Writer:Felipe Smith/ Artist:Juan Gedeon / Marvel
One of the great things about the whole Battleworld format of Secret Wars is that it allows a lot of leg room for writers to take time-honored characters and do utterly wacky things they wouldn’t be able to do outside of this event. Steve Rogers is riding Devil Dinosaur into a warzone full of Hulks, Arno Stark is back and the Thors have become Marvel’s answer to the Green Lantern Corps. Now, in addition to the madness, we get Ghost Riders past and present beating the shit out of each other.
Felipe Smith kicks off Ghost Racers centering around his creation, Robbie “All New Ghost Rider” Reyes as the Lebron James of the Killiseum (that name is so ridiculous, it’s awesome) in a Rollerball/Death Race like competition against his fellow Riders called the Ghost Races. Reyes was a smart choice for the central focus because he has the most balanced emotional equilibrium which suits the fun approach to such a grindhouse toned premise. Much like real life fandom, everyone has a favorite rider and you find yourself cheering during the action beats right along with the rabid fans in the arena. The only complaint I have is that Arcade isn’t quite as convincing as I’d like the villain of this story to be.
As far as artwork goes, Juan Gedeon delivers on Smith’s premise fairly well. With race oriented action in comics, it’s easy for action beats to get lost in the back and forth trading of blows to a point that they lose forward movement towards the finish line. That isn’t a problem in this book. The whole thing plays out like Evil Need For Speed. The character designs are all strong, but Gedeon deserves an MVP for the way he retooled Carter Slade in ghost mode. He perfectly encompasses the utter silliness of the action without being a complete caricature.
Bottom Line: An fun, good looking way to get the ball rolling on a premise that’s so outlandish, it’s actually promising. 8 out of 10.