Ghost Racers is a big, dumb, violent mess. It is also the best of Marvel’s Secret Wars tie-ins, and possibly the most entertaining comic of 2015. It is visceral, primal, and somehow manages to be incredibly loud for a medium without an auditory component.

Felipe Smith’s All-New Ghost Rider was also very raw and brash, but still had a lot to say about Mexican-American culture. Much like Warren Ellis jettisoning the realpolitik of Stormwatch in favor of big explosions in The Authority, Smith abandons any sort of racial discussion in favor of literal pedal-to-the-metal action. He still tells the story through the eyes of Robbie Reyes, the hero of his Ghost Rider comic, but the only real philosophical question presented in this comic is: “Who would win in a fight: Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch, or Reyes?”

Smith and artist Juan Gedeon put a lot of thought into these redesigned Battleworld versions of all of the Ghost Riders. Gedeon leaves Reyes & Ketch mostly intact, but Johnny Blaze is given an Evel Knievel-style makeover and Carter Slade (the Ghost Rider of the Old West) is reimagined as a blindfolded, skull-faced centaur with gatling cannons strapped to his side. Smith & Gedeon also create new Ghost Racers to compete on the racetrack, such as Alejandra Blaze, Viro Mutilator (who rides a giant chainsaw) and Venus Compiler (an android clearly inspired by the art of Hajime Sorayama). Gedeon clearly had fun creating competitors, obstacles, and traps for the racetrack, and Smith’s choice of Arcade as the main villain of the piece was particulary inspired.

Seriously, how cool is this character design?

Maybe, just maybe, if you squint, you can see a message in these comics about how citizens of an oppressive society are being pacified by violent entertainment. Still, for the most part, it’s a simple story told with craft and audacity. This method of storytelling worked for Mad Max: Fury Road, and it works here, too.

Highly Recommended. 

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Reads comics. Watches movies. Passable at karaoke. Kicks ass at trivia.

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