of which he debuted his Lazarus Churchyard series) but he also did some work for Judge Dredd and Atomeka Press. However, when he began working for Marvel in 1994, when he was in his mid-to-late 20s, he was still mostly an up and coming writer.
His first ongoing series was Hellstorm: Prince of Lies, where he really hit the ground running. His run on that book was quite similar to Alan Moore’s debut on Sage of the Swamp Thing (in terms of revitalizing a book, drastically changing the tone of the book and picking up acclaim pretty much instantaneously). He then basically did the same thing to his next two titles, Doom 2099 and Excalibur. By that point, Ellis was quite established as a great, unique comic book writer.
While his Hellstorm run is now quite famous, around the same time he took over Hellstorm he also did the 1994 Ghost Rider Annual (#2). That story is a lot less famous, and it is quite good. That’s what I’ll be sharing with you today…
The story was a spotlight on the Ghost Rider villain, the Scarecrow. It was drawn by Javier Saltares and Mike Witherby.
The opening is really strong…
Throughout the issue, we see Scarecrow’s childhood, which is pretty darn twisted (his mother would abuse him constantly, and he would teach himself to contort and hide in their house to avoid her beatings). Throughout the issue, we see Scarecrow kidnap others and talk about building a new house like the one he grew up in.
When Ghost Rider finally tracks Scarecrow down, he discovers Scarecrow’s twisted plot – he has lined a maze-like room with innocent victims, so Scarecrow can re-live his hiding from his mother while also figuring that it would impede Ghost Rider’s ability to attack him (as an errant chain would hit an innocent). This leads to the Scarecrow’s ultimate plan…