Photo: Courtesy of Alejandro Alonzo
In 1972, publisher Roy Thomas, the author Gary Frederick and artist Mike Plooga former apprentice of Will Eisner, decided to reinvent Ghost Rider (Ghost Rider), created in 1949 and who was originally a vigilante marshall of the Old West.
The new version merged the superhero and supernatural genres. Through a deal with the Devil to save the life of his adoptive father, the daredevil biker Johnny Blaze he receives powers and is cursed to become the Ghost Rider at night. Riding a demon motorcycle and breathing fire while mourning his fate, the new Rider lasted 81 issues. Of the many artists who drew the character, Jim Mooney was perhaps the best of all.
Ghost Rider flirted with the world of Marvel superheroes as an occasional member of The Champions team. He was also briefly a member of the Legion of Monsters. He was given a happy ending in 1983, when the demon was removed from Blaze’s body and soul.
Ghost Rider fuses elements of superheroism with the supernatural.
In 1990 a new Ghost Rider appears: Danny Ketch. While still supernatural, this comic is more in line with the superhero aspects of the character, even teaming up with Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Wolverine to form a team. His powers included some reminiscent of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. Johnny and Danny are revealed to be part of the former Spirits of Vengeance.
This concept recalls some aspects of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, although the heroic legacy goes back to Lee Falk’s The Phantom. Meanwhile, Ketch is finally revealed to be Blaze’s half-brother, while Blaze is revealed to be the servant of an angel, rather than Satan. Since then, the brothers have shared the mantle and powers of Ghost Rider in guest appearances and miniseries.
It should be noted that the Comics Code was still in place when the 1972 version of Ghost Rider appeared, making its depictions of demons and black magic quite risque, but also inhibiting the comic’s effectiveness as a horror book.
Paradoxically, the most superheroic story of 1990 has more obvious and successful horror elements. This is due to Marvel’s virtual abandonment of the Comics Code in the 1990s in favor of their own internal classification system.
In 1994 the character was included in the Marvel 2099 line. This futuristic version with cyberpunk science fiction themes, lasted until May 1996, and echoed some of the ideas from the Akira anime and manga.
In 2007, the character was adapted into a film starring Nicolas Cage, who took many liberties with the source material. Fan opinion is somewhat divided on the matter.