King in Black: Ghost Rider (#1) – Ed Brisson

4 out of 5

It’s a little over-written and quippy, like most super hero comic books nowadays, but Ed Brisson’s King in Black diverge for his Ghost Rider series isn’t – no pun intended – ghost written by these elements, falling back on them in black of story and character. And he successfully uses the King in Black crossover – essentially symbiotes, taking over the world – as a speed bump in his current tale of warring leaders of Hell, with current Rider Johnny Blaze waylaid on his Mephisto-capturing to deal with some symbiote dragons, interrupted by Danny Ketch and others who convince him of an alternate solution to his (non-King in Black related) woes; that is – the book fully functions as a Ghost Rider standalone issue that just happens to feature KiB elements. People following all the crossover nonsense may not find anything added for them… except for some fantastic art and color from Juan Frigeri and Jason Keith, who give us colorful and exciting pages that successfully alternate between dialogue and action blasts, proving that you can have an entire issue set in a night-tinted city landscape, populated by people only wearing blacks and reds, and still have very dynamic looking art.

When Brisson has to do some cleanup to make the book new reader friendly, he gets a little sloppy with repeating information in narration versus dialogue, and Mephisto fulfills the quippy role in a rather unfunny fashion. (Also, while Joe Caramagna does an excellent job of lettering placement and using unique colors and shapes for bubbles, I’m kinda tired of Marvel’s defacto “evil” text – just a personal nit.) But the one-shot does a great job of giving us a taste of what’s going on in the Ghost Rider world, and the flavor of Brisson’s various characters populating that world. Again, as a King in Black book, I can’t say it encourages me to understand anything else about that event, but it’s certainly still a good use of reading time, even if I choose not to follow it up down any other readerly avenue.