Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

The Essential Ghost Rider

Before Johnny Blaze rides into theaters once more on February 17, look back at his history!

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Johnny Blaze roars into theaters once more in "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" on February 17, and to mark the event Marvel.com will bring you new stories on ol' Flamehead every day from now until the film's premiere! From looks at the film to looks at the character's rich history, check out Marvel.com every day for everything relating to your favorite Flamehead, and don't miss "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," in theaters February 17!

By Jim Beard

A blazing skull atop a leather-clad, motorcycle-riding figure--it’s not an image that’s easily forgotten once witnessed. Caught between Heaven and Hell, the Ghost Rider roars into town and everything seems to go to blazes, the result of his quest to bring vengeance to wrong-doers and rid the world of evil. Sometimes he succeeds; other times the line between good and evil blurs and the Ghost Rider must choose a path that may further stain his everlasting soul.

First Ride

Ghost Rider vol. 1 #1

Johnny Blaze worked as a motorcycle stunt performer for the Crash Simpson Stunt Cycle Extravaganza and looked to its owner as the father he thought he’d lost along with the rest of his family. When Crash grew deathly ill, Johnny made the mistake of trying to sell his soul to Mephisto to save his surrogate father’s life. While Mephisto cured Crash's cancer, he died shortly thereafter in a stunt. Mephisto attempted to take Johnny’s soul in payment, but ultimately unable to snatch such a pure soul, he grafted a powerful demon onto it instead, transforming poor Johnny into a blazing, nightmarish figure.

Ghost Rider’s origin may be found in ESSENTIAL GHOST RIDER VOL. 1.

Blazing Champion

Ghost Rider #81

Now known as the Ghost Rider, Johnny turned it around on the Devil and attempted to use his new-found demonic powers for good. After trial and error he began to control the hellfire within him and used it to become a kind of super hero. His subsequent adventures brought the Ghost Rider into contact with many different entities, including other super heroes and eventually into a team called the Champions. All the while, Johnny worried that his fiery activities would sully the goodness of his sweetheart, Roxanne.

After many harrowing missions against the forces of evil, Johnny ran into a man without a soul, Centurious. Immune to Ghost Rider’s hellfire, Centurious captured Johnny’s soul in a crystal and revealed that it was a demon named Zarathos who’d inhabited the young man’s body all along. This situation created an internal struggle between Johnny and the demon, but Centurious attempted to end that clash of wills. Zarathos shattered the crystal, freeing Johnny and the other souls trapped within; its owner reformed the crystal, though, and drew the demon into it, freeing Johnny Blaze from the curse of the Ghost Rider.

The original Ghost Rider’s adventures can be found in ESSENTIAL GHOST RIDER VOL. 1-4, and CHAMPIONS CLASSIC VOL. 1-2.

Resurrecting the Ghost

Ghost Rider vol. 4 #1

Freed from Zarathos, Johnny Blaze wandered for a while, unsure of what path to take in his life. He discovered the existence of a new Ghost Rider, a man named Danny Ketch, and joined with him for several adventures once he realized that Zarathos had not returned in a new form. Eventually, Johnny would also discover that he had a brother he’d wiped from his memories…Danny, the new Ghost Rider. Together, they rode out against menaces, but, in some strange cosmic balance, Johnny lost his beloved Roxanne to a demon attack.

Trying to start his life anew, Johnny began to transform into Ghost Rider once again. He eventually discovered that a reconstituted Zarathos inhabited his body, but he attempted to make the best of it. Soon, those noble intentions would be shattered when a group of demons snatched up Johnny and took him straight to Hell to honor his long-ago pact with the infernal realm’s master.

These exciting tales may be found in GHOST RIDER: DANNY KETCH CLASSIC VOL. 1-2 and GHOST RIDER: ROAD TO DAMNATION.

To Hell and Back

Ghost Rider vol. 5 #20

Johnny Blaze, ever the clever and resourceful soul, eventually escaped from Hell, but returning to Earth proved to be no walk in the park. Back in the mortal realm, the Ghost Rider encountered many obstacles including the incredible Hulk, the angel Zadkiel and his own brother Danny, the other Ghost Rider. He also discovered an entire team of Ghost Riders from many different nations, and with them found himself in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell.

Sadly, there’d be no rest for Johnny Blaze after that ultimate showdown. Killed in a battle against the ninja Hand clan and their strong magic, Ghost Rider received a reprieve from Heaven and returned to vanquish his enemies with an angelic host by his side. Finally, he then believed he’d been freed from the curse of the Ghost Rider. Time will tell if that’s true, or simply another cruel joke on poor Johnny Blaze.

Johnny’s later trials and tribulations may be found in GHOST RIDER BY DANIEL WAY ULTIMATE COLLECTION, GHOST RIDER: HELL BENT AND HEAVEN BOUND, GHOST RIDER: THE LAST STAND, GHOST RIDER: TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, and GHOST RIDER: HEAVEN'S ON FIRE.

Ultimate Ghost Rider

Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #3

In the Ultimate Universe, Johnny Blaze and Roxanne Simpson ran afoul of a gang of bikers who killed the young man and then tried to make a deal with the devil for power. They received their power, but Johnny made his own deal to save Roxanne and then trained for twenty years to become an instrument of revenge: The Ghost Rider.

The Ghost Rider sought out each member of the gang to kill them, but they’d all become very powerful men in business and politics. Johnny’s demonic hunt put him into conflict with the Ultimate Avengers, a battle that led to their initial defeat at the hands of the Ghost Rider. Ultimately, Johnny completed his cycle of revenge and, gaining Roxanne once again, agrees to continue as the Ghost Rider in the service of the Devil.

The Ultimate Ghost Rider can be found in ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS: CRIME & PUNISHMENT.

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