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Avengers #22: Review

Jul 2019
Jason Aaron, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

Challenge of the Ghost Riders Part 1: The exorcism at Avengers Mountain

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers #22 Review by (August 8, 2019)
This issue contains 2 bits connected to Free Comic Book Day 2019: Avengers.
1 part of that issue was a preview of the Avengers facing the maddened Hell Charger.
Another part of that issue had Iron Man transported to 1 million BC and meeting the 1M BC Avengers led by Odin (and including the 1st Ghost Rider). A section of this issue is obviously a prelude to that.

Hopefully subsequent issues will sort out the confusing history of the Ghost Riders and the Spirits Of Vengeance, to save me trying to do it.

The Breathing Gun was formerly used by Jaine Cutter in the Hellstorm: Prince Of Lies series and the Ghost Riders: Heaven's On Fire series.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #22 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Robbie Reyes is driving his young brother Gabe Reyes to school. Gabe complains that Robbie is always away on his new job (which we know is the Avengers). Robbie says he's thinking of quitting. Then his car (the Hell Charger) starts acting up, and little bro urges him to go faster. The car catches fire, speeds up and drives over other vehicles, all the while demanding blood as fuel. Robbie finally gets control back at the school, and Gabe doesn't seem to have noticed anything odd. Robbie swears to get the car fixed.

He takes it out into the desert, smashes it up, sets fire to it and buries the remains. But when he gets home the car's waiting for him good as new.

So he takes it to the Avengers Mountain HQ and asks the help of Black Panther, Blade (with Boy-Thing on his shoulder), Captain America and Captain Marvel. He wants to get rid of the car and stop being Ghost Rider. T'Challa says he and the car are molecularly bonded, and the attempt might kill him. Robbie says it already has.

He gives them a quick origin story. His parents disappeared years ago (earlier the car said they were dead) and he's been looking after Gabe ever since. He was street racing for money when he was killed by drug dealers, but the car brought him back to life as Ghost Rider. The car was possessed by his dead serial killer Uncle Eli Morrow. Robbie became a vigilante as GR, with Eli prompting him to be more brutal. But he hasn't heard from Eli in months. However since vampires turned him into a more vicious GR (#14) the car has had a different voice.

Blade the Vampire Slayer whispers to Panther that they should just kill the monster Reyes, but BP wants to save him. Blade offers Robbie his experience with the Spirit Of Vengeance that possessed (or maybe not) all previous Ghost Riders. He says GRs have been around for all human history, but still no-one knows their true purpose - do they work for God or the Devil? Robbie denies having made a deal with any devil, but Blade suggest maybe Eli did.

Blade has his Hellfire Shotgun and he's tried calling previous GRs for help. But Danny Ketch is now a drunk, and Johnny Blaze is missing. Robbie says he dreamed of Blaze recently (#16-17), who now seemed to be the King of Hell. T'Challa says he's sent for another expert.

But meanwhile BP wants to study what happens when Robbie transforms. However this time it all goes wrong, and the car ensnares Reyes in magic chains like the 1 that GR wields. CapA tries to hold Robbie's burning body back while CapM punches holes in the Hell Charger and Blade joins in with his Hellfire Shotgun. Robbie completes his transformation, and Ghost Rider tells them to leave it to *him*.

But another voice interrupts, chiding them for starting without him. It's Daimon Hellstrom, the Son Of Satan, who Panther contacted as an expert in exorcism.

But now we break off for an interlude in Turkey where Captain Marvel's War Avengers defeated some of Sindr's Fire Goblins in War Of The Realms (but not recorded in any comic I know of). Okoye of the Agents Of Wakanda is showing Iron Man and Thor around, and explaining they've found a leftover cache of Muspelheim Grub Mines. We see She-Hulk 'disarming' them with extreme prejudice.

But Okoye really called the pair here because of what they found in a cave. Thor detects great evil, and Okoye tells them that miners sent in to explore the cavern were driven mad. She herself went in and retrieved an object which she now shows them. It is  a facemask of fossilised metal dating from 1 million BC, and there was the remains of a skull inside it. Iron Man recognises it as 1 of *his* helmets. He says he's never been here before, but he suspects he *will* be.

Back at the Mountain the Hell Charger has calmed down and Robbie Reyes has reverted to human. Steve Rogers burned his hands and Hellstrom strongly recommends dousing them with holy water. T'Challa contacts Gorilla-Man to bring all the bottles they have down here.

Daimon hands Blade a mystical Breathing Gun. He tells him it will hiss if things go very badly. If that happens Blade must shoot Ghost Rider and Hellstrom and then empty the clip into the car. He tells anyone who isn't already deeply stained by Hell to leave, and by this he only means Steve Rogers. But CapA elects to stay.

Robbie gets in the car and Daimon starts an incantation. The car bursts into flames ...

... and Reyes finds himself in the traffic jam in Hell that he experienced as a 'dream' in #16-17. The Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider appears again and tells him the exorcism won't get rid of the Spirit Of Vengeance. But he offers to race him for it.



This issue also includes a 1-page Part 10 of the Everyone Is A Target build-up to the Absolute Carnage event.

Writer Clay McLeod Chapman. Artist Alberto Alburquerque. Colurs Jay David Ramos. Letters Cory Petit.

The 2 Hawkeyes Clint Barton and Kate Bishop are playing table tennis in the West Coast Avengers HQ, unaware that a crowd of symbiote-infected homeless people are after Clint.

(The infected are supposed to be tracking down everyone who was ever bonded to a symbiote. I don't remember when this happened to Barton. Possibly when he and Agent Venom were both part of the Secret Avengers.)


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Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Jason Keith
Stefano Caselli (Cover Penciler)
Stefano Caselli (Cover Inker)
Stefano Caselli (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

(T'Challa)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel

(Carol Danvers)
Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider

(Johnny Blaze)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
She-Hulk
She-Hulk

(Jennifer Walters)
Son of Satan
Son of Satan

(Daimon Hellstrom)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Boy-Thing, Gabe Reyes, Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes), Okoye.