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MARVEL MANGAVERSE: GHOST RIDERS # 1

SYNOPSIS
While a giant-sized Hulk rampages through New York City, Damon Hellstorm sits outside Beelzebub's restaurant waiting for his guest. Johnny Blaze arrives on his motorcycle, wanting to know why Damon is haunting him. Damon explains that they are brothers, both of them "Sons of Satan" as evidenced by the pentagrams marked on their bodies. Damon asks Johnny if he's experienced prescient abilities or strange happenings, but their conversation is interrupted by the Hulk stepping on some nearby pedestrians. Then, at a church down the street, a giant demon woman emerges from Hell with an army of demons. Damon explains to Johnny that she is Satana, their sister. Hellstorm tells Johnny that it's time to reveal his true self, and with his hellfire trident he transforms Blaze into the Ghost Rider. The two brothers fight their way through the demons and confront Satana, who has been sent by their father to kill them. Satana stomps on Damon, which stuns but doesn't kill him. Hellstorm apologizes to Johnny, he's in danger because of Damon's wish to have a brother. Johnny picks up Damon's trident and throws it past Satana's head - instead it strikes the Hulk, who is standing behind the demoness. The Hulk forces Satana back through the Hell portal while Johnny and Damon depart to get a cup of coffee.

ANNOTATIONS
This comic was part of Marvel's "Mangaverse" line, which featured established Marvel characters reimagined in the style of Japanese comics.

REVIEW
Ghost Rider and the Son of Satan are revamped for Marvel's manga line by writer/artist Chuck Austen, who produces the absolute worst Ghost Rider comic ever published.

I admit now that I am definitely not a fan of manga or anime as a whole - I don't like the art style and I find the standard tropes of Japanese storytelling (robots, body modification, fetishes) to be terribly cliched. So with that in mind, I wasn't really looking forward to Marvel's attempt to cash in on the manga bandwagon, especially not with my favorite characters. Even worse, they picked Chuck Austen to write and draw this issue, which should have been a major warning sign for me to stay away. If I wasn't a Ghost Rider completist, I would have avoided this book like the plague.

It's fitting that the worst Ghost Rider comic ever produced was by Chuck Austen, who wrote the similarly terrible runs on Uncanny X-Men and the Avengers. I fail to understand how a man so utterly deprived of talent was given so many plumb assignments in the mid-2000s. His awful writing almost made me forget that he was an equally terrible artist, as evidenced in this issue. He apes the manga style capably enough I suppose, but he relies on using the same panels over and over and over again. That's just plain lazy, especially since he's not even drawing the pages by hand - they're all computer generated. The only thing I came even remotely close to liking is how Ghost Rider's skull looked.

The plot is juvenile at best (see Satana's giant breast implants) and the artwork is garishly amateur with the computer effects standing out like a sore thumb. I also have no idea why Werewolf by Night is on the cover when he has no role in the interior, which seems to be a failure of communication between Austen and the cover artist.

I hate this comic. 'Nuff said.

Grade: F


Marvel Mangaverse: Ghost Riders # 1
Published: March 2002
Original Price: $2.25
Cover: Ben Dunn

Title: Untitled
Concept: Brian Smith & Chuck Austen
Writer: Chuck Austen
Artist: Chuck Austen
Editor: Brian Smith
Consulting Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada