Every Ghost Rider Ever
Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch, Robbie Reyes, and so many more. Beware the Spirits of Vengeance…
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Just how many Ghost Riders are there in the Marvel Universe?
They are the Spirits of Vengeance. Fiery, angelic beings. “Heaven’s Black Ops.” They were, as told in a flashback from GHOST RIDER (2006) #33, born out of a supreme being’s will to keep depravity and wickedness in check. They weren’t native to America but spanned countless countries, cultures, and eras. And, one Ghost Rider is bad enough, but to face a whole army of them? GHOST RIDER: HEAVEN’S ON FIRE (2009) #6 and DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION (2018) #4 showed that it was a fate worse than death.
It was once believed that Hell-lord Mephisto was the creator of the Ghost Riders. Sell your soul, become a cursed, flaming skull with immense power. But it’s a little more complicated than that. According to GHOST RIDER (2006) #18, the rogue archangel Zadkiel bonded the Sprits of Vengeance to the chosen, as he was in charge of maintaining them. This spirit, an “entity of heaven,” would be connected to a targeted human host, like stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, whose purpose was to purify sins through fighting. Whereas the Spirits of Vengeance that served Mephisto directly were demonic entities, as portrayed in DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION (2018) #1.
Regardless of their origin, one thing is for certain. The legacy of the Ghost Rider is filled with “pain, punishment, and vengeance.” So, hop on your preferred Hell-Vehicle of choice, and let’s take a fiendish ride down this hair-raising highway of history.
In AVENGERS (2018) #7, an intelligent caveman from 1,000,000 B.C. was the lone survivor of a Wendigo attack. The monster named the caveman “Ghost” and challenged him to find them. It was during this journey that Ghost was approached by a snake and was given a Spirit of Vengeance, thus making him the 1,000,000 B. C. Ghost Rider. Although he loses the battle and his Hell Mammoth to the Wendigo, B.C. Ghost Rider would later join the Stone Age Avengers, such as 1,000,000 B. C. Black Panther, to battle the Fallen in MARVEL LEGACY (2017) #1 and the First Host in the pages of AVENGERS (2018).
The following Ghost Rider was Hellhawk, a Sioux chieftain during the 11th century. First appearing in GHOST RIDER (2006) #33, he was part of the 1,000 A. D. Avengers, and, according to some dialogue in AVENGERS (2018) #24, had a rivalry with the Puritan Avenger/Ghost Rider Noble Kale. (Kale is also the ancestor of two other Ghost Riders, Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch). Hellhawk was killed by Necrosis, on orders by Belasco of the Corrupted as a threat to Mephisto to keep all Spirits of Vengeance out of Limbo. The message was definitely received.
The next prominent Ghost Rider was Kushala, AKA the Spirit Rider. An Apache woman from the 19th century, her parents and her tribe were killed by the United States Army. She prayed for help from the Creator but instead received an answer from Leviathan, a Spirit of Vengeance. During that time, she was known as the Demon Rider and was even the Sorcerer Supreme. She would be transported to the modern era with other Sorcerers Supreme to fight the Forgotten in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME (2016) and starred in her own vertical series on the Marvel Unlimited app, GHOST RIDER: KUSHALA INFINITY COMIC (2021).
Debuting in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #5, Johnny Blaze was the first Ghost Rider in Marvel Comics history and the second character to use the name; Carter Slade, the Phantom Rider, has the honor of using the name first. Blaze was a motorcycle stuntman who bonded with the Spirit of Vengeance named Zarathos to save his surrogate father from death. Of course, Mephisto couldn’t just stand by when such a deal was forged. Since this pivotal life choice, Blaze has been on tons of teams including the Legion of Monsters and most notably the Midnight Sons. Oh, and he was also the King of Hell for a few years. Talk about a promotion!
Blaze hasn’t always been the Ghost Rider in the present era. He actually gave up his powers in 1983, and it wouldn’t be until GHOST RIDER (1990) #1 when a new person stepped in to fill the Ghost Rider vacuum. Danny Ketch is Blaze’s long-lost, younger brother, and unlike his predecessor, would get along well with his Spirit, the Marvel Universe’s iteration of the Angel of Death. It was assumed Ketch died at the end of his series, until he was seen alive and well. In addition to being a Ghost Rider, Ketch was the host of Noble Kale, a knight of Zadkiel, and the Death Rider. Adding to his ever-growing resume, Ketch was also one-fourth of the NEW FANTASTIC FOUR, along with Gray Hulk Joe Fixit, Spider-Man, and Wolverine.
After the FEAR ITSELF event, a Central American woman named Alejandra Jones was introduced as the new Ghost Rider. One difference between her and her fellow Ghost Riders was that she trained for the role; when the time came, her mentor, Adam, performed the ritual to transform Jones into the formidable being. She would later be trained by Blaze, but after some wild occurrences, he would take most of his powers back from her. Furious, Jones used her remaining powers to protect her village as the Guardian Fantasma, but it would be short-lived as maniacal symbiote Carnage killed her in ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SYMBIOTE OF VENGEANCE (2019) #1.
One of the latest Ghost Riders is Robbie Reyes, introduced in ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER (2014) #1. A young man from East Los Angeles, Reyes was a high school student and auto body mechanic. He wanted to move him and his younger brother Gabe into a safer neighborhood, but didn’t have the money, so Reyes entered a street race to win $50,000. All did not go to plan. Reyes was shot—and then revived—by the spirit of Eli Morrow (his estranged uncle who was also a satanic serial killer). While fending off his uncle’s urges to kill indiscriminately, Ghost Rider: Reyes became an Avenger and would eventually be freed of Eli’s influence in AVENGERS (2018) #25.
The next character to become a Ghost Rider is a bit of a detour, as he didn’t become one in the “traditional” sense. During Mephisto’s takeover of Las Vegas, Doctor Strange—yes, that Doctor Strange—was a Ghost Rider in DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION (2018) #2. How did it happen? Strange’s consciousness was tricked by letting him believe that “Loki,” “Scarlet Witch, and “Clea” helped him escape from his cell, when in reality, he was attacking his rescuers while his soul was in Hell. Fortunately, with help from some Avengers, Bats the Bassett Hound, and even Dormammu, Strange was able to escape Hell and return to his “normal” state in DOCTOR STRANGE (2015) #389.
Kenshiro "Zero" Cochrane was an anarchist hacker in a gang called the Hotwire Martyrs in the year 2099. Shot by a rival gang and on the brink of death, he transferred his consciousness to cyberspace, where he was discovered by an AI collective named Ghostworks. When asked to become their avatar of change, Cochrane obviously said yes and was downloaded into a Cybertek 101 warbot. He made it his mission to avenge his and his fallen friends’ deaths, but the rest of his story would remain unwritten. He would, however, reappear in GHOST RIDER 2099 (2019) #1 and SPIDER-MAN 2099: EXODUS ALPHA (2022), the latter of which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the 2099 universe. Maybe his story isn’t done after all…
What happens when you combine the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and awesome cosmic might? You get Frank Castle as the Cosmic Ghost Rider! This version of Castle was from an alternate universe in which Thanos conquered everything. After making a deal with Mephisto to become the Ghost Rider (and receiving an upgrade from the Power Cosmic), Castle would end up as a servant of Thanos after spending centuries trying to kill him. In COSMIC GHOST RIDER (2018), Castle traveled through time and attempted to raise baby Thanos to be a better person, but unfortunately this plan had the exact opposite effect. Post-INFINITY WARS (2018), he spent time with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a bit, destroyed Marvel history in a series of the same name, and was last seen seeking revenge on Mephisto in REVENGE OF THE COSMIC GHOST RIDER (2019) #5.
In short, Marvel history has always had its Ghost Riders. Just make sure you’re not on the wrong side of them. Especially if your name is Mephisto.
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