Whether it be justice, vengeance, or the thrill of the kill, bounty hunting isn't for the faint of heart, especially when your usual targets are superheroes.
After a lengthy absence, the mightiest brands of comic books return to face each other as the next outing of season six; each company, this time, lets loose their respective bounty hunting anti-hero bikers and the cosmic-scale forces they define themselves by. Two chains, two bikes, two fantastic hunter meets in a match of wronged souls entwined in a spiritual fury against self-righteous arrogance with the strength to back it up. By the end of this fight, either the spirit of vengeance will lose its greatest vessel or the Czarnian race will finally go extinct; which future comes to pass falls squarely upon Ghost Rider, Lobo, and what they have to offer when called into a death battle.
The first of two offerings on the chopping block is the Ghost Rider; as there have been several inheritors of the title, the episode exclusively covers the most iconic and prolific bearer, Johnny Blaze. Born into the traveling Quentin Carnival, Johnny was groomed to be a motorcycle prodigy like his father Barton before him. A stunt gone awry proved fatal for Barton, and with his mother having taking her leave from Johnny's life, he was left in the care of his family's co-workers. The Simpson family, as friends of the Blazes, treated Johnny like he was their own son, and life seemed to go on as normal as Johnny continued to train for his eventual role in the circus. Tragic misfortunes still continued to plague Johnny, however, as his surrogate mother become another victim of a motorcycle accident and his new father Crash developed cancer. His life falling to pieces again and again, Blaze turned to the occult in the hopes of saving his father's life if nothing else. Johnny summoned the demon lord Mephistopheles and bartered his soul in exchange for curing his father's cancer. Indeed, Crash's cancer was cured, but as the deal said nothing about ensuring his safety after, he met his demise the next night in a motorcycle crash like so many of Johnny's previous loved ones. Mephisto fulfilled his end of their pact, Johnny had no choice but to do the same, and the demon lord provided the means to ensure Blaze's servitude. After binding Johnny's soul with Zarathos, another primordial entity whom Mephisto had gained control over in millennia past, the hellish mastermind had an empowered servant for his own amusment. Johnny and Zarathos were at odds with one another, each wanting nothing to do with their bond, but united by their mutual hatred of Mephisto, they came to a reluctant alliance and sought to punish the evils of the world as the Ghost Rider.
Luckily for Blaze, Zarathos, and the world at large, Mephisto has little interest in roping the Rider in his own affairs, leaving them free to serve the side of good. Though the pair operate under some semblance of unity, each still struggles to exert their influence on the other; Johnny in particular is a vessel through which Zarathos operates and limits the might with which he imbues the Rider, and when Blaze's resolve falters, Zarathos can take full control of the Ghost Rider and amplify his potential. Even without Zarathos' full power at his disposal, Johnny is an impressive fighter on his own merits. The Ghost Rider is just one of the innumerable figures in the Marvel universe whom bear strength and speed well beyond the average human. The character's defensive capabilities are even more impressive still, being able to regenerate from any injury at a near-instantaneous rate. Abilities of such a scale like this are aided through the usage of hellfire. Magically-imbued flames that ignore standard physical defenses to attack both body and soul, hellfire is the Ghost Rider's go-to weapon whenever called to action. The servant of Mephisto relies heavily on hellfire and utilizes in as a number of forms: breathing concentrated infernos, forming solid walls of flame, unleashing storms of hellfire from the skies above, and even manifesting weapons by using hellfire as a conduit. Hellfire is at the forefront of the Rider's powers, so it logically follows that it factors into his chosen method of transportation, a hellfire-infused motorcycle unconstrained by conventional physics. This mount, the Hell Cycle, can act on Blaze's thoughts and reaches speeds that surpass the otherworldly god Thor's own hammer Mjölnir; to emphasize the speed Mjölnir and by extension the Hell Cycle can reach, the hammer has been shown to cross the length of the Milky Way galaxy twice over in about a minute. Between the myriad applications of hellfire, the Ghost Rider is a formidable threat, but a fight with the bounty hunter is guaranteed to see him unleash his trademark ability, the Penance Stare. By locking eyes with his victim, the Penance Stare forces them to experience the pain and suffering caused by their sins. Given sins of a high enough quantity or intensity, the Penance Stare is even capable of entirely annihilating the target's soul.
The Rider is among one of the most feared entities known to the denizens of the Marvel universe, and he backs up such an identity with ease. His hellfire has enough force to demolish mountains and skyscrapers weighing nearly a quarter million tons with it, and he has demonstrated immunity against a staggeringly vast methods of attack. His own strength, meanwhile, is measurable to heroes like Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and even the aforementioned Thor, all of whom possess strength on a planetary if not stellar scale. The full extent of Zarathos's power is perhaps the most mightiest that the Rider can call upon, as he has soundly triumphed over Mephisto within his own realm, where he is at his most powerful; Mephisto, as a reference point, once pit his brawn against Galactus, the cosmic scourge who thrives on consuming whole worlds. Their bout tore asunder stars and galaxies, and even the universe itself was on the brink of annihilation as collateral damage. To succeed in overpowering Mephisto whereas even a being like Galactus could only manage a standstill speaks volumes as to the nigh-immeasurable scope of the Ghost Rider's strength. Alas, even the Rider has shortcomings to his name that must be addressed. He can still be subdued while as the human Johnny Blaze, and while most attacks result in his immediate regeneration at worst, holy weapons yield more fruitful effect and possibly have fatal consequences. Even the Penance Stare, for all the terrifying potency it possesses, has no effect on those who are blind or lack souls to be judged by the Rider. Despite these sorts of weaknesses, Johnny and Zarathos are an imposing duo, acting against Mephisto's wishes and serving a greater good that no demon, if any could ever wish to match.
- Ghost Rider: Sorry. All out of mercy. (wraps his chain around the demon Gressil, causing him to solidify and crumble into pieces)
The episode, wrapping up on the spirit of vengeance, chooses now to cover the space biker Lobo, whose character was redesigned in the 1990s to mock the contemporary fad of gritty, hyper-masculine heroes that were being produced at an incessant rate. His story as framed within the DC universe proper, meanwhile, begins on the idyllic world of Czarnia. Hailed for its peace and advancements over several thousand years, Czarnia had developed a reputation as a utopia of saccharine extremes. That changed when Lobo was born. From the moment the midwife that helped birth him was driven insane by his presence, the Czarnians came to the conclusion that Lobo infested with such evil that it could only be described as the universe's way of counterbalancing the rest of the planet's benevolence. Lobo grew up resentful of his surroundings, and instead took pride for his unique personality among Czarnians. Seeking to be the only one of his kind altogether, he wiped out the rest of the planet's native inhabitants through the use of personally designed biological superweapons. Czarnia fell into disrepair, and with nary any regret for his actions, Lobo took to traveling countless galaxies as a bounty hunter, carving a trail of bloodshed and horror in his wake.
Lobo regularly demonstrates himself to be more than a match for anybody that crosses his path, helped immensely by the complex and extremely powerful nature of Czarnian physiology. Czarnians have the ability to recover from the most grievous of wounds; in the bounty hunter's case, it also means that any drop of his blood spilled will immediately grow into an identical Lobo. The space biker is even versatile enough to one-up most superheroes of the DC universe; he can will himself to ignore constructs crafted by Green Lantern rings, which are themselves fueled by willpower, as well as react and move quickly enough to subdue the Flash, whose movement speed has been speculated to reach limitless heights. Although he is physically strong like so many of the heroes of the universe, Lobo is also as intelligent as he is brawny, knowing nearly 18 thousand languages and being able to construct complex machinery and battle strategies at a moment's notice. On his own accord, he is even capable of deducing any possible weaknesses in an opponent. The last Czarnian also has, befitting his role as a bounty hunter, a vast assortment of weapons at his disposal. Knives, guns, high-yield explosives, all these weapons are on standby for whenever Lobo needs their usage, and his iconic chain with a hook at one end completes this arsenal. The real clincher of his kit, however, would be not any of these tools of mayhem, but an interstellar SpazFrag666-model spacecraft deemed the spacehog. A customized motorcycle equipped with several munitions, a miniaturized power plant that lets the spacehog escape black holes, and its own stereo system, the spacehog serves as Lobo's vehicle of choice as he travels the cosmos for his latest bounty.
If his origins and the equipment he arms himself with were not enough of a hint, Lobo makes it a habit to performs feats of a mind-boggling scale, perhaps even moreso than the generous standards of the DC universe given the absurd nature of the character. The Czarnian has been reduced to a skeleton and even an incorporeal spirit, yet still finds ways to recover and assume a flesh-and-blood body once more. His strength lets him stand on par with the legendary Kryptonian champion Superman and even pull the living star Solaris, a cosmic entity weighing two octillion tons. More impressive than this, however, is the fact that Lobo once condensed an entire city into a small palm-sized morsel at least twenty times denser than a neutron star, and ate it with no adverse effects. So outlandishly powerful is Lobo that after committing a one-man rampage through the pantheons of the universe, his soul was barred from every conceivable afterlife, never to be claimed upon death. That said, the very idea that Lobo once was claimed by death is surprising, yet still a reminder that he is fallible; the fact that he was reduced to a spirit means his physical form can be destroyed beyond his control if the body is thoroughly destroyed. In addition, Lobo prides himself on being a man of his word, and will stand by it even if doing so would acts as a detriment to his own endeavors. Despite shortcomings such as these, and how he once briefly became the exact thing he sought to mock, Lobo still continues to roam the universe to find his newest bounty amidst mayhem wherever it can be found, even if he has to create it himself.
- Lobo: (twirling a crowbar as he confronts an injured Superman) See, someone's paying me a heap of cash for your carcass, and the main man always delivers.
The two newest combatants into this storied ring has finally been fully studied. One advertisement for the Blue Apron cooking service later, and now, it's time for a death battle!
Amid the sands of a desert whose sands stretch well into the horizon, Lobo, the last Czarnian, secures an amorphous purple mass onto his spacehog. With his hooked chain wrapped firmly around his latest bounty, the main man prepares to ride off when the howling desert winds take on an ominous tone. The sky above takes on an intense orange shade as the Ghost Rider, spirit of vengeance, closes in on Lobo. A curtain of hellfire gives the Rider a backdrop from which he calls Lobo out on his numerous atrocities, ready to make the Czarnian pay for his sins.
Sadly for Blaze, the space biker has little interest in collecting on this moral debt. The spacehog barrels into Blaze and the Hell Cycle, smashing them both into pieces as Lobo rides off. His self-assured cackling, however, drowns out the roar of hellfire as the Rider reforms himself from out the rubble. The volley of fireballs that make impact beside the spacehog prove to be more of a nuisance to Lobo, especially a spare fireball that blasts Lobo's bounty into a shower of blood. The last son of Czarnia finally shows some real aggression as he undoes the hooked chain in a threatening display. The Rider responds by summoning his own chain from a portal of hellfire. The metallic whips collide as the bounty hunters resume their desert chase; Lobo's chain eventually shatters Johnny's into hellfire and the hook embeds itself squarely into the spirit's abdomen. With a firm tug backward, Lobo yanks Johnny off the Hell Cycle and squarely towards him, before kicking him into the dunes. A second yank backwards, and Lobo chooses to grab the Rider's skull and mock him directly. Being in such close proximity to Lobo means the opportunity arises for Mephisto's servant to unleash the Penance Stare, and he chooses to takes it, pinning Lobo's arm and enveloping his own eye sockets in hellfire.
The Stare fails to take effect before Lobo breaks free of the Rider's grasp with a fierce headbutt. The Hell Cycle, meanwhile, barrels down from the heavens and crushes the spacehog into debris as payback for the Czarnian's earlier approach. The hellish mount drags Lobo along, uncontrollably, into the streets of a neighboring city. The space biker is soon sent tumbling into the asphalt below, where Johnny leaps after him. Lobo recovers in time for the Rider to catch him with a wide hook to the face. The fight between the two bounty hunters devolves into a display of fisticuffs; while Lobo struggles to leave a mark on the Rider, the spirit of vengeance throws an uppercut that launches the last Czarnian backwards further. With the distance between the two growing, a stream of hellfire is unleashed from the gaping maw of the Rider. Lobo trudges against the conflagration and gets back into close range. Lobo treats the bastich with ever-increasing annoyance, dragging him across the pavement and hurling him into an abandoned bank. The Czarnian leaps towards it, and the building is soon condensed into a marble-sized treat nestled firmly between Lobo's fingers before subsequently devoured with nonchalance.
A throaty belch of fire hints at the next development in the fight, that of Lobo swelling before bursting into a cascade of blood and unassorted organs. Standing in the middle of the viscera puddle is the Ghost Rider, content with having defeated the space biker. A pair of Lobos, reborn from the blood drenching the pavement, are quick to prove otherwise as they trap Blaze with alternating punches. The cruor around the trio rises, and from the sanguineous mass emerge a horde of cackling Lobo clones. The Rider barely begins to register this facet of Czarnian biology before the Lobos dogpile on him. Johnny soon becomes lost underneath the Czarnian mount quickly forming above him. Before any further Lobos can join in, a massive pillar erupts from out their position, blasting them all backwards. With vivid blue flames and a skull tinged foreboding vermilion, the Ghost Rider arises, now drawing from the full wellspring of Zarathos' ability. The spirit of vengeance's bellowing roars echoes through the cityscape, heralding the intense hellfire that engulfs the Lobo army.
In a final act of defiance, one Lobo, the only member of his kind not tumbling helplessly amidst the inferno, primes a massive flamethrower; the Zarathos-empowered rider sends out a second plume of flame in response. The Lobo's flamethrower punches clean through the Rider's torso, while the Rider's flame strikes with such force that the ensuing crater, stretching across entire countries, can be seen from orbit. Lobo's soul comes to in the bleak hellscape and begins musing about his own setbacks when a hooked chain impales him in the torso and soon wraps itself around his wrists. The skull of Zarathos, and soon, the full body of the Ghost Rider, rebuilds itself and finally passes his sentence upon the helpless Lobo, who can do nothing in the face of his impending fate. The bounty hunter is pulled ever closer before coming face to face with the empowered Ghost Rider, and with it, the full terrifying force of the Penance Stare. The horrific wailing of his numerous victims becomes a cacophony too unbearable for the Czarnian to comprehend. Overcome with the agony of his species, Lobo's joins in their screaming before the jaws of Zarathos slam shut upon his soul. The spirit of vengeance gingerly devours the last Czarnian's soul and thoroughly enjoys it, punctuated with a small burp as he savors this well-deserved victory.
In the wake of Lobo's demise, the hosts move on to the post-match analysis and retrospective. Lobo was indeed one of the toughest combatants of the DC universe, and easily the Rider's better in terms of physical strength. However, durability fell cleanly into Johnny's favor; even the Hulk, one of the physically mightiest heroes of his world, was unable to defeat the Rider, and as Lobo was without any holy weapons in his standard arsenal, he lacked a way to outright kill the Ghost Rider. While Lobo could have theoretically overpowered baseline Ghost Rider, as in the Rider while Johnny exerted influence over the identity, the full power of Zarathos would be a different story entirely. Zarathos is comparable to Mephisto, whose battle with Galactus threatened to destroy the entire universe; this is a level of power that Lobo had no similar experience with, but the Zarathos-powered Ghost Rider would be able to access. Lobo, to give him his due, could rationalize the Rider's weakness to holy weapons and theoretically escape to get one, but this possibility is countered by the fact that the spacehog is leagues slower than the Hell Cycle, which, by comparing to Mjölnir, can break the speed of light 100 billion times over. Even the contract barring Lobo's soul from the afterlife specifies it cannot be claimed, rather than destroyed outright. Thankfully for the Rider, there were no less than three methods he could use to accomplish such a feat: his classic hellfire, which could bypass Lobo's durability and directly attack his soul; the Penance Stare, which would be exceedingly effective against Lobo due to the trillions of deaths and other acts of destruction he has caused; and with Zarathos' full might, he could simply consume Lobo's soul. Simply put, Lobo may have been able to outmatch the standard Ghost Rider, but amplified by Zarathos' power, all his outlandish feats and powers would ultimately mean nothing.
- Boomstick: That poor bastich didn't stand a ghost of a chance! Heh, sorry; I know that was a Lo-bo. (Wiz facepalms)
Wiz: The winner is Ghost Rider!
Ghost Rider vs. Lobo contains examples of:
- Ascended Meme: The t-shirt Boomstick promotes near the end of the episode is a parody of DC's old logo, with "DB" inscribed into it instead, likely to rib on fans who have accused them of being biased towards DC for the long win streak Ghost Rider had ended.
- Bait-and-Switch: In the aftermath of a blast visible from orbit, Lobo's ghost manifests in the crater. With his rundown establishing that a lack of body has never stopped him from doing his thing before, and the music dying down for a moment, it looks like a denoument for his victory... and then Zarathos' chain impales him from behind.
- Book-Ends: The fight begins with Ghost Rider declaring his intent to collect on Lobo's sins as a formality. By the time it ends, the Rider, now under the full might of Zarathos, repeats this intent, and this time, he is pissed.
- Broken Win/Loss Streak: In a two-fold example, not only does Marvel's six-episode long losing streak against DC come to an end here, which had started from Doctor Strange vs. Doctor Fate but so does the seven-episode win streak that DC's been on since Raven vs. Twilight Sparkle.
- Complete Immortality: Both combatants have this through different means. Johnny can't be hurt by anything besides holy magic and Lobo is Barred from the Afterlife. Ghost Rider trumps his opponents since it's been said that the only being that can truly kill him is God himself, so Lobo couldn't end his opponent.
- Curb Stomp Cushion: Despite how much Zarathos outclassed Lobo, the Main Man did manage to make him feel a lot of pain and even destroy his body (however briefly). Considering this is a character that can threaten the universe by his lonesome and terrifies Doctor Strange, that's pretty impressive.
- Deader Than Dead: Ghost Rider's capability to do this is one major deciding factor: Lobo can't be killed by traditional means due to being banned from the afterlife, but Ghost Rider bypasses this by having three different ways to attack and destroy his soul outright. Meanwhile, Lobo's standard arsenal lacks any means at all to kill Ghost Rider. In the battle itself, Ghost Rider uses all three methods (incinerates Lobo's clones with hellfire - soul and all, fries Lobo's soul with the Penance Stare and the many, many, many atrocities he'd committed, and then eats it as the finishing blow).
- Foregone Conclusion: It is said that the only thing that can defeat Ghost Rider for good is God himself. Even if that is taken as hyperbole, he's still only vulnerable to holy weaponry. Lobo's regular loadout (per the rules of Death Battle) does not include holy weaponry, and the Hell Cycle is too fast to give him an opening to go find some even if he were to recognize this, so it was only a matter of time before Ghost Rider eliminated him.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Twice in the battle.
- The Penance Stare takes all the pain you've ever caused and forces it back onto you. It's suggested that, with the countless deaths he's caused, the Stare would be a viable way of killing Lobo's soul.
- Lobo attempted to end the battle by eating a building with Ghost Rider trapped in it, only for the Spirit of Vengeance to survive and continue fighting. When Johnny surrenders control to Zarathos, the Spirit of Vengeance returns the favor by eating the Main Man's soul after softening it up with the Penance Stare, and this time around, Lobo has nowhere to run from.
- Loophole Abuse: A key factor in Lobos defeat. While God may have banned him from the afterlife, theres no rule saying that his soul wasnt vulnerable, only that his soul wont pass on. With several methods of directly attacking and destroying the soul, Ghost Rider could ensure a victory even with Lobos immortality.
- Magic Versus Science: On the side of Magic, we have Ghost Rider who is empowered by the demon Zarathos. On the side of Science, we have Lobo with his plethora of weapons and natural Czarnian physiology. Magic wins as Lobo had no holy weapons and thus no good way to deal with Zarathos, who had a good way to deal with him, and had no time or capability of getting away long enough to grab a few before Zarathos obliterated him.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Both sides have this to the point of bordering onto Complete Immortality. Besides their common absurd healing factors, there are other elements at play for both sides; Ghost Rider can only be killed by holy weapons, while Lobo can create clones of himself from a single drop of his blood in addition to being banned from every possible afterlife imaginable. That said, Ghost Rider's immortality edges out, as not only did Lobo not possess any holy weapons of his own, but his soul was still technically vulnerable to being destroyed, and Ghost Rider had various methods of exacting that.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Both hosts get this reaction when Deadpool is mentioned in passing only for the real deal to pop up in their background monitor.
- Lobo gets these several times in the fight, but the biggest would be when Zarathos is chaining up his soul and about to deliver a furious Penance Stare.
- One-Winged Angel: When Johnny finally surrenders control to Zarathos, Ghost Rider transforms to reflect this; his skeleton turns red, his flames turn blue, and he becomes as tall as a medium-sized building. Wiping out all the Lobo clones is no mean feat, and reflects how the tables had turned in his favor; the analysis pointed out that Zarathos' equal standing to Mephisto - who had nearly destroyed the Marvel universe in a clash against Galactus - was a level of power Lobo simply had no answer for.
- Product Placement: Along with the standard pre-fight advertisement for Blue Apron in the YouTube upload, Boomstick also takes the time to shill Rooster Teeth merchandise at the end.
- Series Continuity Error: Ghost Rider scales to the speed of Thor's hammer. However, in his last outing, it was stated that Mjolnir reached the edge of the universe in sixty seconds and was only around 500,000 times faster-than-lightnote . In this battle, the feat is reaching the edge of the galaxy and returning in sixty seconds, and the calculated speed is a much faster 100 billion times faster than light.
- Super Strength: Besides the ludicrous strength of the two combatants, Wiz shows that he has some of this by smashing the TV Deadpool hijacks with his non-robotic hand.
- Take That!:
- The aspect of Ghost Rider that scares the hosts more than anything about the character is Nicolas Cage's portrayal of him.
- They're not any kinder with the New 52 redesign of Lobo, even derailing the episode just to mock how little it has in common with the main man's standard appearance and character.
- Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: With his immense physical strength, Lobo takes the position of the unstoppable force whilst Ghost Rider's immunity to any damage barring holy weapons makes him the immovable object. In this instance, the immovable object Ghost Rider wins, due in part of Lobo's lack of holy weapons and his ability bypass Lobo's healing factor with his soul targeting techniques.