VENGEANCE UNBOUND
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GHOST RIDER # 1/2

SYNOPSIS
A young man dies when his motorcycle explodes, causing the parents to sue the bike's manufacturer for faulty safety procedures. The courts find the company not guilty, a story John Blaze reads in the newspaper. The Ghost Rider emerges and speeds toward the company's building. He tears his way through security until he reaches the corporation's president. Wrapping his chain around the man's neck, the Rider makes his exit through the high rise's window.

On a rooftop, the president tells the Rider that the boy did indeed die because of their faulty safety procedures. He says that twenty different executives signed the bike's release sale form, despite the engineers finding problems. If the Rider takes him out, his vice president (who busts onto the roof at that moment with several other men) would step right up behind him. The Ghost Rider picks the man up and throws him off the building, then turns to the vice president and says two words: "do better."

The next morning, John wakes up on a bench to overhear an interview with the new president of the company, who says that they have recalled all of their motorcycles and will be personally delivering a six-hundred-thousand dollar check to the family of the boy that died, and that "Maxa Corp is a whole new company, starting today."

ANNOTATIONS
This issue was available only through a mail-in promotion with Wizard magazine. Included with the story was a four page sketchbook chapter that detailed some of Trent Kaniuga's pencil art on the Hammer Lane mini-series.

Ghost Rider last appeared in Ghost Rider (2001) # 6 and makes his next appearance in Ghost Rider (2005) # 1. After this issue, Johnny Blaze is killed and taken to Hell, as shown in Ghost Rider (2006) # 7.

REVIEW
it's a bit sad when the strongest issue of the Grayson/Kaniuga run on Ghost Rider was a special mail-order comic that didn't even get reprinted in the "Hammer Lane" trade paperback. As with the theme in the mini-series, Grayson once again puts forth the theory that the Ghost Rider is a sort of protector of bikers, which - while certainly being a different twist on the concept - really doesn't make a lot of sense. But we'll get more into that when I review the "Hammer Lane" story itself, so let's delve into "Corporate Hell" and see what it has to offer.

The idea of a corporation being the target of the Ghost Rider's vengeance is certainly intriguing. The problem here, however, is that nothing is done with the concept past the cliched "corporations are bad" straw-man argument that weaker writers fall prey to. Yes, companies are there to make money, bottom line - but that doesn't mean every capitalist is evil. The most disappointing part of this story is that Grayson had plenty of time to address such gray areas, but instead filled the 16-page story with 8 pages of the Ghost Rider riding his bike through a building and getting shot at. I certainly didn't expect a thesis on ethics in big business from a Wizard promo comic, but I would have at least liked a tiny bit of story to chew on instead of a story that took approximately 30 seconds to plow through.

What I DID like about the story was the ending, namely the speech the Maxa Corp president gives to the Ghost Rider. As he says, "you can't kill a corporation" because it's not a living entity...akin to a hydra, where two heads replace one that's cut off. But the unflinching evil of the president still makes him a cliche, no matter how appropriate his final words are before the Rider tosses him off the building.

We're also treated to some more of Trent Kaniuga's artwork, which got sloppier and more rushed as the series progressed. I'm assuming this issue fell around the middle of the mini, since it doesn't look as sharp as # 1 nor as bad as # 6. Kaniuga DID produce one really memorable bit of action, however, when the Ghost Rider catches a bullet between his teeth and proceeds to spit it back at the shooter. It's completely ridiculous, but still manages to look quite cool.

So should you try and track down this issue? I'd give it a pass, especially considering the high price you may have to pay for it, given it's limited production. An interesting idea not taken to it's full potential.

Grade: C


Ghost Rider # 1/2
Published: 2001
Original Price: N/A
Cover: Trent Kaniuga

Title: "Corporate Hell"
Writer: Devin Grayson
Artist: Trent Kaniuga
Inker: Danny Miki
Letterer: Comicraft
Colorist: Dan Kemp
Editor: Stuart Moore
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada