I hadn’t read any Ghost Rider before I picked up this collection but he always seemed like an interesting character. I like supernatural stories and I like superheroes, so this seems like a natural fit. I’m sorry to say this wasn’t the case for this book, as I found it to be rather boring and uninteresting. There just wasn’t anything in particular that grabbed my attention, and many of the early stories seem to be telling the same story over and over again. I really try my best not to skip parts when I’m reading a book but I must admit that I did skip around in this book quite a bit.
My biggest problem with the book is the writing. It just isn’t very good. The narration reads horribly. It feels to me like someone was trying to imitate Chris Claremont, but they did a very poor job. There is no spark to the words; it’s just this empty black hole that takes shape in the form of words.
Many of the things in the book I didn’t care for either. Johnny Blaze is a famous stunt person and many people know who he is. When nightfall comes and he turns into Ghost Rider he is still wearing his stuntman uniform so everyone knows that Ghost Rider is really him. Everyone thinks that’s part of the act of course, but then Johnny starts throwing fireballs around and no one thinks that strange? If that was to happen now everyone would catch it on film with their phone and it would be all over the internet. There was no internet, or cell phones, when this story was written, but come on! People have always been desperate to end up on TV and would tell that story to a news crew in a second! There are times though when Johnny is worried about using his flame powers because he doesn’t want people to know he made a deal with the devil. Forgetting the obvious fact that people wouldn’t immediately jump to the idea that having flame powers means you’re in bed with the devil (Everyone knows about the Human Torch and nobody’s ever accused him of being a Satanist) why would that even matter when a bunch of people have seen you use it in the previous issue? It just jumps around like that through the whole book and after a while you’re not really sure what is going on at all.
The one saving grace for this book is the artist Frank Robbins, who I had not heard about until I saw his work in this collection. This guy’s stuff is amazing! I’ve seen stories where they talk about how Marvel was trying to make everyone draw like Jack Kirby, and this guy must have really taken that to heart. It’s just powerful figures and bold lines: Really cool and really interesting. The only reason I would consider getting another Essential Ghost Rider would be if this guy’s art was in it, but I would just look at the pictures and not read a single word.