Monday, January 9, 2017

Marvel Comics Presents (1988) # 101

Cover Artist: Sam Keith
Published: Mar. 1991
Original Price: $1.50

Title: "Doorway to Darkness, Part 1: Running"
Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Rick Leonardi
Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Freddy Mendez
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco

While Ghost Rider takes out a gang of drug dealers, he is being watched by a 10-year old boy named Kevin Moran.  This is the third time Kevin has found and observed Ghost Rider, but this time the flaming-skulled vigilante sees Kevin as well.  Kevin runs and boards a subway train, thinking back to when his mother set his father on fire in front of a doorway.  Now afraid of doors, Kevin has traveled to the field outside Kennedy Airport, only to find a mysterious doorway standing in the grass.  Two young children come out of the door and push Kevin inside, where he's confronted by a demon with a red flaming skull that claims to be his father.  Terrified, Kevin sprints through another doorway and lands in an alleyway beside yet another door.  When this door opens, however, Dr. Strange steps through demanding answers to the dimensional disturbances he has sensed.
Ghost Rider last appeared in Ghost Rider (1990) # 24.

This issue of Marvel Comics Presents also contained stories featuring Wolverine/Nightcrawler, the Young Gods, and the Punisher.

Howard Mackie, teamed with the art pair of Leonardi and Palmiotti, begins his final Ghost Rider story for Marvel Comics Presents.

Following the team-up stories with Wolverine and Cable, and the slight detour of the last three issues, the random superhero match-up for Ghost Rider lands on Dr. Strange.  This one, at least, doesn't feel quite so random or artificially manufactured for sales as the previous Cable storyline, because Strange and Ghost Rider do at least have some history.  That history isn't explored at all here, though, because neither of the two title characters get much more than a splash page apiece.  Instead this first 8-page chapter focuses on a little boy named Kevin who is afraid of doorways because of reasons not adequately explained.  Apparently his father was burned alive by his mother, but instead of being afraid of fire (as would be natural, especially given his obsession with Ghost Rider and fear of the nameless villain) he's afraid of doors...because his father was walking through a door when it happened, I guess?  Kevin's not much of a character here, as he spends his time narrating his traumatic past in a way no 10-year old boy would. 

Since the plot is so paper-thin - boy sees Ghost Rider, boy runs away and gets kidnapped by a demon, boy runs again and finds Dr. Strange - the narration and artwork really have to work overtime to sell the drama.  The narration is a bit overblown, but it certainly fits in the style Mackie utilizes in the Ghost Rider series, so it works well enough.  The artwork by Leonardi, however, is fantastic.  I've long been a fan of his work, from his Uncanny X-Men issues to his long runs on Spider-Man 2099 and Nightwing, and he draws a great Ghost Rider.  His work always has this loose, kinetic energy to it, where everything is in motion all the time, and it translates really well to such a visual character like Ghost Rider. 

While I do think this storyline gets better by the end, this opening chapter makes it really hard to judge since so little happens without much explanation.  I remain cautiously optimistic.
Grade: B-