REVIEW: Ghost Rider #3 – “Web Of Fire”

Writer: Felipe Smith
Penciller: Danilo S. Beyruth
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov with Federico Blee, Morry Hollowell & Dono Sanchez Almara

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 1/25/17

Hulk and Wolverine have been tracking a purple monster from space that has absorbed their powers, and the trail has led them to Ghost Rider’s turf. What will happen when all three finally collide?

Plot: Since Robbie has been investigating Mr. Hyde’s differently-colored pills, he understandably assumes that the Hulk before him has taken one – which of course sets his inner Ghost Rider on the warpath. Meanwhile, Amadeus requesting a rational conversation while holding the Hellcharger above his head is quite a humorous sight to behold.

After very heated and acrobatic battle sequence, Hulk and Ghost Rider find themselves in a very different place… both literally and metaphorically.

Story: Ghost Rider‘s third issue finally gets to the meat of the crossover encounter between Amadeus and Robbie. More importantly, it shows readers a little more of who Robbie is when he’s not being controlled by Eli. Or rather, it emphasizes the strength of character it takes for Robbie to regain control – making him all the more a hero when he manages it.

The potential friendship between the two is cut short, however, when they return to Hillrock Heights and find Laura hobnobbing with Mad Dog. While it feels very abrupt for Robbie to disappear at the sight of him without waiting for an explanation, there’s a good mix of Ghost Rider-esque struggle and protective brotherly instinct in that simple action. But once he leaves, the trio is back down to two as Hulk and Wolverine continue their monster-hunting adventure.

And therein lies the dilemma with the series so far. The moments of character building for Robbie are poignant and layered, while the moments where Ghost Rider does battle are fiery and exciting. Meanwhile, Laura and Amadeus have great banter and bring a lighthearted enjoyment to the story. But why can’t the two sides of the arc mingle more? Their travels at the end of the issue only lead to more team-ups that don’t include Ghost Rider, which are definitely fun but still not what was expected. As enjoyable as all the characters are thus far, Robbie Reyes is the star and should get a chance to take center stage a little more.

Art: Usually the most dynamic artwork comes from the flames and chains that Ghost Rider employs in his fights, and Danilo S. Beyruth still draws those with a skill that’s complemented by Jesus Arbatov & co’s colors. However, this month Robbie spent so much time in his car or his helmet that the moment that stood out most was when he finally took got out of one and took the other off. 

As important as the dialogue is here, and as well as Felipe Smith has crafted this moment for Robbie, it’s the juxtaposition of the art that really brings it home. The exhaustion and defeat on Robbie’s face is evident, even as it is a triumphant moment for the reader to see him understand the truth of the Hulk. At the same time that he becomes more vulnerable, Amadeus too lets his guard down and all we’re left with is two teenagers sniping at each other almost playfully. Certainly my favorite moment of the issue, and a wonderful display of synergy between the writing and the art.

Verdict: Ghost Rider #3 is a wild and fun ride stuffed to the brim with all kinds of Marvel Universe characters whose interactions prove fruitful. However, fans of Robbie Reyes will have to wait a little longer for him to enter the main thrust of the story arc and stay there.