Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ghost Rider (2006) # 16

Cover Artist: Mark Texeira
Published: Dec. 2007
Original Price: $2.99

Title: "Revelations", Part 3
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Javier Saltares
Inker: Mark Texeira
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Colorist: Dan Brown
Editor: Aubrey Sitterson
Executive Editor: Axel Alonso
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada

Ghost Rider confronts the Lucifer host named "Jack Daniels" in his office building, throwing him through walls and spouting idle threats.  When he realizes that he can't kill the Lucifer host without endangering the children that another host holds hostage, Ghost Rider leaves the building, hitching his chain on a passing helicopter.  On the highway, he sees two more Lucifer hosts spying on him in a van and attacks, destroying the van as he rides through it.  He is unaware that he is also being watched by Darlene and her two "children", the now fully grown angels Vraniel and Emmael.  The two angels say goodbye to Darlene and make their way toward the battle, where Ghost Rider is fighting the two elderly Lucifer hosts, one male and one female.  The Rider decapitates the male host, breaks off his limbs, and destroys him with a ball of hellfire.  While the angels watch from cover, the female Lucifer host proposes that she and the Ghost Rider work together to destroy the other two remaining hosts.  Ghost Rider punches the host, stating "I already have help", which makes the angels wonder if he could be talking about them.

He is actually talking about Johnny Blaze's girlfriend, Dixie, who is staying in a motel some distance away  The owner of the hotel tells Dixie that something in her semi-truck is starting to stink, and when she opens it she finds the body of a man that's barely alive, a gearshift sticking out of its head.  Dixie wonders to herself how she is going to go through with Johnny's plan.
The two elderly Lucifer hosts were first seen in Ghost Rider (2006) # 3 and have not appeared again until this issue.
The Ghost Rider escaped from Hell, unknowingly bringing Lucifer to Earth with him, in Ghost Rider (2006) # 1. Lucifer's plan to invade Earth by inhabiting the bodies of the recently deceased was revealed in Ghost Rider (2006) # 4.
Johnny Blaze met Dixie in Ghost Rider (2006) # 2 and they reconnected in Ghost Rider (2006) # 14.
Blaze's plan for stopping Lucifer, including Dixie's role, is revealed in Ghost Rider (2006) # 19.
"Revelations" continues to set up its pieces three chapters in, but at least there's some fantastically drawn action scenes in this one!

If there's one thing I like about this arc, it's that the synopses are really easy to write, which of course is because nothing worth recapping actually happens.  Daniel Way has always had a serious problem with pacing when it comes to writing single issues, which normally forces stories that could be told in 2-3 issues stretching out beyond their natural length.  So, while the last two issues (especially the first part of this arc, # 14) went past at a break-neck speed to set everything up, this issue slows down to a crawl with page after page of wasted space.  Did we really need 7 pages to show Ghost Rider confronting Lucifer and then leaving?  No, I don't think we did, especially when its filled with such inane dialogue from the characters.  Ghost Rider having a brain fart in the middle of the fight and then finally replying "oh yeah, well I'm going to hurt you, you big burned meanie you!" is just ridiculous. 

Way also continues to fill the pages with his patented "idiot stock characters" like Darlene and the scene at the hotel at the end, with poor Dixie being ogled by "old man pervert stock character".  Dixie is such a sad character, because she so badly wants to be taken seriously but is unable to be shown as anything other than a sexed-up bimbo.  Darlene, on the other hand, is a character that sucks the life out of the page every time she appears on-panel.  Why, oh why, does Way think we need to see stuff like this when he has so much more important plot details that desperately need time for exploration, such as Lucifer's "bad guy kills people" plot?  Even the most clever bit of the issue, the arrival of the angels Emmael and Vraniel, gets dragged down by unnecessary character beats.  I get that they need to be weakened while on Earth for plot purposes in later issues, but did it have to be accomplished in the most banal and aggravating method possible?  "Redneck Immaculate Conception" is the real title of this issue, at least in my own mind.

Thankfully, Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira are at least given some great visuals to play off of this issue after last issue's slog through the trailer park version of the Marvel Universe.  The escape from the office building by-way-of-helicopter and the fight with the Lucifer host on the highway are all drawn extremely well, giving the issue a visual punch that the script can't deliver on its own.  Also, I want to point out how fantastic Dan Brown's colors are in this issue, because the panels just pop right off the page.  I love how he makes the angels appear slightly out of focus and radiating with soft light; I'm not sure why he colors Dixie the same way at the issue's end, but it all looks beautiful.

This arc just gets worse and worse with each issue, a pattern that's going to continue through the next three issues well.  Buckle in, people!
Grade: D+

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