Who is Ghost Rider? Marvel’s Phantom Avenger
Ghost Rider is one of Marvel Comics’ antiheroes who first appeared in 1972 in Marvel Spotlight #5. Roy Thomas, Mike Ploog, and Gary Friedrich created him. Previously, Marvel had already used this name, but in a character of the western environment. That character was later renamed “Phantom Rider”. Since its inception, Ghost Rider has had a well-deserved reputation for its controversial story and character.
Ghost Rider’s Biography
There have been several representations of the Spirit of Vengeance. And in order to explain the plot and character development, we must detail them one by one below:
The first Ghost Rider was Johnny Blaze. His first appearance was in Marvel Spotlight #5 in 1972. Roy Thomas, who was Marvel’s director then, artist Mike Ploog, and writer Gary Friedrich, created him.
Image via Marvel Comics
His acceptance among the fans was such that by 1973 he had his own series, in which Jim Mooney participated as a cartoonist and handled the first nine issues. Later, other creatives joined the team, managing to bring out up to number 81.
Noble Kale was a Ghost Rider from the 17th century. Kale grew up with his younger brother Dante and the abusive Pastor Kale raised them.
Image via Marvel Comics
Kale fell in love with a young African-American girl named Magdalena. But, because of her skin color and their father’s religious beliefs, they kept their relationship a secret from the eyes of the world. This changed when Magdalena gave birth to their son, revealing her secret to Pastor Kale.
The couple married, and after some time, Magdalena discovered Pastor Kale’s dark secret. He was a worshiper of the dark lord Mephisto. After being discovered, and to hide the truth, Pastor Kale sent Magdalena to burn at stake as a witch.
Before dying, Magdalena conjured a spell, and various spirits began to kill the townspeople. Pastor Kale offered the soul of his son Noble to Mephisto to save himself. Thus, Noble Kale became Ghost Rider.
The next Ghost Rider was Daniel “Danny” Ketch, Johnny Blaze’s younger brother. He first debuted in 1990 in Ghost Rider vol 2 n° 1.
This Ghost Rider appeared almost the same as the previous one, except that his costume varied slightly. He wore a biker’s outfit: a black leather jacket with spiked shoulder pads and gray leather pants. He wore a mystical chain on his chest that responded to his mental commands. This chain was his main melee weapon.
The new motorcycle was also different. Its appearance was like a motorcycle from the future, with wheels composed of mystical hellfire. The front part could be lowered to serve as a battering ram.
With respect to the previous character, Ghost Rider’s relationship with Ketch, his demon, was quite close. In vol 2, #91, Ketch was revealed to be Marvel’s incarnation of the Angel of Death.
In 2013, a new character was born with the mantle of Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes. Reyes is a Mexican-American resident of East Los Angeles. He drives a classic black 1969 Dodge Charger instead of his typical modified motorcycle.
Artist and writer Felipe Smith created and designed Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider while Tradd Moore did the artwork.
Then we have the first woman to be Ghost Rider. This happened in 2011 in Fear Itself. Ghost Rider was a Nicaraguan woman named Alejandra Jones.
Image via Marvel Comics
The young woman became Ghost Rider after a man named Adam performed a ritual. This appears in Ghost Rider volume #4. Alejandra Jones does not possess many of the powers of the previous characters and is deprived of the few she acquired when Johnny Blaze recovers almost all of them.
Ghost Rider’s Powers and Abilities
Ghost Rider’s powers are many. But let’s start from the beginning, noting that he is a human being who manages to transform his skeleton into ethereal flames with supernatural powers.
The story goes that the first stunt biker, Johnny Blaze, sold his soul to “Satan” to save his father’s life. This allowed him to transform himself into the presence of evil immediately.
His vehicle of choice is his motorcycle, which allows him to travel faster than any conventional vehicle. In addition, it allows him to perform seemingly impossible feats for another human being. For example, he can climb vertical surfaces, jump great distances, and traverse water surfaces.
Ghost Rider is virtually indestructible, being very difficult to damage by any conventional means. In fact, knives and bullets can pass through him without causing any pain.
Image via Marvel
It is said that Ghost Rider can be immortal since God created him, and only He can destroy him. His strength is superhuman and formidable. He can lift great amounts of weight without any problem. But, it is noteworthy that each incarnation of the character has other abilities as listed below:
- Johnny Blaze: When he transforms into Ghost Rider, his body changes, but his clothes do not. However, when he transforms into his new incarnation, his clothes look different: a leather jacket with spikes and a chain. His abilities include making his motorcycle transform and surrounding himself with hellfire. He can also project that infernal fire as a weapon. He is considered one of the most powerful anti-heroes on Earth.
- Danny Ketch: Danny’s transformation into Ghost includes his clothing, where he wears a leather jacket with spikes and chains, and his motorcycle changes from a conventional one to a high-tech one. The motorcycle’s wheels are lit on fire, allowing this character to almost fly across surfaces. On the motorcycle, the battering ram is displayed on the front. Danny wears a chain that responds to his mental commands. His most famous power is his Penance Stare.
- Robbie Reyes: It shows a somewhat different plot, where the ghost of Eli Morrow inhabits Robbie’s body. To Johnny Blaze, Robbie cannot be considered a true Spirit of Vengeance. However, his abilities are similar to the other Ghost Riders. This includes the power to manifest and control chains that end in razors or thin knives. Morrow’s ghost inhabited a black vehicle associated with Robbie’s Ghost Rider form. This allows him to teleport instantly or merge with the vehicle and drive it remotely. His car’s trunk allows Ghost Rider to pass anything through, including people, anywhere.
Ghost Rider’s Enemies
His enemies are several, as follows:
- Aqueduct: Former soldier who was hired to kill Ghost Rider.
- Black Rose: Wife of Johnny Blaze, who, when revived as a servant of Blackheart, ends up marrying Ghost Rider.
- Blackheart: Son of Blackheart, who created a group of spirits to fight Ghost Rider.
- Blackout: He frequently fought Ghost Rider, killing his acquaintances and loved ones.
- Centurioso: Servant of Mephisto and fought Ghost Rider because of his association with the demon.
- Deacon: Agent of Zadkiel, who gives him the power to destroy Ghost Rider.
- Deathwatch: Daniel Ketch’s archenemy. He dies at the hands of the Spirit of Vengeance and is resurrected as a servant of Centurioso.
- Doghead: Francisco Fuentes, who died while walking his dog and is resurrected by Blackheart to be his servant.
- Ninja of Death: He is an agent of Centurioso who fights in the ranks of Deathwatch infiltrated against Ghost Rider
- Dormammu: He is a Faltine from another dimension and fights Ghost Rider in video games.
- Thanos: Known as the Mad Titan, he is responsible for Frank Castle’s transformation into Cosmic Ghost Rider.
Other Versions of Ghost Rider
The versions of the Spirit of Vengeance are quite varied, with the following standing out among them:
This version of the Ultimate Marvel universe shows a couple, Jhonny Blaze and Roxanne Simpson. They arrive at a bar and sympathize with a biker gang. However, it was just a ruse, as they murder Johnny as part of a satanic ritual.
During the ritual, they exchange their souls for riches and powers. Johnny also makes a deal, giving up his soul for Roxanne’s safety. His training lasted over 20 years, and then he returned to the world for revenge. He murdered the members of the motorcycle gang one by one. This brought the Avengers into action, who failed to stop Ghost Rider.
Ghost Rider 2099
This version of the Spirit of Vengeance comes from the year 2099. He is presented as a cybernetic vengeance spirit from Marvel. The character is not supernatural but a cybernetic being with a digitized copy of Zero Cochrane’s mind.
Cosmic Ghost Rider
This is a version that debuted in Guardians of the Galaxy. It was set in a future Marvel universe. Among his abilities are his ability to traverse space and fire-pointed projectiles.
This character is a religious fanatic who is bitter against the church. And he proclaims that he will produce a god of flesh. He refers to himself as the Spirit of Vengeance, his real name being Autocylus, hailing from the planet Sarka.
Ghost Rider’s Appearances in Other Media
Ghost Rider’s appearances have been several, among which stand out:
On the big screen, he appeared in:
- The movie Ghost Rider, which Marvel released in 2007. It was directed by Mark Steven Johnson and starred actor Nicolas Cage, who played Johnny Blaze. The teen version starred Matt Long.
- In 2012, the sequel was released in the United States under Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor directed it. Once again, Nicolas Cage appears as the main character. Here, Jhonny continues to fight against the curse but meets a priest who entrusts him to protect a child from evil.
Image via Columbia Pictures
On the small screen, the character is present in the following ways:
Marvel Cinematic Universe
In 2016, it was announced that Ghost Rider would be in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in its fourth season. The protagonist was personified by actor Gabriel Luna, who played Robbie Reyes. That same year, Luna was offered his own TV series following his outstanding performance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In 2019, it was announced that a new incarnation of Ghost Rider would appear in 2020, with Luna reprising his role. This never came to fruition, as the series was canceled.
Ghost Rider has been a continuous character in the following animated series:
- X – Men
- The Fantastic 4
- The Incredible Hulk
- Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
- Avengers: Secret Wars.
In video games, this character almost always appears as a playable character in:
- Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance
- Ghost Rider
- Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
- Marvel Super Hero Squad Online
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance
- Lego Marvel Super Heroes
- Marvel Heroes
This character’s story is hard to forget, especially because he is a hero out of the ordinary. Ghost Rider is a being consumed by the flames of hell who still seeks somehow to battle the forces of evil and bring justice.
The Spirit of Vengeance has had different incarnations in the figures of Johnny Blaze, Noble Kale, Danny Ketch, Robbie Reyes and Alejandra Jones. Each incarnation has different characteristics, but it always makes him a ruthless horseman who thirsts for revenge.
Actor Nicolas Cage made two movies in which he played the lead role. Since then, fans have desperately clamoured to see this character fully enter the MCU. Will this be the year we see Ghost Rider fight alongside our favorite Marvel superheroes? Let’s hope so.