Ghost Rider #1 opens with Johnny Blaze talking to his therapist about the symptoms he has been experiencing since his near-fatal motorcycle accident. Anxiety, paranoia, nightmares (while both asleep and awake), and an indefinite headache have given Johnny the sense that something is not right in his world. Despite living in the peaceful town of Hayden Falls, a community that embodies Americana in its most benign form, and having a loving family and solid job, Johnny begins to suspect that he is living a lie.
When Zeb, a scout sent by a group of night magicians to find Johnny, arrives in Hayden Falls, Johnny answers the call of the spirit of vengeance, and Ghost Rider is re-born. Meanwhile, the FBI creates a department to investigate an uptick in supernatural activity, and former S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Talia Warroad takes charge.
This issue, which also happens to land on the 50th anniversary of Ghost Rider, is fantastic. The small town simplicity, interrupted by Southern, metal, and very Gothic vibes is something I would read the hell out of. The costumes, particularly that of Zeb, are a key feature of the artwork that I truly admire.
More importantly, I was struck by the fact that Johnny’s described symptoms are comparable to those of a war veteran–from the particulars of the pain and mental anguish, down to his desire to re-live the events leading to the trauma. Johnny’s statement, “I don’t remember the crash, but my body does,” captures the reality of trauma: That it is often more of a physical condition than a mental one.
Finally, I thought the script was excellent. Comics that contain both good writing and good artwork are always a pleasure to read, and I’m glad that my first Ghost Rider comic was one such.