Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Johnny Blaze is Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider the movie opens this Friday night, and I thought it would be fun to provide some background, as this character is not nearly as well known as some of the other famous caped crusaders to make it to the Silver Screen. Nicholas Cage is in the title role, and as an avid comic book collector for many years, coveted this role. The movie’s story line seems pretty faithful to the comic, but here’s a synopsis, cobbled together from various sources. The preview is encouraging; it appears to me that Cage is not taking things too seriously. If you’re a comics fan, you probably know some of this story. If not, you will probably find the folloing synopsis to be hilarious. However, the best comic books are nothing short of mythology, and a venerable form of original American art. That’s a topic for another day, though.

A Marvel character, Ghost Rider first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #5 in 1972. Sold for 20 cents originally, today, a mint condition issue of this comic is worth about $250.

The origin of the Ghost Rider has been reworked in the past few years, but the first story involved a young motorcycle stuntman named Johnny Blaze (a slang term for marijuana, by the way). Not to be confused with Johnny Storm, the Human Torch of Fantastic Four fame, Johnny Blaze was the orphaned son of Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale, who worked in a traveling motorcycle stunt show with Crash Simpson, Johnny’s adoptive father. Unbeknownst to Johnny, his family was cursed. The first born son of the Kale line (his mother’s side) was cursed to become the Ghost Rider, a spirit of vengeance. His mother, who was still alive, made a deal with Mephisto, a powerful demon. She gave her soul to Mephisto and in return she asked that Johnny would not have the curse of the Ghost Rider upon him. Mephisto agreed, but hatched another plan in the meantime.

When it was discovered that Crash was dying of cancer, Johnny did the unthinkable. He learned of a spell to summon Satan and used it, offering servitude to the devil in exchange for Crash’s life. During a stunt show, Simpson attempted to jump his cycle over 22 cars and died in the attempt. Mephisto arrived to collect Blaze's soul, explaining that he had only agreed to keep Simpson from dying from the disease, not dying at all. Blaze's fate seemed sealed when Mephisto was driven off by Simpson's daughter, Roxanne, who used Blaze's Big Book of Occult Practices to perform a spell that protected Blaze. In revenge for this, Mephisto created a bond between Blaze and a demon named Zarathos, a fiery skeletal figure who could use his flames to burn the very soul of his victims. Blaze began to transform into Zarathos at night and in this form became known as the Ghost Rider. Though initially the transformation only took place at night, Blaze later would transform when he encountered evil.

Marvel reintroduced the character in a different form in the early 90's with a updated origin. A teenager named Danny Ketch discovers a motorcycle in a graveyard where he and his friends are hanging out. When the friends are caught in a battle between two groups of criminals, Danny's sister is mortally wounded. The gas cap of the motorcycle begins to glow and when Danny touches it he and it are transformed. Danny becomes the Ghost Rider who desires vengeance for wrongs wreaked on the innocent. In true comic book fashion, it is discovered that Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch are actually brothers separated at an early age with no knowledge they are descendents of the Kale family. Let's hope this movie is as good as the Spiderman flicks, and nothing like the Daredevil and Electra movies.

More than you need to know about the movie

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2 Comments:

Blogger Casey said...

That was an interesting blog on "Ghost Rider". I picked up a couple from a garage sale once. Just kept in a box with my other junk. Never knew his background. Wow! Quite a story.
Anyway...I visit your site regularly and have enjoyed it.
Thanks
I invite you to visit my "new" blog every once in awhile.
http://thecollegecrowddigsme.blogspot.com/

10:41 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're enjoying it. For a full history of all the Marvel characters go to

http://www.marvel.com/universe/Marvel_Universe

You won't believe it!

4:54 PM  

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