“Let me get this straight. You’re talking about wagering the fates of all these people and the billions of souls in Heaven and perhaps the future of our entire plane of existence on the outcome of a single motorcycle race?”
And with that idea, the finale of “Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance” returns to the insane roots of Jason Aaron’s early work on “Ghost Rider.” Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch racing their motorcycles around the world to determine the winner of their fight? Hell yes, Mr. Aaron! I’ll have me some of that!
I’ve actually been disappointed with the latest story arc, which has been shaping up as a pretty typical fight between two forces built on the oh-so-shocking revelation that there are Ghost Riders all over the world, which may have wowed others, but left me bored. The only interesting part was Johnny Blaze’s newfound guilt at what’s he’s done as Ghost Rider and his desire to die as a result.
I’ve missed the grindhouse feel of Aaron’s opening issues with haunted roads and gun-toting nurses. Recent issues have felt rather typical and lacked that unique perspective that the early issues with Roland Boschi had.
But, this conclusion is a return to form as the battle between the remaining Ghost Riders and Zadkiel’s forces is overtaken by the brotherly race around the world, perhaps proving once and for all who is the better Ghost Rider. Danny may be more powerful, but can he match Johnny on a bike? And what of Kowalski, the cop who lies in wait to kill Blaze?
Tan Eng Haut delivers some career best work here, making the race between the two Ghost Riders seem like a constant struggle for each, neither the clear better until the end. He builds the tension well and continues to give the flaming skull heads of the characters expressive abilities beyond what you would think possible. His odd-ball art captures the insanity of the events, particularly that of Kowalski who has never looked more unhinged and mad.
This issue wraps up Jason Aaron’s first year on the book and does so in grand style with the second half of the issues delivering a lot of surprises. Things happen quickly and it’s hard to guess where the book will go next.
While I was considering dropping “Ghost Rider” after this issue, Jason Aaron and Tan Eng Haut have convinced me otherwise with an issue packed with thrills and mad fun.
(Angels versus Spirits of Vengeance in CBR’s preview!)