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Comix-to-Flix #24

12.23.2005

COMIX-TO-FLIX is a JoBlo.com column featuring reviews of comic book graphic novels that have been optioned to be made into motion pictures. Seeing as the universe of comic books and movies is becoming more and more connected, we figured that we may as well jump right into them as well, especially since we love both mediums to begin with. We hope that you enjoy this new addition to the site and be sure to email us with your thoughts.

ESSENTIAL GHOST RIDER VOL. 1
by Gary Friedrich


BUY THIS NOVEL AT AMAZON.COM NOW!!!

PLOT:

Johnny Blaze is a motorcycle daredevil by day and by night a flaming skull having half demon. How did this happen? Blaze sold his soul to Satan to save his adoptive father Crash Simpson from a deadly illness. The problem is, Satan tricked Blaze. He saved Crash from the illness only for him to die in a motorcycle crash soon after. When Satan comes to collect Blaze’s soul, Blaze is saved by Crash’s daughter (who happens to know her share of magic). Satan does manage to bind Blaze to a demon named Zarathos. So every night the demon in Blaze manifests and he becomes Ghost Rider.

“But Be warned…One day soon I will RETURN…To collect my FEE!” –Satan (Mephisto)

Film Status:

As readers of Joblo.com are aware, Ghost Rider is now a major motion picture being directed by Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil) and starring Nicolas Cage. Principal photography is done…sort of. You see the studio just announced that Ghost Rider has been moved from a release date this summer to February 2007. This is why I say sort of, because who knows what extra work is going to be ordered up before this movie actually comes out. On the plus side Eva Mendes is the female lead, so even if the movie sucks it won’t be all bad right?

CRITIQUE:

Niche is the word that really comes to mind when I read Essential Ghost Rider Volume 1. You see Ghost Rider is maybe the most well known of a very different line of superhero’s Marvel introduced in the 1970’s. The line of characters included Werewolf by night, Luke Cage: Hero for hire, Iron Fist, Blade, etc. These characters were designed to appeal to people who liked horror/occult, martial arts, or in the case of Luke Cage blaxsploitation. The funny thing is most of these niche characters are in Marvels development slate. This is probably because they have target fan groups outside of comics that Marvel can easily market to.

Okay, that’s enough of a history/marketing lesson about Marvel. Lets get back to the subject at hand, Ghost Rider. I am going to start by saying that I never really followed Ghost Rider before reading this book. With that said I was much more familiar with the back story than the average reader. Why does this matter? Well, even though these are the origin issues the story is very hard to follow. I would go as far as to say that some issues are down right confusing. Especially concerning the on-going battle with Satan.

“Now get off that chopper and let me take over…Unless you want to get killed” –Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider

On the other hand, Ghost Rider does have some solid action. Every issue brings battles with Satan, demons, super villains, and sometimes other super heroes. In addition to fighting demons and occult villains, Ghost Rider also has some other cool action elements.

You may have gathered that a major aspect of Ghost Rider is his motorcycle. Through the story Blaze has many different jobs, but they all revolve around his skill riding a motorcycle. In between jobs Blaze is living the biker lifestyle. Not being to familiar with this lifestyle myself I really can’t say how accurate the things in the book are. What I can say is that this type of origin and lifestyle are very different than the average superhero and help give the character his appeal.

So what are to make of this collection? The story is interesting but a little tough to follow. The art is inconsistent because of the many artists who worked on the various titles collected in this volume. For me this book is fun because of Ghost Rider as a character much more than the stories. I will say that having read this book, I am now more interested in seeing the movie.

“Hulk will find you Skull Face” –Hulk

WHAT ELSE?

The first time I reviewed one of Marvel’s Essential line I pointed out that this is a collection designed to give you bang for your buck. What goes away to make the book so much cheaper? The color is removed and the Essential line is entirely black and white. If you know this going in and don’t mind because you want to catch up on about the first 28 Marvel comics featuring Ghost Rider, this is your best bet. If you have your heart set on color, look elsewhere.

Within this collection you don’t just get Ghost Rider. This collection gives you appearances by other famous Marvel characters like the Hulk and Daredevil. However more entertaining than this are the appearances by lesser or even unkown Marvel Characters like Satan’s Son. Some of Marvel’s niche characters never really caught on, and it is fun to see them given test drives in the pages of Essentail Ghost Rider Vol. 1.

IN CONCLUSION:

Ghost Rider is full of potential. The comic source material has a lot of good stuff in it to be adapted. Of course the same could be said for Daredevil and that didn’t turn out so great. And with Marvel choosing the same director for Ghost Rider I am worried. Daredevil became a mishmash of storylines and characters that didn’t work.. From what I have read on Ghost Rider it seems likely this is happening again. Hopefully with over a year before it comes out, they can get this movie into good shape.

”The curse—and the power—of the Ghost Rider are mine—for keeps” –Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze

GRAPHIC NOVEL RATING (6/10):

MOVIE POTENTIAL (8/10):

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