Avengers #22 // Review
It’s one thing to be a reluctant hero. It’s another thing altogether to be cursed with an ancient spirit of vengeance that transforms the hero into a leather-clad demonic being with a skull encased in flames. Robbie Reyes doesn’t want to be a hero. He doesn’t want to be the Ghost Rider. Naturally, there’s going to need to be an exorcism in the latest issue of The Avengers. Jason Aaron writes a chapter in the lives of Earth’s mightiest heroes that is drawn by Stefano Caselli. Jason Keith handles the colors. Aaron and company delve a little deeper into the nature of the Ghost Rider in a fun, little supernatural issue.
Robbie Reyes is hanging out with his little brother. His brother wants to go for a spin in the car he doesn’t realize is demonically possessed. Robbie is horrified when the car nearly kills his little brother. So he takes it out into the desert and brutally dismantles it...only to find it right back at his home in mint condition when he returns. Naturally, he’s going to look to the Avengers for help. Seeing as how Doctor Strange is nowhere to be found, the best that they can hope for is a little help from the Son of Satan himself...Daimon Hellstrom.
Aaron crafts an enjoyable pop fusion of demonic horror and superhero team action. The opening issue feels a bit like something out of the old EC Tales From the Crypt. The darkness carries over into a bit of problem-solving between members of the Avengers as they try to figure out the best way to deal with the problem. Hellstrom’s appearance here lends the action a sense of wildly unstable energies that keep things interesting through what might have otherwise come across as a rather dull exorcism.
Caselli’s art wraps all the action in dark shadows that are illuminated by bits of dark radiance brought to the page by Keith’s colors. Some particularly dramatic moments come across with a very vivid sense of action. Reyes’ attempt to destroy the demon car is given particularly dramatic weight. As he is seen in shadow pounding the hell out of a very cool looking black car in shadow. Hellstrom’s appearance in the issue is given sinister energy as Caselli renders it from impressive angles. The image of a car inside a pentagram for an exorcism is a very potent and delightfully strange visual.
Somewhere in the midst of everything, there’s also a moment between Thor and Iron Man in a Turkish desert. They’ve been called in to investigate the strange appearance of what appears to be a fossilized Iron Man helmet in a cave. The addition of that scene amid Reyes’ problems, helps to keep the issue running on a few different tracks. In a way that recalls the kind of deft traffic control, Chris Claremont had in The Uncanny X-Men when his run on that series was firing on all cylinders. Aaron’s Avengers seems to have found firm footing now that the smoke has finally cleared on the War of the Realms crossover event.