Comics
Published August 2, 2019

How Johnny Blaze Became the King of Hell

Get caught up as you read this week's 'Avengers' #22 (and 'Ghost Rider' #1 in October)!

Every Friday, we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the most notable appearances of a character that made waves this week.

Johnny Blaze gets around. And he turns up in this week's "Challenge of the Ghost Riders" epic, AVENGERS #22!

Avengers (2018-) #22
AVENGERS #22 cover by Stefano Caselli

The stunt cyclist first debuted back in 1972's MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5 where he raced into his new life as the Spirit of Vengeance, otherwise known as the Ghost Rider! Connected to the demon Zarathos, he rode around, punishing the wicked with his penance stare and generally hostile demeanor.

He spent several decades in that role until 1983's GHOST RIDER #81 when Blaze split from the demon Zarathos. Then a new Spirit of Vengeance debuted in 1990; though Danny Ketch took the spotlight in that series, Blaze eventually bought the circus he used to work in and teamed up with Danny for a while.

Since then, Blaze has hefted the curse of the Ghost Rider more than a few times, including an incredible run by Jason Aaron that began in 2008's issue #20 and ran through 2009's ish #35, plus the GHOST RIDERS: HEAVEN'S ON FIRE (2009) limited series.

Marvel Spotlight (1971) #5

Marvel Spotlight (1971) #5

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He carried on as the Ghost Rider through a FEAR ITSELF-spawned series and signed on to work with Red Hulk's THUNDERBOLTS (2012). Johnny was even separated from the demon for a time, but it returned at the end of that run. He popped up again not long after in the pages of ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER (2014) featuring Robbie Reyes, who'd been inhabited by the soul of Satanic murderer Eli Morrow! Blaze helped the kid gain control of his dark side in an effort to do good.

Blaze took on a very different role by the end of the "Damnation" event, however; in 2018's DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION, the one-time surgeon brought Las Vegas back after it was destroyed in SECRET EMPIRE. In addition to all the people, though, a chunk of Hell came back with them!

When the Hotel Inferno burst through the ground and Strange got wrapped up with Mephisto, Wong called together Ghost Rider, Blade, Moon Knight, Elsa Bloodstone, Doctor Voodoo, Man-Thing, and Iron Fist! Wong developed a secret plan that Johnny agreed to without argument—as he could sense Mephisto gaining more power with each sin committed in Vegas!

All-New Ghost Rider (2014) #1

All-New Ghost Rider (2014) #1

    • publishedMar 26, 2014
    • added to marvel unlimitedSep 22, 2014
    • penciller (cover)
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To perform his role, Johnny drove up the side of the Hotel Inferno straight into Mephisto's penthouse office. With but a movement, the demon removed Blaze's curse and then kicked him out the window, sending him tumbling to his death below.

However, the action picked up for him in DAMNATION: JOHNNY BLAZE - GHOST RIDER (2018), where he and the Rider worked together in Hell itself to fight their way to Mephisto's vacated throne! The duo even joined back up together in one body to take out the huge monster truck beast known as Typhaon.

As he walked up to take the throne, Johnny summed up his reasoning for taking on this task. "I'm the kid of a hick carny who wound up tied to the saddle of a monster. Gone up against the worst anything ever threw at me. What the hell do I got to be afraid of anymore? More than all that — what made me the idea man to come take Mephisto's throne? Crown myself king of Hell? It's 'cause I'm already damned."

Damnation: Johnny Blaze - Ghost Rider (2018) #1

Damnation: Johnny Blaze - Ghost Rider (2018) #1

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Immediately afterwards, he even wondered if Mephisto previously knew the plan and went along with it knowing what it would do to Johnny to be surrounded by evil spirits...

However, since time worked differently in Hell, Blaze managed to get a lot done in a relatively short amount of time on Earth. This allowed him to free the possessed souls to help Doctor Strange knock Mephisto around. When the former king of Hell got back to his old domain, Johnny showed up with an army of former Riders. They did what they wanted to him for a hundred years and then returned him back to Earth a few minutes later.

More recently, in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2019) #6, King Blaze met up with the recently deceased future Frank Castle, otherwise known as Cosmic Ghost Rider! And that leads directly into this week's AVENGERS #22, written by Jason Aaron with art by Stefano Caselli!

Then tune back in this October for the brand-new ongoing series that begins with GHOST RIDER #1!

Ghost Rider
GHOST RIDER #1 cover by Aaron Kuder

Read these stories on Marvel Unlimited, then visit your local comic shop to read AVENGERS #22 today!

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