Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Cory Smith, Brent Peeples
Colors: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
What They Say:
Johnny Blaze needs to know the truth behind what happened to him in Hayden Falls. But not only does he have an FBI agent tailing him, there are supernatural forces at work that want to see him off the road again, including a nightmarish trucker who stains the roads with burned rubber and roadkill.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The first two issues of this series set the stage well for what they want to do here and this third one continues it on while teasing some more of the bigger picture. For the moment, however, this feels like the 80s Hulk TV series as Johnny keeps moving and trying to contain the beast within. Benjamin Percy is a solid writer and he crafts a good tale of horror here that puts a lot of uncertainty on the map to play even though it’s playing within familiar and safe territory with the character. It reminds me of the 90s book to some degree with my dull memory of it. It’s helped a lot by Cory Smith’s artwork here with some great designs and a sense of dread with the supernatural side, which Bryan Valencia delivers in some great colors. When it plays in the darker colors and blackness toward the end of it, it really shines the most.
With Johnny doing his best to try and keep the Ghost Rider from getting out at this point, he’s staying away from people and motorcycles for the most part as well. But it’s still lead him to a place called the Red Road, a winding place where the trees provide so much cover that even at high noon you have to use your lights. There are lots of deaths on here, human and animal, and it doesn’t take long for Johnny to get caught up in that. We do get some time elsewhere as well, showing the Council of Magicians as they ensure that Johnny is back in the game while trying to not interfere much, at least some of them. It’s an area that will come to a head soon enough as Zebadiah is intent on getting Johnny to know what’s going on. We also get time with Warroad and her partner, though that’s just her partially telling a snippet of her past that just makes the dynamic between the two even more uncomfortable.
Where the majority of the book focuses on is the Red Road itself, with Johnny getting picked up by a creepy driver to help him stay safe on the road. The guy is just haunting and obviously part of something more sinister and we see how it’s “luck’ that keeps Johnny alive as a track surges past them and causes a brutal accident with a lot of death. But that’s just the first step that has said creature and demonic element rising and forcing Johnny to give over not just some control to Ghost Rider but to try and point him in the right direction to both save and deal with the threat at hand. It’s not much in terms of story or answers, but it delivers well on the visuals for it with a pair of trucks going at each other, one in the Ghost Rider design, as a way to bring the secret cause of the Red Road to a close.
Ghost Rider does the thing here and it’s… a thing. It’s not great, it’s not bad, it’s just underwhelming because it’s standard by-the-book stuff. We get the minor teases of the larger events at play here which is fine but even that is completely expected and doesn’t really say anything. We get some decent action and the narration is fun because it reminds me so much of 80s Hulk TV. I can hear the ending theme from that as Johnny keeps walking down the road. But it’s all just so… basic.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 30th, 2022