Sunday, 26 April 2015

Ghost Rider – Funko POP! Marvel

Today's review is best enjoyed while listening to Hell Bent for Leather, from Judas Priest. 

Series: POP! Marvel
Company: Funko
Year: 2013

I’ve been on a bit of a Marvel kick over the last week or so, a lot of it driven by the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. So we continue that today with the Ghost Rider Funko POP!

Now I must confess that I don’t think I’ve ever read a complete Ghost Rider comic – I know a little bit about his backstory, but I think that like Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider is a character who you can appreciate on a purely visual level, without knowing too much about the character. He looks like a total cliché tattoo design – a biker with a flaming skull for a head –but that’s what makes him so cool!  

However, I did watch the first Ghost Rider film, back in 2007 – as many of you will know, it was dreadful. I didn’t get around to seeing the second, though trusted friends assure me it’s far worse. It’s a shame, as it could have been really great, but was hindered at many points. I’m sure this was at least in part (though not entirely) due to his “hellish”* origins and the way some of that had to be tiptoed around for a mainstream movie – what probably should have been quite a dark and disturbing movie was turned into a near-unwatchable embarrassment.
Nonetheless, in early 2013 Ghost Rider got a POP! release from Funko, probably at least in part as a result of the second film coming out in 2012. There have been a few different people who’ve taken up the Ghost Rider mantle over the year, and this one most resembles the second iteration, Danny Ketch.

The original Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) was a stunt rider, and his outfit was kind of like a jumpsuit, with a big 1970s collar. Danny Ketch, by contrast, wore a biker outfit – grey pants (probably jeans), leather jacket with spikes and massive chains. He got a Judas Priest makeover, basically. It’s the look I prefer for the character, but that might also be because it’s the one that was current when I was a kid. In his hand he holds one of his signature chains, which is a great touch. Would be nice if it was flaming but you can’t have everything. Aside from that, it looks like a major retool of the basic Funko body -- distinct from other figures in the line, but without deviating massively from their signature style.     

Paint is mixed. Funko are generally fine with paint these days, but two years ago they tended towards “adequate” and not much better. Ghost Rider fits that mould – his face has been notably touched up around the nose and mouth. The spikes that dot his belt, gloves and wrists are all sloppy, too. But that said I like the solution they came up with for his flaming head – the whole thing is cast in a semi-translucent orange plastic, with the “skull” parts being painted on later. Though the execution is a little off, it’s a good concept.  

There are three versions of this POP that I’m aware of – the regular one (reviewed here today), glow in the dark and metallic. The metallic one doesn’t look so might be expected, the glow in the dark version would be my preference, but it’s now quite expensive, and I’m not really willing to fork out exorbitant sums for him. Indeed, just the regular one will probably cost you a little more than you might expect, as he doesn’t seem to be in production any longer.       

I skipped Ghost Rider on first release and picked up on a bit of a whim when it turned out I had the chance to get him again – but he is a good POP that will look quite distinct from the masses of other superhero POPs on your shelves. I spent about the same this figure as I did for a ticket to the movie back in 2007, and I can tell you with great certainty that this was better value. 

It would be nice if they eventually redid him and included a flaming Hell Cycle, similar to the other vehicles Funko has released over the last few years, but unless he gets a new movie or TV series anytime soon, that seems quite unlikely.

*Neither DC or Marvel really draw firm answers about cosmic matters, but DC have hinted on numerous occasions that the Judeo-Christian view of things is more or less correct (though it’s obviously more complex, what with the existence of the Greek gods in Wonder Woman, and the various different spiritual powers from Hellblazer/Constantine, Dr Fate and Swamp Thing, just to name a few). Marvel has deliberately played it vague over the decades, at least in part to avoid alienating readers. This has included Johnny Blaze's Ghost Rider powers being retconned as coming from Mephisto as opposed to being a side effect for selling his soul to the devil.The forced distinction may seem quite silly to some (including me), but that's the way comics often are.       

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