The Spirit of Vengeance is out of control in Manhattan, but how do you stop a supernatural force like the Ghost Rider? Do you think Spidey stands a chance? Let's hope so!
There's a fire burning out of control in Cypress Hills Cemetery, and the fire department is helpless to stop the blaze. At the center of the fire, however, a strange figure stands. It's the Ghost Rider, summoned from who-knows-where to New York. He conjures up his hellfire bike with a wave of his hand, and burns off into the night.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man is swinging high on life, after the Spider-Hunt and the five mil bounty on his head have been lifted. After doing some heroic deeds, Peter swings over to the Stacy household, where Spidey volunteers to tell Arthur everything he wants to know about Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin. Arthur, however, has different concerns on his mind, namely his children. Spidey feels like Arthur can't trust him yet, so he leaves.
At the same time, Mary Jane and Jill are walking home from school, when they see Paul moving his stuff into a van. He says something about not bein able to live with his father, packs up his truck, and speeds off into the night. Jill gives MJ the quick brush-off afterwards, leaving Mrs. Parker in a quandry. That doesn't last, however, when Peter jumps out of the bushes and scared the daylights out of her. He grabs her and jumps to a building top, where they start to get romantic. That, however, is broken up by a flaming hellion on a motorcycle, blazing through the streets. Spidey quickly changes and follows.
After making a few points by saving a kid from a burning skyscraper, Spidey follows GR to Times Square, where he's totally out of control. The web-slinger tries to stop him, but Ghosty's rampage can't be contained. Ghost Rider swings his chain, and it hits the ground, blowing up sections of the street.
Spidey looks down, and sees that under the street, a gang of terrorists is planning to explode a bomb under the street! Looks like Ghost Rider was unconsciously trying to stop the bomb from detonating. Spider-Man makes quick work of the criminals, and as he emerges with the still-ticking bomb, Danny Ketch comes forth and merges with Ghost Rider (don't ask me what's going on, go buy some back-issues of Ghost Rider if you're curious).
Anyway, the merged Ghost Rider takes the bomb, and Spidey covers him in this huge web-ball. The bomb explodes, but GR was able to absorb the blast. Just as Spider-Man figures that the spirit of vengeance is history, he rides out of the blast, leaving a trail of hellfire behind.
This was a good departure story. It gave us a little break after all the Identity Crisis stuff, and provided us with a nice cross-over in the process. Ghost Rider has always been one of my favorite mystical heroes, all the way back to the original with Johnny Blaze. It was also nice to see Spider-Man get some recognition, albeit haltingly, for the hero he really is.
I'm tempted to give it four webs, but I'll have to settle for the dubious 'three-and-a-half' webs. Javier Slatares's art harkened back to a more classic style, which is refreshing amongst the manga-mania-style. The story was just kind of a mish-mosh, trying to keep the regular story-line going while including some new action. While I liked Ghost Rider's sudden appearance, and the way he sniffed out the villains without knowing what he was doing, but there wasn't enough explanation or justification.
To those of us who haven't read Ghost Rider, we're left to guess as to what's happened, without really knowing. If you're attempting to create interest in a character by having them guest star, you have to provide some sort of hook, and I just didn't feel hooked.