Writer: Len Kaminsky
Artists: Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham, Peter Gross and others
I remember fondly when this used to be my favorite 2099 title from Marvel. That didn't last and I'm reminded now after reading it again for this review. I don't think I can ever motivate myself to review the entire run of this series following it per story arc like I promised to do with Doom 2099. It isn't just that compelling anymore.
Looking back, it wasn't the gimmick cover of the first issue that convinced me to buy this comic like so many else did back when I was a teenager. It was the original art team. Back then my favorite artists in comics were Joe Quesada and Chris Bachalo. Later on through the years, I realized that it was actually more the tandem of Bachalo and Mark Buckingham that I liked. Both are very talented and good artists in their own right, but working together the art they produced were an amalgam of great artistry only possible when the strength of both artists are combined.
Now see the story in this arc was decently good and probably bordering on great at the start. The more it moved and was fleshed out, the more it's mediocrity was revealed. The premise was simple in that this new Ghost Rider is in no way related to the older iterations, more far removed from how the Danny Ketch version was from the Johnny Blaze one even. This newer version is technology based compared to the old mystical version. This is not a Spirit of Vengeance incarnate but a man turned robot by sentient computer programs in a quest for personal vengeance and trying to be a symbol of destruction for the current social inequality prevalent at the 2099 universe timeline. Basically it's just a new take on the property meshed with all the other established premises of the other 2099 titles of evil corporations running society, the cyberspace (internet) as some sort of a separate new world interlinked with the real world and the borrowed societal hierarchy from Magnus: Robot Fighter.
Now mind you, I really personally find this comic a blast to read. The somewhat mediocre story is negligible to complain about when the way it is presented blows your socks off with it's killer gritty art. Well at least for this story arc, and you can see it dwindling down until the fifth issue. As the original art team starts to depart from the series one by one, so did my interest. The first 3 issues were the most awesome simply for the fact that those were the ones done by the Chris Bachalo and Mark Bucking ham tandem. The 4th issue pencilled by Peter Gross was still satisfying because Buckingham still embellished it and the art still resonates enough familiarity with the first three. I was thankful enough that Buckingham almost did the majority of art in issue 5 which at least ensured the flow of the artwork until the closure of this initial storyline. No offense to Kyle Hotz who had since took over starting at issue 6, I know he is a talented guy and all but it was Bachalo and Buckingham that made this comic for me. Without them, it's just wasn't the same ever again.
I have to admit though, the tease at the end of this story is quite intriguing. The hinted conspiracy from the sentient programs' (AKA The Ghostworks) conversation that served as an epilogue, displayed that the events that had happened and triggered the origin of the main protagonist Zero Cochrane's transformation into Ghost Rider was not out of serendipity nor the noble pure intentions that they claimed to have. Still, as I've said too many times already, I can't muster enough of the enthusiasm without the original art team. Have I beaten that point to death already?