By Kevin Mahadeo
This August, Johnny Blaze goes knockin' on Heaven's door in the six-issue limited series GHOST RIDER: HEAVEN'S ON FIRE by writer Jason Aaron and artist Roland Boschi.
"It seemed like a good time to put a little more spotlight on Ghost Rider," says Aaron. "The response has been great. We've gotten great reviews. Tons of fans who have never read the book before started picking it up."
Aaron originally signed up for a two year run on the GHOST RIDER ongoing series, and HEAVEN'S ON FIRE brings to a close the epic arc he began with issue #20. With the angel Zadkiel now in control of Heaven, it seems the world has finally reached its end; however, Ghost Rider's quite ready to ride off into the sunset just yet.
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"Even though Zadkiel has taken control of Heaven, he's not omnipotent," explains Aaron. "The longer he holds the city the more powerful he'll become, but there's still a chance to take him down before it's too late."
As such, the newly christened Caretaker and Blaze join with Danny Ketch and Son of Satan to literally storm the gates of Heaven and stop Zadkiel's ironically demonic reign. The race begins when Zadkiel attempts to assassinate the Anti-Christ, a figure Satanists have been trying to breed for generations.
"Zadkiel wants to wipe out all those candidates," says Aaron. "If he can wipe out the possibility of an Anti-Christ, he can thwart Biblical prophecy. He can rewrite the end of the world on his own terms. So we find Blaze and Ketch and all the heroes stuck in the odd position of saving the Anti-Christ. The first issue of the [series] is actually titled, 'Save the Anti-Christ, save the world.'"
Along the way, the group encounters more trouble in the form of a legion of doom put together by the vampire Blackout and the Deacon to stop Ghost Rider's motley crew. Aaron promises villains both new and old will make appearances, including the Orb and Scarecrow.
"There's a lot of characters in this arc," admits Aaron. "It's probably the closest thing I've ever done to a team book."
Aaron also promises to maintain the unorthodox vein of his GHOST RIDER run, which gained praise for not only its over-the-top elements, such as a biker race around
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the world between Blaze and Ketch, but for greatly expanding the Ghost Rider mythology. During his run, Aaron introduced the concept for a worldwide conglomerate of Spirits of Vengeance, something the writer said just made obvious sense.
"Since we have this revelation that he Spirit of Vengeance was a spirit of Heaven, then it doesn't make sense that the Ghost Rider would only spend his time driving around the United States," he explains. "Presumably Heaven cares about more than just the USA. I thought it was physically cool and visually cool to introduce Ghost Riders from different regions of the world and of different religions.
"I kind of embraced the outrageousness of the story of a biker with a flaming skull for a head. We've done stuff that a lot of people have compared to a B-horror film from the 70's or Grindhouse Cinema. We've had everything from crazed gun-wielding nurses to nuns with nunchucks to guys with giant eyeballs for heads. But we also have some character development. We brought Danny Ketch back and everything I've done with him was with the goal of making him a more meatier character—a little more tortured. We've seen Ghost Riders from around the world and throughout history. Hopefully it's a book that people who never read GHOST RIDER before could latch onto, but I've also done a lot of stuff to try and appeal to those longtime fans, too."
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