Ghost Rider is the name of several fictional supernatural antiheroes appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Marvel had previously used the name for a Western character whose name was later changed to Phantom Rider.
The first Ghost Rider to appear in Marvel Comics is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, who, to save his father, gave his soul to “Satan”. Blaze starred in the series from 1972 to 1983. The subsequent series (1990–1998) featured Danny Ketch as a new Rider. Ketch came in contact with a motorcycle that was mystically enchanted to contain the essence of a Spirit of Vengeance. In 2000’s comics, Blaze again became the Rider, succeeding Ketch. In 2013, Robbie Reyes became Ghost Rider as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative.
The Ghost Rider
Following the western comics character who originally used the name, the first superhero Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, debuted in Marvel Spotlight #5 (Aug. 1972), created by writer-editor Roy Thomas, writer Gary Friedrich, and artist Mike Ploog. He received his own series in 1973, with penciller Jim Mooney handling most of the first nine issues. The series ran through in issue #81 (June 1983). Blaze returned as the Rider in a 2001 six-issue miniseries written by Devin Grayson; a second miniseries written by Garth Ennis in 2005; and an ongoing monthly series that began publication in July 2006. Johnny Blaze was the son of Naomi Blaze and Barton Blaze, Naomi being the previous Ghost Rider.
Originally when Blaze transformed into the Rider, his body changed but not the clothes he was wearing. In his new incarnation, this is different and his clothes take on a different appearance with a spiked leather jacket and chains. As Ghost Rider, he can cause his motorcycle to transform and surround itself with hellfire or he can create a new cycle from pure hellfire. He is also capable of projecting hellfire as a weapon. Hellfire “burns the soul” and leaves no physical injuries on the victim. The effect is similar to the “Penance Stare.”
In recent comics Blaze’s Ghost Rider has been given the “Penance Stare” and mystical chain, both of which were specific to the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. Blaze also uses a shotgun and discovered that he can discharge hellfire from the weapon when he first encountered Ketch. He also now has new abilities including hellfire breath and the ability to produce chains from either his throat or chest. He is also now able to travel between the incorporeal realms.
The next Ghost Rider, a young man named Daniel Ketch (Johnny Blaze’s long lost little brother), debuted in Ghost Rider vol. 3, #1 (May 1990). This Rider is nearly identical to the previous. His costume is now a black leather biker jacket with spiked shoulder-pads, grey leather pants, and a mystic chain which responded to his mental commands. It could grow in length, alter direction while in the air, stiffen into a staff or spear, and separate into several links which can strike like shrapnel and then return to their original form.
His new motorcycle resembled a futuristic machine and the front of it could lower to serve as a battering ram. Like the original Ghost Rider’s bike, the wheels were mystic hellfire. Unlike the previous Ghost Rider and his demon, Ketch and his demon, the Angel of Death/Judgment, cooperate with each other. Daniel’s most famous power was the Penance Stare. By locking eyes with a target and mentally focusing, the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider was able to make the target experience all the pain they had ever inflicted on anyone else.
During the 2011 crossover story arc Fear Itself, a Nicaraguan woman named Alejandra becomes Ghost Rider. This is done through a ritual performed by a man named Adam, in Ghost Rider vol. 4, #1. She demonstrated many previous unknown powers of the Ghost Rider entity. However, she was deprived of its full power when Johnny Blaze took back most of this power.
In March 2014, a new Ghost Rider series debuted featuring a new Mexican-American character named Roberto “Robbie” Reyes. He drives a black classic muscle car reminiscent of a modified 1969 Dodge Charger and lives in East Los Angeles. Robbie Reyes was created by writer/artist Felipe Smith and designed by Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore.
The ghost of Eli Morrow that inhabits Robbie’s body is not, according to Johnny Blaze, a true Spirit of Vengeance. Regardless, Eli does give Robbie several abilities similar to that of the other Ghost Riders. This includes the power to manifest and control chains ending in thin knives or sickles. The black muscle car that Morrow’s ghost initially inhabits is linked to the Ghost Rider. It allows Robbie in Ghost Rider form to instantly teleport to and/or merge with the car. The car can also be driven remotely, and Robbie’s Rider form can pass harmlessly through it. The car’s trunk acts as a portal, allowing the Ghost Rider to transport anything to any location. Eli is able to take full control of Robbie’s body when the teen gives in to his negative emotions. This is signified by a pallid skin tone and both of his eyes turning orange.
So there they are, the Ghost Riders. They all have many similarities and many of the same powers, yet they are all very different. Personally, I’d have to say that Robbie Reyes is my favorite. I like the muscle car, what can I say? Who do you believe is the best and why? Let me know in the comments here…