Second verse. . .a little bit worse!
GHOST RIDER 2099
I'm not familiar with the overall "2099" universe. Ghost Rider 2099 was the only title I regularly read. I have a few of the other issues (Mostly the first issues. . .Ohhhhh. . .shiny. . .covers!) but I guess at some point, Doctor Doom 2099 took over America as President. This issue ties in with what was probably a big crossover, as the title changes from "Ghost Rider 2099" to "Ghost Rider 2099 A.D.", which I guess means After Doom. Along with the title change comes a very nice upgrade to higher-quality paper, so there's that.
The issue itself? Mostly pretty average, except for some scenery chewing excellence as Doom takes over D/Monix Corporation by implanting a control chip in the brain of director Dyson Kellerman and an interesting meeting of some sort of resistance movement in Cyberspace where online avatars meet in a virtual bar or lounge. The rest of it? Ghost Rider's shattered body slowly repairs itself through the issue. The art is no bueno. . .especially when it comes to Ghost Rider himself. It's pretty blah, but GR is just bad. 3 stars just because of Doctor Doom.
Using secret codes in Ghost Rider's programming provided by Doom's deal with The Ghostworks, Ghost Rider is made into Transverse City's Federal Marshal. Ooooooookay. To make it worse, the art is just bad. It's all so bad.
The only saving grace here is the outstanding cover. Best one in a while.
Soooooo. . .now Ghost Rider is the law.
In this issue he's trying to find the source of a powerful drug that is fueling a gang war. I can't believe the pretty interesting vision of a dystopian future ruled by Corporations and controlled by media addiction has turned into a sci-fi cop show. Oh. . .and a new villain is introduced. Heartbreaker. Seems to be some sort of techno-ninja woman. Might turn out to be interesting. At least more interesting than Detective Ghost Rider.
ANYWAY. . .
There's a new artist on the book, and it looks a lot better, except for Ghost Rider himself. I hate this version of GR 2099. The rest of it looks nice, in a dark, scratchy, 90's "Edgy" style, though. And the cover is very, very nice.
God help me, but Ghost Rider is still doing his Judge Dredd imitation.
He encounters Heartbreaker and during the battle, discovers that she is a cyborg, but she escapes before he can learn more. He finds out that Max Synergy is trying to create superhumans with a powerful drug, and he hauls him into jail. . .complete with an imitation Robocop "He'll never be one of us." moment. So bad. . .so damn bad. The art is decent, but the way GR himself is portrayed is the worst. And that cover. . .why?
This issue is full of "What?" moments. Ghost Rider returns home to have a discussion with his father about how he managed to turn out to be such an A-hole. His dad tells him how proud he is that he DID turn out to be an A-hole. Reporter Willis Adams surfs cyberspace and somehow not only knows of Ghostworks existence, but manages to unlock an archive to release some sort of Cyberspace monster called L-Cypher (and this after Doctor Doom had to use some kind of complicated cyber/magic to access Ghost Works). And then there's a virtual amusement park's holographic programs being take over by. . .SATAN?
All that and Ghost Rider still looks terrible, even though everything else looks pretty good.
This series has gone past a downward slide and has plummeted off the cliff. Ghost RIder (Still in faux Judge Dredd mode) is called in to Thrillsville, a virtual amusement park that has been reprogrammed to imitate the circles of hell in Dante's Inferno by some sort of cyber demon called. . .L-Cypher *facepalm*
I don't even want to read the rest of this series. But I will. Because the world must know. . .
God. . .when will this storyline end?
Ghost Rider fights his way through the demonic underlings of L-Cypher toward the inevitable confrontation. . .plus Heartbreaker breaks into prison to kill Max Synergy. Why? Nobody knows? Nobody Cares? What seemed to be a decent villain is wasted in favor of snarling cyber-demons. Then there's something something something about the undernet resistance breaking into a vault for reasons.
I wonder if Len Kaminsky had discovered the wonderful world of meth in 1995 or if he just stopped caring. No other ways I can think of to explain the REALLY steep drop of writing quality on this title.
In the home stretch. . .only 5 more issues, thank God!
In this issue, Ghost RIder's final confrontation with cyber-demon L-Cypher ends with GR turning L-Cypher's programming against him for what seems like an easy win. But we see L-Cypher downloading himself into a human body and talking about continuing his "experiment", so we probably haven't seen the last of what I count as Ghost Riders second-lamest villain (First being Warewolf). Plus Kabal hires someone to build him a robot and download the mind of a slain securicorps agent into it, presumably to destroy Ghost RIder. . .or at least try.
One villain down, and another one introduced. This series has fallen into a predictable "set 'em up. . .knock 'em down" rut of monster of the month tedium. I'm starting to hate what I once loved. Sort of like my second wife.
Ghost rider confronts and is seemingly defeated by Vengeance. We're introduced to the next villain. . .a collection of frozen human heads that have joined minds after being roused from their cryogenic sleep, giving them powerful psionic abilities. . .Ooooooooookay.
After Doom's fall from power, Ghost Rider remembers how he had been manipulated by Doom and Ghostworks and gets angry. PLUS, this is the first issue with a backup story. Former reporter Willis Adams meets up with Heartbreaker in a strip club. Cheesecake ensues with the promise of violent cheesecake next issue.
Nobody is making me read this. Why am I still doing it? WHY?
Ghost Rider defeats yet ANOTHER sentient robot by turning it's own programming against it. Doctor Neon gets ready to partner up with some unknown guy he met on the internet (Yep, that always ends well) to take down Ghost RIder. All that AND pointless violent cheesecake that's not even drawn that great in the backup! I have to say that I did like the cover on this one, though. Nicely done.
God, please let it end. . .
Ghost Rider (having quit doing his Judge Dredd impersonation now, thank God) is once again a criminal and is quickly finding out that he doesn't have any friends left after his time as a Lawman. In the meantime, the next villain is being set up as a wave of psychic energy from Psiclone (The frozen severed head monster I mentioned a couple issues back) starts driving everyone in Transverse City insane with hallucinations. Doctor Neon continues to plot with his unknown internet friend. Awkwardness is sure to ensue as Ghost Rider shows up at his door looking for help.
To tell the truth, I liked this issue a bit better than the past half dozen. The letters page is full of woe about the upcoming cancellation of the series, so hopefully it will go out strong. Please, God. . .let it go out strong.
In the setup to the final issue, Psiclone is defeated by D/Monix head Kellerman using Doom's control chip. . .and ending up in seeming control over the whole city. Also, a broken-down Ghost Rider is rebooted by Doctor Neon, and we discover that Neon's internet hookup is actually the real Zero Cochrane. . .or claims to be anyway.
Not a bad issue. Not really that great, but at least it wasn't awful, which is a good thing given the state of this series' endgame previously.
I won't say it ended strong, but at least it ended well. It seems that Kaminski pulled enough care out of his. . .hat. . .to at least give us a decent ending to a series that started really strong and went way off the rails.
The Undernet Resistance destroys D/Monix headquarters and their control over the city. The source code Zero Cochrane flushed the corrupted code that we've known as Ghost Rider out of his body and took it over, riding off into the sunset after helping save Transit City. The Zero Cochrane code that was being controlled by Ghostworks was cleansed and freed as pure data and now exists to roam Cyberspace. Ghost works finds themselves being the ones controlled for once as the "Beta" Zero makes them his first order of business. And most other loose ends are tied up. . .except for whatever happened to Heartbreaker or the human body L-Cypher downloaded himself into. But at this point, do I even care? Not really. I'm just happy that the series wrapped up on a decent note. Not a high note, but decent. And really, after wading through the crap this series turned into, that's definitely a good thing.
I really liked the IDEAS contained in this series, and a unique take on a fairly overplayed character. But although the concept was brilliant, the execution was fatally flawed by being a mainstream comic sold by a mainstream company. It was supposed to be about going against the status quo, but ended up being forced to maintain the status quo.
I loved it at first, then hated it and had to force myself to stick with it, but at least the ending wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Sort of like with my third wife.
And there you have it. . .one man's opinion of the longbox junk known as Ghost Rider 2099. A noble experiment gone wrong when it could have been OH so right. Am disappointed. The first issue was a hidden gem. Almost comic book perfection. The rest. . .not so much.
Next up. . .back to 1987, Baxter paper, and Eclipse's Winter World!
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Issue # 4