By Marc Strom
The new GHOST RIDER creative team of writer Jason Aaron and artist Roland Boschi have set Johnny Blaze down a road he's never ridden before—one leading directly to heaven itself.
With the recent revelation that a rogue angel named Zadkiel and not the devil cursed Blaze, Ghost Rider wants some vengeance of his own. Don't let the angelic nature fool you, though. Aaron's out to prove that Blaze remains badder than ever and ready to kick the tuchas of anyone who gets in his way.
GHOST RIDER #21, the second issue of Aaron and Boschi's run, hits on March 19 but Marvel.com's got an exclusive preview
of the issue for you right now! And in the meantime, we spoke with the writer about what we can expect from our favorite Spirit of Vengeance in the coming months as well as his other gig, guiding everybody's favorite X-Man over in WOLVERINE.
Marvel.com: So Ghost Rider's an angel now—or rather, he's always been one. How'd that come about?
Well, we all know that once upon a time Johnny Blaze sold his soul to the devil to try and save the life of his adopted father. That deal didn't work out so great though, with the adopted father still dying and with Blaze left saddled with the Ghost Rider, a brutal Spirit of Vengeance that exists only to punish evildoers.
Blaze was always led to believe that the Ghost Rider was a spirit of hell, a demon. But recently he's learned that it's actually a spirit of heaven, which explains why he's spent his whole career fighting bad guys, not something you'd expect a demon to do. The spirit was bonded to Blaze by Zadkiel, the angel in charge of heaven's "black ops" division. Back when Blaze first sold his soul to the devil, it was then-girlfriend Roxanne Simpson who opened the door for Zadkiel, by praying to heaven for their help in saving Blaze's soul. Instead of Godly intervention, she got Zadkiel, who took advantage of the situation to curse Blaze with the Ghost Rider. As for how this fits into Zadkiel's grand plan, we're still finding that out.
Marvel.com: Does this revelation change anything about the core of Johnny Blaze's character?
No, not at all. He's just as tortured as he's ever been. Even more so, really. This just leaves him frustrated and back at square one. I mean, he just beat the devil, who he'd always blamed for all his troubles. But he doesn't even get a moment to enjoy that victory. Because it turns out the devil wasn't the real culprit all along. So now Blaze is just looking to get his hands on Zadkiel and get his vengeance once and for all.
Marvel.com: Tell us a little about Zadkiel. What's his beef with heaven, and why does he seem to hate humanity so much?
Zadkiel has spent the millennia doing heaven's dirty work, fighting hell's incursions [onto] earth and pruning the worst of the worst from the human population. Over the years, he's come to despise all of humanity, not just the sinners. Now he figures he can do a better job of sitting on the throne of heaven than God. And if he succeeds in his war against heaven, the first order of business will be wiping out us wretched humans.
Marvel.com: What's his plan for Johnny Blaze, and how long has it been in place?
If you go back through Daniel Way's issues of GHOST RIDER, you'll see hints that Zadkiel's plan has been in the works all along. At first, he was trying to work out a deal with the devil, but now that the devil's been defeated, Zadkiel only needs one thing to help him win his war: the power of the Spirits of Vengeance. Wait, did I say Spirits
of Vengeance? Does that mean there's more than one? Hmm…
Marvel.com: Will we be seeing any type of regular supporting cast sprout up around Ghost Rider in his vendetta against Zadkiel?
Yes, we will. There'll be a couple of exciting new characters, as well as a few familiar faces making return appearances. Stay tuned.
Marvel.com: Your first issue had the feel of an awesome grindhouse flick to it, particularly with the machine-gun toting nurses. Can we expect more of that type of thing throughout your run?
Most definitely. To me, GHOST RIDER feels like a 1970's exploitation horror movie. Just look at the title of issue #22: "Death Race on Ghost Cannibal
Highway." That says it all. Other than that, I'll also be taking some of my favorite elements from the 90's GHOST RIDER series, some of the more super hero-themed elements, and re-introducing those along the way.
In the end, I hope we'll have a book that combines the best of the original 70's Ghost Rider with some of the fan favorite elements from the 90's and uses that all as a springboard for telling an exciting new breed of stories.
Marvel.com: Besides more of the aforementioned Machine Gun Nurses, what else can we expect coming up?
Well, the current arc wraps up with what may be the most shocking last page in GHOST RIDER history. After that, Blaze goes behind bars for a couple issues, where he gets more than he can handle courtesy of new villain the Deacon, whose golden weapons are carved from the paving stones of heaven. Beyond that, well… my editor would kill me if I even teased it. Let's just say, it's gonna be big. Mark it down now: '08 is gonna be the year of the Ghost Rider.
Marvel.com: You're also currently working on a WOLVERINE arc, "Get Mystique." What's that about?
It's just what it sounds like. Logan is pulling out all the stops to "Get Mystique." The story is basically one long, high-octane chase scene, with Logan dead-set on getting revenge against Mystique for how she betrayed the X-Men during "Messiah CompleX," and with Mystique throwing everything she possibly can at Logan in order to slow him down.
Marvel.com: Why does Wolvie have such a mad-on for Mystique? Sure, she betrayed the X-Men, but it feels like there's something more personal than that going on…
Yes, it does, doesn't it. For some reason, he really has taken her betrayal personally this time. As for why, we won't know the answer to that until he finally catches up with her.
Marvel.com: Finally, from your mouth to Joe Quesada's ear, what are the top three Marvel characters you'd like to take a crack at sometime in the future?
The Punisher, the Thing and Son of Satan.
While you're waiting for the release of GHOST RIDER #21 on March 19, get caught up on the Spirit of Vengeance with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.