Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ghost Rider Special Edition (1995) # 4

Cover Artist: Paris Karounos
Published: 1995
Original Price: N/A

Title: "Dead Air"
Writer: Chris Cooper
Artist: Paris Karounos
Inker: Derek Fisher
Letterer: Jimmy Novak
Colorist: Jim Hoston
Editor: Glenn Herdling

The vampire Blackout is at a radio station threatening a technician for cutting off the broadcast signal that had been driving New York citizens to go insane and riot.  Before Blackout can kill the technician Ghost Rider arrives and stops him.  A brief fight results in Blackout taking the technician hostage, but Ghost Rider's chains snake in behind the villain and imprison him.  Blackout explains that he used mystical spell words to make the city go into a violent rage as a distraction to keep Ghost Rider busy.  The real plan is the return of Zarathos from his dimensional prison, which Ghost Rider vows to stop.
This mini-comic was the fourth in a series packaged with Toy Biz's line of Ghost Rider action figures. This issue came with the Blackout figure.
There's really no place to fit this series into established continuity. It obviously takes place after "Siege of Darkness" and Ghost Rider (1990) # 50, but the relationships between Ghost Rider, Blaze, and Vengeance certainly don't fit the characters at the time.
If this follows the standard Marvel continuity (which is questionable, at best), then Zarathos was banished to another dimension at the conclusion of the "Siege of Darkness" crossover in Midnight Sons Unlimited (1993) # 4.
Blackout killed the talk radio host at the beginning of Ghost Rider Special Edition (1995) # 1, which sparked the riots in New York City.
Now that our three heroes have had their spotlight issues, Blackout gets his introduction as the first villain of this series. 

These mini-comics are damn hard to review, given that they're just 6 pages meant to do nothing more than hype a toy line.  The story is ultimately incidental other than to give the spotlight to the issue's designated action figure accompanying it, but we at least get a forward movement of plot this time.  Blackout has taken over a radio station and sent out a mystical "crazy signal" in order to distract Ghost Rider from Zarathos' return, which is I suppose straightforward enough for a mini-comic aimed at children.  Blackout is made out to be less than a credible threat against Ghost Rider, though, consider all he does is swipe once with his claws and then threaten a hostage.  Again, since it's aimed at kids writer Chris Cooper can't really get into the vampire aspect of the character other than gesturing vaguely via the artwork, which kind of neuters Blackout into "generic clawed guy".  They might as well have cast Sabretooth in this comic, to be honest. 

The artwork is from the returning Paris Karounos, who drew the first issue of this series, and his work is decent enough, if slightly amateurish.  Other than the opening splash page, Karounos doesn't seem concerned with drawing backgrounds in any of his panels, meaning the radio station recording booth that is meant to be the setting is really just a blank white void with infinite amounts of space.  The weirdest bit of the art comes in the design of Blackout himself, who has hands bigger than his head, but that was actually what the figure in the toy line looked like, so I assume Karounos was told to use the toy as the character model.  Still, it looks so freaking odd.

These mini-comics are honestly just for die-hard Flameheads, you're not going to get much in the way of story or characterization out of them.  Still, for what they are, they're not that bad.
Grade: B