VENGEANCE UNBOUND
HOME l GHOST RIDER (1990) l PREVIOUS l NEXT

GHOST RIDER # 29

SYNOPSIS
In a small Connecticut town, three men are holding John Blaze and a helmeted Ghost Rider at gunpoint, demanding their money. Blaze takes out one of the men, and one with a shotgun shoots the Rider in the face, destroying the helmet and revealing his flaming skull. A moment later, all three men have been given the penance stare. The Ghost Rider tells Blaze to get some rest before they continue on to New York, to find the first of the people seen in the vision with Lilith. As Ghost Rider rides away, he fails to notice Wolverine and the Beast in an alley behind him. Logan tells Beast that the Rider's scent was all wrong the last time they met in New Orleans, and that he's followed him to make sure he's free from the Brood infection.

Elsewhere, in the offices of Penner Security Associates, Mr. Penner holds a meeting with a superhuman operative named Agent X. Agent X tells his employer that he and his associates deserve more control over their missions and a larger cut of the profits - Penner refuses this, and with a handshake Agent X tells him that he and his two fellows are quitting. Minutes later, in a townhouse across the street, Agent X meets with Turk and Snare and tells them that they are now going independent. Furious at Penner's refusal of their demands, the three mercenaries decide to take the fight to the firm's front door to show them what they're giving up.

Meanwhile, Ghost Rider delivers a set of criminals to the police and rides off again, thinking about what's happened to him recently. Dan's near-death has given him a life on earth besides his mission, but he questions what he will do if he cannot save Dan. Dan, meanwhile, is still trapped in the void, lost and confused. Ghost Rider notices explosions in the distance and rides off to investigate, with Wolverine and Beast following in a car. At Penner's office, the Next Wave easily dispose of the firm's security forces, but Turk then shoots an innocent woman and kills her after she screams for help. The Ghost Rider appears and immediately attacks, aided by the two X-Men before he is overwhelmed by the mercenaries. Agent X attempts to explain that all of this is a misunderstanding, but then decides to just kill the heroes. During the battle, Ghost Rider is blown apart by Turk's gun, and the three men begin to gain the advantage over Wolverine and Beast. Left for dead, Ghost Rider reforms himself behind the Next Wave and takes them by surprise, beating them into submission. Turk, for his murder of the girl, is given the penance stare, crippling him emotionally. Before the Rider can leave, however, Wolverine stops him and - after sniffing the air with his enhanced senses - asks about Dan. Ghost Rider replies that he is losing his host, and it remains to be seen what will happen to him if Dan should die. Ghost Rider drives away, leaving Wolverine to tell Beast that something has changed the Rider from the guy he'd fought side by side with in the past. As the two mutants walks back to their car, Mr. Penner runs out of the building and tries - to no effect - to convince them to join his company.

ANNOTATIONS
This story, continuing from Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance # 1, serves as an interlude chapter of "Rise of the Midnight Sons", which continues in Morbius # 1.

Ghost Rider last encountered Wolverine and the Beast in Ghost Rider (1990) # 27 during a fight with the alien Brood in New Orleans.

Dan had his throat ripped out by Blackout in Ghost Rider (1990) # 25.

The Next Wave are meant to represent the first three creators to leave Marvel Comics to form Image Comics in the early 90s. Agent X represents Jim (X-Men) Lee, Snare represents Todd (Spider-Man) McFarlane, and Turk represents Rob (X-Force) Liefeld. The group appears in Silver Sable and the Wild Pack # 7 before returning to this title a couple of years later in Ghost Rider (1990) # 56.

REVIEW
It's the second time in three issues that Ghost Rider has crossed over with Wolverine and the X-Men - this time as an interlude to a completely unrelated crossover that started directly after the X-Men one.

With the chapters of "Rise of the Midnight Sons" being staggered one per month and each demanding appearances by Ghost Rider and Blaze, the ongoing Ghost Rider and Spirits of Vengeance titles were left with the strange spot of treading water for several months until the crossover wrapped up. So for the first of these interlude issues, we're given yet another story involving Wolverine - the fourth Wolverine/Ghost Rider story, to be exact. Wolverine is obviously Marvel's most popular character, rivaled only by Spider-Man, but yet another storyline involving him only two months after the last one is a bit annoying, especially when Wolverine and Beast seem tacked on with no real merit for the story. The two X-Men really have no business appearing in this story other than to increase sales, which is a curiosity in itself since - at this time - Ghost Rider was still a top-selling title for Marvel.

Thankfully, the story is saved by a clever (if a bit dated now) story that's used to comment on what was a major industry event at the time. In the early 90s, a group of Marvel's most popular artists let the company and formed their own comic company, stating that they wished for more independence and compensation for their work. With that in mind, Mackie created the Next Wave as supervillain homages to the three biggest creators to abandon Marvel's ship: Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, and Todd McFarlane. The similarities between the real life people and fictional characters are quite blatant and obvious: Snare uses ropes and nets to signify Spider-Man (McFarlane) and his webs, while Turk brandished overly large guns a la Rob Liefeld's Cable. The Next Wave's desire to "go independent" is a rather tongue-in-cheek satirization of the Image crew, and it makes for a cute - if harmless and inconsequential - story. Mackie comes close to taking it too far, with Wolverine's comments that he's "seen everything you're doing before...and I've seen it better!" But it still comes across as light-hearted, if a little mocking of the artists who wanted to line their pockets with even more money.

Andy and Joe Kubert continue as the artistic team, and while their artwork is perfectly serviceable I believe the story could have used someone a bit flashier to draw the Next Wave - seeing as how the characters are based on very distinct and stylized artists themselves.

All in all, this is essentially a fill-in story that does nothing to advance either the "Midnight Sons" story or the ongoing subplot of Dan's death. The clever concept and satire is all that keep it from being completely ignored altogether.

Grade: B-


Ghost Rider # 29
Published: Sep. 1994
Original Price: $1.75
Cover: Andy Kubert

Title: "Biting the Hand That Feeds You"
Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Andy Kubert
Inker: Joe Kubert
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Editor In Chief: Tom DeFalco