If the news or rumor that Netflix is on board in making a Ghost Rider TV series is true, then it’s up to us to bring you up to speed with the character. You may know him by now in the first two Ghost Rider films. The first dealt with his origin while the next, well, was a waste of the talents of Nicolas Cage and Idris Elba but dealt with the origin of the demon in John Blaze, known as Zarathos. Ghost Rider’s comics mythos isn’t exactly organized either. Having a long comics history increases the chance of that. This author was hoping that Marvel’s Secret Wars comics event might reboot the whole confusing history of the character, but things went back to a sort of status quo. The event did put them all together and put the newest, Robbie Reyes in the limelight.
Several characters have taken on the mantle of Ghost Rider. They are:
Carter Slade – the first titular Ghost Rider was set in the Wild West. You’ve seen him in the first Ghost Rider movie, but his story was different in the comics. The movie costume and story was better. When the John Blaze Ghost Rider became popular, they renamed Carter Slade as Phantom Rider so as not to confuse readers. Carter Slade was a teacher heading to the frontier when his group were attacked by cattle rustlers disguised as Indians. He was mortally wounded until he was taken in by an Indian medicine man which gave him powers and a phosphorescent costume to fight for justice. The initial draft of the first Ghost Rider movie had the Indian (Native American) element.
John Blaze – is the most popular incarnation of Ghost Rider due to the past two movies. The most popular title in modern geekdom goes to Danny Ketch. We all know John Blaze’s origins in that he made a deal with the devil to save his father. In the comics, he made the deal to save his adoptive father Crash Simpson from cancer while his real father Barton Blaze died earlier in a stunt. Like in the movie, Crash dies shortly after being cured from cancer during one of his stunts. John accuses the devil (Mephisto) of cheating but the devil still wants his due. Roxanne, his lover who happens to be adoptive sister, banishes the devil with a spell keeping him from getting John’s soul. But Mephisto gets back at them by grafting the demon Zarathos onto John Blaze turning him into a motorcycle-riding flaming skeletal being when night falls. His costume is similar to that of a spandex suit worn by stunt drivers.
Daniel Ketch – is a native of Cypress Hills New York who becomes the 90s Ghost Rider when he and his sister Barbara are caught in the middle of a confrontation between rival criminal organizations. His sister gets mortally wounded, and they manage to take refuge in a junkyard. There he finds an abandoned motorcycle with a glowing gas cap. When Dan’s blood-soaked hand touched the cap, he is transformed into a being similar to the John Blaze Ghost Rider. He meets out vengeance whenever innocent blood is spilled, but the being operates bereft of his memories. This Ghost Rider became so popular that he crossed over to many other Marvel titles. This one wears jeans and a leather jacket and rides a high-tech motorcycle. John Blaze, then free of the curse, later makes a comeback mistaking this Ghost Rider for Zarathos. It’s later found out that Zarathos is a totally different entity and is later defeated.
The Dan Ketch version’s popularity waned and then went on hiatus in 1994 making way for the comeback of John Blaze as Ghost Rider with Zarathos as the possessing demon. Blaze’s return as Ghost Rider also wraps up many of the loose ends in the Dan Ketch version and stitches together the mythology of the Ghost Riders. All Ghost Riders have been revealed to be spirits from heaven sent to possess choice persons to create a balance between good and evil on earth. Zarathos is revealed to be a rogue spirit of vengeance that devolved into a demon. This story was shown in the second Ghost Rider movie.
Alejandra Jones – is a native of Nicaragua to whom the power of the Ghost Rider is transferred when John Blaze takes an offer from the biblical Adam to be rid of the curse. It’s not a reluctant transfer as Alejandra was bred to someday take in the power of a Ghost Rider. She becomes the first female titular Ghost Rider. There were several female Ghost Riders revealed in a later arc of the modern John Blaze Ghost Rider. Her tenure is short lived though as she wasn’t so popular in the comics though at the end she retains some power of the Ghost Rider.
Robbie Reyes – is the first titular Ghost Rider to use a car instead of a motorcycle as a choice vehicle. Also, unlike the other Ghost Riders, he is powered by a cursed soul instead of a spirit from heaven. Robbie is a native of Los Angeles who works in a car repair shop. Like Daniel Ketch’s human story of an impoverished anxious teenager, Robbie Reyes has an endearing background as he is an orphan working to support his crippled younger brother. He comes upon a ghost-possessed Dodge Charger and used it for a street race. Unknown to him, the car is loaded with an unknown substance sought by a criminal organization. Robbie is later killed in the car but resurrected and possessed by the ghost of a man called Eli Morrow, a Satanist and serial killer. Morrow gives Reyes the same powers as the John Blaze Ghost Rider but rides and commands a flaming version of the charger instead of a motorcycle. Instead of a skull for a head, he wears a skull-stylized flaming helmet. His costume is a nod to Blaze’s old costume.
There’s a ton of storylines for Netflix to take advantage of with these characters. A good suggestion is to go with Daniel Ketch because he lives in New York and it will be easier to integrate him with the first batch of Netflix characters. He also has a set of good stories and villains courtesy of writer Howard Mackie. Audiences had a bad taste for the John Blaze character, so it’s logical to go for another identity with the promise of a John Blaze connection and eventual return.