Daniel "Dan" Ketch Ghost Rider

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The story of the Ghost Rider began over twenty thousand years ago, when the immortals known as the Blood allied themselves with the original Spirits of Vengeance in a war against a soul-stealing demon named Zarathos . To win this war, the Blood created the mystical Medallion of Power, which housed the assembled power of the Spirits of Vengeance. A portion of Zarathos became trapped in this Medallion, too, leading the Blood to decide that the artifact was too powerful to be kept intact. The Medallion was broken into shards and placed into the spiritual bloodlines of two families, both of which would be overseen and protected by a Blood named Caretaker .

This arrangement lasted until the 1700s, when young Noble Kale of the spiritual bloodline fell in love with a woman named Magdalena. Fearing the reaction from his fire-and-brimstone pastor father, Noble hid his romance. When Magdalena bore him a child, however, Pastor Kale had Magdalena branded a witch and burned at the stake. As she died, she cursed Pastor Kale, invoking the legendary Furies to seek vengeance in her name, and these ancient spirits went on a destructive rampage. Pastor Kale sought aid from the demon Mephisto , offering Noble's soul as payment. Mephisto recognized the Medallion shard within Noble Kale and activated it, transforming the young man into a living Spirit of Vengeance, a Ghost Rider. Noble defeated the Furies and then turned on his own father, who slew Noble's son as a sacrificial offering to Ghost Rider. A horrified Noble tried to commit suicide, but Mephisto appeared, seeking to claim his soul. An angelic being named Uriel intervened, stating Noble's soul belonged in Heaven. It was decided that Noble's soul belonged to neither Heaven nor Hell, but would instead be consigned to the void, to be summoned forth by his descendants. He inhabited the first-born child of each generation, with documented occurrences during World War I and the lifetime of Naomi Kale, the birth mother of Dan Ketch and his siblings. Fearing for her children, Naomi left Dan and his sister Barbara with Francis Ketch in Cypress Hills, New York. Her oldest son was left with his father while she unsuccessfully attempted to end the curse.

Dan and Barbara grew up in a happy and stable home, befriending local girl Stacy Dolan, who was the daughter of a local police officer and, later, the object of Dan's romantic affections. As Dan matured, he became interested in motorcycles and drawn to the open road. When Dan and Barb took a shortcut home through Cypress Hills Cemetery, they stumbled upon the criminal Deathwatch as he killed a man over canisters of bio-toxin. Barb's screams alerted Deathwatch and his minions, who shot her in the chest with an arrow. Dan carried her into a nearby junkyard, seeking escape, and noticed a pristine-looking motorcycle parked in the center of the debris. Drawn to it, Dan touched its gas cap, his fingers dripping with his sister's innocent blood. The blood's contact with the gas cap ignited a mystical transformation, changing Dan Ketch into the Spirit of Vengeance known as the Ghost Rider.

Ghost Rider rushed Barbara to a hospital, but her severe wounds left her in a deep coma. Enraged, Dan embraced his new power and its mission of vengeance. Whenever innocent blood was spilled, Dan transformed into the Ghost Rider and used his powers - especially his dreaded Penance Stare - to mete out justice. At first, Ghost Rider focused on finding the now-missing bio-toxin, which had become the crux of an ongoing war between Deathwatch and the Kingpin of Crime. Ghost Rider and Deathwatch's pseudo-vampiric minion Blackout clashed repeatedly over the canisters, which had been found and hidden in the cemetery by the Cypress Hills Jokers gang. During a final battle over the canisters, the contents of which could have wiped out most of the Tri-State Area, Blackout started to unseal them but was interrupted by the Ghost Rider. The pseudo-vampire tried to sink his artificial teeth into Ghost Rider's neck, but the hero's flaming skull badly burned him and drove him mad. Blackout fled, but Dan was now certain of his role as the Ghost Rider and swore to his comatose sister that he would continue fighting crime.

This proved to be a costly vow for Dan. Shortly after turning his Penance Stare on a group of criminals, Dan decided that no one deserved such torment - not even lawbreakers. He had his friend Jack D'Auria lock up the bike, but he was soon pressed into using it again when Mr. Hyde went on a rampage. Shortly thereafter, journalist Linda Wei began campaigning against the Ghost Rider, equating him with other vigilantes such as the Punisher . Dan disliked the comparison, especially after teaming with the Punisher against the anarchist Flag-Smasher. Ghost Rider refused to allow the Punisher to kill their foe, saying he served vengeance, not death. After teaming with Spider-Man , the Hulk and Wolverine to form a temporary substitute Fantastic Four , he aided Wolverine and Brass in tracking down Deathwatch, who had kidnapped Watanbe's sister in a power play against the Mandarin . Barbara Ketch had stabilized by this time, but remained comatose. The stress of recent events built a wall between Dan and Stacy. When Blackout uncovered Dan's secret identity, he slew Barbara in her hospital bed. A traumatized Dan took out his rage on the insane Scarecrow , who had gone on a killing spree to draw out his old foe, Captain America .

A guilt-stricken Dan found his life becoming increasingly complicated. Blackout continued to target those close to Dan, slaying blind street vendor Mr. Larsen and the priest at Mrs. Ketch's church. A local parents group blamed Ghost Rider for a series of child abductions and hired an all-female mercenary group called H.E.A.R.T. to stop him. They ambushed Ghost Rider in the tunnels inhabited by the mutant Morlocks , who were involved in the child abductions. With the aid of the original X-Factor , Ghost Rider was able to resolve the crisis, though the media continued to portray him as a menace. He encountered Thor , then fought the murderer Zodiak, after which Ghost Rider was kidnapped and separated from Dan by Nightmare , who believed him to be Zarathos. Nightmare force-fed Ghost Rider memories of Zarathos, but was shocked when the Rider rejected them as not his own. Dan and Ghost Rider re-merged and escaped Nightmare's realm, only to find themselves trapped by Doctor Strange and his associate Rintrah, who also believed Ghost Rider to be Zarathos. Ghost Rider convinced Strange of his error and aided the mage in exorcising a demon from his ally, Topaz . Ghost Rider joined the Moon Knight against Plasma and her Knights of the Moon, aided Spider-Man in rescuing young Adam from the Hobgoblin , and briefly assisted the resurrected warriors known as Shadow Riders against the demon-forces of the megalomaniacal Mys-Tech .

The arrival of John Blaze led to even more turmoil. The former Ghost Rider used a binding ritual to trap Dan, whom he believed to be Zarathos. However, an explosion of Hellfire leaped from Ghost Rider and into Blaze via his shotgun. This freed Dan, but also enabled Blaze to discharge Hellfire through the gun, badly wounding Ghost Rider. When he realized that slaying Ghost Rider would mean killing Dan - whom he now viewed as an innocent - Blaze relented. Convinced the entity within Dan was not Zarathos, but knowing what the younger man was going through, Blaze acted as Dan's protector from then on. Blaze and the Ghost Rider aided the extraterrestrials Gun Runner and the Enhanced, freeing prisoners of the alien religious fanatics known as the Cynodd. Ghost Rider also began trying to repair Dan's personal life, freeing Francis Ketch from the new Sin-Eater (Reverend Styge), who was preying on her suffering over her lost daughter.

Ghost Rider then assisted Cloak and Dagger against a plot of the demon D'spayre, aided Quasar and others against the forces of Maelstrom , teamed with the Punisher against the immense traveling drug-dealing fortress the Roaring Island, fought the Hand alongside Daredevil , and joined the mutant Cable , clashing with the subterranean cult the Grateful Undead. The Ghost Rider was summoned alongside the Punisher and Wolverine to the town of Christ's Crown by Blackheart to slay his father Mephisto, but the trio fought off both demons, saving the young empath Lucy Crumm in the process; Lucy later summoned the trio to again banish Blackheart. Ghost Rider's near-constant battles continued. He fought against the likes of Zodiak ; Mephisto's pawn Suicide ; Spider-Man's foes the Sinister Six ; Nightmare; the alien Sleepwalker ; Deathwatch's agents Hag , Troll , and Snowblind ; the demon Gorn; the werewolf cult the Braineaters; and the demon D'Kay and his Legion of Vengeance.

Dan sought revenge on Blackout, who tore out his throat. A transformation into Ghost Rider saved Dan's life, but left him unable to switch back. Trapped in a void, he was barely able to converse with Ghost Rider. During one of their shared visions, Ghost Rider saw a series of individuals capable of stopping the ancient demoness Lilith, Mother of Demons (Lilin), from tearing the walls between dimensions. Ghost Rider teamed with John Blaze and the mysterious Caretaker to assemble these beings, who became the Midnight Sons. Around this same time, he journeyed to New Orleans to track down a group of alien Brood. Ghost Rider was briefly possessed by a Brood during this time, but Dan Ketch - while floating in the void - was able to resist the alien's control. Aided by John Blaze and the X-Men , Ghost Rider slew the Brood Queen.

After Doctor Strange helped restore Dan to normal, Dan began re-evaluating his work as Ghost Rider. He felt he was a force for good, but he also wanted to have a normal life again. This desire intensified after his mother revealed that both he and Barbara had been adopted. Ghost Rider and Blaze continued to work well together, though their methods sometimes clashed. The two of them united with Spider-Man in an attempt to capture both Venom and a group of Deathspawn seeking the resurrection of Deathwatch. Soon after, Lilith allied herself with Centurious , an old foe of the John Blaze Ghost Rider. Together, the two mystics kidnapped Dan's mother and stole Ghost Rider's enchanted chain, forging it into a weapon for Centurious. Ghost Rider badly injured Centurious during one of their clashes, unwittingly unleashing Zarathos, who had been lurking inside Centurious ever since their imprisonment in the Crystal of Souls. Zarathos mated with Lilith and schemed to resurrect the Fallen, a group of his former followers. At this point, Caretaker disclosed the true origins of the Medallion of Power and revealed that Dan and John were brothers. Armed with this new knowledge, Ghost Rider confronted Zarathos in a battle that seemingly destroyed them both, though Ghost Rider reconstituted himself weeks later, just prior to the murder of John Blaze's wife, Roxanne, by Anton Hellgate.

Dan moved into a new apartment and began taking control of his life. While Ghost Rider was plagued by Blackheart, Dan broke up with Stacy and sought more answers about Ghost Rider's origins. With the aid of Doctor Strange, Dan discovered that he was related to the young sorceress Jennifer Kale. Jennifer mystically unlocked Ghost Rider's memories, restoring his knowledge of the family curse. This greatly lightened Ghost Rider's spirit, especially after Jennifer Kale mystically caused many of Dan's friends and relatives to forget his secret identity. At last aware of his past as Noble Kale, Ghost Rider began working with Dan on a much more intuitive basis, helping his human host reconcile with Stacy. He also teamed with Brother Voodoo and Dracula's daughter, Lilith , to repel another attack by the Scarecrow, who had gained the power to inhabit other bodies and had summoned the decaying corpse of Barbara Ketch as part of his plan. Ghost Rider had a brief clash with Daredevil during this time, coming to blows over their differing methods in capturing a psychotic killer.

Blackheart later created his own Spirits of Vengeance - Wallow, Doghead, Verminous Rex and Pao Fu. They invited Noble to join them, killing him when he refused. Noble's soul was cast into Hell, where Blackheart sought to corrupt him by offering to restore Noble's mortal form and lift the family curse, in exchange for Noble's pledge to marry both Pao Fu and the mysterious Black Rose , secretly a resurrected Roxanne Blaze. Noble agreed, but Dan was unwilling. Now fully separated from Ghost Rider, Dan was guided through Hell by the spirit of Naomi Kale, and was killed after revealing that Noble's true destiny was to become the Angel of Death. Utilizing the powers that came with this title, Ghost Rider slew Blackheart and assumed the throne of Hell. He then resurrected Dan and sent him back to Earth as a way of thanking him for their years together.

Noble's tenure in Hell was a brief one. He subtly aided Jack Russell, the Werewolf , in tracking down a serial killer, but was forced out of Hell when a coup occurred. Injured and confused, Noble wandered the streets of New York City, his Hellfire raging out of control. This attracted the attention of Spider-Man, who tried to bring his old ally under control, with limited success. Dan arrived at the scene and realized that Noble's powers were fluctuating because he lacked a human host. The two men were forced to merge again and are currently seeking more innocents to avenge.

At some point after merging with Kale again, Daniel must have changed his mind about being host to the Ghost Rider because he chose to have it expelled from his body. He contacted a woman by the name of Mary LeBow , a paranormal consultant, and she separated the two by way of an exorcism. Then, two years later, Ketch decided he can't live without that part of him anymore and will do anything to get it back. Daniel gets his wish when an agent of Zadkiel known only as Mister Eleven comes to him and tell him he can have his abilities restored. Ketch only got a taste of it at first and immediately became addicted to the power. Dan wanted more and more, but he would only be allowed to sample a little at a time, until he decided to become an agent of Zadkiel too. Daniel was shown an ugly side of the Ghost Rider where the hosts can become mindless beasts if the spirit inside takes control of them. He was made to believe he'd be doing them a service by taking their powers from them and return them to Heaven where they originated from. The only downside was some of the hosts may not survive the process - such was the case of Shoba Mirza - but Ketch still felt he was truly helping even if that was the end result. What Daniel didn't know is Zadkiel wanted the powers of the Ghost Riders, so he could take control of Heaven. The current road Daniel has chosen to take led him on a collision course with Johnny Blaze, and several other Spirits of Vengeance throughout the world. Ketch managed to defeat all the Ghost Riders, including Blaze, and delivered their power to his master. As soon as the deed was done, Ketch was cast out of Heaven, aware of Zadkiel's plans, but he managed to take some of the power back with him. Nevertheless, it was too late to stop Zadkiel from winning his war.

Ketch, Blaze and the new Caretaker went their separate ways, but Daniel felt more cursed than ever. Finally seeing the error of his ways, Ketch wished he would have left the Ghost Rider behind instead of being made a fool by Zadkiel. For helping lay waste to Heaven, Daniel had become a slave to vengeance, unable to ignore the cries of the innocent. His first mission was to find the malicious Highwayman and avenge the lives of those unfortunate enough to cross his path. Daniel would soon get another crack at Zadkiel, but first he would make a deal with the devil to keep the Antichrist safe in exchange for the keys to Heaven. Traveling to New York and meeting up with Blaze, Sara, Hellstorm and Jaine Cutter , Daniel told them of his agreement and he and Blaze took off in search of the doorway to Heaven. The road would not be easy as an attack from Big Wheel and Trull slowed them greatly, allowing Blackout to steal the key. Ketch and Blaze had to find another way to reach their goal and the lair of the Gun Nuns held the answer. On arrival, the Ghost Riders had to contend with the new Orb and a new Vengeance , but neither proved to be too much of a problem. Zadkiel was another story. Upon reaching Heaven and confronting the mad angel, Ketch and Blaze were tossed aside like insignificant specks. If it wasn't for the emergence of an army of Ghost Riders, they may never have beaten their tormentor. Not only that, but Ketch and the other Spirits of Vengeance fought off an attack by the Antichrist and his minions when they invaded Heaven. The holy city, now back in God's hands, was safe, and the two brothers were sent back to Earth. Ketch challenged Blaze to a race, and the two sped off with Sara not far behind.

5'10" (Ketch), 6'2" (Ghost Rider)

180 lbs. (Ketch), 220 lbs. (Ghost Rider)

Green (Ketch), flaming red (Ghost Rider)

Brown (Ketch), none (Ghost Rider)

  • Marvel Universe

Other Aliases

  • High school graduate

Known Relatives

  • Naomi Kale (mother, deceased), Francis Ketch (adopted mother), Barbara Ketch (sister, deceased), John Blaze (half brother), Andrew Kale (cousin, deceased), Jennifer Kale (cousin), Joshua Kale (grandfather, deceased), Illyana Kale, Noble and Pastor Kale, Magdalena (ancestors)

Group Affiliation

  • Fantastic Four
  • Midnight Sons

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Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

  • When motorcycle rider Johnny Blaze sells his soul to the Devil to save his father's life, he is transformed into the Ghost Rider, the Devil's own bounty hunter, and is sent to hunt down sinners.
  • When the motorcyclist Johnny Blaze finds that his father Barton Blaze has terminal cancer, he accepts a pact with Mephistopheles, giving his soul for the health of his beloved father. But the devil deceives him, and Barton dies in a motorcycle accident during an exhibition. Johnny leaves the carnival, his town, his friends, and his girlfriend Roxanne. Many years later, Johnny Blaze becomes a famous motorcyclist, who risks his life in his shows, and he meets Roxanne again, now a television reporter. However, Mephistopheles proposes Johnny to release his contract if he become the "Ghost Rider" and defeat his evil son Blackheart, who wants to possess one thousand evil souls and transform hell on Earth. — Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • This is the story of Johnny Blaze, who was only a teen-aged stunt biker when he sold his soul to the devil known as Mephistopheles. Many years later, Johhny is a world-renowned daredevil by day, but at night, he becomes the devil's legendary bounty hunter called the Ghost Rider. He is charged with finding evil souls on Earth and bringing them back to hell. But when a twist of fate brings Johnny's long-lost love Roxanne back into his life, Johnny realizes he just might have a second chance at happiness if he can beat the devil Blackheart and win back his soul. To do so, he'll have to defeat his nemesis and wayward son, Blackheart, whose plot to take over his father's realm will bring hell on Earth unless Ghost Rider can stop him before it's too late. — ahmetkozan
  • In 1986, the then innocent, seventeen-year-old motorcycle stuntman, Johnny Blaze, struck a bargain with the demon Mephistopheles to spare his father from certain death. Two decades later, the past comes back to haunt Johnny, now a famous daredevil, when the evil entity returns bearing dark gifts in exchange for a favour: to hunt down Mephisto's son, Blackheart, and if Blaze succeeds, he can have his precious soul back. As Johnny becomes the Devil's feared left hand, riding a fiery motorcycle, the legendary Spirit of Vengeance emerges. Now, with his flesh consumed by hellfire when around evil, all sinners will have to pay in blood. Is there an escape from the supernatural, leather-clad anti-hero from Hell? — Nick Riganas
  • In order to save his dying father, young stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze sells his soul to Mephistopheles and sadly parts from the pure-hearted Roxanne Simpson, the love of his life. Many years later, Johnny's path crosses again with Roxanne, now a reporter, and also with Mephistopheles, who offers to release Johnny's soul if Johnny becomes the fabled, fiery Ghost Rider, a supernatural agent of vengeance and justice. Mephistopheles charges Johnny with defeating the despicable Blackheart, Mephistopheles' nemesis and son, who plans to displace his father and create a new hell even more terrible than the old one. — Kenneth Chisholm
  • The movie opens with the voice of the Caretaker (Sam Elliot) relating the legend of the Ghost Rider - a damned soul condemned to walk the earth and obey the Devil's orders. A Ghost Rider had been sent to collect a parchment known as the Contract of San Venganza, which holds the power of 1000 evil souls. The Ghost Rider knew that this Contract was pure evil, so he betrayed his heritage and outran the Devil himself. The action changes to a carnival, where the father-son stunt duo of Barton Blaze (Brett Cullen) and his son Johnny (Matt Long) are performing on ramps for the crowd. After the show, Barton chastises Johnny for showing off and being extra reckless in an attempt to impress his girlfriend Roxanne Simpson (Raquel Alessi). Later that day, Roxanne and Johnny meet under a tree, and Roxanne tells Johnny that her father is sending her away. Johnny decides to pack up and they will run away together. They share a kiss before departing. Johnny goes back to his house to find his father asleep, holding a piece of paper. It is a report from a doctor, and the news is not good- he's been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Crushed, Johnny goes out to work on his motorcycle, when he is approached by Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) who asks if Johnny will perhaps one day ride for him. Mephistopheles mentions Barton's illness, and offers to help. Johnny asks what he could give in return, and Mephistopheles says "Your soul." Johnny, thinking the man crazy or sarcastic, responds "OK." Mephistopheles offers Johnny a contract, and Johnny cuts himself when opening it. Mephistopheles accepts this blood drop as an appropriate signature. Johnny wakes up in bed with Barton energetic and cheerful. Barton confesses to Johnny that he had been sick, but now feels "heathly as a horse." Johnny is stunned. Barton attempts a new stunt at the show the next day (jumping through a ring of fire), but he comes up short and crashes. Johnny tearfully watches his father die while Mephistopheles laughs ominously. Johnny sees Roxanne at the hilltop tree, but does not join her and rides off into the distance. Mephistopheles approaches Johnny, promising that one day he will come for Johnny's services when needed. We fast-forward to 10 years later. Johnny (now played by Nicolas Cage) is the most famous daredevil in the world. He is attempting a new stunt at a sold-out stadium, jumping over a row of parked semi rigs. Johnny clears the targets on the field, but comes up short on the landing, wrecking his bike and sending him crashing into a wall. Johnny's pit crew, led by his best friend Mack (Donal Logue) rush to his side and find Johnny dazed but uninjured. The crowd roars with cheers as Johnny gets back up. Later, as Johnny and his crew are on the road, Mack is perplexed, believing that there is no way Johnny should have survived that crash. Mack suggests that maybe Johnny has a guardian angel, and Johnny mildly suggests that "Maybe it's something else" as he looks out the window, and momentarily sees his face turn into a skeleton with a flash of lightning. Mack and the crew watch a TV advertisement for Johnny's next stunt, taking place in his old hometown. Johnny will be attempting to clear an entire football field (300 Feet), jumping over 50 cars in the process. Meanwhile, another strange figure in black, Blackheart, (Wes Bentley) arrives at a Hell's Angels club out in the desert. He proceeds to kill nearly all of the members with a single touch. Mack and Johnny arrive at Johnny's apartment, where Mack tries to talk Johnny out of doing this new stunt because it seems too risky. Mack is worried because Johnny is becoming increasingly reckless while delving into strange interests (Johnny's apartment has a lot of strange books about the occult). Johnny responds that he is merely looking for "a sign and a second chance." Back at the Hell's Angels bar, Blackheart is approached by 3 elemental spirits; Gressil (earth), Wallow (water) and Abigor (wind) and recruits their help in finding the Contract of San Venganza. The spirits agree even though they are afraid of Mephistopheles (a name that angers Blackheart). Johnny is getting ready for his new stunt when he is approached by a reporter for an interview. To his shock, it is his old girlfriend Roxanne (now played by Eva Mendes). Johnny is so stunned by her arrival that he cannot answer any of her interview questions. Roxanne breaks off the interview and leaves before Johnny begins his jump. Mack joins Johnny on the ramp, feeling relieved now that Johnny has agreed to take the cars out of the jump. Johnny then reveals that he thought of something else to put in, and the stadium roof opens to allow six Blackhawk helicopters to descend in. Mack is angry about this change and demands to know what prompted such an idea. Johnny explains that his father Barton thought it would be cool. Johnny sets up his bike, though his mind is obviously still focused on Roxanne. Without warning, he throttles up and heads down the ramp. After a few tense seconds, Johnny makes it across with a perfect landing. Johnny waves to the crowd and then speeds off. Roxanne and her news van are riding down the expressway when they are confronted by Johnny. Johnny pulls a few stunts to get the van to stop so he can talk to Roxanne. Roxanne relents, telling Johnny to meet her in the restaurant of her hotel later that evening. A group of motorists angry at the stop of traffic storm over to see what is happening, but when they find out that Johnny Blaze is on the freeway they swarm around asking for autographs. Blackheart and his gang confront Mephistopheles, the man in black who made the contract with Johnny. Mephistopheles warns them about trying to take the contract of San Venganza, and threatens them with the Ghost Rider. Blackheart is unafraid. It is revealed through this conversation that Blackheart is Mephistopheles' son. Johnny is preparing for his date with Roxanne when he notices his hands glowing bright red. He washes them only to observe steam rising off his palms. Johnny goes out into the alley to find a brand-new motorcycle revved up and waiting for him. Mephistopheles appears, revealing that he has decided to invoke Johnny's services. Mephistopheles explains that he has been keeping Johnny alive all this time so that this day could come. Mephistopheles compels Johnny to get on the new bike and sends him off after Blackheart, offering to return Johnny's soul if he is successful. Johnny's new bike sets off at such a speed that it burns a trail of fire and destruction through the town. Blackheart and his gang arrive at a train yard where they are confronted by the night watchman. Blackheart is curious, stating that this land was once a cemetery. The watchman explains that the graves were moved by St. Michael's Church, and Blackheart kills him. Johnny arrives and dismounts the bike, thrashing in pain. Fire erupts from his feet and hands, as Johnny roars with a mixture of pain and evil desire. Finally his head bursts into flame, revealing a skeletal skull. Johnny Blaze has become the new Ghost Rider. Blackheart confronts the Ghost Rider and sends in his elementals to fight. Ghost Rider grabs some chains off a nearby wall to use as weapons but ist stopped when Gressil drives a truck into the building. Ghost Rider erupts from behind the truck, lighting one of his chains on fire and ensnaring Gressil. Gressil screams in pain as he is turned to stone and dissolves. Ghost Rider whistles and his motorcycle appears. He touches the gas cap and the motorcycle transforms into a firey skull-and-chain entity, much like the Ghost Rider himself. He rides through town and spots a young woman being mugged. He grabs the mugger (who stabs him, but the knife merely melts off in Ghost Rider's body). Ghost Rider commands the mugger to "Look into my eyes." The mugger screams in horror as his memories of past crimes come back to haunt him. When this torture is finished, Ghost Rider tosses the mugger aside. Ghost Rider ends his drive through town on the outskirts, obviously growing weaker by the oncoming morning. He arrives in a cemetary and slowly but painfully changes back into Johnny Blaze. Johnny collapses at the headstone of his father, Barton. Roxanne, angry at Johnny for standing her up, reports on the chaos in town. The police find a license plate during the investigation that belongs to one of Johnny Blaze's bikes. Johnny is found by the Caretaker, who offers help. Johnny is skeptical at first, but relents. The Caretaker explains that the Ghost Rider is essentially "the Devil's bounty hunter," who must hunt down anyone escaping from hell. Furthermore, the Ghost Rider only appears at night or in the presence of evil. Johnny remembers what he did to the mugger, and the caretaker explains that that was the Ghost Rider's greatest weapon - the Penance Stare. It makes anyone who feels it experience the pain of every sin they have caused. The Caretaker explains the story of the last Ghost Rider, and the town of San Venganza's souls. He also reveals that the spirits following Blackheart are The Hidden- fallen angels cast out of Heaven. Johnny leaves to take care of some business, which the Caretaker advises against (Blackheart and The Hidden cannot come onto sacred ground such as the cemetery, so Johnny would be safer staying there). Johnny looks at the devastation caused by last night's events. He meets Roxanne, who is very mad at him. Johnny goes back to his apartment and does some research about "fire elements," and is able to display a minor degree of control over his new powers. Roxanne arrives and asks him what has been going on with Johnny. Johnny decides to be honest with her, but Roxanne does not accept his story (selling the soul to the devil and becoming a bounty hunter), thinking he is either lying to keep her away or has gone insane. Johnny walks outside and the police arrest him, thinking him responsible for the previous night's murders. Johnny denies any involvement, and the police throw him in a holding cell. The inmates recognize Johnny, and decide to attack him out of revenge for never seeing him fail in his stunt shows. One young inmate stands up for Johnny but he is knocked aside. The remaining inmates jump on Johnny, who effortlessly transforms into Ghost Rider and defeats them all. Ghost Rider steals the lead thug's jacket and gloves, making small spikes emerge from the metal detailing. Ghost Rider proceeds to burn through the cell bars and leaves. He hesitates for a minute in confronting the young inmate who stood up for him, then proclaims the young man to be "Innocent" and walks off. Blackheart is seen at St. Michael's Church, asking the minister about the Contract of San Venganza. The minister denies any knowledge, so Blackheart kills him. Upon learning that Ghost Rider is active again, Blackheart sends Abigor to deal with him. Ghost Rider reclaims his motorcycle and escapes from police custody. The cops quickly give pursuit, eventually trapping him in a dead-end alley. Ghost Rider merely tilts his motorcycle and proceeds to ride straight up the building! Roxanne, in a building across the block, is packing to leave when she looks out and sees the strange display. Ghost Rider confronts Abigor on the rooftop, but they are ambushed by a police helicopter. Ghost Rider uses his chains to throw the copter away from the roof so they do not interfere. Ghost Rider then attempts to catch Abigor just like he did with Gressil, but Abigor uses his wind powers to escape. This gives Ghost Rider an idea: he ignites a chain and spins it, causing a cyclone that pulls in Abigor. After a few minutes of resistance, the Wind Spirit is destroyed. The police attempt to apprehend Ghost Rider as he comes down from the roof. Ghost Rider attempts to resist, until he spots Roxanne in the crowd. The flames on Ghost Rider's head grow fainter as he approaches Roxanne. The police see this as an advantage and open fire with their weapons. Ghost Rider conjures a wall of flame and escapes, retreating to the cemetery. The Caretaker finishes the story of the Contract of San Venganza by telling Johnny about the previous Ghost Rider - a former Texas Ranger named Carter Slade. Slade became corrupt and made a deal with Mephistopheles to save his life. When Carter Slade saw what was happening at San Venganza, he took the Contract and hid it. The Caretaker puts forth the theory that Carter was buried with it. Roxanne returns to Johnny's apartment where she meets Mack. Mack talks bout how Johnny has had weird interests recently and Roxanne begins to fip through some of Johnny's books. She is now convinced that what Johnny told her was true. Blackheart suddenly appears and kills Mack. Johnny returns to find Mack dead and Blackheart holding Roxanne captive. He transforms into Ghost Rider and attempts to use the Penance Stare on Blackheart. He merely laughs, explaining that the Penance Stare will not work on him because he has no soul. Blackheat agrees to free Roxanne if Johnny brings him the Contract at the ruins of San Venganza by morning. Johnny returns to the cemetery, vowing to dig up the entire place if need be. The Caretaker shatters his shovel, revealing a rolled-up parchment in the handle. It is the contract. Johnny decides to take it and have a final fight with Blackheart. The Caretaker relents, thinking that Johnny's circumstances make him unpredictable and he just might have an advantage. The Caretaker whistles, summoning a mysterious horse from the shadows. He climbs on and bursts into flames. The Caretaker reveals that HE is Carter Slade, the previous Ghost Rider. Both Riders head out to San Venganza. Carter escorts Johnny to San Venganza, but then collapses. Carter explains that the trip has exhausted the last of his Ghost Rider powers. Carter gives Johnny a shotgun and then rides off into the sunset, ready to face eternity for his actions. Johnny is riding into San Venganza when he is ambushed by Wallow, the last surviving Hidden. Wallow pulls Johnny underwater, trying to drown him. Johnny counters by transforming into Ghost Rider and superheating the water, evaporating Wallow. Blackheart appears with Roxanne in custody. He lets Roxanne go as Johnny hands over the contract. Before Blackheart can take the Contract, Johnny transforms into Ghost Rider and attacks. Blackheart manages to fight off Ghost Rider's attacks and reads the Contract, commanding the spirits within the town to join with him. The spirits emerge and unite with Blackheart, who then proclaims "My name is Legion; for we are many." Roxanne attacks Legion with Carter Slade's shotgun. It wounds him but does little to slow his advance. Johnny catches the shotgun and infuses it with his Ghost Rider powers, turning it into a hell-fire weapon. The blast disintegrates Legion, but he effortlessly begins to reform. Johnny realizes that Legion now has all thousand souls from San Venganza trapped within him, and has made himself vulnerable to Ghost Rider's greatest weapon. He transforms into Ghost Rider one last time and traps Legion long enough to use the Penance Stare. Legion screams in agony as the sins of one thousand souls pass through his body. Legion reverts to Blackheart and dies, the Penance Stare having succeeded once again. Mephistopheles arrives and congratulates Johnny on his success. He offers to take back the Ghost Rider powers, but Johnny refuses. He decides to keep the powers and use them against Mephistopheles' evil. He is angry but he cannot take back the power by force, and vows to make Johnny pay. Johnny and Roxanne share an emotional farewell as Johnny vows to head out and go wherever the road takes him.

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Ghost Rider: story and news

Ghost Rider: story and news

Interpreted by Nichola Cage in two movies and by Robbie Reyes in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Ghost Rider is one of the most fascinating characters of the whole Marvel Universe. Let’s discover together how this incredible character was created and evolved.

The origins

The first Ghost Rider was not from Marvel, it was created by magazine Enterprise. It debuted in 1943 as a U.S Marshall named Rex Fury. Then, the magazine had the brilliant idea of killing him and make him come back to be a Ghost Rider. Readers did not really appreciate the idea and the creators were forced to stop publishing the character.

Abandoned by Magazine Enterprise, the character was bought by Marvel Comics which saw a great potential in it. Gary Friedrich and Roy Thomas, inspired by the lyrics “yippee i-oh, yippee i-yay, ghost riders in the sky” included in the famous 1948 song “Riders in the sky” by Stan Jones (yup, Johnny Cash performed an incredible cover), wanted to create a western character. Unfortunately, at the time the name “Ghost Rider” was not available yet, so they named it Phantom Rider.

Carter Slade was a teacher (sounds familiar? If you watched the movie, it should) that, thanks to a shaman, turned into Phantom Rider and gained incredible powers that allowed him to take part in breathtaking adventures. Of course, with his white horse Banshee always by his side. As anticipated, due to rights on the name, Slade will never use the name of Ghost Rider. However, later on he will take the name of Night Rider to create a stronger relation with the Spirit of Vengeance.

Problem is that the name “night rider” was also used by Ku Klux Klan member in Southern states of the USA… Obviously, after a long list of complaints, Marvel Comics decided to go back to Phantom Rider.

In 1972, Friederich and Thomas could finally use the name Ghost Rider. Initially they had in mind to create a villain but, while working on it, they decided that Ghost Rider needed to not be a negative character. Since the western style was not appealing to readers anymore, they decided to make the character more modern. Therefore, they decided to give it an Evel Knievel vibe and to swap from the horse to a motorcycle.

The three Ghost Riders

Appeared for the first time in August 1972, Johnny Blaze is the very first official Ghost Rider. His story is particularly complex and makes us understand how much Marvel wanted to create a character that could draw a lot of interest. They did an amazing job. Johnny comes from a family that works in the Quentin Circus and things seem to look good, at least until his mother decides to take his brother and sister and skip town. A couple of years later his father dies too and Johnny is adopted by the Simpson family. Johnny loved the Simpsons and when Crush Simpson get diagnosed with cancer, he decides to cut a deal with the devil exchanging his soul for Crush’s life. Once cured, Crush dies trying to perform the craziest motorcycle stunt ever seen. The devil shows up claiming Johnny’s soul but Roxanne – Crush daughter and Johnny’s girlfriend – get in the way. The devil manages to put Zarathos’ spirit into Johnny’s body. It is basically an alternative way to own Johnny, who – now – turn into the Ghost Rider at night to claim souls for Mefisto. Overtime Johnny learns to deal with this new part of himself and to use it for good causes.

In 1990 the Ghost Rider character is in the hands of Howard Mackie and Javier Saltares. Ghost Rider is not Johnny Blaze, this time the Spirit of Vengeance is Danny Ketch. Yup, Jonny’s younger brother. The mother did a very well job to keep them apart to protect them from the curse…

The story has a peculiar beginning: Danny and his sister are at the Cipress Hill cemetery looking for Houdini’s grave when they get in the middle of a gang fight between Kingpin and Deathwatch. The two starts running and, while looking for a place to hide, the run into a motorcycle equipped with a strange talisman.

Danny turns into Ghost Rider as soon as he seats on the motorcycle. This allows him to run away with his sister who will die at the hospital. At this point Danny decides to be the Ghost Rider and, along with johnny Blaze, will form the Midnight Sons. This series had an incredible beginning and then started to loose reader due to a progressive loss of quality of the stories. The series closed in 1998 but readers had to wait until 2007 to read the last number of the series: #94.

In 2014 the third Ghost Riders sees the light. Son of Felpie Smith and Tradd Moore: Robbie Reyes – the new Ghost Rider – is not a biker anymore, he drives a muscle car.

Robbie turns into Ghost Rider thanks the spirit of Eli Morrow – a murderer related to him – trapped into a 1969 Dodge Charger. Guided by Johnny Blaze, Robbie learns how to deal with the spirit of Eli Morrow and use the Ghost Rider against bad souls only.

C inema and TV Shows

As discussed above, Nicholas Cage plays Johnny Blaze twice. In the 2007 movie Johnny battles Black Heart (Wes Bentley) and Mefisto (Peter Fonda). Johnny is helped by Cartel Slade (Sam Elliot) who is the Phantom Rider and the Caretaker at the same time.

In Ghost Riders: Spirit of Vengeance (2012), Johnny has to save a child – Danny Ketch – from Roarke who in reality is Mefisto.

In 2013 Marvel Studios finally acquires all the rights for this character from Sony and starts to study a way to give him a sense in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

At the moment, Ghost Rider has only appeared in the 4 th season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, as Robbie Reyes. Rumor has it that Marvel might be working on a series focused on Ghost Rider. Gabriel Luna might be playing Robbie Reyes and Norman Reedus might be playing Johnny Blaze. If true, it will be a blast.

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Screen Rant

The 10 best ghost rider comic book stories.

Over almost 50 years, Ghost Rider has been avenging the innocents and beating back the baddies of Hell. Rider's best comic stories? Look no further.

With Ghost Rider reportedly coming to the MCU soon and a Marvel's Midnight Suns' RPG slated for release on all gaming platforms in 2022, Ghost Rider's flame is heating up for the "Year of Vengeance."

RELATED:  10 Most Powerful Vigilantes In Marvel Comics

Over almost 50 years of publication, the following Ghost Rider stories stand as foundational reads, containing elements critical to understanding the Rider mythos while showcasing the varying degrees of change that Ghost Rider and Marvel have undergone during the last half-century.

Ghost Rider: Volume 1 #68 The Curse Of Johnny Blaze

As far as the origins of Ghost Rider go, The Curse of Johnny Blaze is the gold standard. This brilliant story sees Blaze giving his personal origin story through a confession to a priest. This story clarifies fundamental story points while giving readers an esoteric take on the origins of Blaze.

This macabre tale from Bronze Age mainstay Roger Stern ( Dr. Strange ) is an updated origin of Marvel Spotlight #5 , most notable for retconning the main antagonist from the Devil to Riders' most iconic villain, Mephisto . A rare darker, horror-driven style from Stern that contrasted his more colorful previous works, The Curse nonetheless showcased deft storytelling that any comic fan would be better for reading.

Ghost Rider: Volume 3 #1 Life's Blood

Nine years after the harrowing conclusion in Ghost Rider #81 , Marvel would introduce its 2nd Ghost Rider. In this story, Daniel "Danny" Ketch and his sister, Barbara, accidentally cross a gang war in a Cemetery, resulting in Barbara being severely wounded. Fleeing to a junkyard, Danny is drawn to an illuminated motorcycle cap. But, as Danny touches it with the blood of his innocent sister, the Spirit of Vengeance seizes him. Later, as his sister lies in hospital comatose, Danny vows to protect the innocent as Ghost Rider.

Ushering in a new era in Rider continuity, writer Howard Mackie masterfully encapsulates everything vital to the Rider mythos crafting a wholly original anti-hero that shared very little with his predecessor. Notably introducing the Medallion of Power and iconic "Penance Stare," as well as adding Ghost Rider antagonists like Blackout, Deathwatch, and Lilith , this story remains a must-read for any comic aficionado.

Rise Of The Midnight Sons

Starting with Ghost Rider (1990, #28) , this massive crossover brought together supernatural forces to stop Rider's new antagonist Lilith, the mother of Demons, from breaking free from her captivity, unleashing her reign of terror. Told over (6) issues, Rise of the Midnight Sons focuses on the varying individual motivations of Blade, Ghost Rider, and Morbius the Living Vampire , to name a few, as they begrudgingly join forces in opposition of Lilith and her Lilin.

This nostalgia-laced throwback serves as a refresher on the state of comics in the '90s. Writer Howard Mackie, fresh in the throes of his Rider run, delivers the essence of what readers yearned for at the time, gritty stories, stylized noir art, and a no-nonsense feel. In addition to introducing the Midnight Sons, this arch would also lead Blaze to the revelation that Danny Ketch is his biological brother, representing an essential read on the Bearer of Brimstone.

Ghost Rider: Road To Damnation

Johnny Blaze has been riding in Hell for two years now, his soul reclaimed, perpetually torn asunder as he seeks to escape from the fiery depths. Finally, the angel Malachai, seeking supernatural aid, comes to Blaze with a proposal; stop the demon Kazaan and return him to Hell. In return, he will grant Blaze the escape for which he so desperately yearns. As the sultry Archangel Ruth and the ruthless demon Hoss join the hunt, all-out metal and mayhem ensue.

With a noticeable lull in Ghost Rider following the unceremonious death of Danny Ketch (GR #93) , writer Garth Ennis (Preacher, Punisher) was brought in to breathe some fresh air into the property. Met with critical acclaim, the duo of Ennis/Crain presents a story as memorable as it is gritty, signaling a revitalization of the Rider of the 21st century and a must-read for comic fans worldwide.

Ghost Rider: Trail Of Tears

In this civil war era tale, Confederate lieutenant Travis Parham has lived war, expecting to meet his end gloriously in battle, but Vengeance has other plans. Plucked from death by a recently emancipated Caleb, Parham recovers and sets out West only to return two years later to find Caleb's property unlawfully seized, he and his family slaughtered. Parham then seeks Vengeance for his friend, even if it damns his soul.

RELATED:  Best Garth Ennis Comic Books

Again, striking gold in this follow-up to Road to Damnation , Ennis weaves a tragic tale full of visceral imagery and dark humor, showcasing a Rider from a different time. Crafting a story in which the main protagonist, Parham, must compete with the Spirit of Vengeance for revenge while simultaneously examining the correlation between social injustice and Vengeance shows Ennis' breadth of understanding for the essence of the Rider, branding this story as mandatory.

Ghost Rider: Hell Bent And Heaven Bound

Hell Bent and Heaven Bound sees Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze finally discover the source of all his pain and suffering in the form of the angel Zadkiel. But, as the flames from the conflict in heaven rage, Blaze must cross supernatural highways, battle machine-gun-toting nurses, man-eating ghosts, and Danny Ketch if he is to have Vengeance.

This story signals the much-anticipated debut of Jason Aaron ( Wolverine ) on Ghost Rider, checking all the proverbial must-read boxes by combining expert storytelling with awe-inspiring artwork. Aaron's intrinsic understanding of Rider and natural flair for creating compelling interactions mesh in an essential entry to the Rider mythos.

Ghost Rider: Fear Itself

In the Ghost Rider: Fear Itself story, Johnny Blaze has grown disenchanted as the Spirit of Vengeance. Finally, he is met by a stranger named Adam and offered a reprieve to the burden of being a Rider. Ignorant, Blaze takes Adam up on his offer and is freed from the Spirit, unknowingly setting off a cataclysmic series of events, which start with the newest Spirit, Alejandra Jones.

A certified core Ghost Rider read this story coronates Nicaraguan teen Alejandra Jones as Marvel's 1st female Rider. Starkly more vengeful than Blaze, Alejandra seeks to forge her path while pursuing what it truly means to be Rider.

All-New Ghost Rider: Engines Of Vengeance

This fresh take on Ghost Rider introduces Robbie Reyes, a young Latino living in East Los Angeles with his younger brother Gabe. Robbie strives for a better life attending high school and working as a car mechanic. Unfortunately, this proves difficult for the morally upright Reyes, who lives in a neighborhood wracked by gang violence and drugs. After running afoul of the local criminal element, Robbie is murdered, only to be resurrected as All-New Ghost Rider.

RELATED:  10 Weirdest Ghost Rider Comic Book Stories Ranked

This origin story for Robbie Reyes marks another stark character change from previous Rider iterations as writer Felipe Smiths' creative vision of Rider offered a new take on Vengeance. Introducing Rider firsts, like Reyes's use of a muscle car instead of a motorcycle and his being possessed by his deceased uncle Morrow, not the Spirit of Vengeance, Engines is a must-read on the newest Rider.

Damnation: Johnny Blaze

Mephisto opened up Hotel Inferno, casting Johnny Blaze back into Hell and wresting the Spirit of Vengeance in the process. Blaze and the Spirit begin a diatribe about the nature both play in each other's existence, ultimately realizing two is better than one. Seeing a unique opportunity with Mephisto gone, Blaze cuts a swath through the denizens of Hell towards the throne, All Hail King Blaze.

Damnation flawlessly exhibits Blaze's depth of growth over his nigh 50-year existence. Scribe Christopher Sebela adroitly crafts an engaging narrative between Blaze and the Spirit, harkening back to the Spirits of Vengeance run, showcasing the various dynamics gleaned from their relationship. Sebela did his research, which shows in this sublime, thought-provoking read.

Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History

In this outrageous story, Cosmic Ghost Rider Frank Castle gets stuck in the past after trying to assassinate baby Thanos, failing miserably. However, Frank wants to feel that all his time traveling machinations had a purpose, prompting him to go through History like a bull with China, shattering Marvel in the process.

Feeling like a Twilight Zone episode, co-writers Paul Scheer and Nick Giovannetti craft an entirely over-the-top Rider unlike any in Marvel. The sheer creativity in such an eccentric and delightful series stamps this story as an essential Rider story.

NEXT:  10 Best Moments In Ed Brisson's Ghost Rider Run

13 Ghost Rider Stories You Have to Read

13 Ghost Rider stories to fire up your apetite for the Spiirit of Vengeange.

SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for various Ghost Rider comic book stories. Proceed at the risk of incurring the wrath of Zarathos.

With "Agents of SHIELD" adding Ghost Rider to its roster Season Four, new comic book readers and established ones alike might want to peruse some of the various Spirit of Vengeance adventures at Marvel Comics over the years. As one of the most powerful and visually badass characters in the history of the company, it's no surprise that Ghost Rider has cultivated such a passionate following. Luckily, he's not just a pretty (flaming) face.

RELATED: 12 More Unexpected Marvel Characters We Want to See on "Agents of SHIELD"

Regardless of who stars as the titular hero, Ghost Rider's street level-meets-supernatural adventures have been just as fun and compelling as his iconic look. His stories have captivated readers throughout his countless appearances, either as cameos in other books or in his own solo series. But what are some of the stories you absolutely, positively have to read while getting fired up for his starring role on TV? Allow CBR to help, with the following list of top Ghost Rider tales!

13 All-New Ghost Rider: Engines of Vengeance

Roughly two years before his appearance in the new episodes of Agents of SHIELD, East L.A. mechanic Robbie Reyes became a muscle car-driving Spirit of Vengeance in the first arc of the "All-New Ghost Rider" title. In "Engines of Vengeance," written by Felipe Smith with kinetic art from Tradd Moore, you'll get to know how Reyes is depicted in comics while watching him on the tube. Issues #1-5 see Robbie murdered and later possessed by Eli Morrow to stop drug lords, gang wars and Mister Hyde , all while caring for his disabled brother Gabe. Thanks to his appearance in Agents of SHIELD, Robbie Reyes will be returning to the comic book page in another series that will surely see him wreaking fiery havoc on evil doers.

12 Fear Itself: Ghost Rider

Vengeance isn't confined to just one gender as Marvel's 2011 company wide crossover "Fear Itself" showed readers. In it, a woman named Alejandra Jones becomes Ghost Rider after a being named Adam removes the curse from Johnny Blaze. Blaze's freedom comes with a price as he must ally himself with Mephisto to save humanity. Blaze frees Alejandra from Adam, but she chooses to not let the former Ghost Rider train her as she goes out to find sinners and clean up the world, all while using powers previous Ghost Riders had never exhibited. Not only was this an interesting way to introduce a new concept to the Ghost Rider lore, with Alejandra being the first female Rider, it was also a decent character piece that showed the difference between Jones and Blaze's approach to vengeance: a staple in the Ghost Rider tradition.

11 Marvel Spotlight #5

This is the one that started it all, introducing Marvel readers to the character who was literally hell on wheels. While he was neither the first Ghost Rider (that distinction belongs to the 1967 western character at Marvel), nor the last, Johnny Blaze is perhaps the best known of the bunch and remains as the name most readily associated with his gruesome counterpart. Creators Roy Thomas , Gary Frederich and Mike Ploog brought Blaze to the comic book pages in 1972's "Marvel Spotlight" #5, igniting a legacy that has tripped through hundreds of comics and two (admittedly dicey) films. In his debut issue, Johnny Blaze makes a deal with the devil to save his mentor and father figure, Craig "Crash" Simpson. The result of his Faustian pact was Blaze becoming a motorcycle-riding vigilante with supernatural powers and a flaming skull. This classic Bronze Age entertainment mixes eerie horror and superhero action that has so far lasted the test of time. For new Ghost Rider fans and old hat completists, it is not to be missed.

10 Hearts Of Darkness

Danny Ketch, later revealed to be Johnny Blaze's brother, was the Ghost Rider of the 1990s. In fact, to many fans, he remains the image most often conjured when the character is mentioned. Teaming Ketch's Rider with other popular anti-heroes Wolverine and the Punisher , made perfect sense from a sales point of view -- it was a dream match-up for the grim, gritty storytelling so popular at the time. "Hearts of Darkness" by writer Howard Mackie and artists John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson sees the lethal trio pitted against the nefarious demon known as Blackheart, who plans to tempt them into helping him kill and usurp the ultimate big-bad in the Marvel universe, Mephisto. That goes as well as you might expect, leading to a fiery conflict with the Lord of Hell, himself! As huge as its final battle is, "Hearts of Darkness" is also one hell of a ride along the way. While his Ketch resembles Peter Parker at times, John Romita JR's art is at its level best, particularly when it comes to his Blackheart. A sequel titled “Dark Design” was published in 1994, but the original is, without question, the king of all Marvel anti-hero team-ups, and a great place to start for new Ghost Rider fans craving a deeper dive into his dark mythos.

9 Ghost Rider: Hell Bent And Heaven Bound

"Hell Bent and Heaven Bound" marks Jason Aaron's beginning on "Ghost Rider." This arc, consisting of issues #20-25 of his 2008-2009 run, sees Johnny Blaze searching for the angel Zadkiel while Heaven is in the middle of a war. It also marks the return of fan favorite Danny Ketch. Its deliciously over-the-top plot, mixed with motorcycle-based supernatural action, makes this arc feel like the best drive-in Grindhouse movie to ever come to comics. Hell, this should have been the Nic Cage movies! Even if you don't normally read comics, this is the perfect Ghost Rider story to check out. With its marriage of horror and action, along with Aaron's unique storytelling style and grasp of character, this doesn't feel like your typical superhero comic book and can thus be enjoyed by fans who are either unfamiliar or disenfranchised by the capes-and-spandex spectrum of the medium. It's a fantastic entry point into the Ghost Rider character, which is even further expanded upon by Jason Aaron throughout his critically-acclaimed run. Check it out! We promise you won't be sorry.

8 Ghost Rider v1 #49-50

If you're into that drive-in movie vibe in your comics, you will also have to check out Michael Fleisher and Don Perlin's 1980 tale of Johnny Blaze in "Ghost Rider" #49-50. Johnny Blaze travels back in time to the old west and meets the original Ghost Rider, who is called Night Rider in the book (and later renamed Phantom Rider). This one's got something for everyone: cowboys and Native Americans, gigantic birds with lightning vision, frontier voodoo, and of course, a team-up that makes Kirk and Picard's in Star Trek: Generations look like senseless mush (which it kind of was, but we digress...) This is bodacious Bronze Age fun from the same year that gave us John Carpenter's "The Fog" and David Bowie's “Ashes to Ashes.” There's magic, time travel and adventure for western, horror and superhero fans alike. With its focus on the tradition of the Ghost Rider legend (at least in name), no true fan should skip this story. In many ways, this was the first Rider story to tease the character's legacy, which now continues with the appearance of Robbie Reyes in "Agents of SHIELD."

7 Ghost Rider v1 #68

Roger Stern  wrote some of the best comic books of the Bronze (or any other) Age, and his take on the Ghost Rider character is no exception. “The Curse of Johnny Blaze” offers up the origin of the titular Spirit of Vengeance with some extra little details, delivered to the reader in the form of a confession by Johnny Blaze at church. The story has a plot twist worthy of "The Twilight Zone" or "Frailty," and an ending which shows that Ghost Rider is truly a Spirit of Vengeance. Stern has worked his magic on trippy tales like Doctor Strange and more light-hearted fare in his Spider-Man stories, but this issue of "Ghost Rider" will send chills up and down your spine. It will also make you wish he did more creepy ghost stories like this one. As enjoyable as "Marvel Spotlight" #5 and "Ghost Rider" #49-50, Stern's story here should not be missed by old school fans, those new to the Ghost Rider bandwagon or really just anyone looking for a good old fashioned ghost story.

6 Ghost Rider Annual Volume 3 #2, Wish for Pain (1994)

Warren Ellis' first American comics story, which is the main feature in this annual, is positively chilling. The framework of the story is basically a battle between Ghost Rider and Marvel's Scarecrow (not to be confused with DC's Jonathan Crane), while at the same time offering a terrifying and nuanced origin story for the villain. From the insight into the Scarecrow's past to Ghost Rider's methods of stopping (and punishing) him, page after page of this epic drawn by Javier Saltares is filled with what would these days be called "WTF" moments, but resonate with timeless terror. It's also a fantastic character piece, exploring the differences and similarities within the battling nemeses. This, of course, will surprise no one who is a fan of Warren Ellis. Damn creepy, and perfect for those Ghost Rider fans looking to have the crap scared out of them, this story is guaranteed to make you sleep with the lights on. What happens to Scarecrow at the vengeful hands of Ghost Rider will be burned in your mind for years to come. Pun definitely intended. Pick this annual up... if you dare!

5 Ghost Rider: Road to Damnation

In the year 2000, "Preacher" creator Garth Ennis revitalized the Punisher to well-deserved acclaim. He did the same thing with Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider five or so years later with "Road to Damnation" featuring art by Clayton Crain. As the demon Kazaan literally tries to bring about Hell on Earth, Johnny Blaze, who has been trapped in hell for two years, makes a deal with the angel Malachi: if he and his flame-headed alter ego Ghost Rider help stop Kazaan, they will be freed. Ghost Rider must race against the archangel Ruth and the demon Hoss, with the winner of the three having to face Kazaan and hold the fate of humanity in their hands. This has all the great elements that Garth Ennis' stories usually do: darkness, humor and a characteristic atmosphere that isn't typical of most other writers' styles. Like the character of Ghost Rider, who quite literally rode the line between superhero and horror movie antagonist, Ennis blended genres in a way nobody previously believed possible. If this isn't in your Ghost Rider collection, it should be. It's damn good reading.

4 Ghost Rider: Trail of Tears

After the success of "Road to Damnation," Garth Ennis and artist Clayton Crain returned for "Trail of Tears." This time, the Spirit of Vengeance is Confederate soldier Travis Parham. He is saved by former slave Caleb, who then becomes the Ghost Rider of the book thanks, in part, to a cave full of skulls. Upon leaving Caleb to seek his own fortune, Parham learns what hell truly can be in this masterfully crafted saga that shows readers that vendettas can span generations. This creative team raised the bar on not only Ghost Rider stories, but on how comics should be in general. With his perfect blending of genres and more of the great storytelling that made Garth Ennis a household name, "Trail of Tears" is an incredible reading experience from start to finish. It pulls no punches and doesn't sugarcoat the issues of its two prevailing themes: vengeance and racism. It's like some of the best of Serling, Roddenberry or even Mantlo. For this reason, "Trail of Tears" should be on your Ghost Rider shelf, or in your longbox if you read single issues.

3 Ghost Rider and Blaze: Road to Vengeance

Before Marvel Knights , and even before Marvel Edge, there was the unfortunately short-lived imprint known as Midnight Sons. Capitalizing on the craze for bloodier, grittier comics at the time, Midnight Sons was populated by the darker supernatural heroes in the Marvel Universe. Crossovers were a regular treat in the shadowed pages of these comics, teaming up characters that were often background noise in other Marvel events. “Road to Vengeance: Missing Link” was one such saga, with the "Ghost Rider" book (starring the Danny Ketch version) and "Spirits of Vengeance" acting as chapters feeding into the overall arc. Most of the story focuses on the past of Ghost Rider-esque character, Vengeance, who learns of his past. It also features the devilish machinations of regular series baddie Lilith and Zarathos, the demon that Mephisto bonded with Johnny Blaze during his tenure on the fiery motorcycle. Despite what you might think, the nostalgia around the Midnight Sons period should take nothing away from the enjoyment (or impact) of those stories. The work of Howard Mackie and Ron Garney truly stands the test of time in this demon-drenched saga, which remains a firm "must" for any and all Ghost Rider fans!

2 The End of Ghost Rider

Like Roger Stern, J.M. DeMatteis has written some of the best comic books in the Bronze Age. Perhaps best known for his Spider-Man and Justice League stories, he also wrote ten issues of the first Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider book (#67, #71 and #74-81). He ended his all-too short run and the entire series with “The End of Ghost Rider” arc. A former servant of Mephisto Centurious, traps Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze in a soul crystal. The resulting battle for control of Blaze's body breaks the jewel, freeing Blaze from Zarathos. Of course, that isn't the last of the demon, who returns many times to make Johnny Blaze's life hell through the years. In "The End of Ghost Rider," J.M. DeMatteis has crafted a truly dark comic. It may even rival the more well-known books in his library of creations over the years, like "Kraven's Last Hunt" and his run on Justice League Dark. Beyond anything else it achieves, however, is that fact that DeMatteis gives Johnny Blaze a satisfying conclusion to his first series of adventures behind the flaming bike. Fans of DeMatteis and Ghost Rider alike should not miss this one at all; required reading for every Ghost Rider fan.

1 Rise of the Midnight Sons

This was the official start of Marvel's Midnight Sons imprint. Like all comics, there were some good and bad stories published under its masthead at the time, but “Rise of the Midnight Sons” definitely falls into the former category. Lilith, the Mother of all Demons, has been resurrected, and it's up to Danny Ketch, Johnny Blaze and others from the dark mystical corners of the Marvel Universe to stop her. Like "Road to Vengeance," while this may be a book that could be mired in too much nostalgia, for us, it still holds up today. At the same time, not only is it a great showcase of some of the more under-utilized characters at the time (and now, for that matter), it's also an interesting look back into some of the prevailing themes of the time. With appearances from characters like Blade , Hannibal King, Morbius the Living Vampire and of course, our flaming chum, the Ghost Rider, "Rise of the Midnight Sons" contained an unholy host of disquieting demonic action and literally wicked cameos! Like the rest of the comic books on this list, this now-legendary crossover will fire up your appetite for Ghost Rider and set your flaming wheels spinning for more!

Which unmissable Ghost Rider did we miss? Set your Penance Stare to full-blast and drop your unholy knowledge in the comments section!

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Ghost Rider" airs on Tuesday at 10 p.m. on ABC.


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