In what is easily the weirdest comic book of the season, Ghost Rider — Robbie Reyes, a muscle car mechanic from east Los Angeles who appeared this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — takes on Krampus in the newest issue of Marvel’s digital-only series A Year of Marvels. In a story about the spirit of Christmas, Ghost Rider chokes Krampus and incinerates him in front of Santa Claus. Happy holidays!
Written by rapper, actor, and comics nerd Method Man, who adopted the name of former Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze, Robbie’s spirit of vengeance Eli Morrow (a serial killer and Satan worshipper) senses an evil presence in the neighborhood. That spirit is Krampus, the Germanic legend who kidnaps naughty children and takes them to the underworld. After chasing Krampus in the Hell Charger, Ghost Rider ends up in the North Pole where he goes one-on-one with Krampus before the real Santa shows up to restore some Christmas confidence.
Bright and colorful with an uplifting message, kinda, Ghost Rider X-Mas Special Infinite Comic #1 as it is officially titled is a jarring mixture of tones and unintentional hilarity. The crux of the story is that Robbie’s little brother is teased for still believing in Santa Claus. And why? With real Norse gods like Thor in the Marvel Universe, the concept of an immortal St. Nicholas is totally plausible.
But where the book really goes off the rails — for better or worse — is Ghost Rider fighting Krampus. The visual imagery is tight, because if there’s anyone who should fight a Christmas demon it’s Ghost Rider, but the all-ages presentation feels like an poor fit when Ghost Rider burns Krampus alive in front of Santa Claus and tons of kidnapped children, which sorta makes X-Mas Special Infinite Comic a genuine Ghost Rider story.
Also, for some reason, there’s a piece of shit little boy who abuses his helpless cat.
Don’t worry. While he doesn’t get comeuppance from Ghost Rider, Robbie takes the cat for his own. Aww.
Ghost Rider X-Mas Special makes for fun and bizarre lunch hour reading. Ghost Rider versus Krampus is too good of a concept to pass up, and even if it doesn’t instill some holiday spirit, for $1.99, the spirit of vengeance will do. It’s available now exclusively on Marvel Digital.