By Marc Strom
Come August, the Spirit of Vengeance will inhabit the Shadowland. While Daredevil wrestles for the soul of New York City, writer Rob Williams and artist Clayton Crain unleash SHADOWLAND: GHOST RIDER.
According to Williams, "the need for vengeance" brings ol' Flamehead to New York during this tumultuous time.
"That's at the heart of what the Ghost Rider is: the supernatural Spirit of Vengeance, created by god himself," the writer continues. "The job remit is payback on those most deserving, and in Shadowland, with Matt Murdock leading the Hand in a clean-up of New York City that's pretty much a coup, there [are] plenty of guilty souls out there who are very deserving."
"It's tough for me to reveal too much about this," he cautions. "Let's put it this way: after years of being forced to serve Lucifer, the Archangel Zadkiel and God, Ghost Rider finally figures that he's earned the right to be free and decide his own destiny. But Shadowland doesn't exactly play like that for him. There [are] all sorts of shadow figures moving pieces around the chessboard here, and when Ghost Rider figures out that he's one of those pieces, he's more than a little pissed off. So someone's going to pay."
Whether the events of Shadowland will divide or unite the Ghost Rider brothers, Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch, also remains uncertain.
"Well, that depends on what they've been up to since we last saw them, doesn't it," notes Williams. "I like the fact that there [are] two Ghost Riders in the Marvel Universe, brothers who've been through a biblical level of conflict but have come out on the same side. It's a cool, uneasy dynamic. In Shadowland, however, it's a question of earning the Ghost Rider's right to freedom."
The upcoming one-shot will plant Ghost Rider firmly in the middle of the larger story.
"Well, we open in New York, in the middle of the actions of the SHADOWLAND limited series," says Williams. "Ghost Rider realizes he's being played, isn't happy about it at all, and discovers that the only way he can achieve freedom is by taking on the Hand himself. One Ghost Rider vs an army of Hand ninjas. The odds aren't exactly in his favor."
"Clayton may well be the ultimate Ghost Rider artist," touts the writer. "Just take a look at some of his previous work on the character-[that] cover of Ghost Rider being hit by a bolt of lightning springs to mind-there's a real spectacle and grandeur about the way he portrays this Spirit of Vengeance. When Clayton draws Ghost Rider you buy the fact that this is a being created by God himself. Ghost Rider should look terrifying. Clayton delivers that and it's something that I concentrated on [when] writing the script. He should be bloody scary. That leant itself to our theme, 'everyone's afraid of something.' It's just a case of finding out what that is."
Daredevil fans will also have good reason to check out the one-shot.
"A major plot thread from the DAREDEVIL comes to fruition in SHADOWLAND: GHOST RIDER," teases Williams. "I've known [DAREDEVIL co-writers] Andy Diggle and Antony Johnston for years through the U.K. comics scene-we all started out on the freelance path at roughly the same time-and they were both very cool in letting me do something in SHADOWLAND: GHOST RIDER that really should have occurred in DAREDEVIL. If you're a big Daredevil fan, you're going to want to pick this issue up. It's not just a meaningless tie-in. This issue is going to have a major effect on the lives of Ghost Rider and Matt Murdock going forward."
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