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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Living Up To Expectations: Ghost Rider #27

Ghost Rider #27
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Tan Eng Huat

Each week all three of the ComicDorks pick three of the books off of the "Shipping Next Week" list that we are really looking forward to. We call it "The Anticipated Books". Then whomever hosted that show goes home on the following Wednesday, reads a bunch of comics, or at least the three books that they picked as their "Anticipated Books" and writes a review of a couple of them. Most of the time you'll find a couple of reviews here every Wednesday night. Tonight however I defer all of my time to the man from Kansas City, The One and Only Jason Aaron. I have told just about everyone with ears that I have ever spoken to in a comic book store that they should be reading Scalped. It is an incredibly brilliant book from the pen of Mr. Aaron which also came out this week, but like I said I have given plenty of my time and oxygen to trying to get people to read Scalped and all of those who have tried it out have found the brilliance contained within those pages.

But it has been only recently that I have begun expousing the greatness and wonder of Mr. Aaron's run on Ghost Rider. His first issue was April's #20 and came after the conclusion of Daniel Way's run. He worked with artist Roland Boschi on his first arc which featured protagonist Johnny Blaze on the hunt for an Angel by the name of Zadikel. He had always believed that The Ghost Rider had been a tool of the Devil, of Mephisto. But if so, why would he be let out of Hell time and time again only to thwart the plans of evil men? As it turns out the original Ghost Rider was a weapon of Heaven under the purview of the Angel Zadikel. So all of the torment that Johnny has endured and all of the pain that has been inflicted upon his friends and family has been because of the machinations of the power hungry Zadikel.

Aaron's first arc featured cannibal ghosts, nuns with guns and a young man who had seen beyond the veil of death and was marked by Zadikel himself. By the end of the story a familiar face had been seen among the shadows: Danny Ketch, Blazes' long lost brother. In Aaron's second arc he is joined by one of my all time favorite artists, and someone who's career I have been following as best I can as he has grown both in popularity but also in talent, Tan Eng Huat. We see him go into the belly of the beast, into a maximum security prison where he met with another of Zadikel's agents on Earth.

This new story arc has seen the return of a lot of characters that were introduced during the 90's run of Ghost Rider, and it seems that we are heading towards a collision between Johnny and Danny. Johnny has seen the best that hell had to offer and has defeated them all in turn. Now he wants to see an end to his frustrations and the only way to do that would be to go face to face first with his brother and then with the power of Heaven above.

I cold tell you all about what has happened in each issue in depth but I think those broad strokes would wet any whistle ...

The reason I wanted to speak a little more in depth about this issue rather than talk about a few of my Anticipated Books is that 9 months ago the last thing I would have ever thought is that I would be excited about a Ghost Rider book. The last time I even really looked at a Ghost Rider book prior to Aaron taking over the book was in the 3rd grade, and I didn't really care for it then. I did read the first few issues of the Spirits of Vengeance series that spun out of the Rise of the Sons of Midnight event in 1992 but that was out of a different kind of appeal. You see I've never been impressed by motorcycles or muscle cars or characters who become flaming skeletons and wield chains and whatnot ... wasn't much for Spawn either. And to be honest I'm still not. What brought me to the title was Jason Aaron. What gets me excited about a new story arc is Tan Eng Huat. What really interests me is the character of Johnny Blaze, not the Spirit of Vengeance he becomes. The man in search for peace of mind, for an end to a life of violence. And that is what Aaron brings me, a man who does violent acts against those who wrong him but ultimately would rather build a shack and live out his days in the quiet.

Seriously if you aren't reading this book then I suggest you go out and give it a try. It is obviously something that Aaron has a lot of passion for and it has become something that I, in turn, have a great deal of passion for myself. If you have room in your budget and you are looking for a really great book that will bring you a great deal of entertainment then look no further. And if you want to get in from the beginning of Aaron's run you should be able to find the back issues without much effort or you can check out the upcoming trade paperback Hell Bent and Heaven Bound that collects issues 20-25 and comes out in November.

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