By Paul Montgomery
Some like their revenge served up cold.
For the mortal hosts of vengeance itself, the road warriors known as the Ghost Riders, revenge arrives in a simmering spree. Asphalt turns to jelly, and the wicked crumple in the exhaust. When Mr. Hyde descends on LA with a vile new drug, an all-new Ghost Rider revs up to win back the streets.
This March, the Spirit of Vengeance spurs on a new avatar, and young gearhead Robbie Reyes has more than choppers on his wish list. Strap in for a faster, louder ride than ever before as ALL-NEW GHOST READER #1 screams onto the blacktop.
We spoke to writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore about speed, vengeance, and the road to ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER.
Marvel.com: There's a new Spirit of Vengeance scorching up the streets. Who is this new Ghost Rider, and what sets them apart?
Felipe Smith: Our protagonist is Robbie Reyes, a quiet 18-year-old East Angelino with a short fuse, a passion for electronic music and a nearly unhealthy infatuation with absolutely anything powered by an engine.
His vehicle of choice, the automobile, very clearly sets him apart visually.
In comparison to his vengeance-seeking predecessors, he's very young and inexperienced in most aspects of life; but as the product of a harsh inner city upbringing, Robbie's street smarts, overall distrust for most people, and clear contempt for his violent surroundings make him the perfect host for a Spirit of Vengeance.
Once we get to know him, we also realize that he's a sweet, well-meaning person, something that may not sit well with the Spirit possessing him.
Marvel.com: Felipe, let's talk about the road that brought you here. You're a mangaka, and though you've spent time in Japan, you arrived there by way of the U.S. and Argentina. As with any comic creator, I'd imagine your influences are hardly limited to your own stomping grounds. Of all the things you've seen, what's riding sidecar in this new journey with Marvel?
Felipe Smith: At this point, I'm not quite sure what my stomping grounds are.
I was born in Ohio, raised in Buenos Aires, went to college in Chicago, moved to L.A., then lived and worked 4 years in Tokyo and returned to L.A. a little over a year ago.
That's some erratic, spaced out stomping. [Laughs]
|Ghost Rider by Tradd Moore|
My most recent storytelling endeavor, writing and drawing comics in Japan, was a relentless editorial beating that almost finished me.
The product of said editorial savagery was a three-volume graphic novel series; Peepo Choo.
The most valuable lesson I learned from that experience may seem pretty obvious to most, but it's very important, nevertheless: Regardless of theme, plot, or underlying message, the protagonist is the most important part of a comic book.
Character is key.
The reader may not necessarily identify with this character, but he should understand it, believe it, and be genuinely interested in how it reacts to the predicament, action or hilarity it's placed into.
My efforts are focused 100% on Robbie and on giving the reader the hottest front row seat to the show, literally: the passenger seat of Ghost Rider's roaring, flaming super charged racer.
Marvel.com: Tradd, readers of the Luther Strode books already have a good idea what your spectacular take on vengeance looks like. How about speed? How are you playing chicken with your limits this time around? What goals do you want to set for yourself as an artist beyond the demands of the script?
Tradd Moore: I love conveying speed and movement in my work, and ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER is going to give me ample opportunity to do just that, albeit in a different way than I'm accustomed to. I'm familiar with expressing character/body movement, but I've never done any extended amount of work drawing vehicle races and chases before, so it's going to be fun new territory for me. I'm excited to experiment, learn, and grow!
As for playing chicken, that's what storytelling is all about! Pacing is paramount. You have to know when to go for the throat and when to sit back and prowl for a bit, and it's definitely something I try to be mindful of. Teaming up with Felipe certainly helps! He's a wonderful storyteller.
Regarding limits, I try to approach each page as if I have none. Whether or not that's true is irrelevant, I think. I figure if an artist approaches each page, each panel, each task with no preconceived notion of what they can and can't do, they're bound to create interesting things along the way.
My goal in any project is to tell each story in the best way I can and to learn more about the world around me in the process. I feel that the more engrossed I become, the more research I do, and the more I fall in love with the story and characters, the more engrossed readers will be. So yeah, a script can never demand passion, but, as an artist, I do.
Felipe and I are both very passionate about this one, and I hope that we will inspire a similar reaction from others.
Marvel.com: You each get the call. You're the new Ghost Rider. Chains dragging everywhere, scalps enflamed. What's you preferred vehicle of vengeance? What would you, personally, want to claim as your ride into hellacious adventure?
Tradd Moore: If I were to Ghost Ride the rolling chair at my drafting table, would that make me draw any faster? If so, I'm thinking that would definitely be my vehicle of choice. I mean, striking vengeance down upon ne'er-do-wells would be cool, but zipping around my apartment cooking ramen noodles and taking out the trash would be doubly useful. Multitasking, you know?
Plus, bad guys would never expect their doom to come swooping in on the wheels of a fiery computer chair. ‘Tis a truly frightful pale horse.
Felipe Smith: Since Tradd gave you a hilarious, unexpected answer [Laughs], I’ll give you the more predictable, straightforward one.
My ride of choice would be a black 1969 Dodge Charger with a chromed blower on the hood. It's a fast, vengeance-ready, badass looking machine.
Though it's a classic, we've seen it driven in recent movies like “Fast & Furious 5” and “Drive Angry,” as well older movies, like Steve McQueen's 1968 “Bullitt.”
But it was also my favorite childhood outlaw car; the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee!
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