A Slower Burn – a “Ghost Racers #3” (Review)

Aug 13, 2015

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ghost racers 3 coverGhost Racers #3

Writer: Felipe Smith
Art: Juan Gedeon
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain

I spent about a full year on the 2014 reboot of Ghost Rider. I’ve been on Ghost Racers for the entire ride as well; ya know…all three issues. I will say that this issue is the first one that feels like a significant misstep. There are just structural problems with how this book is put together that make things more difficult than they need to be. It is too bad, because the excellent plot elements are still there.

Issue #3 picks up in the aftermath of Robbie Reyes’ daring escape from the Killiseum. Robbie and Eli find themselves on the streets of Doomstadt after a slight trip through a teleportation portal or some other MacGuffin. Robbie feels that their escape is nowhere near complete. Eli differs, as he transforms the GhostRide into a blue Porsche-like appearance, feeling this will cloak their escape. But then the other Ghost Riders show up, none too pleased that Robbie’s escape is likely to lead to even more intense degrees of punishment for them. It’s never good to be the teacher’s pet, after all. The other kids get jealous.

I am still onboard with this storyline. Robbie Reyes is one of the brighter new stars of the Marvel Universe. I have really been surprised thatghost racers #3 panels he is being given such a headliner role, given that he appeared just before the whole universe got Doomed right in the face. Reyes is a strong and complex character and I am glad that other readers are being given a more apparent opportunity to read about him. Robbie gets the best “humanity” treatment, both in last year’s run and in the 2015 story so far. It is that stripe that sets up the idea that he could convince the other Riders to stop fighting him and work together a believable plot twist. Bravo to Felipe Smith for pulling that off and being in-tune enough with the character to know that there was a way to make that work. You can kind of see it coming, but the end of the issue is a welcome twist that is also done very well.

The problem with this issue is the choreography and story-telling of the fight between Robbie and the other Riders. This series, inclusive of the 2014 reboot, has had a problem in its artistic approach, which feels like it is deliberately trying to be hyper-stylized in order to be distinctive. It’s the closest thing to the Bill Sienkewicz stuff on New Mutants that I’ve experienced. That earned some awards, but it was definitely an acquired taste that you had to have a stomach for. Now, most of the time, this risky play has turned out very well. And I gave praise to Gedeon last issue for doing so well in drawing vehicular combat, which is not an easy thing to do in comics. But in this issue there are a few WTF panels where I entirely lost sync on what was going on action-wise. There are some pluses in the depiction of Robbie’s unique tactical style, which made a few of the “Evil” Rider attacks turn out none the way they had planned. But the panels involving Carter Slade are pretty nonsensical. That jarring abruptness took me out of the story, I got frustrated a couple of times, and a check-box was ticked in my mind that this issue was not as buttery-smooth as the previous two.

It is a good thing that this issue has a solid beginning and end. Marred a bit by the middle, the janky parts are not enough to turn me off to the series entirely. It is one at-bat out of many, after all. I will keep an eye out for these issues still. The series is pretty dammed popular among the GWW staff. Here’s hoping that next issue tightens things back up a bit. It might be time to take some of the action out of the vehicles so much and ground things a bit. It would be a refreshing change after the Mad Max-esque feeling of the first three issues.