People have been fascinated with the character of Ghost Rider ever since his first appearance in Marvel Spotlight On #5. Who could blame them? He has a cool flaming skull head, rides a kick-ass motorcycle, and has an awesome studded leather jacket. Marvel tried to push him into the limelight with two self titled movies, but the character didn’t seem to catch on. They are giving Ghost Rider another big push with a a Hulu series Marvel’s Ghost Rider and his own comic book, Ghost Rider. Both of these will be written so you can pick them up with no prior knowledge of the character or mythology surrounding him, but it’s always better to know so here we go.
Ghost Rider is the name given to many people throughout history. These people embody the Spirit of Vengeance (except Robbie Reyes, I’ll get to that later). The Spirit of Vengeance works for Mephisto and it’s sole purpose is to exact vengeance upon the guilty. As I mentioned, there have been Ghost Riders all the way back to prehistoric time (Avengers of 1,000,000 BC story-line). There are far too many to cover them all in one article. I will delve into the ones associated with the comic book (Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch) and the Hulu series (Robbie Reyes).
Johnny’s path to becoming Ghost Rider started when he learned his surrogate father was stricken with life-threatening cancer. Blaze turned to the occult to save him. His studies led him to a spell which supposedly could summon Satan himself. Johnny was unaware that he had, in fact, summoned Mephisto. Desperate to save his father, he sold his soul to Mephisto in return for the cancer to be cured. Mephisto came to claim his prize, but was unable to when Johnny’s girlfriend proclaimed her love for him, which drove Mephisto away with the purity of her emotion.
Mephisto is not one to give up easily. He bonded Blaze him with the demon Zarathos as an act of revenge for not being able to obtain his soul. This transformed him into a Ghost Rider. While Johnny still had his soul, he was forced to punish the wicked and evil upon Mephisto’s demands. Blaze was not completely lost in the transformation however, and would also help the innocent when they were in danger.
Danny Ketch gained Ghost Rider status as a result of fleeing from gangsters who attacked him and his sister. He hid in a junkyard where he found a motorcycle with a glowing gas cap. When he touched the gas cap he was transformed into the Ghost Rider. This Ghost Rider was nearly identical to the previous, although his costume was now a black leather biker jacket with spiked shoulder-pads, grey leather pants, and a mystic chain he wore across his chest, which responded to his mental commands and served as his primary melee weapon. His new motorcycle resembled a futuristic machine and the front of it could lower to serve as a battering ram.
To make things a little weirder, we learn that Johnny and Danny are actually brothers. This comes into play in the upcoming Ghost Rider comic book as Johnny takes over Hell and Danny ends up working under him as Ghost Rider on Earth. You can imagine there is just a bit of sibling rivalry taking place. The comic book is due to hit the shelves sometime in October.
There is a new Hulu series set to air in 2020 called Marvel’s Ghost Rider. This series centers on the newest Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes. This is a spin-off from the Marvel’s SHIELD TV series (This show has been cancelled). As I mentioned above, Robbie Reyes is NOT a Spirit of Vengeance. Robbie “borrows” a 1969 Dodge Charger that is possessed by the spirit of his evil satanic serial killer uncle, Eli Morrow. Robbie and Eli fight for dominance over Robbie’s body. Robbie agrees to permanently bond with Eli and sate Eli’s thirst for murder, but only by killing people with evil souls. Robbie has exhibited some of the same powers as other Ghost Riders such as the penance stare and ability to bond with his vehicle. The big difference is Robbie is sharing his body with a serial killer entity rather than a demon out to exact revenge.
There are a ton more people who have carried the mantle of Ghost Rider. These three are just the ones that will be showcased by Marvel in the near future. If you are looking to get more steeped in Ghost Rider lore, I suggest any of the stories written by Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, or more recently Jason Aaron. Ghost Rider is a really cool character with a lot of evil vs good dichotomies. I can’t wait to see him get his moment in the spotlight.
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