Preview art by
Tan Eng Huat
By Kiel Phegley
Amongst longtime GHOST RIDER fans, the debate over the greatest rider to sell his soul can be intense. From the original Phantom Rider, Carter Slade, to the first motorcycle maniac who set his skull on fire, Johnny Blaze, to the tortured soul of the 90's, Danny Ketch—each Spirit of Vengeance has left their mark on the franchise and on the reader.
But coming up this Wednesday, October 15, writer Jason Aaron and artist Tan Eng Huat plan to let the Riders settle things for themselves when Blaze and Ketch square off to kick start "The Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance."
"This really takes things up a notch in terms of the conflict between Blaze and [rogue angel] Zadkiel," explains Aaron. "It's the beginning of a new status quo, and at the core it's when Blaze and Ketch finally come face to face, and for the first time ever we see Ghost Rider versus Ghost Rider. But we also introduce some new characters. We'll be expanding the idea of the Spirit of Vengeance, figuring out what [it] is, what its purpose is and how it exists beyond Johnny Blaze."
To dig deeper into the mythology defining the backbone of Aaron's GHOST RIDER run, Marvel.com had the writer dip into his personal stash to pick his favorite GR yarns and the one that impact his work the most.
GHOST RIDER v1 #32 (1978)
While the tale might not be a major turning point in the character's long history, Ghost Rider's encounter with one of his earliest villains, the Bounty Hunter made Aaron's first encounter with hero a memorable one.
"Ghost Rider's being pursued by this black clad bounty hunter on horseback, but the cover is of Ghost Rider being hanged while all these skeletons in cowboy hats are watching on shaking their fists in the air," recalls the writer. "That's still one of my favorite GHOST RIDER covers, and we're actually referencing that in an upcoming issue."
GHOST RIDER v1 #50 (1980)
In a tale that cemented the Ghost Rider franchise as a cursed legacy, Johnny Blaze teams up with the Phantom Rider of the Old West, and that legacy will play into the future of the current series as well.
"I included a little tease for the Phantom Rider in Caretaker's shack where it looks like a little museum where you see all these bits of Ghost Rider history," points out Aaron. "You see the Phantom Rider's mask, hat and gun."
THE ORIGINAL GHOST RIDER RIDES AGAIN #1 (1991)
In what many cite as the definitive Ghost Rider origin tale, Johnny Blaze sits down in a confessional to tell a priest his story before the padre's true nature stands revealed along with Blaze's true plan. The cross between Blaze and heavenly forces remains a cornerstone of the character's latest incarnation and Aaron referenced this story in his very first issue onboard.
"It takes it in a bit of a new direction," notes the writer. "From the character's first appearance, we've seen him fighting against the devil and every iteration of that. With the current book, Daniel Way did a great long run of him fighting different earthly incarnations of the devil. After that, where do you go with that storyline? It's great to be able to create this whole other branch of mythology and a brand new group of enemies to face off against."
"Rise of the Midnight Sons" (1992)
The epic story arc that united Marvel's biggest supernatural heroes through the pages of comics like DOCTOR STRANGE and MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE culminated in a new status quo for Danny Ketch and a new team featuring Ketch, Blaze and wild card Vengeance.
"I'd say that's the arc that hooked me because I picked up the MORBIUS book and DARKHOLD and all the spin-offs," says Aaron. "I liked the whole mythology and the way they expanded the cast [of] Ghost Rider [and] the supernatural corner of the Marvel Universe. It was its own universe within the Marvel U."
HELLSTORM: PRINCE OF LIES #12-21 (1994)
While not a GHOST RIDER series, Warren Ellis' run with Marvel's Son of Satan will play a major role in Johnny Blaze's life moving forward, particularly the additions the writer made to the Marvel Universe's supernatural mythology.
"I loved the original [Hellstorm stories]—the [Steve Gerber-written] MARVEL SPOTLIGHT issues," Aaron explains. "That's my favorite version of the Son of Satan, where he's got the red cape and the pentagram on his chest, and he's just this Satanic version of Thor—just this arrogant prince from this otherworldly realm of hell. I really liked what Ellis did on HELLSTORM. He introduced a lot of cool characters in that, and we'll be bringing back the Asura, the angelic assassins who popped up a lot in his run, in the 'Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance' arc. Beyond that I'll be bringing back a few other elements from that HELLSTORM run."
GHOST RIDER #28 speeds into stores this Wednesday, October 15. For more GR, you can take a trip to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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