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GHOST RIDER 2099
First, I was never that familiar with Ghost Rider when this series came out. I knew OF Ghost Rider from seeing various titles at my comic book store and ads in other comics I read, but I've never really been into "regular" superheroes, except Batman and Captain America (And I'd drop either of those quick if they started going off the rails stupid). But then I fell into the 90's trap. . .I saw that chromium cover and it pulled me in. I opened it to that first page and saw that crazy 2 page title spread and I was hooked then and there. But that was then. . .1994. Now it's 2016. . .22 years later. How does Ghost Rider 2099 hold up?
Just as well as I remember. The art by Bachalo is superb. The story gets off to a fast start. . .Zero Cochran is a hacker in a futuristic city between cities made up of highways and exit ramps who is murdered by a rival gang for some stolen data. He wakes up in a strange area of cyberspace and is given another chance at "life" as an agent for beings who call themselves "The Ghostworks". First order of business? Avenging his own death.
It holds up remarkably well for being an all-but forgotten part of a failed 90's experiment by Marvel to build a new science fiction-based superhero continuity. Some of the references are obviously 90's (David Letterman, Captain Picard) and would probably be long-forgotten in 2099, but this issue is a fantastic start to the series.
After the stellar first issue, the second calms down a bit and begins to build the world of Ghost Rider 2099 a bit more. We see that everything is ruled by giant corporations, one of which was behind the hiring of the gang that killed Zero. We also see Zero's girlfriend (Kylie) find someone (the inexperienced hacker Doctor Neon) to help her decode the final message Zero sent her before dying. Even with the world-building, a chunk of the issue is taken up with Ghost Rider eluding law enforcement by fleeing into a part of the city that's pretty much a war zone known as Detonation Boulevard.
All in all, this issue wasn't as good as the first issue, but it wasn't bad at all. The art is still the star here, including another fantastic cover.
In this issue, Ghost Rider realizes that he needs to take his limitations into mind. . .he's in an incredibly destructive and powerful robotic body, but that body runs on a battery, and his power can get low if he doesn't watch it. So he decides to play it smart instead of tough, using a holofield disguise as Zero to find a place to lay low and charge up. While he does, he runs into Warewolf, one of his partners on his last job he thought was dead, but doesn't realize that Warewolf has been transformed by the D/Monix corporation to hunt for Ghost Rider.
Not a bad issue, but not great. The writer is still world building and introducing characters. One thing I noticed, though. . .there's FOUR pencilers credited on this issue. The art is beginning to slip a bit. In particular the cover isn't great.
Most of this issue was taken up with a fight between Ghost Rider and his former friend, Warewolf, who has been transformed by D/Monix Corporation into a wolf-like robot meant to hunt and destroy Ghost Rider. Kylie and Doctor Neon are also taken prisoner by D/Monix and they learn that Zero is dead. Didn't really like this issue that much. The art was better than the last issue, but the cover was no bueno. Also, D/Monix is baffled by Ghost Rider's technology, but they have the ability to create a giant wolf robot with a human's mind downloaded into it? WTF? Makes no sense.
One funny moment was when two underlings recover the information D/Monix is looking for and they're plotting to keep it for themselves. . .the information in question is on a floppy disc. Welcome back to 1994!
In this issue, we find out that the D/monix executive who sold Zero out and caused his death was actually his father. Most of the issue is Ghost Rider infiltrating D/Monix headquarters to confront his father, steal the data (floppy disc, LOL), and rescue his girlfriend. Not a bad issue at all. The art is a little strange when it comes to human faces, but the close ups of Ghost Rider's face are fantastic and creepy. This issue seems like a final bit of introduction and bringing the team of Ghost Rider, Doctor Neon, and Kylie together. One of the stronger issues so far.
In order to save Kylie, Ghost Rider has to procure some rare drugs. His search sends him to several places before heading for New York at the end of the issue. . .the cover for issue 7 has Spider Man 2099 on it, so I'm assuming that wall crawling hijinks will ensue in Ghost Rider's first crossover. It's Marvel. I knew it would happen sooner or later. Marvel has always been about the crossovers. That's why I don't normally read much Marvel.
ANYWAY. . .this issue.
This issue was pretty good, but seems like it was all a convenient reason to get Ghost Rider moving toward the mentioned crossover. I remember REALLY loving Kyle Hotz's art back in "The Day". I still like it, but don't love it. Sort of like my first wife I'm still friends with.
Like I predicted last issue, this was Ghost Rider 2099's first crossover. Most of this issue was spent on a standard "They don't understand that they're really on the same side." comic book superhero fight. Not the best issue of this series, but better than the Warewolf battle earlier on. I guess that since Spidey was (and still is) the big star of the 2099 universe, they needed him on the cover. Fair enough. A throwaway filler issue, though. And about the art. I've noticed that Kyle Hotz isn't really able to draw feet or legs very well. Then again, I think maybe quite a few 90's artists suffered from the same thing.
An interesting issue where Ghost Rider has to link into Kylie's mind in order to find a memory that is keeping her from waking up. It's a strange trip through locked doors and repressed memories until he finds the one. . .it's the moment she learns he's dead and she's reliving it over and over. He helps her let go by being a massive jerk, then leaves to go find out more about Shadow Works, the strange beings who created him. Like I said, interesting in the way Zero compares the human mind to the internet, but not great. And Hotz's art doesn't make it any better. I can't help but wonder if he ever really LOOKED at a human leg. . .
When Zero returns to an old hideout in Little Calcutta, he stumbles into a final confrontation with Warlord Jeter (from the first couple of issues). After he gets done killing his old enemy, he discovers that something is killing residents of his old neighborhood and decides to do something about it.
Another filler issue that's basically an excuse for Ghost Rider to get into a fight. Hotz wasn't on art this time, and the issue was better for it. I really liked the first few pages, showing the artist's vision of Zero searching cyberspace for The Ghostworks as a literal "Ghost in The Machine". The cover, on the other hand. . .no bueno.
Ghost Rider spends the first part of this issue trying to find information about who or what is killing people in his old neighborhood. Finally he decides to disguise himself as Warlord Jeter and draw them out. When he does, he finds out that it is a custom killer robot being remotely controlled. We find out that it's part of some sort of bloodsport being played by a group of rich people. At the end, Ghost Rider finds himself facing a half dozen killer robots. Also, a new villain? Hero? Not sure. . .is revealed. Coda, a self-aware combat robot working for Securicorps.
10 issues in and this series is starting to become "Monster of The Month." I still have 15 issues to go, God help me. I hope it starts getting better again. There's been a distinct downward slide.
One other thing. The cover. There's no credit for it. I can't tell if it's a really detailed painting or a photographed sculpture. Either way, it's fantastic!
Continuing from the previous issue, Ghost Rider finds himself fighting a half-dozen remote controlled combat robots used in bloodsport games by a group of wealthy citizens. We also get to meet Zero's broadcast-addicted mother, the reporter Willis Adams goes on the hunt for Ghost Rider, and the Securicorps combat droid Coda does the same as Ghost Rider sets out to find who was controlling the combat games after he defeats their robots.
Not a great issue at all. It's interesting in that it shows a vision of virtual reality that may yet exist someday, as well as the consequences of media addiction that also may come to pass. It's strange to read a vision of the future that doesn't include social media, but Zero's mother being addicted to television to the point that she becomes distressed and sick when the broadcast is interrupted, touches on what the future may hold a bit. And I still wonder why the hell Kyle Hotz can't draw a human leg right. . .
This was a pretty poor issue, but once again, there were interesting points to it. The first is the role of media in this dystopian future as Willis Adams tracks down Ghost Rider as he's getting ready to kill the last remaining member of the rich gaming club who have been killing the poor in Zero's old neighborhood. He condemns Ghost Rider as thinking he's judge, jury, and executioner, so Ghost Rider leaves the woman (now an insane cannibal from mental overload) alone with the reporter, who is forced to kill her live on camera to save himself.
The second interesting part is at the end of the issue with an appearance by Doom 2099 using a techno/magic ritual to force his way into the cyberspace hiding place of The Ghostworks. There's a saying that any advanced technology will be seen as magic (I paraphrase) and this was a great representation of that theory. Other than that, the rest of the issue is taken up with a ho-hum battle between Coda and Ghost Rider that sees Coda the winner through superior tactics and GR supposedly blown to pieces. But since there's still 11 issues left, I doubt he's down for good.
And that's it for this post. The first year of Ghost Rider 2099.
What did I take away from the first 12 issues? Mainly that Marvel thought that we'd still be using floppy discs 100 years from now. I also learned that Kyle Hotz can't draw human legs worth a damn. . .
Issues 13-25 next. God help us all.
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