Sadly, the All New Ghost Rider doesn’t feel very new or fresh in any way. This isn’t because the story is staying within the lines of an anti-hero Ghost Rider tale. Instead, this story uses the same tropes of many other action stories. We’re introduced to a young mechanic named Robbie Reyes who takes care of his developmentally challenged little brother. That is a warm and fuzzy hero trope used to establish Robbie Reyes being the altruistic type. This goes against the usual brooding Ghost Rider archetype we’ve become use to, and after all we want something fresh. Regardless, as the story continues the issue becomes a patchwork of other action movie tropes, and it begins to undermine the whole new take on Ghost Rider. For example, we’re quickly introduced to villainous gangbangers who are evil for evil’s sake such as robbing a little kids wheelchair at gunpoint. It doesn’t make any logistical sense other than to show a neighborhood being overrun by mean people. In fact, with the amount of death and gun violence shown in the first half of the book, it’s odd that the neighborhood is still populated.
By the time we get to the car, Felipe Smith undermines Robbie’s altruistic demeanor which he had previously established. First of all, instead of Robbie doing his job, he spends his time in the shop working on a car his boss doesn’t want him working on until next week. Then there’s a moment of confrontation which shows that Robbie doesn’t even trust his boss when it comes to his paycheck. Somehow this kid is earning money when he isn’t even doing his job and then gets upset at his boss if he wasn’t paid as much as he wanted. On top of that, it’s revealed Robbie was fixing up the car so he could take his girlfriend on a date and to the street races. In a scene ripped from other car movies, Robbie bets the car that he can win the street race. Of course he does. Why wouldn’t he? After all this is a car that Robbie stole and he has nothing to lose if he loses the race. Smith didn’t even bother using the trope of this being Robbie’s car that he saved up for and built with his own hands while trying to also provide for his brother. So, betting a strangers car on a race has no emotional impact other than Robbie being a jerk. In the middle of the race, it turns out that the car is actually loaded with drugs and a tracking device.
After a hot speed pursuit, Robbie and the car go up in a blaze while the police recover the drugs from the trunk. Then, at the moment of death, Robbie is turned into the Spirit of Vengeance. Vengeance, Vengeance for what? Is he going to take vengeance on the people who stole the wheelchair, the police for taking down a car they planted with drugs, his patient boss for accidentally withholding 23 dollars from his unearned paycheck? Why does Robbie have the Spirit of Vengeance? For a story which had very little exposition and plot and what it did have had been lifted from other stories, there are too many holes to make sense of what the writer was trying to accomplish.
With that being said. The art style also lacked cohesion. It isn’t really clear what happened, but the characters looked like melting rubber, from their drooping eyelids and cheeks to their stretched out arms and legs. Although the fighting and emotional expression had a manga feel, it’s hard not to get distracted by their rubber anatomy. However, the car race and chase was very beautiful and it was worth re reading those kinetic pages of action, and it’s a shame it was buried in the larger mess. Over all, the only impressive and fresh part of this story was the car chase.