Warning: Contains spoilers for ghost rider #2
Marvel is new ghost rider The series has just kicked off, and it’s already given the titular character a new role and purpose in the Marvel Universe ahead of his 50th birthday: keeping demons at bay. An encounter with a foul, man-eating creature reveals that the Spirit of Vengeance is what keeps these nightmares dark, and its prolonged absence has made them bolder…and hungrier.
Ghost Rider was incredibly successful in the 1980s and for part of the 1990s, but since then has struggled to find its place in Marvel’s vast library of characters. Its connection to the demons Mephisto, Zarathos, and the otherworldly realm of Hell obviously causes its stories to lean towards the supernatural rather than the classic superhero genre, but the new Ghost Rider series seems to dip deep in horror-inspired tones and decors. In the first two issues, Johnny Blaze finds himself trapped in a strange suburban town, with his memory erased and a fake life as an average husband and father. After discovering that the town was actually a prison and the citizens were all demons (including his “wife” and “kids”), Johnny let out the Spirit of Vengeance for the first time in months and burned down the place. After that, he hit the road and found himself in another classic horror setting: a roadside motel in the middle of nowhere.
This is where the Ghost Rider’s new purpose becomes clear. Johnny no longer seems to have full control of his Spirit of Vengeance. He is unaware of what is happening when he transforms during the night, making Ghost Rider the mirror of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. What hasn’t changed, however, is the Ghost Rider’s will towards sinners and his desire to inflict revenge. In ghost rider #2 (by Benjamin Percy, Cory Smith, Brent Peeples, and Bryan Valenza) Johnny discovers that the motel owner is kidnapping his customers and offering them as sacrifices for a disgusting underground demon, the spirit of revenge comes out, and the next confrontation flashes why Ghost Rider was trapped in this town and what happened during that time.
The demon hiding under the motel is an ancient creature. It was accidentally dug up by miners, and since then it quietly sates its hunger, with small prey and especially not humans. Lately, however, he has become more daring, “because the whispers in the shadows told him ‘You have nothing to fear.“It was probably related to Ghost Rider being imprisoned in Hayden’s Falls. The demon is surprised to see the Rider say to him, “You are the flame that kept us in the shadows. You were supposed to be extinct“This means that the Ghost Rider has an important function in the Marvel Universe. Just having him there scares off other demons who want to prey on mortals and forces them to lay low. While Johnny Blaze is recently gone on a hunt for cowardly demons on Earth, during his time as King of Hell, Ghost Rider never had that explicit goal in Marvel lore.
This revelation also contains clues to the mysterious antagonist who imprisoned Johnny in Hayden’s Falls and doctored his mind. “Your time is supposed to be over“, said the demon under the motel, “and our time is meant to be nowWhoever tried to get rid of the Ghost Rider then also alerted the demons lurking on Earth that they could roam free and indulge in their sins. ghost rider hasn’t enjoyed the limelight among Marvel characters recently, but that may now change with the new series, as his role as the force that controls demons makes him a staple in the lore of the Marvel Universe.
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