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Comic Book / Ghost Rider (2022)

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"Let it be known... I RIDE AGAIN."

"Somebody, or something, wanted me off the road. Somebody, or something, wanted Ghost Rider in chains. Because where there's no fire, shadows pull. So I'm chasing down the shadows now to find answers."
Johnny Blaze

Ghost Rider (2022) is a Superhero Horror series from Marvel Comics, written by Benjamin Percy and illustrated by Cory Smith, with colors by Bryan Valenza. It’s the tenth volume of the Ghost Rider’s solo series, launched to mark the character’s 50th anniversary, and stars Johnny Blaze, the original Ghost Rider.

But it seems that Johnny Blaze isn’t the Ghost Rider. And never was the Ghost Rider. He’s just a troubled mechanic who has bad dreams, a scarred man recovering from a recent accident.

He runs a repair shop with his father-in-law, 'Crash' Simpson, a man who died when Blaze first became the Ghost Rider. He’s married to Roxanne and they have kids, Craig and Emma. But Roxanne and her children died a while ago... didn't they?

Johnny's living the small-town American Dream. Except that it’s often closer to a nightmare. And that it's all beginning to unravel. The Ghost Rider's still needed - and the Ghost Rider is coming back.


The first issue was released 23 February 2022 to critical acclaim.

WARNING: Spoilers in each issue will be unmarked, so proceed with caution.

Tropes appearing in Ghost Rider (2022):

  • The Ace: Issue #5 practically serves as an epic reminder why Johnny Blaze is called the "World's Greatest Motorcyclist" for a reason. Drawn to Hell's Backbone Rally, a cursed race where some of the most skilled riders and depraved villains of the Marvel Universe have gathered for a chance to win a favor with the Devil, Blaze is clearly not in 100% condition when he joins in, with visible signs of fatigue from all the intense battles and lack of proper rest from prior issues. Despite all that, he easily dominates the competition, plowing through all manner of roadblocks and perils without even resorting to dirty tactics nor utilizing his GR powers, instead relying on pure skill and willpower alone.
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  • Bad Samaritan: Early in Issue #3, while traveling on foot down a haunted highway known as the "Red Road", Johnny spots a passing car and decides to hitch a ride, greeted by a creepy-looking driver. Although friendly at first, the man soon reveals himself to be a Serial Killer intent on adding Johnny among the pile of rotting victims he keeps in his car's trunk. Unfortunately for the deranged driver, Blaze easily overpowers him and puts an end to his plan by smashing his head on the steering wheel.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Zeb, a mysterious new character debuting in this comic, is initially presented as a villainous figure who, as soon as he steps inside Hayden's Falls, walks over to a young boy and entices him into brutally murdering his playmate. Once it's revealed, however, that Zeb's real purpose is to help Johnny Blaze and that Hayden's Falls is actually a hellish den populated by demons in disguise, Zeb's earlier action takes a much different context.
  • Black Comedy: One of the ways that the possessed Circus of Crime kills people is by squeezing so many of them into a Clown Car that they all get crushed.
  • Body Horror:
    • Johnny's Painful Transformation into Ghost Rider is depicted more graphically than ever before, his flesh now shown slowly melting away in gruesome, nightmarish detail as the hellfire engulfs his entire body. Issue #3 even sees him literally rip and tear off his own skin (starting with his face) just to hasten the transformation.
    • The stitched-up wound on Johnny’s head starts bleeding, then opens wide to reveal an eye. What's more, Issue #3 reveals this wound can also manifest into other grotesque forms such as rows of eyes and a mouth filled with sharp teeth that speaks directly to Johnny. Finally, in Issue #5, it becomes a centipede-like monstrosity that assaults Johnny both physically and mentally under Blackheart's command, revealing its demonic origin.
    • Almost everything about Issue #6 is body horror extravaganza. Aptly titled "The Exorcism of Johnny Blaze," it guest-stars Wolverine as he does an impromptu-surgery on the suffering Ghost Rider to cleanse him of the demon parasite that's been eating away at his body. There are several panels of splattered guts and visceral-looking monstrosities crawling out of Johnny's intestines as Logan hacks away at the corruption. Against all odds, the exorcism ends in success.
  • Car Fu: One of the vignettes in the Vengeance Forever one-shot has Scarecrow try to run a bunch of people who he has tied to poles down with a wheat thresher, only to be defeated by Robbie Reyes.
  • Circus of Fear: Marvel's resident gang of C-list villains, the Circus of Crime, serve as the antagonists of Issue #4, but in a form that's a far cry from their usual selves, having been corrupted and transformed into demonic figures and now using their act to lure in unsuspecting audiences to their gristly doom.
  • The Conspiracy: The main overarching conflict of the 2022 series concerns The Legions of Hell's large-scale plan to remold America into their own image and rechristen it as the "Shadow Country," with Blackheart apparently spearheading the movement. They work in secret, employing the service of other corrupt supernatural cabals like the Council of Night Magicians to help them build their influence while making sure to stay under the radar as they infect the land, even planting a mole inside the FBI (and possibly other US intelligence services) to disrupt and crush all investigative efforts to quell and expose the spread of otherworldly corruption in the affected areas. Not taking any chances, they also seek out and attempt to dispose of anyone who's bound to be an immediate threat to their plans, especially Ghost Rider (not that it stops him for long).
  • Costume Evolution: Once again, Johnny begins his comic book by sporting a new look. Forgoing the skin-tight simple leathers from his King of Hell days, he now wears what can best be described as a design fusion of his original blue jumpsuit (the High Collar of Doom and square-shaped chest/abdomen covering) and his brother Danny's original biker look (black leathers and spikes) while adding his own unique spin to it.
  • Dented Iron: Johnny's mounting ordeals from the moment he steps out of Hayden's Falls is clearly taking a toll on not just his mental state but also his physical wellbeing, causing him to look more gaunt and haggard than he usually does. It's all but outright stated to be the fault of that strange wound he's been carrying since the first issue - a malevolent supernatural parasite that is slowly corrupting him and sapping his strength (as well as his Spirit of Vengeance's), with exorcism being the only hope of getting better. It's quite telling that the Johnny Blaze seen in the Vengeance Forever one-shot, implied to take place chronologically after the main comic's first arc due to his missing wound, looks much healthier and more physically imposing.
  • Determinator:
    • Nothing will stop Johnny Blaze from finding out the truth behind what happened to him in Hayden's Falls, nor will he stop trying to seek out the root cause behind the sudden rise in demonic activity throughout rural America, fatigue and mental exhaustion be damned.
    • Johnny's sheer display of valor and heroism throughout Issue #5 alone deserves mention. By his own admission, he and his Spirit of Vengeance are barely holding on by that point, having accumulated so much damage and fatigue from prior battles with so little time to rest, and with the demonic parasite lodged into his head having sapped them both of strength to the point where the Spirit's become too weakened to help Johnny anymore. This leaves the human half of Ghost Rider to fight his next battle all by himself: a death race known as Hell's Backbone Rally, where some of the most dangerous villains and anti-heroes of the Marvel Universe have gathered after being lured by the Devil's call, where there are no rules and participants are allowed to maim and kill each other as they see fit, where the roads are full of deathtraps and otherworldly nightmares, and where Blaze knows all too well that there's no reward awaiting the "winner" but eternal damnation. Johnny perseveres, not only dominating the race, but with the help of Wolverine also puts a stop to the whole madness even as his mind and body are literally being assaulted by the aforementioned demon parasite.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: The gas station washroom that Johnny wakes up in Issue #4 is overflowing with garbage, covered in graffiti, and has a toilet that is coated in God knows what.
  • Driven to Suicide Enforced by Ghost Rider upon an evil motel owner who sacrifices his guests to be eaten by a demon. Using his signature Penance Stare, GR orders the man to perform "penance" for his crimes, and the man promptly obeys by snapping his own neck.
  • Dying Town: A major recurring element in this comic book. Throughout his travels, Johnny Blaze comes across deserted and/or accursed American small towns; places that are far beneath the notice of most superheroesnote  and even other Ghost Riders,note  leaving their helpless residents to be preyed on by malevolent supernatural entities taking advantage of the situation. This leaves Johnny with a grim realization that he, as the sole nomadic Ghost Rider, may be the forgotten people's only hope for salvation against the hellish forces that plague America's countryside.
  • Electric Torture: Danny gets creative with this during one of the vignettes in the Vengeance Forever one-shot, dragging Blackout down the road with metal chains during a storm and letting him be repeatedly struck by lightning while quipping, "Hell doesn't own all the pain... the Heavens can be just as punishing."
  • Fantastic Drug: Johnny Blaze's therapist in Issue #1 pesters him to keep consuming prescription pills that are supposedly meant to help him deal with his strange headaches, which he initially complies with. But as Blaze's restlessness grows, so, too, are his suspicions regarding the therapist's true motives and he stops taking the pills. As it turns out, these pills were meant to numb his senses and block his True Sight from seeing the idyllic town of Hayden's Falls for the demon-infested prison hole it actually is.
  • Flies Equals Evil: One of the first hints that there is something off about the driver that picks Johnny up in Issue #3 is that his car is abuzz with flies, which turn out to be coming from all of the corpses that are stuffed into the trunk.
  • A Friend in Need: Wolverine guest stars in Issue #5 as one of the motorcyclists competing in the Hell's Backbone Rally, a perilous race full of ne'er-do-wells and anti-heroes looking out only for their own interests. Logan proves to be an exception when he comes to Johnny's aid in his hour of need. Taken even further in Issue #6 where Logan goes out of his way to help exorcise the demon parasite from Johnny's body, purifying both Blaze and the Spirit of Vengeance from their corruption.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Issue #4 begins with Johnny Blaze waking up naked inside a public restroom with no memory of how and why he got there as per usual, and when he opens the door, finds himself standing face to face with an angry, burly biker all garbed in leathers. So what does Blaze do? He makes like the Terminator and beats up the guy while bare naked, then drags the poor shmuck inside the restroom and steals everything he has (clothes, bike and all).
  • Goth: Talia Warroad, to a T, even having a Darkness Von Gothick Name and being an example of Goth Girls Know Magic.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Apart from Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider himself, the comic also regularly spares a few pages on the point of view of one Talia Warroad, a paranormally gifted young FBI agent conducting her own investigation on the mysterious supernatural occurrences that are popping up all over rural America. Each new discovery brings her closer and closer to an eventual encounter with GR.
    • The other participants in the Hell's Backbone Rally in Issue #5, like Doctor Doom, Loki, Man-Thing, Black Widow, Moon Knight, Blade, Dracula, Rhino, Boom-Boom, Daredevil, and Wolverine.
    • The Vengeance Forever one-shot features vignette stories of other Ghost Riders from the past, present and future, including familiar names such as Danny Ketch, Robbie Reyes, Michael Badilino, and Kenshiro Cochrane.
  • I Work Alone: Deconstructed. While Johnny has always been the type who prefers to work solo and do fine on his own, the comic explores the downside of taking this mindset too far, even for one as powerful and feared as a Ghost Rider. In the aftermath of his escape from Hayden's Falls, Johnny is shown to have grown more wary and distrustful of other superheroes due to the belief that no one, not even those he considered friends, cared enough to look for him when he disappeared. The next 4 issues sees Blaze adopting an even more self-reliant outlook as he combs through some of the darkest, nightmare-infested corners of America by his lonesome to unearth a massive demon conspiracy, vanquishing all sorts of hellish abominations with only his Spirit of Vengeance by his side; not once seeking help even as he starts to feel his strength fading from the gradual wear and tear, exacerbated by an evil parasitic entity that's doing more harm to him than meets the eye. Despite GR's resilience, it slowly becomes evident that he is fighting a longterm battle he's not likely to win on his own, growing weaker and weaker until it culminates in him falling into the clutches of his old enemy, Blackheart, who seizes the opportunity to attack him at his most vulnerable. Johnny would've met his end right then and there if not for the presence of his old friend and comrade, Wolverine, who rescues him and then proceeds to help purge the parasite from his body.
  • Join or Die: At the end of Issue #5, Blackheart laments how his efforts to corrupt Johnny into joining his cause and help him create his own "Shadow Country" were all for naught, seeing how resistant Blaze is to the demon parasite he implanted on him. With the realization that Blaze will always be a dangerous thorn on his side, Blackheart opts to have him destroyed along with his Spirit of Vengeance.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The first issue opens with Johnny struggling to make sense of his apparent idyllic life in a town called Hayden's Falls, surrounded by people who adore him, including loved ones who are supposed to be long dead. Despite the town's best efforts to keep him sedated with false reassurances, Johnny soon fully realizes that the whole thing is a sham: a demonic, illusionary world resided and maintained by lesser demons working for a greater evil, eventually revealed as Blackheart in Issue #5. With the help of an enigmatic new ally, Johnny reawakens to his Ghost Rider powers, tears the town apart in revenge, and sets off on a new journey across America to uncover the truth of what happened to him, and how he got placed in that fake world to begin with.
  • Mind Control: The last story vignette in the Vengeance Forever one-shot takes place in the 2099 era, where the evil fallen archangel Zadkiel tries to convert an entire metropolis into his own image by hijacking the airwaves and using it to brainwash all who watch into his loyal thralls. Everything seems to be going according to plan until Kenshiro Cochrane suddenly crashes in.
  • The Mole: Horace Whilmer, Talia's nerdy-looking fellow FBI agent and assigned partner, turns out to be a demon in disguise. He transforms into his true form in Issue #5, first by attacking Zeb and then Talia herself, taking them both out and delivering them to the Council of Night Magicians in Issue #6, revealing the mysterious cabal to be corrupt and treacherous as well.
  • Mysterious Watcher: Zeb, in shapeshifted crow form, can sometimes be spotted observing Johnny in the distance as he travels from place to place, never directly interfering (save for the Hayden's Falls incident) but always taking notes.
  • New Old West: As a deliberate throwback to Ghost Rider's classic roots, rural America takes center stage in this 2022 series and once again casts the Brimstone Avenger in the role of a wandering anti-hero (complete with My Horse Is a Motorbike) doing his own brand of violent justice in the not-so-modernized, less populated corners of civilization. Shady roadside motels, disappearing small towns, and the haunted wilderness are but some of the neo-western locales that GR ends up exploring in some way or another.
  • Not Himself:
    • One of the main focuses of the comic's first six issues is the mysterious cursed wound on Johnny Blaze's head and how it negatively affects his connection with his Spirit of Vengeance. Instead of staying in control or at least being conscious and aware when he's in GR mode, Johnny now keeps blanking out in the middle of battle and then waking up later with no memory of what happened in the interim, causing him no end of headaches and irritation. He suspects at first that his Spirit is simply being uncooperative for some reason, but the more the story goes on, the more Johnny realizes that it's actually because his own mind and body have been compromised by outside forces, with the Spirit wrestling control from him for his own good. The wound is eventually revealed to be a centipede-like demon parasite meant to weaken Johnny and supersede his consciousness for Blackheart's evil purposes. Thanks to Wolverine's timely efforts, the parasite is purged from Johnny in Issue #6, restoring the Ghost Rider back to form.
    • The Circus of Crime, a gang of Silver Age kooks more infamously known for being ineffectual villains than anything else, are re-introduced in Issue #4 as genuinely terrifying, demonized people who've graduated from robbing their unsuspecting audiences to outright mass murdering them For the Evulz. Ghost Rider immediately senses there's something very off with these guys, even saying the trope almost verbatim. There's heavy implication that whatever got to them may also have something to do with Johnny's own head wound situation.
  • No-Tell Motel: Of the "gruesome unsolved murders" kind. Johnny wanders across one in Issue #2 and decides to work there for a bit to earn money for his ongoing travel expenses. He soon discovers that the innkeeper is secretly an evil man who kidnaps his own tenants, offering them as sacrifices to a nightmarish demon living in the mines hidden deep within the premises in exchange for the demon's stash of priceless gemstones. In the end, Ghost Rider makes the innkeeper and his demonic patron pay dearly for their crimes, then burns their wretched motel to the ground for added measure.
  • Order vs. Chaos: Discussed by Zebadiah (aka Zeb) of the Council of Night Magicians, who claims to be on nobody's side and is only interested in preserving the world balance between light and darkness. It just so happens that Ghost Rider's brand of vigilantism currently aligns with his own due to the forces of hell, led by Blackheart, threatening to upset that balance by conspiring to engulf America in demonic darkness and corrupt it into their own "Shadow Country".
  • Orifice Invasion: Part of the demonic parasite that Wolverine cuts out of Johnny possesses a passed out drunk by seemingly crawling up his butt.
  • Perception Filter: At various points, readers (and Johnny) see two different versions of Hayden's Falls and its inhabitants. One is an idyllic small town, the other is a nest of demons.
  • Pet the Dog: Ghost Rider may be a ruthless, merciless anti-hero but even he knows where to draw the line when it comes to monster extermination. Upon confronting the now demonic Circus of Crime in Issue #4, the Ringmaster summons a giant Body of Bodies made up of hundreds of lumped together bodies of poor, innocent victims, still conscious and with their souls intact but kept under control by the Ringmaster's brainwashing magic. Instead of killing the poor creature, GR uses his hellfire to free all the souls trapped within from Ringmaster's influence, then tells them to run away which they do, sparing their lives even though they remain trapped in their collective, monstrous form.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The 2022 comic promises to be a "back to basics" approach in Ghost Rider storytelling, once again featuring Johnny Blaze in the role of a (dark) Knight Errant travelling across the Americas and encountering all manner of supernatural horrors along the way, just like in his original series. Only this time, things have grown even Darker and Edgier than before, with a greater, overarching mystery on the horizon.
  • Sinister Car: The homicidal "Hell Truck" that is haunting the Red Road in Oregon in Issue #3.
  • Spotting the Thread: "Roxanne" and her wedding ring. It's what ultimately convinces Johnny that the wife standing before him isn't the real deal, having recalled that he never gave her such a ring. Consumed with rage, he cuts off the woman's fingers, unmasking her as a demonic impostor in the process, then burns the ring in disgust before vanquishing the demon and her cohorts.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Hayden's Falls, where the story begins, appears to be an idyllic representation of America, populated by kindly locals. But underneath the veil of pristine lies a nightmarish den of misery, chaos, and demonic residents, the illusionary town itself being nothing but a cage meant to serve as Johnny Blaze's eternal prison... that is, until he realizes the façade.
  • Wacky Racing: Issue #5 has Johnny and a bunch of heroes and villains participate in the Hell's Backbone Rally, a motorcycle race in which the prize is allegedly a wish granted by the Devil. Things unsurprisingly descend into Twisted Metal-style mayhem as the racers shoot, blast, slash, ram, and otherwise maim each other when not being attacked by the gooey demons summoned by Blackheart.
  • Warrior Poet: Benjamin Percy's characterization of Johnny Blaze has shades of this. His thought boxes are often laced with flowery, borderline philosophical observations about the various people, places and situations encountered throughout his journey.
  • Wham Line: Happens in Issue #4 during Ghost Rider's confrontation with a recently demonized Circus of Crime. One look at them with his True Sight causes GR to declare these people have been corrupted and are not quite themselves, but the Ringmaster simply retorts, "Neither are you, Johhny..." The shock from this sudden revelation, along with Ringmaster's attempt to cast hypnosis on him, causes GR to revert back to human form and lose consciousness from the headache. Waking up later, he begins to suspect that the strange wound on his back is doing something far more sinister to him than he initially thought.
  • Wham Shot: Issue #5 concludes with a dramatic reveal that the evil entity who masterminded Johnny's imprisonment in Hayden's Falls and the one responsible for inflicting the cursed wound on his head (which turns out to be a demonic parasite) is none other than Blackheart.
  • Worst Aid: Wolverine manages to exorcise the parasitic demon from Johnny Blaze by performing a makeshift operation on him in Issue #6, which basically consists of hacking and cutting through Blaze's body with his claws to draw out the demon and kill it. A terrible idea in any other circumstance, but works out in this case because Logan is able to plead with the Spirit of Vengeance to let him operate on Johnny while he's in GR mode, sparing Blaze's human form from the lethal strain and allowing GR's Healing Factor to kick in when he transforms back. By the time Logan's done, Johnny is still weakened and groggy, but otherwise good as new.