AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
2.7 out of 5
Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher: Hearts Of Darkness
(Art by John Romita Jr., Ron Garney, Klaus Janson and Al Milgrom)
Collecting the two one-shot crossovers 'Hearts of Darkness' and 'The Dark Design', this book sees the titular characters going toe-to-toe with the demon Blackheart, who hopes to corrupt them into helping him overthrow his father Mephisto, King of Hell.
This was one of my favourite graphic novels as a teenager and it was nice to return to it a couple of decades later and rediscover that I still really enjoy it. The three main characters are perfectly matched for one another and I love the way they all come together at the start of this book, summoned by mysterious letters and all staying in the same boarding house, unaware of each others' involvement. These are heroes for whom killing is second nature and who walk the line between light and darkness at all times. It is the fact that they're such likely candidates for falling to the dark side, as it were, and yet are never tempted by Blackheart's offer that makes them so badass here. Ghost Rider himself puts it best: "It doesn't matter if there is an edge, or if we occasionally cross it. As long as the innocent are protected, our cause is just."
It has to be said, however, that this is very much a book of two halves. The first half ('Hearts of Darkness') is a perfectly plotted and paced clash between the heroes and the forces of evil and is elevated by some absolutely brilliant, albeit simple, art by John Romita Jr. The second half of the book ('The Dark Design') is noticeably less coherent and impactful and is absolutely the weaker half. Once again the art plays a big part in the difference and I have to say that I didn't particularly enjoy Ron Garney's very 90s style much at all.
Overall, however, this is largely a crossover story done right, with the plot and themes playing nicely into the characters of the main players.
4 out of 5
Logan: Path Of The Warlord
(Art by John Paul Leon and Shawn Martinbrough)
A short one-shot story set long before Logan's adventures with the X-Men and even before he became Weapon X. Working as a mercenary spy in Japan, Logan falls afoul of an enemy named Kimora. Years later he discovers that Kimora is a warlord from another dimension and Logan has to cross between worlds to save his own.
Honestly, my review for this book could simply be 'weird, boring and pointless' and it would sum up everything I felt about it. It's weird because into what could easily have been an intriguing espionage story we get dropped this bizarre revelation about Kimora being an extradimensional warlord. It really adds nothing to the actual story and makes the whole thing feel like it doesn't belong in the Marvel Universe (I'm not saying Marvel doesn't do other dimensions; I'm saying that they don't do it like this). It's boring because there are no real stakes involved. Kimora is not an iconic enemy of Logan's and nothing that is particularly important to Logan is threatened, so there's really no reason to care what happens. Finally, it's pointless in two significant ways. The first of these is that nothing happens here that really adds anything of value to Logan's backstory nor introduces any major changes to the character we know. The other, more literal, way that this story is pointless is that it was written before Logan's bone-claws were conceived as being part of his mutation and therefore here he doesn't have any claws. Ask yourself if you really want to read a Wolverine story where he doesn't have any claws. I don't.
1 out of 5
(Art by Mike Wieringo and Terry Austin)
Rogue plans to return to Mississippi to visit the boy she once put into a coma with a kiss, leaving her erstwhile love Gambit behind filled with questions. They both become targets, however, when Bella Donna of the Assassins Guild embarks upon a quest for revenge against them.
This is a fairly straightforward 'you have to let go of the past to move on with the future' story, which has both Rogue and Gambit confronting unfinished business in New Orleans. It's a perfectly enjoyable story for the tragic lovers, both brought together and held apart by their mutant powers, but honestly nothing happens here that isn't entirely predictable.
3 out of 5