As you may know by now, Johnny Blaze is no longer Ghost Rider. Nope. Danny Ketch isn't either. Ghost Rider, in this series to this point, is a young lady named Alejandra. Making her debut against Sin/Skadi in Dayton, Ohio last issue and getting her behind handed to her, Alejandra has returned to the compound of her mysterious benefactor, Adam.
Conveniently enough, Adam is also the fellow who helped rid Johnny Blaze of the Ghost Rider "curse." Where's Johnny, you ask?
Rob Williams has Johnny Blaze spending a good chunk of this issue continuing to be duped by Mephisto. Perhaps Blaze should give his friendly neighborhood Spider-Man a call to help sort things out.
Seriously, though, Williams brings the kind of duplicitous shady dealings readers have to expect in a title that features demonically-powered titular characters. Nothing in this issue – or the series such as it is to this point – is as it seems. Blaze is free of his curse, but at what price? Alejandra seized the power of the Ghost Rider, but at what cost? Who is Adam, and why does Mephisto care?
Those are interesting questions that simply do not get answered in this issue. Williams is teasing those answers out, but in doing so is providing ample opportunity for Matthew Clark to illustrate the differences between Alejandra and Johnny. Clark's work on this book is clean and crisp. He gives Johnny Blaze an aura that makes Blaze seem world-weary. He gives Adam shadows to hide his true purpose in.
Clark's characters are sharp and crisp, but his storytelling in this issue could use a little more polish on the depth. There is a scene with Blaze, Alejandra, Adam, and the Seeker all in a room, but the space of the room seems both infinite and compact. There are other characters there as well, but it is uncertain how many. These aren't huge, insurmountable faults, and Clark is certainly capable of overcoming these challenges, but they would help the story pacing a bit if some of those pieces were just a bit more clear. I'm sure part of this is Clark finding his comfort zone and I am more than willing to observe as he does so. The knack for detail and the consistency of character that Clark delivers certainly are worthy of dedication.
I'm not overly impressed with the compulsion to seat this title on the couch of "Fear Itself," but I can understand the marketing recommendations to do so. At this point, however, there are enough characters on display that I hope they are all given a chance to impact the story. Williams has his work cut out for him and he's done a good job making Johnny Blaze a character I want to read more of.