Spirit of Ghost Rider: Mother of Demons #1
Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Roland Boschi and Dan Brown
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Clouds of war gather as Spirit of Ghost Rider: Mother of Demons #1 busies itself with setting the stage for an interdimensional conflict between the forces of good and evil. And while this might sound like a clear-cut fight, understanding exactly who is good and who is evil will prove to be a much more challenging prospect in the story Ed Brisson, Roland Boschi, and Dan Brown have put together.
The story opens with a brief retelling of Lilith’s backstory, catching readers up to her present-day circumstances – namely, finding herself without a throne or a partner with whom she can co-rule in Hell, thanks in part to Johnny Blaze taking the throne from its former occupant Mephisto. While Lilith plots for ways to regain her unworldly influence, we see Johnny struggle against the monotony of Hell's continual uprising against him, even as he begins to revel in his ever-increasing satanic powers. Meanwhile Danny Ketch grapples with an unexpected change to his power set from Ghost Rider #4, which will likely have repercussions down the line. And, despite the hellfire and horror, Brisson works in a few moments of palate-cleansing humor with the many abuses of Jack O'Lantern.
Overall, regular followers of Marvel’s Ghost Rider will pick up easily as Brisson and company move the cast of characters forward in some interesting directions with this one-shot. Even newer readers will find enough background information to figure out what’s been going on, what the stakes are for all involved, and why the next issue of the core title will likely continue to be an interesting read.
Boschi and Brown’s artwork cannot be overlooked, with so many opportunities to wow the crowd with the various levels of Hell and the many horrific characters involved. The designs for Lilith, Ghost Rider, and Belasco work especially well at selling each character’s emotions and demeanor. Even the scenes amidst the battles in hell, one can’t help but feel the influence of Mike Mignola on Boschi’s line art and inking as well as Brown’s color choices.
If there is one point that felt “off” in terms of the tone and overall aesthetic, it would be the design of Danny Ketch’s upgraded persona. Given the nature of this change, it seems there are some real opportunities to let this artistic team cut loose, and yet, it feels something more akin to what one might find in a mashup between Arthurian Romance and science fiction rather than the gnarly monster-biker aesthetic that's made Ghost Rider such an iconic figure. Of course, it’s impossible to say whether this was the choice of the artists, writer, or editorial; nonetheless, it looks and feels like a missed opportunity for something far more exciting given the story possibilities Brisson seems to be setting up for later.
When it comes to one-shots and tie-ins for core titles, it can be difficult to know whether to take a chance on a side-story; however, Spirit of Ghost Rider: Mother of Demons #1 delivers more than enough story and pop for fans of Ghost Rider to fill in these pieces of the current tale.