Getting to know Marvel's newest Spirit of Vengeance in 'All-New Ghost Rider'
(CBR) They say road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but in the Marvel Universe it's actually possible to race down it behind the wheel of a fiery, supernatural vehicle. The drivers are usually hosts to powerful entities known as Spirits of Vengeance, and these spirits transform their hosts into flaming, super powered, skeletal beings and equip them with supernatural vehicle. These Ghost Riders have the power to be heroes and avenge and protect the innocent, but if they're not careful the vengeance they wreak can get out of control and their lives can be ruined.
This March, Los Angeles teenager Robbie Reyes will become the latest person to try and turn a Spirit of Vengeance into a force for good when writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore bring their ongoing "All-New Ghost Rider" into All-New Marvel NOW!. CBR News spoke with the creators about their plans for the book and why Robbie Reyes isn't designed to replace Johnny Blaze in the Marvel U.
CBR News: Felipe, "All-New Ghost Rider" is your first work for Marvel, and Tradd, if my research is correct you've done some covers for Marvel but this will be your first interior work for them. How does it feel to be given a chance to design an all-new take on a classic Marvel character for your first big Marvel assignment? Is it easier than picking up the continuity and status quo of an established character?
Felipe Smith: Creating an all-new Ghost Rider for the Marvel Universe is not only a great honor; it's also extremely exciting! From the start, I was given complete freedom to flesh out Robbie Reyes' personality, background, and the setting in which his adventures (and misadventures) unfold; all this, in addition to being an incredibly fortunate situation for a writer, allows for the formation of a very special and personal story.
Although Robbie lives on the West Coast and, as a character, is entirely independent of his Ghost Rider predecessors, he's still an integral part of the Marvel Universe and therefore interacts with well-known characters; the first one being Mr. Hyde.
Though we're creating an entirely new story with "All-New Ghost Rider," we are very mindful of continuity and the history of the characters he meets. I'm not sure if it's easier or harder than picking up the continuity of an established character, but I definitely think the way Marvel approached this project allows for a new and very distinct storytelling dynamic. Tradd and I have been offered a chance to develop something truly fresh that plays to our strengths and that's really all a creator could ask for from a publisher. We're very excited!
Tradd Moore: Your research serves you well! After drawing a number of covers, this is indeed the first time I've tackled interiors for a Marvel book. It feels great to be given this kind of freedom on my first Marvel project!
As for creating an all-new take on a pre-existing property, it comes with its own unique set of difficulties. The task isn't necessarily any harder or easier than dealing with continuity and status quo, I don't think, it's just different.
When you're creating an original/creator owned comic, such as Felipe has done with "Peepo Choo" or Justin Jordan and I have done with "Luther Strode," you have the unmitigated joy of creative freedom, but the difficult task of finding an audience to care.
When you're dealing with established characters, the interest and fan base is already there, but it comes with the weight of pre-established story lines and history, which can sometimes be limiting, as well as reader's desires and expectations, which are often insatiable.
That takes us to the type of thing that Felipe and I are doing with "All-New Ghost Rider," which is an amalgamation of the two: A brand new character within the realm of a pre-existing property. It has a taste of the difficulties of both options, but also a taste of the benefits. It's a unique beast to wrestle with, but I've enjoyed the process and am honored to have been given the opportunity!
Let's talk about a little bit about your new character Robbie Reyes. From reading other interviews he sounds like a teenager with a passion for cars and electronic music, but a lot of rage because of the East Los Angeles environment he's growing up in. Is that a fair assessment? And when we first meet him how is Robbie coping with his rage issues? Does he simply lose control when confronted with situations he doesn't like and feels powerless in? Or is he a more jaded and cynical kid that's almost always angry? Tradd, which aspects of Robbie's character did you you want to emphasize and convey with your depictions of him?
Moore:Yeah, that first bit about Robbie being a teenager with a passion for cars and electronic music is right on the money, and, yes, he absolutely loathes the violent, gang ridden area he lives in.
That said, when we first meet Robbie, he's not struggling with self control issues; not outwardly, at least. He's angry, yes, very much so, but it's an anger that seethes under the surface. He's fed up. Robbie isn't the type to fly off his rocker, though, he's calculated; he knows how and when to choose his battles. I don't know that I'd label him a jaded cynic either. Distrustful, sure, but not hopeless. We're dealing with a young man who's come up in a harsh environment, and therefore has an understandably harsh outlook. Life is hard, life is cruel, and he's never known it any other way. He's a realist. Life is what it is, and he deals with it.
It's not that he's necessarily looking to lash out so much as he wants to get out, but I think he'd likely do the first to get the second. His love for his little brother, Gabe, and his all-consuming desire to build a better life for Gabe is what informs his decision making. I think this Nietzsche quote sums up Robbie's situation quite nicely, "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." Gabe is Robbie's "why."
As for me, I think my favorite aspect of Robbie is his sense of responsibility. He is fiercely headstrong, hardworking, and resilient, and I love that about him. He works, he goes to school, he takes care of his little brother. That's his life. He foregoes a lot of the frivolous joys that your average teenagers indulge in in order to make his little brother's life as comfortable as possible. Something that I always try to get across with Robbie is that, beyond the contemptuous grimace he wears in public, there is an extraordinarily passionate, devoted, caring young man veiled underneath. Fear, love, anger, kindness, it's all boiling within him and ready to E-X-P-L-O-D-E.
Smith: Robbie Reyes is decidedly an angry teen, but he has no rage issues even though we'd understand if he did. He's been dealt a pretty bad hand from the get-go, having lost his parents at a very early age, left to singlehandedly care for his handicapped younger brother Gabe, but Robbie's learned to keep his anger deep within and deal with the hardships immediately at hand.
He's not your average 18-year-old. He's a strong-willed, weathered and resilient kid; but yes, he's very angry inside. His unconditional love for his little brother keeps him centered and focused on his sole purpose, getting them both out of the gangland they live in. Undeniably tough for his age, both mentally and emotionally, Robbie is neither jaded nor cynical; he's pragmatic, and willing to do whatever it takes to care for his younger sibling.
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