Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

The kids are all into biblical fantasy these days. It’s all the rage. The DaVinci Code doesn’t even scratch the surface though. People like this idea of taking elements from the bible and making it…science-fiction-ey. And thus- Ghost Rider: Heaven’s Fire. Kind of loving it. I’ve always been a critical but appreciative Ghost Rider fan. For me, I think Ghost Rider kind of represents this slew of popular characters that got big for ten minutes in the mid 90s (although the character himself showed up way before then- the 70s). The Marvel ‘anti-hero’ of the 90s typically: A. Was a badass loner B. Was fighting some sort of demonic/supernatural invasion and killed the opposing force somewhat indiscriminately C. Had crazy-hardcore-superpowers, almost over the top D. Used WEAPONS. Chains, guns, swords…whatever. E. Dressed in black Now, granted, I’ve read some pretty bad Ghost Rider stories- given how readily he fits the stereotypical criteria I’ve assembled above, I’m sure you can understand why. I’ve also read some really great ones, here and there. My problem with Ghost Rider is that I think he (or it) is a lot cooler than just some splatter-fest violence packed comic arc that includes sado-masochistic overtones. I love that he’s a demon- in the most biblical of all ways. Most superheroes are about justice. Ghost Rider is about vengeance. But not in that morally ambigious ‘is Daredevil or Punisher right?’ way. In that ‘God Himself set certain aspects of the universe in motion, including vengeance’ way. It’s sort of…indisputable. The orders come from up top, you know? The people…the things that Ghost Rider fights…they are abominations. They deserve to die. So Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch, and the whole Rider crew are kind of…playing in a bigger game than some of the other heroes in the Marvel Universe. In fact, with heaven and hell (which, believe it or not, isn’t actually Mephisto’s realm- no, Mephisto isn’t Lucifer...he just likes Lucifer’s style.) on the line, Blaze and Ketch are right up there with Dr. Strange- that is, dealing with ^*&$ that most other superheroes couldn’t handle. And- when it’s done right- Ghost Rider as a comic can be really, really creepy. You know that feeling you get when your driving on a highway, alone, in the middle of the night? And you’re the only car on the road? And you catch something in your headlights and you’re like ‘what the hell was that’? Hair on the back of your neck, right? The comic should feel like something out of the X-Files meets Heavy Metal. If anything, I always hoped Ghost Rider would be a more pivitol figure in the Marvel U. I hated when he would just be a part of some random team-up. I wanted his arrival to unnerve everyone around him- I wanted everyone to recognize that something of cosmic proportions was going on when Ghost Rider was around. And above all, I wanted to see one of those big crossover arcs really use Johnny Blaze and Zarathos as main characters. Granted, the mythology that underlies the whole comic doesn’t quite mesh perfectly well with comics that have mutants, and gamma rays, or whatever. But still. Just put him (them) in the spotlight, just once. Please. Anyway, the current run by Jason Aaron is a Ghost Rider fans treasure trove. That is, it’s jam packed with Ghost Rider lore that only hardcore fans are going to be able to totally appreciate. I love all the different ‘riders’ now. There’s more than one fallen angel making the rounds out there, and it’s really interesting to see how each one fights and things. Also among the new additions to the Ghost Rider canon is one rogue angel by the name of Zadkiel, intent on doing what Lucifer couldn’t- winning a war in heaven. The fact that Zarathos- the spirit that posses Blaze- is, in fact, an angel previously under Zadkiel’s command makes for a nice, tragic touch. I love the art in the book too- moody, emotional, flowing and evocative. Really, the whole thing is gearing up to be pretty epic. Check it out.