Not Your Father’s Ghost Rider (Silk-Centric Review of Ghost Rider Volume 8 #1-5)


Robbie Reyes is the Ghost Rider Marvel really wants to make happen. And I happen to be a fan of the Reyes Rider, thanks to Tradd Moore’s art and his recent portrayal on Agents of SHIELD. Back when Remender was still on Venom, I would have killed to review the Circle of Four crossover. Many of the same types of players are in this crossover, but is this book any good? 

Four On The Floor: Ghost Rider (2016) #1-5

Writer: Felipe Smith

Artist: Danilo S. Beyruth

Colorist: Val Staples (1) & Jesus Aburtov (2-5) & Federico Blue (3-5) & Morry Hollowell (3) & Dono Sanchez Almara (3)

Letterer: Joe Caramagna 

Issue 1 Backup

Writer: Felipe Smith

Artist: Tradd Moore

Colorist: Val Staples

Letterer: Joe Sabino

Cover Artists: Marco Checchetto (1) Felipe Smith (2-5)

Design: Manny Mederos

Editors: Mark Paniccia & Chris Robinson

Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

 

Didn’t You Say You Needed Your Car Fixed: Our series follows Robbie Reyes as he discovers that being a host to Eli Marrow’s vengeful spirit is killing him (or keeping him alive, the series was really unclear). At the same time, Amadeus Cho discovers a new alien life form in Robbie Reyes’ area. It manages to bite Cho and absorb his Totally Awesome Hulk powers. Cho is able to chase it off, but it discovers Laura and Gabby Wilson nearby. It takes Laura’s healing factor and claws. Amadeus shows up, but the creature is able to best them until the Ghost Rider shows up. The creature flees and Cho gets into a showdown with Robbie Reyes. Eli’s ghost nearly kills Cho, but Robbie is able to reign hime in and flee. Cho and Laura decide to team up to take down the creature, which leads them to Cindy Moon who was recently bitten by the same power stealing alien. Cindy Moon uses her Agent of SHIELD status to call in Phil Coulson and Melinda May. The group tracks the beast to Robbie Reyes’ place of work. SHIELD lures the creature out, but they are unable to take it down. Ghost Rider arrives and the creature overdoses on Eli’s spirit. It turns into a chrysalis state and SHIELD takes it into custody.

Improvise And Keep It Spontaneous: Robbie Reyes burst out on to the scene in 2014 and had some of the slickest stylized art in a Marvel comic at the time. Felipe Smith’s scripts were nothing fancy but they allowed artist Tradd Moore to shine as he translated cinematic car chase glory to the page. The series never regained the momentum lost when Moore left, but it was a decent story about an all new Ghost Rider. This is a very different story and sadly, a much weaker one. Aside from given a vague he might be dying plot, that gets no resolution, Robbie Reyes is not given much to do in this book. He’s written to be really unlikable and his supporting cast is filled with exposition givers and stereotypes. The worst offense is how Gabe Reyes is written; it’s best case awful writing, worst case offensively insensitive. 

Thankfully, this is actually a Totally Awesome Hulk comic pretending to be Ghost Rider. Amadeus Cho is the real star of this crossover; all the best scenes have Cho in them. Perhaps the best exchange in the series is Robbie mistaking Amadeus as a green Mr. Hyde (Robbie fought both a blue and red one in previous volumes.) Cho’s charm carries the series in the void of Robbie’s. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be much more to Cho and other’s addition than Smith’s interest in their power set in relation to his alien. Wolverine (Laura Wilson) is a nice addition for a couple reasons. First, she was part of the Hulk/Ghost Rider/Spider-Family crossover in Venom’s Book of Four. She also recently had an adventure with Spider-Gwen in her most recent annual

Cindy Moon does not appear until the end of the third issue and is given very little to do. The series thought captions are largely used for Robbie and Amadeus, but jump into Cindy Moon’s twice in a bizarre manner. The third issue also spoils Cindy’s status as an Agent of SHIELD, the outcome of a story line still unwrapped (the third issue came out in January.) A single scene is dedicated to the bond all four have over their shared concern over their siblings, which would of been a much stronger narrative reason to bring them together. Coulson and May are largely wasted, while Jonathan and Jonah (from All New Wolverine and Silk respectively) have a couple great cameos. 

While the character work is lacking, the plot of the story is fairly strong in its simplicity. Robbie is woven in and out of the ongoing team up story fairly well throughout the five issues. And there is no lack of imagination to the fight scenes in the script. There is a scene early on where Cho is wounded by Wolverine’s claws in Hulk form, which he flips on its head in the finale in a great moment. Sadly the artistic skill to execute the vivid imagination of the script is just not there. Danilo Beyruth’s art looks a bit like an unrefined John Romita Jr. His faces are easily the weakest part, but his backgrounds are uninspired and often buried under colors. His Hulk looks unnatural, but that actually works well later when the alien evolves into a spider in the aftermath of stealing Cindy’s powers, and starts birthing Hulkverine babies with Phil Coulson’s face. Like I said, very vivid imagination, just not properly executed. Perhaps the strongest aspect at first is the colors under Jesus Aburtov and Val Staples. They take Beyruth’s sketchy lines and give them strong visual colors in black backdrops that make them pop. Unfortunately during the third issue several other colorists were brought on and the colors became flat from then on. For every two fight panels that work, another falls flat. And there are a lot of fight scenes in this series. 

Unrelated Treat: In the first issue, Tradd Moore does a backup story. It is easily the best part of this whole run. The visual style of the new villain he creates is fantastic and his fight scenes utilize the page in fun and creative ways. Val Staples makes the colors leap off the page. His twelve page story is also stronger than the 90+ page main story. 

Verdict: This series sorely underutilized Silk, while also spoiling her new status of an Agent of SHIELD. Despite that, it is a decent team up comic disguised as a crappy Ghost Rider comic; it is not much worse than that Cindy’s usual adventures. There is a ton of creativity in the script, that is translated properly visually. Four in the Floor lives in the shadow of the much better, Circle of Four crossover. 

Pros:

  • Tradd Moore
  • Creative Script
  • Amadeus Cho

Cons:

  • Weak Art
  • Flat colors
  • Weak characters
  • Offensive Writing
  • Ghost Rider Scenes
  • Waste of Cindy Moon

C

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