There have been several incarnations of the supernatural antihero of Marvel both in the comic books as well as in movies.
Regardless of the movie incarnations portrayed by Nicholas Cage being subpar to the original creation from the Marvel comic books, the Ghost Rider has been doing quite well as character on the print. And his latest manifestation in ABC’s Agents of Shield Season four seeks to create a new found hype in the comic sales as well as the character.
First things first…
The first supernatural Ghost Rider is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, who, in order to save the life of his father, agreed to give his soul to ‘Satan’ (later revealed to be an arch-demon named Mephisto).
At night and when around evil, Blaze finds his flesh consumed by hellfire, causing his head to become a flaming skull. He rides a fiery motorcycle and wields trademark blasts of hellfire from his skeletal hands. He eventually learns he has been bonded with the demon Zarathos.
Even though Blaze starred in the series from 1972 to 1983, he is still alive and well in the Marvel universe and is active as a primary Ghost Rider in the universe.
Next up is Danny Ketch.
Ketch is Johnny Blaze’s long-lost little brother who debuted in Ghost Rider vol. 3, #1 (May 1990).
This Ghost Rider was nearly identical to the previous, although his costume was now a black leather biker jacket with spiked shoulder pads, grey leather pants, and a mystic chain he wore across his chest, which responded to his mental commands and served as his primary melee weapon.
His new motorcycle resembled a futuristic machine and the front of it could lower to serve as a battering ram. Like the original Ghost Rider’s bike, the wheels were composed of mystic hellfire.
Unlike the relationship between the previous Ghost Rider and the demon with which he was bonded, Ketch and his demon — who in vol. 2, #91 (December 1997) is revealed to be Marvel’s incarnation of the Angel of Death/Judgment are cooperative with each other.
At the close of the series with vol. 2, #93 (Feb. 1998), Ketch apparently died. The following year, however, Peter Parker: Spider-Man #93 (July 1999) revealed Ketch was still alive. Nearly a decade later, Marvel published the long-completed final issue as Ghost Rider Finale (Jan. 2007), which reprints the last issue and the previously unpublished #94.
During the 2011 Fear Itself crossover story arc, a Nicaraguan woman named Alejandra becomes Ghost Rider through a ritual performed by a man named Adam, in Ghost Rider vol. 4, #1. Though she demonstrated many previously unknown powers of the Ghost Rider entity, she was deprived of its full power when Johnny Blaze took back most of this power.
In March 2014, a new Ghost Rider series debuted featuring a new Mexican-American character named Roberto ‘Robbie’ Reyes, taking on the mantle.
He drives a black classic muscle car reminiscent of a Dodge Charger instead of a motorcycle and lives in East Los Angeles. Robbie Reyes was created by writer/artist Felipe Smith and designed by Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore.
Robbie is a high-school student working as a mechanic at an auto body shop who lives with his developmentally-disabled brother Gabe and seeks to get away from the dangerous, gang-riddled streets of East Los Angeles.
To that end, he enters a street race, hoping to use the prize money to move them away. When mercenaries gun him down while trying to retrieve pills that cause the transformation of Calvin Zabo the super villain Mr. Hyde, which had been left in the trunk unbeknownst to Robbie, the teen is revived as a demonic being with a flaming, helmet-like head. He drives off in the car, now similarly ablaze.
Later, the spirit bound to the car introduces itself to Robbie as the ghost of a man named Eli Morrow, who says he had been killed by gang members. Eli offers to help Robbie clean up his neighbourhood in exchange for Robbie helping him avenge his death. This Spirit of Vengeance becomes a local hero whose fame catches the attention of Johnny Blaze, who travels to Los Angeles to confront the new Rider.
Eli is later revealed as Robbie’s estranged uncle, a satanic serial killer who kidnapped and murdered at least 37 people in rituals before being fatally shot by police in 1999.
In addition to confronting Mr. Hyde and his criminal underworld, Robbie and Eli fight for dominance over Robbie’s body. Robbie eventually permanently bonds with Eli and agrees to sate Eli’s thirst for murder, but only by killing people with evil souls.
Robbie Reyes will play a (very) important role in Agents of Shield season four which will premier next week.