The Crazy, Manic Silver Age Style Origin of the All-New Ghost Rider
So far, through two issues, Marvel’s All-New Ghost Rider has been a delight. Tradd Moore, Nelson Daniel and Val Staples combine for some stunning visuals and come on, how can you not feel something for a comic with the following design feature to kick the book off…
but what strikes me the most about the series is how Felipe Smith has managed to give the All-New Ghost Rider an old school Silver Age origin, without feeling old fashioned at all.
First off, the name of our hero?
Yes, it’s freakin’ Robbie Reyes! I already loved how the Ultimate Spider-Man is Miles Morales, and now we get Robbie Reyes. Too cool.
But then we see our hero in action, throwing himself in front of the proverbial truck containing radioactive chemicals to stick up for his kid brother, who just had his WHEELCHAIR STOLEN (makes Peter Parker and Matt Murdock think that they had an easy childhood, huh?)…
Later, we see that this Robbie is a guy who has already established the concept of greet responsibility…
However, what Smith does next really endeared him to me. We seem to live in a bit of a reductionist time, from a critical standpoint. Don’t like what a writer did with a character you like? They get written off for good. A character does something you don’t like? They’re written off for good, with that one action constantly thrown back at them as if that one action defines them. And what’s so especially stupid to me about stuff like this is that if you applied such an attitude to classic Marvel comics, you wouldn’t be left with many characters to root for. Rick Jones, one of the main teen heroes of the Silver Age, is introduced by driving himself on to an atomic bomb test site! He almost gets Bruce Banner KILLED over his act of stupidity. Peter Parker lets a criminal go because it’s not his job to catch a crook. The Fantastic Four steal a spaceship! Reed Richards and his crew had good reasons for doing it (well, I guess “suck it, Commies!” is not the most noble reason, but still) but at the end of the day, they stole a pretty expensive piece of government property simply because they were sure that their goal was worth it.
And no one writes Rick, Spidey or Reed and the gang off. Because Stan Lee knew that we are not defined by a single act of recklessness, stupidity or selfishness.
Felipe Smith knows this, too, which is why he has Robbie Reyes steal a car from the garage that he works in an attempt to win a high stakes race to get enough money to get himself and his brother out of town….
And when the cops show up during the race, Tradd Moore and his colorist (Staples colored all of #2, I dunno who colored this page) give us a stunning example of Robbie realizing what is at stake here…
Then, of course, it turns out that what he should be worried about is not the cops but the bad guys who are after what is in the trunk of the car Robbie stole and when they find him they shoot him dead but he is brought back as the new Ghost Rider as it turns out that the car is haunted, which is awesome in and of itself, but still, I love just seeing how old school Smith was with the set-up of the new Ghost Rider. While, of course, feeling contemporary, as well (Tradd Moore sure helps in that regard – damn, is his work vibrant). A strong sense of responsibility mixed with a moment of recklessness leading to super powers. Don’t get much more iconic “Marvel Age of Comics” than that and it’s been a while since I’ve seen a new hero introduced in quite the same way.
It’s a very fun book. You should all give it a look see. #2 sets up the supervillain for the first arc as Mister Hyde. Mister freakin’ HYDE, people!
One quick word about the editor of the comic, Mark Paniccia. That dude must have one the best eyes for fresh talent in all of comics (not NEW talent, per se, but definitely FRESH).