Friday, January 28, 2011
Ghost Rider (Johnathan "Johnny" Blaze) is a fictional character, an antihero in the Marvel Comics Universe. He is the second Marvel character to use the name Ghost Rider, following the Western hero later known as the Phantom Rider, and preceding Daniel Ketch.
Johnny Blaze, a stunt daredevil, was the son of Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale, born in Waukegan, Illinois. He spent his early years in the Quentin Carnival where his parents starred in a stunt show with Craig "Crash" Simpson. Johnny's family had ended when his mother abandoned Barton and Johnny and took the family's remaining two children, Barbara and Danny, with her.
Losing his mother caused Johnny to repress many of his memories of her and his siblings. When his father died in a stunt, Johnny was adopted by Crash and Mona Simpson. The Simpsons helped Johnny by fabricating his past with the hope that it would be less painful than the truth. Now believing that his real mother was Clara Blaze, who had died, Johnny became an enthusiastic member of the Simpson clan, growing closer to their daughter, Roxanne. The two soon became inseparable and, as they grew older their fondness for one another moved beyond familiar.
Blaze would eventually join the Simpsons in their own traveling stunt show, the Crash Simpson Stunt Cycle Extravaganza. Crash had become a real father figure in Blaze's eyes, and on learning of Crash's life-threatening cancer, Blaze turned to the occult. His studies led him to a spell which supposedly could summon Satan himself. Johnny was unaware that he had in fact summoned Mephisto. Desperate to save Crash, Blaze sold his soul to Mephisto in return for Crash's cancer to be cured.
Crash Simpson's cancer was cured and Johnny believed he would live; however, Crash soon died after a stunt trying to jump over 22 cars. Mephisto, when confronted by Blaze over Crash's death, declared that he had kept his end of the bargain. Johnny's exact words in the bargain had been for Crash to be spared the cancer which was killing him, not for him to live, though this had been Johnny's intent. True to his word, Mephisto had ensured that Crash had not died of cancer, but instead had lost his life during the failed jump, which Mephisto quickly pointed out when he came to claim his prize. Blaze, still at the mercy of Mephisto, believed he would lose his soul until he was saved by Roxanne. Roxanne proclaimed her love for Blaze, and drove Mephisto away with the purity of her emotion.
Blaze was unaware that Mephisto had bonded him with the demon Zarathos as an act of revenge for not being able to obtain Johnny's soul for himself. Johnny was transformed into a Ghost Rider, a leather-clad skeleton, his head cloaked in a sheath of flame, the night after Crash's death. While Johnny still had his soul, he was forced to punish the wicked and evil upon Mephisto's demands whenever needed. Whenever he was in the presence of evil he would transform into the Ghost Rider, to exact the devil's revenge, returning the evil to Hell. Blaze was not completely lost in the transformation however, and would also help the innocent when they were in danger.
As a primal agent of Heaven empowered by the Spirits of Vengeance created by the power of God Himself ages past to exact vengeance upon the sinners of mankind, Johnny Blaze is one of the most powerful entities within the mortal and immortal realms. The common theme of the Ghost Rider is a human host who transforms into a flaming-headed motorcyclist with supernatural powers. When riding their bikes, the vehicles can travel faster than conventional motorcycles and can maneuver impossible feats such as riding straight up a vertical surface or across water.
Initially when transformed, Blaze's motorcycle would simply catch fire. Later, he could create a cycle made of pure flame (hellfire). Hellfire is a supernatural flame which typically burns the soul and not the body, but also could be used as regular flame. Projecting hellfire as a weapon is his main form of attack. He also possesses supernatural strength and resilience, as well as almost total invulnerability to physical damage. Any damage he does take is quickly recovered, as Ghost Rider is made of pure hellfire, which he can use to immediately regenerate any lost limbs or holes in his body.
For a time, when Daniel Ketch was the Ghost Rider, Johnny did not have his typical powers. Instead, he wielded a shotgun that fired mystical force-blasts and rode a mystic motorcycle (both somehow empowered by exposure to Ketch's hellfire).
In the newest incarnation of Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider, another main weapon in his arsenal has been his chain, which was first used by the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. The chain, much like the rest of Ghost Rider, is made of hellfire given a solid physical substance. Ghost Rider can control the exact movement of the chain with his mind, allowing it to do things normal chains cannot, such as reach vast distances and wrap around enemies without fail. The chain is seemingly unbreakable.
This incarnation's most powerful weapon is the "Penance Stare". When he locks eyes with his victim, he can make them experience all the pain and suffering that they have inflicted on everyone in their lifetime, permanently damaging their soul in the process.