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Review Group Ghost Rider #34

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, April 28 2009 and posted in Reviews
1reviewgroup.gifPunchy had the pick for new comics shipping April 22nd and he selected Ghost Rider #34 by Jason Aaron, Tony Moore and Dave McCaig.

The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together each week to discuss comics and post our reviews for a comic that we each take turns selecting.  Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

We reviewed a Jason Aaron comic a few weeks ago (Wolverine: Weapon X #1) to mixed results.  So how has he faired this time around?  Ghost Rider couldn't possibly find itself in the Review Group's All-Time Top 5 Picks could it?

Review by amlah6

When I read Aaron's first Ghost Rider trade, I was shocked at how good it was. Truthfully, a Ghost Rider comic has no business being as good as that first trade was. This issue is just more of the same.

Aaron's approach to Ghost Rider is something like a 70's grindhouse film and it works amazingly well. There's a blend of horror and comedy put together with a pacing that propels the action forward from panel to panel. The obscure villain that Aaron has resurrected makes for a perfect foil for Ghost Rider, I hope we see more of him in the future.

Since I've only read the first trade and the issue we read for the Review Group, I've missed out on quite a few issues of this so in some respects I should have felt a little lost, but I didn't. The solicit calls this issue a "Part 2", but it's really a stand-alone story. No knowledge of current Ghost Rider continuity is needed to enjoy this and better yet I don't feel like the issues I'm waiting to read in trades have been spoiled.

I haven't read nearly as many Tony Moore comics as I would like, but whenever I do it's always a treat. It's cartoony without being a cartoon and the layouts and pacing fit perfectly with Aaron's script. I love the expressiveness of the characters and McCaig's colors are exceptional.

It's also cool that Ghost Rider is one of the few comics left with a letters column and I love that Aaron is the one responding to the letters rather than an editor, it adds just a bit more atmosphere to what is already a super fun comic. And maybe it was just me being a dork, but I stopped to read the letters page thinking that the comic was over, which made the last page that much more awesome. It gave it the feeling of being a scene in a movie that takes place after the credits.

Story: 10
Art: 9
Overall: 9.5
Review by guitarsmashley

So I just got back from the shop and lunch and picked up this issue. This was a big mistake because I left the shop before reading it. Now I want Aaron's entire Ghost Rider run. I have never read a Ghost Rider comic in my life. I love Scalped and I love anything by Tony Moore. I loved this issue. Sure the art didn't quite seem to fit my prejudice of GR but I love Moore so I let it go. The story was a great 1 off and I loved the highwayman. Can you tell I loved this issue...? With that I hand out a very rare score for me to give.


Review by 48THRiLLS

Well hell, that was pretty kick-ass. I was not expecting to like this much, the last Ghost Rider book I bought was a WWH tie-in and a piece of crap. This was fun as hell, I am not sure how it got here but this issue was great. Reminded me of the movie Dual (but with hell, fire, blood, and guts), they never show the truckers face in the movie but I bet he looked like this bastard. Not only did I have a recap page (why do the DC books we review not have these?) I didn't need it, no prior knowledge needed to enjoy this one... oh yeah Tony Moore is just sick, the transformation of Ketch to Ghost Rider is pretty fantastic and the Black Rig is awesome. Mr. Aaron made me enjoy a character I couldn't care less about
...Sorry I doubted your pick Punch, this was good stuff.

ART - 9

Review by shifty

This isn't so much a review but I just wanted to talk about the book.

amlah it's neat that you compared it to grindhouse movies cause I just did the same over at 'Rama. Here's that post:

This issue was FREAKING FANTASTIC. Tony Moore's art was perfectly creepy and sick and Jason Aaron's writing was an engaging romp through the horrors of Americana. This is pretty much everything a Ghost Rider book SHOULD be; an exploitative, grindhouse-style action/horror movie. Aaron has been masterfully reveling in absurdity, while eschewing the pitfalls of 'lol-it's-a-comic-book' irony.

And again, Tony Moore's art was mind blowing. As soon as I saw Danny I was hoping for a face-melting transformation and this dude FUCKING DELIVERED big time; it was like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark but more awesome. The Highwayman's rig looked like a Cronenberg effect and my fingers felt sticky with the blood of his victims.

It is too damn bad that this book has failed to find a wide enough audience. If I were Marvel I'd just start throwing bags of money and hookers at Jason Aaron and beg him stay.

Review by GLX

Another entertaining issue by Aaron and Moore. There's some cool moments with Danny Ketch and the unholy trucker. Definitely, worth a purchase.

8.1* out of 10*

You can check out the rest of GLX's Side Dishes here:

Review by Punchy

Story - First of all, my apologies, I sort of forgot that we reviewed a Jason Aaron book only 2 weeks ago (Wolverine Weapon X #1) and if I had remembered, I probably would have chosen something different. Secondly, I apologies for nothing! Mwahahaha! This issue was awesome, and you all know it. I prefaced my Aaron fandom in the Wolverine review, but here's a quick recap; read The Other Side, loved it, followed it to Scalped, liked the first volume OK, but the 2nd trade kicked my balls off, then picked up his first issue of Ghost Rider on a quiet week, and Oh Em Gee it is great, now I will check out anything he does (I recommend his recent Christmas Punisher story)

So there, that's a potted history of me and Jason Aaron, but what of this issue? #34 of Ghost Rider is a fairly standalone story, that serves as a nice breather in between the madness of the previous arc 'Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance' and the upcoming mini-series 'Ghost Riders: Heaven's on Fire', yes, Riders, plural, we'll get to that in a minute. But it's not just a bit of space, it's a great character piece and an awesome action comic.

Jason Aaron's approach to Ghost Rider has been pretty revelatory, it's not like the horror/superhero hybrid of old, it's like a hillbilly grindhouse explosion of awesome, and this issue is no exception, we open by learning the story of the Highwayman and his Black Rig, an awesome concept, and though Aaron didn't come up with it (read the letters page, it's from US1 of all places) it seems fresh and new, and totally in keeping with the tone of the book, I loved the silent page where the decapitated driver smashes his truck into the diner, Aaron knows when we don't need words and when we do, this scene was amazing with no dialogue. I also loved the details of the Highwayman's truck, how it's become organic, the gear-changer is a head etc, it was disturbing, and awesome.

After this, it's time for the Ghost Rider to show up! But which Ghost Rider? One of the best things I think Aaron has done is bring back Danny Ketch, and make it work. I don't know if you guys know anything about the history of Ghost Rider, but it is easily as confusing as the X-Men, Zarathos, Medallions of Power, Noble Kale, what? But Aaron has mostly swept that under the rug and made it all about Zadkiel, and that's made it easier to reconcile Blaze and Ketch existing together, and man, did Aaron (and Spurrier in his mini-series) put Danny through the wringer, he's been an unwitting pawn and villain for Zadkiel, but this issue was his first step back towards heroism, albeit, again, unwittingly, he initially doesn't want to stop and investigate the burned out shell of the Gas Station, but is forced to by the Spirit of Vengeance, and what follows is one of the most iconic and disturbing GR transformations I've seen, Tony Moore does a brilliant job here (more on him later) and it's amazing, one of the best bits I've seen in comics for a while, I can't believe he got away with it.

Then we get an extended fight scene, it's hard to write about something like this, but what struck me about this was 2 things, the inventive ways Aaron and Moore structured the fight, it must be hard to do scenes like this involving vehicles, but they manage to, probably by not obeying the laws of physics, having them drive up sheer vertical surfaces. The second thing is that Ghost Rider barely says a word, only one line, 'Nibble on this', this was a good move, as it serves to separate GR from other characters, he's not a chatty superhero like Spider-Man, he's a Spirit Of Vengeance, he doesn't need to say anything, just stare at you with those unfeeling sockets, it may also show Ketch's reticence and guilt over his role in ending the world, compared to Blaze, he's a lot quieter, you can see this in the aftermath of the fight, his face tells you all you need to know.

So then Cowboy, how was it? Like I said, it's good to have a little silly, dark fun before the promised epic of Heaven's On Fire (did you see the preview in Wolverine #1? Son Of Satan!), and it was good to get a little set up for Danny Ketch's role, right now we've got 2 incredibly reluctant Ghost Riders who have to save the world, and I can't wait. Add to that some dark humour, great fight choreography, and creepy imagery, this is another fantastic chapter in the definitive Ghost Rider run, I don't want it to be over.

Art - I already mentioned Tony Moore a bit in the main body of the review, but I should reiterate how perfect his is for this book, much of his work has been in amongst the dark and gritty and violent, Walking Dead, Brit, Fear Agent, The Exterminators, and now this short run on GR, it fits the fun yet dark tone of the book, it's cartoonish, but with a granite edge, look at the detail he puts into the Highwayman's truck, or to the aforementioned transformation scene, he can do the dark stuff, but also the human moments. I hope he gets the chance to do more work with Aaron, maybe a Wolverine story?

Best Line - 'Hail Satan you Sum-Bitches...' That actually kind of sums up the whole book, supernatural meets redneck.


Review by Daringd

WOW! Ghost Rider was really good this week. I haven't been reading the series except for the WWH tie in. But I guess Aaron is taking names a kicking ass and the art was great. Well worth my 3 bucks great pick Punchy.


Review by starlord

Let me preface this with the fact that I have no interest in Ghost Rider. Never have. Never will. Other than possible crossovers and occasional guest appearances in other books, I've never in my life picked up an actual Ghost Rider book. It just doesn't interest me.

That being said, this was a gem of an issue. Perfect pick, in my opinion. You didn't really need to know any background of this series to enjoy this single-issue story. The Highwayman was a great antagonist with a totally Stephen King style origin. It also reminded me of that classic creepy movie "Duel" that Steven Spielberg directed back in the seventies.

The artwork worked really well with the story, as did the inks and colors.

All in all, I can't find a single thing wrong with this story. I probably won't pick this book up in the future, as I said, no real interest in the character. Still, this was a gem of a story and one I'm glad was chosen. A perfect pick. Thank you, Punch.

Story: 10
Art: 10
My score: 10

Review by King Impulse

I love Ghost Rider, it's a simple concept, but Jason Aaron is really the first person to make 'SKELETON BIKER WHO'S HEAD IS ON FIRE WHO'S MOTORCYCLE IS ALSO ON FIRE' as awesome as he sounds. So far we've had machine gun nurses, nunchuck nuns, a dude with an eye for a head and Shark Rider, with the end in sight, it's only going to get more mental. I was slightly disappointed with this issue though, it's basically an issue long fight between Ghost Rider Danny Ketch, and The Highwayman, an undead trucker who drives the country feeding souls to the hordes of hell in the back of his lorry. This should be awesome, and in many ways, it is awesome, it's very awesome, but the fight doesn't feel organic at all. Ketch sees The Highwayman doing something obviously evil, fight starts, fight carries on for the rest of the issue. There's no real set-up to the fight besides from a brief backstory of The Highwayman, it just feels like 'Here's character A, here's character B... FIGHT!'

That's not to say the issue isn't full of awesome moments, mostly Moore's art. Ketch's transformation into the Ghost Rider is one of the best pieces of sequential artwork of the year so far, it's actually gripping. He's fantastic with expressions as well, just look at Highwayman's face just before Ketch attacks, Moore puts in little details like a tiny rock falling on Ketch's skull just before he's hit with the Black Rig or the bumper stickers on the school bus ("I climbed Spragg the Living Hill?" Genius).

Overall, it was a good issue of Ghost Rider, far superior to most comics out there, but I felt it lacking in certain areas and was slightly disappointed.

Story - 7
Art - 10
Overall - 8

Review by young neil

Ghost Rider is a character that has always interested me, but I’ve never found quite the right moment to jump on board. With Jason Aaron the moment presented itself and I’ve never looked back. I’ve picked up every issue since Aaron took over writing and haven’t been let down once. I was a latecomer to ‘Scalped’ and his other works, but I check every new title that his name is attached to.

This week’s issue was Ghost Rider #34 and hail’s the second issue of Tony Moore and Jason Aaron working together. This issue was a great pick as this week’s review group pick, as although its smack-bang in the middle of a wider story and being mid-arc as well, it reads well as a standalone story, and gives new readers a taste of what Ghost Rider is all about.

Jason Aaron’s run on Ghost rider has been intense journey filled with both old and new characters, setting up a grand Ghost rider legacy. As I said previously I haven’t read Ghost Rider at all before Jason Aaron came on board, but this series has been easy to get into, yet still gives the reader an epic story.

The sequence where Danny Ketch turns into the spirit of vengeance once more was amazing. The flesh melting away from his skin, and turning to flame was a great, yet someone disturbing sequence. I know it’s been said previously by others, but this issue really felt like a grind house horror film, the Highway man’s 18-wheeler, the organic tuck and its mangled features of victims was magnificent.

This issue show’s Danny Ketch in a bit more of a positive/less crazy light than of lately. I like to think that Aaron has really stumbled onto the fact that sometimes less dialogue is more. I mean the vehicle battle was colossal, and not being bogged down by heavy dialogue really let you get lost in the sequence.

Tony Moore has always been one of my favourite artists, ever since the walking dead, fear agent and the Exterminators. And his creepy well defined art fits this book. He never ceases to amaze me and impress me with the caliber of his work.

I can’t wait to see where this story is building to, and yet at the same time am not looking forward to it ending. If only we could see this standard of work across all the board at marvel.

Art – 9
Story – 9.5
Overall – 9.25

Review by Chubbles

I'm not a GR fan but I am a huge Jason Aaron fan. The fact that I don't pick up GR monthly is surprising b/c I tend to follow writers and not characters but I may have to change that after reading this excellent issue. I'm very close to scouring e-bay to pick up his entire run. GREAT issue and the art was fantastic. I know the regular artist is someone else and I wasn't impressed with him last time I picked up an issue but I can overlook the art if the story is as cool as this one was. The whole Zadkiel story has me intrigued and I can't wait to see what exactly went down.

Story 9.25
Art 9.25
Overall 9.25

Review by thefourthman

This was a pretty good comic, especially considering that it was light on both dialogue and plot. Aaron is going back to the b-style posturing of his first couple arcs on the book, which is a great thing because as good as the war against the crazy named angle was, it was better to see Johnny going up against crazy demons hiding amongst normal folks. I'm a little confused why the focus moved to Danny, but I guess I shouldn't be as I guess he is the only Ghost Rider left. Problem is, that with Aaron's story and the recent Ketch Mini-series, Danny comes off a bit too emo for me and that was definitely in play here.

However, the action was spectacular and the nifty is the bad guy really gone ending was a nod to the types of genre work that Aaron is referencing here.

Moore is a master. There is no doubt about it. He has a distinct style and some of the best storytelling skills in the business. This is a great thing considering that the majority of this script fell squarely on his shoulders to carry.

If it had been a little more dense, this would have scored higher, but given that it is a Ghost Rider book, the score is pretty damn high.

Story 8
Art 10
Overall 9


Review by SuperginraiX

Well, the main thing is it isn't something that's going to make me pick up Ghost Rider. I'm really trying to figure out what others thought was so excellent about this issue and I guess I just don't see it. It wasn't horrible by any means. Above average, even. There were some issues trying to figure out what was going on in certain panels but otherwise the art was fine. I'm always down for a Danny Ketch story even though he's not the hero he once was. I thought the villain of the piece was a bit on the cliche side but that doesn't mean he was bad. Some good chase scenes and all that good stuff, too. To me, it was just too predictable for my tastes. You pretty much knew what was gonna happen throughout and watched it go through those motions. Even the "not dead yet" scene.

I don't know. Maybe GR's just not my deal but I just wasn't suitably impressed by this outing. I'm glad it has it's audience and I'm always amazed when Yoni likes something. Makes me want to take another look at it and see what I missed. It did have some nice colors and a great transformation scene. I'm digging that Danny doesn't really want the powers and finds them more burden than anything else. Good lead going for those that are going to follow the series onward.

But it's buried in my pile of comics with the last Review Group Ghost Rider issue we had. Two tries with the new series and I haven't added it yet. Once more next time Punchy picks? Wink

Ghost Rider, you get a 7. See ya in another 10 issues or so.


Review by Mr. Black

I have never really been a fan of Ghost Rider, and I only have a passing knowledge of what's going on in the current volume. This done-in-one, however, doesn't require any real knowledge of the character, outside of knowing that the guy on the bike is Ghost Rider and he kills demons. Not a lot of substance to the story, but the setup for the demon-of-the-month was well done, and the fight was nicely choreographed. I was not initially a fan of the art style, but Moore did a great job capturing the gruesomeness of the Highwayman and his rig, and the fight sequence looked great. While this issue wasn't anything spectacular, it was a fun, solid read, and was enough to make me think about adding Ghost Rider to my pull list.

Story: 7
Art: 8
Overall: 7.5 

That gives Ghost Rider #34 a group score of 8.82 which makes it our eigth most popular pick ever! 

For further discussion about this issue and our reviews, feel free to join us in this week's thread ( found in the Newstand forum where you are also invited to join the group by posting your own review.

King Impulse has the pick for April 29th and he has selected Phonogram: The Singles Club #2 from Image Comics.  Look for the new music filled thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to join in on the fun.

Phonogram: The Singles Club #2


Getting over an ex is never easy. When they've laid a phonomantic curse on you, it borders on the impossible. In the second of seven stand-alone stories set in a single club, PHONOGRAM's cynical heart cracks wide open. PLUS two complete back-up stories with art from EMMA VIECELI (HAMLET, COMIC BOOK TATTOO) and DANIEL HEARD (COMIC BOOK TATTOO, CHIMPLANTS).



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