In their third issue, Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore bring Robbie face-to-face with the mysterious spirit that saved him from certain death. Armed with some answers, Robbie struggles against the darkness inside himself until disaster strikes too close to home. "All-New Ghost Rider" #3 puts the fire in Robbie Reyes' Ghost Rider with bombastic artwork, innovative layouts and excellent pacing.
Although the first two issues saw Robbie through his fair share of action, this month's installment finally answers some big questions and the timing could not have been more perfect. Thankfully, Smith doesn't let this suspense drag on too long. The very first few pages of this issue cover the bases in a way that readers will find satisfying; however, he doesn't give everything away in one go, leaving just enough of the logistics up in the air to hold the reader's interest. Additionally, this revelation colors the rest of the issue in a way that enhances Robbie's characterization in all the best ways, adding a strong new dimension to his fight to give Gabe and himself a normal life. What's more, the new development gives Smith's choice of villain an entirely new spin: the Hyde/Zabo combination acts as a fantastic foil to Robbie/Eli's team up.
Where the story is certainly enough to draw readers in, the art is the reason to stay. Moore's style is energetic, compelling, and straight up fun. Each character screams his own personality through strong body language, distinct traits, and enjoyably expressive facial features. He gives characters charming qualities, such as Robbie's thick, messy eyebrows, and populates the background with sensational and bizarre Easter eggs, like Gabe's "Vikki Valhalla" comic and a fish in a Spider-Man outfit. As Moore doesn't dwell on realism, his style -- with its thick, curvy inks -- translates into something entirely unique and wonderful.
As if his lively style wasn't enough to steal the readers' attention, Moore's layouts are absolutely ingenious. On one page, he squeezes a whole sequence into the layout of Grumpy's house; in another, he follows a bullet through a gun barrel and -- later on -- shares a villain's blood-clouded POV as Robbie takes him on. Although these layouts are uncommon, they are spectacularly easy to follow and inventive. Moreover, they feel fresh and dynamic.
The book wouldn't have nearly the same impact without Val Staples' brilliant colors. Staples gives the issue its distinct red flare that contrasts wonderfully with Robbie's black outfits and car. Against Moore's inks, Staples' work absolutely pops off the page. Further, Joe Caramagna's work with the letters -- particularly Eli's dialogue -- is just as excellent. The roughly hewn speech bubbles, with its white-on-black text and coarse font, enhances the gravely, ethereal sound of Eli's voice.
"All-New Ghost Rider" is pure eye-candy with a killer story. Smith and Moore prove to be a winning combination for this fresh take on the Ghost Rider mythos, spinning an engaging, breathtakingly beautiful book out of one of Marvel's more notorious properties. They took me completely by surprise with the story's raw and rough tone; with an intense cliffhanger and even fiercer developments, this book is one hell of a ride.