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Comic Book Throwback Review – Ghost Rider #67 and #68 (Marvel Comics)

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Ghost Rider #67 and #68

Writer: Howard Mackie
Pencils: Salvador Larroca
Inks: Melia
Colors: Kalisz
Letters: Chiang
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen

The Brood had a taste of the Ghost Rider and they want more! With the Brood Queen in town, the Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch, is going to need some help. Luckily, the mutants, Gambit and Wolverine happen to be in town to help out.

 

Gambit and Wolverine Join the Fun in Ghost Rider #67 and #68

Back again with another Comic Book Throwback Review.  We are jumping back to 1995 again, which seems to be a formidable year in my comic book memory (check my Venom review). Anyway, digging through my long boxes, and Ghost Rider #67 and #68 brought back a flood of memories. I can remember getting these books just like it was yesterday. I was in a grocery store with my grandmother and I always checked the magazine aisle for comics. You could find comic books just about anywhere, still, at this time. These covers immediately jumped out at me. Being a 7/8-year-old kid in 1995, a book with Ghost Rider, Gambit, and Wolverine? That was a must-buy! My grandmother added them to the cart and I devoured them that night sitting in her kitchen.

Ghost Rider #67 (Marvel Comics) cover by Sal Larroca
Ghost Rider #67 (Marvel Comics) cover by Sal Larroca

Now, this is the second Ghost Rider series, starring Danny Ketch. This is the Ghost Rider I grew up with. It wouldn’t be until years later I would discover the loveliness of the Bronze Age wildness of Johnny Blaze’s Ghost Rider. Going back and reading Ghost Rider #67 and #68 was an interesting experience. I vaguely remember the story. But some things came back to me while reading, so let’s get into it!

Brood Feud

So yes, first of all, I am cheating a little bit and combining these books together. But Ghost Rider #67 and #68 is a two-part story titled “Brood Feud part 2”. Part 1 was apparently collected in  X-Men and Ghost Rider: Brood Trouble in the Big Easy. Which I must now go and buy. Howard Mackie writes these issues, as he wrote every issue of this series up to issue #69. He is also the creator of Danny Ketch, as well. The story itself, well, it’s not much to write home about. Not terrible, but odd.

I mean, pushing this story into two issues is quite a feat by Mackie. There is not a lot going on here, or to play with. Basically in Ghost Rider #67 the Brood comes to town looking for Ghost Rider. Danny Ketch is dealing with some family problems and eventually is drawn out by the Brood attacking people. Gambit also happens to be in town and attacked by the Brood as well. I thought I would be annoyed by Gambit, but Mackie actually writes him well. Basically Ghost Rider #67 culminates in Ghost Rider and Gambit fighting the Brood. It’s actually a pretty fun issue.

The Wolverine

So, Ghost Rider #67 ends like that, and in issue #68, for some reason, Wolverine shows up? It’s the ’90s and it’s Wolverine, so it is not that surprising. Plus it obviously worked on 7/8-year-old me. I know in 1995 I was like “oh yeah Wolverine!” and him on the cover was a big incentive for me to buy this. But reading it now, they shoe-horned him in hard. The whole explanation is, that is how Gambit found Ghost Rider, by Wolverine tracking his smell. First of all, he is a giant flaming skeleton, riding a flaming motorcycle, pretty sure he is easy to find. Second of all, where was Wolverine in issue #67? You know, when Gambit fought off four Brood all by himself? Wolverine didn’t seem too keen on helping then.

Anyway, the three of them team up to find the Brood Queen to end this. They break into a bank and very anticlimactically beat the Brood Queen by Ghost Rider getting his power taken by the Queen but his lady friend that works for S.H.E.I.L.D. shooting him with some special gun that somehow did something? I don’t know, it didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now. It ended very anticlimactically. I do remember being disappointed in this in 1995, as well. Ghost Rider #67 had some fun action with both Ghost Rider and Gambit. I figured this would have a nice big final battle with Wolvie included. But no, it just kind of suddenly ends. It felt very rushed and does not live up to the hype. That’s really it for the story.

Brooding

What is interesting, looking back on these issues, is that they feature a young Salvador Larroca on pencils. Also interesting is the credits page. It is just a list of last names in issue #67. At least issue #68 lists what they actually do in the issue. But still, this is what I have: on inks is Melia, colors are by Kalisz, and letterer is Chiang. The art, though, is actually pretty solid, and it is pretty cool to see Larroca’s developing style. It does have some visually muddled storytelling. When they break into the Brood’s dungeon inside a bank, I literally looked at the pages for a minute trying to figure out what was happening.

Other than that the characters look great, and some wonderful detail in this book. I was surprised by how much I still like it. Larroca lays out the other action scenes well, and in issue #67, Gambit battling the Brood is a highlight. He shows off some great movement and energy in the fight between Gambit and the Brood.

The image of the Brood wearing cop uniforms is forever burned into my memory. Immediately upon seeing that panel, I remembered it. It is horrifying, scary, yet goofy, all at the same time. The Brood’s grotesque bug faces are terrifying as ever, but them wearing those little police hats is just funny.

I don’t care how “’90s” it is, but the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider design is still cool. Larroca details it well; I think it is the simplicity of it. Just a few spikes, a chain, and such. It still actually looks pretty sweet. The Brood are also standouts. They have always been inherently creepy with their design and Larroca details that up well.

Bro’s

Well, that was an interesting jog down memory lane. Ghost Rider #67 and #68 brought back some memories, not really about the comic, but life in general, so that was fun. The comic itself was a little bit lackluster, which I also remember thinking when I read it all those years ago. The first part of the story Ghost Rider #67 is actually pretty good. The Brood comes to town, there is a nice fight scene between gambit and the Brood, and then Gambit and Ghost Rider team up. Issue #68 was a letdown. Wolverine does not do much at all and is obviously forced in, and the finale is very rushed and very disappointing. I still give it 2.5 flaming skulls out of 5.

Oh, issue #68 did feature Ghost Rider, Gambit, and Wolverine all riding motorcycles together. It was probably one of the top 5 most ’90s things ever. Also, while researching this, I found out this run of Ghost Rider issue #55 features a story guest starring Werewolf by Night. Interestingly enough, so did issue #55 of the Bronze Age original series, which I hunted down and own. So, I also have a vast collection of this series of Ghost Rider as well, but never knew this. Plus it is written by Warren Ellis! So, if nothing else comes from this, whenever this pandemic ends, I know what I will be digging for in back issue bins!

 


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