August 28, 2010

Ye Olde School Cafe’: Essential Ghost Rider vol. 1 pt 1

What do a motorcycle stuntman, a carnival, the Devil, and Hellfire have in common? If you guessed Ghost Rider, then you’re right on the money. Specifically though, Johnny Blaze and his rise from motorcycle stuntman, to Spirit of Vengeance at night will be the subject of this week’s edition of Ye Olde School Cafe’! That’s right, I’m continuing on with more Marvel horror from the 1970s. Let’s take a peek into the past with mister hell on wheels himself – Ghost Rider!

As Marvel Spotlight #5 begins, we see the infamous flaming skull on a motorcycle speeding down the street. Meanwhile, two thugs rob, then murder an innocent man on the street corner nearby. They see the rider, but don’t realize what he is. They think he might have seen their foul deed, so they chase him down. The motorcycle eventually turns down a dead-end street though, so the thugs think they have him cornered. The rider teaches them a lesson, a lesson about Hellfire.

After schooling those punks, the rider then starts to take part in a metamorphosis. He slowly changes back into his human form of Johnny Blaze. He then starts to recount the last few days of his life and how he became the Ghost Rider. He recalls his days with his father, Barton Blaze, at the Simpson Dare-devil stunt show. Johnny then remembers Crash Simpson inviting him into his family because his mother isn’t around. He accepts, mostly because Crash’s daughter Roxanne asks him, too. Johnny practices day and night to become a stuntman like his father, but one day his bike catches on fire and his adopted mother gets killed in an explosion. On her deathbed, she asks Johnny to promise to never ride again in the show. He reluctantly promises, and then she dies right in front of his eyes.

A while later, Johnny and Roxanne fall in love. The two of them are inseparable, until one day when Crash tells Johnny that he has cancer. Crash begs Johnny to take over the show, but he says he can’t. Roxanne calls him a coward and storms off. Crash isn’t very happy either, because he feels like Johnny owes him for adopting him years before. Not knowing what to do, Johnny turns to the dark arts to try and summon Satan. Johnny thinks if he offers his soul, that Satan will heal Crash’s cancer and the show can go on without him having to break his promise. “Satan” agrees to help Johnny at the price of his soul. Crash then decides to make a leap of epic proportions himself, but it ends in tragedy. Crash Simpson dies trying to set a world record for the longest jump. Johnny thinks that if he makes the jump, it will save the show. He does just that, but it doesn’t effect Roxanne the way he thinks it should. She tells him she never wants to see him again and storms out.

Later that night, Johnny is startled by the appearance of Satan in his room. He tells Johnny that from this day forth, he’ll be his puppet to do his bidding. Johnny screams in agony as Satan puts the whammy on him, but just as he does, Roxanne enters the room and tells Satan to get packing with some mystical mumbo-jumbo and Satan leaves. The two lovers then make amends for saying things they didn’t mean in the past few days and embrace. The following night brings another surprise, though. When Johnny tries to leave, he feels a burning sensation (no, not that kind), and makes his transformation from sideshow stuntman into Ghost Rider! The next night, Johnny is left reading a newspaper about how the thugs talked of a mysterious Ghost Rider that is prowling around the city, looking for vengeance!

Well, that’s where I’ll stop for now, but come right back next week to see Johnny take on a biker gang under Satan’s spell, and the battle for the soul of Crash Simpson!

Billy Dunleavy



  1. Kristin

    I didn’t know Ghost Rider’s background. Hahahaha, that’s hilariously awful.
    “Oh, mama. I’ll never ride again! But because of the promise I made to you on your death bed, I’m now going to sell my soul to the devil. And then I’m gonna ride again anyway.”

  2. billy

    @Kris- ha, yeah, it is kinda silly but I really like GR the character. I don’t own many GR comics per se, but I do enjoy the essentials and guest appearances.

  3. Aron

    This volume of Essential Ghost Rider RULES!!!! Although, towards the end, the art (I can’t remember the artist’s name right now) looks EXACTLY like puke!

  4. Billy

    @Aron- Frank Robbins or George Tuska maybe? Ploog was the guy early on and he’s the man!

  5. Aron

    Frank Robbins. My step-dad told me that when Frank Robbins started drawing Captain America back in the 70’s, he and a bunch of his friends dropped the book because the art was so bad.

    He draws Ghost Rider like he has troll hair instead of flames!

  6. Billy

    @Aron- Couldn’t agree more. Those “non-Ploog” stories just didn’t cut it for me artistically either. For me, the Stern & Byrne run for Cap was best!

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