Half-cyborg and half-AI, Ghost Rider 2099 is cyberpunk to the max! He is the downloaded consciousness of computer hacker Zero Cochrane, brought back from the dead by a collective of cyber-operatives known as “The Ghostworks” as their avatar in the real world.
Ghost Rider is in New York City, riding around in his Zero Cochrane guise. He is stopped by an officer of the Public Eye because “operating a wheeled vehicle is against the law”. Zero shoots a laser out of his eye and blows the cop's hover cycle up. (Don't worry... the cop walks away, this is still a PG-13 comic.) He decides to ditch the bike in a safe house and walks among the people of the city. He is accosted by a Thorite (think 21st century Hare Krishnas). That's about all the slice of life the reader is gonna get this issue, now it's on the main event...
Zero walks right into Alchemax tower and starts hacking into the mainframe. Of course, for someone like him, hacking is as easy as a touch of the fingers since his transformation. He's on the hunt for Trioxidiclorizide (we'll get to why in a minute) and he quickly finds what he's looking for in the genetics lab. And guess who is also in this particular genetics lab? That's right, our favorite web-spinner of the year – Spider-Man 2099. Well, his alter ego Miguel O'Hara anyway. Zero knocks him out from behind (I forget if this version has a spider-sense or not) and starts ripping open a vault.
All this activity has, of course, alerted the building's security and a squad arrives on the scene almost immediately. Zero is caught flat-footed with a canister in his hands. Instead of fighting the enforcers, he jumps out of a convenient window and falls at least 20 stories down. Don't worry, tho', cause he uses his claws to dig into the side of the building and slow the descent. Pretty bad-ass actually!
Except he hasn't made good his escape yet because some Flyboys are right on his tail. Zero jumps on a hovercycles and takes them on a quick chase. They blow ride to smithereens in the next panel. He falls and everyone thinks he is a street pancake but since he landed in Downtown I guess no one cares to find out.
Miguel recovers and decides to get the canister of Trioxidiclorizide back himself - as Spider-Man, naturally. He switches clothes and goes web-swinging away. He knows the chemical is toxic in small doses and could potentially “triple downtown's carcinoma rates”. He pulls out some gizmo that can trace the particles of TODC and starts on his hunt.
Ghost Rider wakes up on a caved-in rooftop in Downtown. He scares away some scavengers and goes looking for the canister he dropped on his way down. He finds it on the street but it is snatched from his grasp by a webline. The two heroes take an instant disliking to each other. Spidey things GR is a terrorist and GR thinks Spidey is an operative of Alchemax sent to get the canister back.
Spidey swings away with the canister but another eye laser hits his webline and he falls onto another roof. He sees Zero and wonders how he survived the fall. Zero answers by transforming into his full Ghost Rider mode. He starts in with the laser eyes again saying, “Where I come from Biz Enforcers got a real short life expectancy!” Spidey is, of course, taken aback. “You think I work for Alchemax!?! Have you got the wrong guy for that.” GR replies, “I don't care who you are. You're in my way!” And the fight is on...
Ghost Rider lunges and Spidey leaps over him. Spidey clings to a wall out of his reach but GR just grabs a big hunk of concrete and tosses it at him. The wall collapses and Spidey falls to the ground. They're ready for round two (or is it three?) but Spidey sees the entire building behind GR start to collapse and leaps past him to save its inhabitants.
That gives Ghost Rider the opening to grab the canister and hit the road. He leaves a flaming trail out of town and the next time we see him is in Traverse City where he is meeting with some bigwig that can process the Trioxidiclorizide, but says that GR owes him a favor. After it is processed he takes it to his friend Sandoz who originally set him on this wild goose chase. He thought the drug would revive Zero's girlfriend Kylie from whatever suspended animation she is in, but it turns out Ghost Rider needs to go into her mind to bring her out of it.
This is a quick read, because honestly, not a lot happens. Ghost Rider invades Alchemax, snatches the MacGuffin, and tussles with Spider-Man.
My review doesn't really do the story justice, though. Len Kaminski, more than any other writer (besides Warren Ellis) really “gets” the cyberpunk aesthetic of this dystopian future. He relays info with short, choppy narration littered with technobabble and dripping with attitude. I encourage everyone to check out the Ghost Rider 2099 series to experience the best this line has to offer.
This plot is very similar to Fantastic Four 2099 #4. Check out my review of that issue to compare and contrast the approach each creative team takes.