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By Marc Strom
Machine-gun wielding nurses? Check. Crazy cannibal? Check. Dude with flaming skull? Check.
When GHOST RIDER #23 hit shelves earlier this week, the finale to writer Jason Aaron's debut arc "Hell-Bent & Heaven Bound" saw all of the above racing towards a collision course with destiny in the quiet town of New Beulah, with more than a few innocents caught in the crossfire.
But if you haven't been reading GHOST RIDER and have the feeling you're missing out on some sweet greatness, don't fret! We made up a scorecard of all the parties involved so you can jump straight into the melee and watch the cannibalistic flesh fly!
And for the icing on the cake, we got Aaron to provide his own running commentary on each of the players. So grab your ringside seat, True Believers!
The Spirit of Vengeance recently found out his curse came not from the devil, but rather a renegade angel named Zadkiel hell-bent—if you'll pardon the pun—on storming Heaven's gates. While several men have carried the mantle over the ages, Johnny Blaze has remained a stalwart in fans' hearts.
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"All he wants is answers," says Aaron. "And if he doesn't get them...well, you wouldn't wanna be in his vicinity at the time."
The young man who died and came back to life, Ghost Rider believes Lucas has some of the answers as to what Zadkiel's plans entail—now he just has to keep him alive long enough to ask a few questions!
"[Lucas] dodged death once," reminds Aaron. "Can he do it again?"
Poor Deputy Kowalski. All he ever wanted was some justice, and now a cannibal's eaten his hand.
"Kowalski is a cop with a troubled past who looks to be doing the right thing here, trying to get to the bottom of the high number of traffic fatalities that occur on the local highway," explains Aaron. "He's already lost a hand in the process and is on the verge of losing a lot more. But the price he ends up paying won't be what you expect."
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Servants of Zadkiel keeping watching over young Lucas, these women may look like your average friendly nurses—until they break out the big guns and hop on their motorcycles to hunt you down.
"They serve Zadkiel to the end," notes Aaron. "No matter the cost."
'Lo those three months ago when Johnny Blaze first rode into the Machine-Gun Nurses' hospital, he warned Naomi away from the killers. Little does she suspect that the bus she thought would take her well out of the Nurses' reach lies directly on the motorcycle-riding villainess' path through the town of New Beulah…
"Naomi, the good nurse," muses Aaron. "I initially had a lot more in mind for her, but it didn't work out. So it looks like she may be one of the only people here to actually get any sort of happy ending."
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The rogue angel responsible for ruining Johnny Blaze's life. Leader of Heaven's black-ops squad, Zadkiel believes he may have finally found the key to all his plans in the form of the current Ghost Rider.
"You might start to get the feeling that this is all
somehow part of his plan," teases Aaron.
Crazy cannibal undertaker and descendant of the Ghost Cannibals from previous issues, Wojciehowicz took advantage of Deputy Kowalski's youthful naïveté and general ignorance of the perpetual craziness of New Beulah to make a meal out of the lawman's hand.
"Local cannibal just looking for a little snack," describes Aaron. "But this time he's bitten off more than he can chew, for sure."
GHOST RIDER #23 by Jason Aaron and Roland Boschi is on sale now. Check out more GHOST RIDER with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.