Superhero Origins: Ghost Rider

A force for good, this nightmarish superhero has been inhabited by several Marvel characters since his debut. However, his first and most famous persona is that of Johnny Blaze, a man who made a pact with a demon from hell. However, his soul was saved by a magical intervention, and was instead bonded with a demonic spirit in a bid to corrupt his very soul. This transformed him into a flaming skeleton clad in leather, capable of dishing out blasts of hellfire, and able to call forth a fiery motorcycle. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of The Ghost Rider.
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Superhero Origins: Ghost Rider

He is the spirit of vengeance. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origins of Johnny Blaze, otherwise known as the Ghost Rider.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline, which unfolded in 1972’s Marvel Spotlight #5 and was expanded upon in 1973’s Ghost Rider comic series.

A force for good, this nightmare like superhero has been inhabited by several Marvel characters since his debut. However, his first and most famous persona is that of Johnny Blaze, a man who grew up envying the exploits of his father, a famous motorcycle stunt rider.

Johnny Blaze’s fate as the Ghost Rider first took shape in his youth when his mother abandoned him, and his father died from an ill-fated stunt. It was at this time that he was integrated into the family of carnival owner and fellow stunt driver Crash Simpson.

In his teenage years, Johnny was encouraged to take over the carnival’s stunt show. However, a deadly accident almost killed him, and claimed the life of his stepmother, whose final request was for Johnny to never again ride a bike. Taking the promise to heart, Johnny refused to appear in the show, causing Crash to grow resentful.

Even worse, Crash was soon diagnosed with cancer, forcing Johnny to face the possibility of losing yet another father. Unable to cope with this possibility, Johnny decided to make a pact with the devil.

Unwittingly, he called forth one of the Devil’s archenemies, a demon named Mephisto. Despite their deal, Crash died anyways in a foolish attempt to break the world car jumping record. This was spurred by the belief that he continued to live on borrowed time.

Soon after, Mephisto came to collect payment. However, Johnny’s stepsister-turned-lover Roxanne intervened, driving the demon off before Johnny’s soul could be collected. Roxanne had learned magic after finding out about her lover’s pact with the demon, and used her selfless love for Johnny to fuel as spell to drive the Mephisto away.

Enraged, Mephisto instead bonded Johnny with another spirit in a bid to corrupt his very soul. The result was his transformation into a flaming skeleton clad in leather, capable of dishing out blasts of hellfire, and able to call forth a fiery motorcycle.

When first learning to cope with his Ghost Rider identity, Johnny found himself joining a biker gang called “Satan’s Servants.” This led to the horrific discovery that Crash had made his own deal with Mephisto in exchange for a new life, which re-incarnated him as the gang’s leader. This turned out to be an elaborate ploy to finally capture Johnny’s soul, and turn him into a loyal emissary of hell.

Revealing his secret identity to his lover Roxanne, the pair stayed together while Johnny performed high profile stunts as the Rider, advertising it a mere special effect. At the same time, he decided to use his hell-given powers to battle the forces of evil, taking vengeance on those who would terrorize and torment the souls of the innocent.

Eventually, the Ghost Rider began to consume his personality, causing Johnny to learn its true identity, that of the demon Zarathos. Their struggle for his body would continue until he would find a way to free himself of its influence. This involved trapping it within an ancient relic called the Crystal of Souls. Despite earning his freedom, Johnny would eventually take up the role of mentor for the next Ghost Rider, a man named Danny Ketch.

The Danny Ketch interpretation of Ghost rider gained extra powers, which included a more hellish motorcycle and mystical chains. But his most infamous power is his Penitence Stare, which allows the rider to inflict upon his enemies all the pain that they have caused to others.

A hell-powered immortal vigilante, The Ghost Rider is a unique superhero that stands out from the rest. He has appeared in countless comics, as well as several animated series. Most recently, the character has been portrayed by Nicolas Cage in the live-action “Ghost Rider” film adaptation, and its 2012 sequel “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”
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