Your favorite superheroes are over 50 years old! Before they got dark and gritty, they did some goofy things. Welcome to Midlife Crisis on Infinite Earths where we look back at the less than illustrious adventures of some of the biggest heroes in comics. In this edition, we take a look back at some of the Ghost Rider’s most epic wipe outs.
The Ghost Rider has just made his explosive entrance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe during the series premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this past month. As cool as that is, it’s been a very hard ride for the Spirit of Vengeance to get to this point of his career. I’d like to present to you some of the Ghost Rider’s most epic wipe outs.
Some of my fellow Fan Contributors have tried to explain “everything you need to know” about Ghost Rider. With all due respect, what they talk about is the very tip of the iceberg. Ghost Rider’s origins are 44 years in the making and are a convoluted mess. Have a seat, this might take a while….
The year was 1972, and stories about the occult, Satanism, and demonic possession were proving quite popular. The origin of Ghost Rider was pretty straight forward back then. Stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze’s adopted father was dying of cancer and he made a deal with Satan to make sure he didn’t die of the dreaded disease. Satan kept his end of the deal by making it so “Crash” Simpson died in a motorcycle accident. However, the devil didn’t get Johnny’s soul thanks to the power of love. Instead, Johnny found himself turning into the Ghost Rider at night.
However, this is the Marvel Universe, simple explanations aren’t enough! A Biblical Satan just wasn’t enough for Marvel. As such, in Ghost Rider #68 they revealed that this Satan was Marvel’s bonified commercially trademarked version of Satan, Mephisto. If that wasn’t enough, Ghost Rider #77 later revealed that Blaze was possessed by the demon named Zarathos. Still not outlandish enough for you? Well, buckle up!
Ghost Rider’s origins actually go back some 20,000 years in the past when a race called the Blood teamed up with the Spirits of Vengeance to defeat the demon Zarathos and created the Medallion of Power. After Zarathos was defeated, the Medallion was broken into shards and spiritually planted in caretakers. One of these caretakers was a guy named Noble Kale in the 1700s. Oh, did I forget to mention that Noble Kale is the ancestor of both Johnny Blaze and his successor Danny Ketch? Yeah, turns out that Johnny and Danny had the same mother and this whole “descendants of a bloodline charged with preventing evil demons from taking over the Earth” thing was something that was kept secret. Look, all I’m trying to say here is that Ghost Rider Vol 3 was a convoluted mess of nonsense.
What does this all mean? Ghost Rider has had some epic wipe-outs over the years.
Ghost Rider’s rogues gallery consists of demons and other horrific creatures that go bump in the night. Unfortunately, back in the 1970s, the Comics Code Authority prevented anything that was overly frightening. Here are just some of the ridiculous foes that Ghost Rider had to face:
One of Ghost Rider’s first demonic foes was a guy who called himself Roulette. He was a stock car promoter who made a deal with the devil and became his agent. You’d figure that the embodiment of evil had a better selection of sinners, but no, apparently “stock car promoter” was the best he could do at the time. Roulette looks like a half baked Crypt Keeper. There was so much bank on this foe they created a three issue story arc involving him.
Next, we have Inferno, who is a one-eyed demon. If you can’t fathom how that sounds awful, ask your parents. Also, what is up with that costume? Did he just come back from a Masters of the Universe villain try out? Well whatever his terrible wardrobe situation is, he was hired by the Devil to defeat Ghost Rider. His gimmick? Giving a member of the Zodiac crime cartel the power to… look like other members of his organization. As the “One-Man Zodiac” he terrorized Ghost Rider by magical wardrobe changes.
When Ghost Rider wasn’t fighting demons he was fighting your garden variety villains. For the most part, these were pre-established foes like the Trapster and the Gladiator. Also, what Marvel book isn’t complete without an issue where the title hero battles the Hulk?
Unfortunately, when it came to giving Ghost Rider his own roster of rogues, they were all awful. Just check this out:
First, we have the Orb, who is a villain whose biggest gimmick is wearing a giant eyeball on his head. Other than having a scarred face under that dome, and that he rides a motorcycle, there’s nothing special about this guy.
Then you’ve got the Water Wizard who, as his name suggests, can control water. If you’re going to fight fire it might as well be with water. However, there is one minor issue with that: Ghost Rider’s flames are not your average kind, they’re actually mystical hell-fire. Still, our foe tries to snuff out Ghost Rider’s flames with his powers. How well does that work out? Well…
Then there’s the Manticore….
What is even happening here? The manticores of myth sound pretty bad ass: They had tails that could shoot poison, and they ate their victims whole. This guy just is really good at jumping. Here’s a fun fact about the Manticore: he has no legs. He was given the costume by the evil Brand Corporation.. So on the one hand, they gave a guy the ability to walk. On the other hand, they made him a cyborg assassin. But what is with the get-up? Is this some kind of joke?
He Got Face Time With You-Kn0w-Who. Or Did He?
Ghost Rider was also really gullible back in the day. Earley on in his career he began to be visited by a guy who looked a heck of a lot like Jesus Christ.
What a great coincidence! If I am possessed with a demon thanks to the devil, some face time with Jesus would be a great benefit. However, that seems a little convenient to me.
It was a very strange relationship as well, given that this guy (who called himself “a friend”) often popped up out of nowhere when the story started going nowhere. Then there was the time that Ghost Rider had to save his “friend”, and that’s when things really started to get weird:
Unfortunately, this was all a huge bait and switch. See, this wasn’t really Jesus at all, but the devil in disguise.
So there you have it, Ghost Rider’s very silly beginnings. Proof positive that Nick Cage wasn’t the most embarrassing thing about this character.