Ghost Rider (Vol. 2) #17

Background

Convinced that Dan Ketch (the current Ghost Rider) has been posessed by Zarathos, John Blaze (the former GR posessed by Zarathos) has tracked him down with the intention of learning exactly what he/it is.

Dan's mother has recently fallen in with a cult that promises to reunite her with her daugher Barbara who was killed by the vampryic Blackout as revenge against Ketch's demon (in Ghost Rider #7). They follow her to "church" and interrupt the ceremony, causing many guns to be pointed at their heads. The current Hobgoblin appears, followed by Spider-Man. Hobgoblin - on a religious kick to smite sinners for the Lord - kidnaps Mrs. Ketch in an effort to "save" one of the faithful. Ghost Rider immediately pursues the demented Hobgoblin. Spider-Man and Blaze agree to save Mrs. Ketch and stop both demons if necessary.

Story 'You've Got To Have Faith!'

  Ghost Rider (Vol. 2) #17
Summary: Spider-Man & Hobgoblin
Arc: Part 2 of 'Church And State Of Mind' (1-2)
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Writer: Howard Mackie
Pencils: Mark Texeira
Inker: Mark Texeira

Spider-Man catches up to the Ghost Rider and warns him that he won't allow him to kill Hobgoblin. Ghost Rider informs him that he won't kill Hobgoblin but he must be stopped - without his help.

Blaze uses his hellfire shotgun to separate them before they start fighting again. After their "time out" he reminds them that they're supposed to be working together to save Mrs. Ketch from Hobgoblin, not fight with each other. Spider-Man gets instantly ticked off and leaves to find Hobgoblin on his own without the assistance of the two "vigilantes".

Blaze realizes that they'll need to regroup to think of a plan to save Mrs. Ketch. They ride over to the Cypress Hills cemetery - away from any onlookers - and have a brief conversation. Blaze gives him some suggestions on how to co- exist with his human host to avoid fighting for dominance. Ghost Rider informs him that his and Ketch's personalities are merging against his wishes. At that point, Ghost Rider transforms back into Ketch.

Spider-Man continues to search Cypress Hills. The spider-tracer he planted on Hobgoblin - which allowed him to find Hobby before - is no longer working and he's getting desperate to prevent Hobgoblin from mutilating Mrs. Ketch as he has everyone else since he found religion. He spots Blaze and Ketch in the cemetery and follows them as they leave.

A noticeably agressive Dan leads Blaze to Charlie, a local bartender/information broker. He enters the bar demanding any information he has about the Hobgoblin. He gets no information, but does get into a fight with Charlie's bodyguards. Spider-Man assists and then informs them that he has an idea where Hobgoblin is hiding (the tracer re-activated) and to stay out of his way.

They follow Spider-Man to a chapel in the Cypress Hills cemetery. Dan, intent on killing Hobgoblin for kidnaping his mother, transforms into Ghost Rider. Once they find Hobgoblin, Ghost Rider instructs Spider-Man to save the Ketch woman while he deals with her captor. During their fight Hobgoblin sets the building on fire. After moving Mrs. Ketch out of immediate danger, Spider- Man misunderstands Ghost Rider's intentions for his punishment (penance stare instead of kiling). He promises Spider-Man he will not to kill Hobgoblin, but he needs him to get the woman to safety. Left with little choice, Spider-Man grabs her and swings away moments before the building explodes.

Ghost Rider and Hobgoblin emerge moments later. Working together the three hereoes bring him down, falling unconscious to the ground. For a moment, he reverts to his human form of Jason Macendale, but quickly returns to his demon form. Spider-Man volunteers to turn Macendale over to the proper authorities.

General Comments

The first issue that I have is the immediate separation of Blaze and Spider- Man following their agreement to team up and save Mrs. Ketch. Granted getting knocked down by a blast of hellfire isn't the nicest way to start anything, but it's not like Blaze is strong enough to do anything against people with super strength. Peter can be a hothead sometimes, but this a bit much.

From that point, they don't do much for the bulk of the issue until the spider tracer is re-activated. Dan's sudden agreession doesn't really make sense. Ok, so Blaze taught him a few moves and he's ticked because Hobgoblin has kidnaped his mom. That's enough to put anyone on edge, but considering his personality from issues 1 - 15, it seems to be out of character. The explanation that GR and Ketch's personalities are merging makes no sense given that GR has no intention of killing Hobgoblin.

I'm going to try something different for this issue. Here's my complete recap of the story:

  • Spider-Man: "Ghost Rider, I'm not going to let you kill the Hobgoblin!"
  • Ghost Rider: "I'm not going to kill the Hobgoblin. I want to save the Ketch woman and give him my penance stare to make him feel the pain he's inflicted on everyone."
  • Blaze: "Shut up, you two!"
  • Spider-Man: "Hobgoblin's hiding out where you guys were an hour ago!"
  • Blaze: "Hobgoblin's attacking us! Bring him down!"
  • Spider-Man: "Ok, we're done. I'll take it from here".

Stretch that into 22 pages if you can.

Overall Rating

1 web. As you can tell, I'm very disappointed in the conclusion to this two- parter. Especially after a good setup in the previous issue. I think that's why I'm rating this so low. One question was answered (when/where did Spider- Man put a tracer on Hobgoblin) but the rest of the story was poorly done.

Footnote

Spider-Man put a tracer on Hobgoblin in Darkhawk #3