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Much like another popular Marvel character, the Incredible Hulk (otherwise known as Dr. Bruce Banner, who becomes a giant green hulking monster in times of great stress), the Ghost Rider’s most common story casts Blaze and the Ghost Rider as a modern version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with Blaze fighting against the monster within him. The “Hyde” enacts vengeance toward criminals and burdens the character from having a normal life with Roxanne, Blaze’s lost love. Through 81 issues, Blaze and Zarathos battled for control, reflecting the battle between reasonable ego and animalistic id, which has always been a common theme in comic books. The Ghost Rider proved to be so popular that he found himself teaming up with the Fantastic Four’s The Thing in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE, Spider-Man in MARVEL TEAM-UP, and a mismatched set of heroes—including X-Men’s Angel and Iceman, and The Avengers’ Black Widow and Hercules—in the short-lived CHAMPIONS series. Blasting hellfire from his hands and performing all sorts of motorcycle feats of impossibility, Johnny Blaze and his alter ego fought everything from sideshow freaks to more down-to- earth villains such as the Orb, the leader of a biker gang whose disfigured face was covered with an eyeball-shaped helmet. The GHOST RIDER series ended in 1983 when Zarathos left Johnny Blaze, chasing Centurious, the man with no soul, allowing Blaze to have his happy ending with Roxanne. It wasn’t until close to ten years


later that the Ghost Rider was resurrected in comics. In 1990, character Daniel Ketch stumbled across the curse of the Ghost Rider. In this incarnation, the Ghost Rider was a leather-clad Spirit of Vengeance, incorporating a Penance Stare that forced the sinner to re-experience the sins he or she inflicted on others, as well as miles and miles of supernatural chains that seemed to be controlled by the Rider. The chains would become the Rider’s trademark weapon of choice, used as a whip, hardened into a spear, sectioned off into throwing star links, or simply


used as a means to capture criminals. This version of the Ghost Rider had his own fair share of villains: the vampire Blackout, the crime boss Deathwatch, the mystical dream-demon Nightmare, the undying Scarecrow, the son of the devil Blackheart, and a twisted version of the Ghost Rider called Vengeance. The series, written by Howard Mackie and drawn mostly by Javier Saltares and Mark Texiera, followed Danny Ketch for 93 issues, ending with his own death. Other characters bearing the flaming


skull have been introduced in Marvel comics. They include Ghost Riders of


FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND • MAR/APR 2012


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