Monday, September 19, 2016

Real Name: Robbie Reyes
First Appearance: All-New Ghost Rider #1 (May, 2014)
Fight Club Ranking: #DNR

Featured Fights:
- Yet To Be Featured on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths.

Who knew we'd ever have an Agents of SHIELD inspired Hero of the Week? Truth be told, I probably would've guessed the series would be cancelled before we came back for the 10th Anniversary of the blog. Lo and behold, they've survived long enough to inject a much needed point of interest from the comics: Ghost Rider!

Of course, it isn't the iconic Ghost Rider you know from decades of comics since the seventies. It isn't even his high-profile nineties successor, the Spirit of Vengeance: Dan Ketch. No. This is "All-New" Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes - a Los Angeles mechanic back from the dead to get behind the wheel of a blazing Charger from Hell! Yahoo featured a first look of the TV version and it looks pretty good!

As you may've gathered, I think Agents of SHIELD is some of the most tedious of the unremarkable superhero TV shows we have on our screens right now. Which leaves me reticent about how well the character will be realized when he comes to screens later this year.

We've been talking about death and replacement heroes in various Hero of the Week entries this year [Captain America, Dr. Doom, Hulk, Hawkman], often with a critical view of modern attitude. So it's nice to be able to finally talk about All-New Ghost Rider -- one of the most exciting new superhero series of the past few years!

Where other replacement heroes have struggled with the shadow of their iconic predecessors, or the been there/done that of other temporary replacements -- the newest Ghost Rider has blazed a trail with a vivid sense of individual identity. All-New Ghost Rider doesn't concern itself with matters of legacy. This is a brand new spirit of vengeance with no real awareness of Johnny Blaze or the Ghost Riders who've come before him! (At least, not initially!)

A sense of identity is there in almost every aspect of the character's initial appearances: Robbie Reyes is steeped in the world of LA street racing - familiar to the mainstream through the Fast and Furious films, if nothing else. He abhors the gang violence that makes life dangerous for he and his family. A combination of these two elements combusts to create his death and rebirth as the newest Ghost Rider! Even his transformation comes with an added twist! This Ghost Rider is possessed by the spirit that inhabited his dodge charger - Eli Morrow, who is also his dead uncle! Eli's dark influence is a literal presence Robbie struggles with as he uses his powers.

The material has all the right components to build a compelling new character without the baggage of his lineage, but perhaps the greatest weapon in the All New Ghost Rider's arsenal is visual identity!

Artist Tradd Moore and colorists Val Staples [above] did wonders launching the first arc of All-New Ghost Rider with a look unlike any other superhero book going! Hellfire whips and swirls around the page as if it were leaping off to singe your eyebrows! Reality need not apply - it's too mundane! In this book, the haunted Dodge Charger lives and breathes fire as it tag teams with the Ghost Rider -- whose skull design is a flaming machine head a little like Ghost Rider 2099, but all its own!

How will all of this fit into Agents of SHIELD? That was a question I was asking myself when rumors first started swirling. I'd forgotten that Kyle MacLachlan appeared previously as one of the rare notable villains from the comics - Calvin Zabo, aka; Mr. Hyde! Hyde just happens to be tied to the gang involved in Robbie's origin story, and is the arch-nemesis that ingratiates him so well!

Will the Ghost Rider/Mr. Hyde rivalry play out on the small screen? It's hard to imagine it will - and if it does, it certainly won't be with the visual verve of the comics. Sadly, that level of excitement is worlds apart from anything superhero TV is doing right now. That seems unlikely to change.

Fortunately, we've got the All-New Ghost Rider comics of past and future to enjoy. Which is something you can bet we'll be doing during Friday Night Fights in the near future! Until then, feel encouraged to check out the Issue Index for more flaming skulls and fisticuffs!

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