Hit the Throttle Hard as the Challenge of the Ghost Riders begins!

Lets recap what has been happening to the Hell Riding Spirit of Vengeance

The Many Ghost Riders of the Marvel Universe

     So if you’re a fan of badasses and vengeance then I’m sure you’re a fan of Ghost Rider.  Now with any legacy character the question is who is your favorite rider?  Is it the classic Johnny Blaze, radical 90’s Danny Ketch, lady rider Alejandra Jones, car driven Robbie Reyes, or even cosmic Frank Castle?  Well this July get ready to watch them either come together or face each other in “The Challenge of the Ghost Riders” by Jason Aaron happening in the Avengers book.

So let us go back to last year and revisit the Doctor Strange Damnation event.  Steven Strange tried to fix Las Vegas after the destruction that was visited upon it by Evil Hydra Steve Rogers (Stevil) and when Strange did that it caused Hell on Earth, literally as Mephisto creates Hotel Inferno with all kinds of havoc unleashed.  Now this story by Nick Spencer and Donny Cates brought together all kinds of heroes and Johnny Blaze answered the call.  While taking on Mephisto, Johnny took advantage of Mephisto’s absence in Hell and became the new King of Hell.  Great story and highly recommended, Mitch and I did a podcast over it during our Halloween Heroics and the story is available in trade paperback.  Now if you just want some quick reads then I would recommend Damnation: Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1 (released 3/29/18 and written by Christopher Sebela) and Doctor Strange: Damnation #4 (released 4/25/18) for Johnny’s main parts in the story.  Here are some SPOILERS from that story:

Damnation: Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1, art by Phil Noto
Damnation: Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1, art by Phil Noto
Doctor Strange: Damnation #4, art by Rod Reis
Doctor Strange: Damnation #4, art by Rod Reis

     As you can see from those images, Johnny means business; so what has he been doing since becoming the King of Hell?  It took a while but in the current volume of Avengers by Jason Aaron he has put out some teasing images for us; with issue 16 we see that Robbie Reyes (the current Ghost Rider) is trapped in Hell with a traffic jam, so a guiding voice has been helping him escape and at the end of the issue we discover it was Johnny Blaze and there will be some business between the two as well.  The tease continues in the issue 17 with a panel as well.

Avengers #16, art by David Marquez
Avengers #16, art by David Marquez
Avengers #17, art by David Marquez

     The War of the Realms has been happening as the main Marvel event but has finally come to a conclusion and Daredevil with his newfound vision has let us in on some of the upcoming events that will be happening such as the Hell Race, as shown in Avengers issue 20; now I’m guessing this is referring to the Challenge of the Ghost Riders as both are by Jason Aaron.

Avengers #20, art by Ed McGuinness

     Now Johnny has been very active and has started showing up in other books.  Donny Cates had Blaze come and offer the Cosmic Ghost Rider (a future Frank Castle with the Spirit of Vengeance and Power Cosmic) a chance to race, in the current volume of Guardians of the Galaxy issue 6.  We were also treated to the return of Danny Ketch, who was the big Ghost Rider of the 90’s; over in Marvel Comics Presents issue 6 by Ed Brisson.  Now don’t worry about getting that issue since it will be crazy expensive with the introduction of another Wolverine daughter, just get the second print which has a great Ghost Rider cover anyways.  Johnny made an appearance in that Marvel Comics Presents issue as well and told the villain of the story that he probably won’t like the new management of Hell, right on Johnny!  The second printing of MCP #6 will have Diamond code MAY198638 and be available in comic shops on July 24th.

Guardians of the Galaxy #6, art by Geoff Shaw
Marvel Comics Presents #6, art by Juan Frigeri
Marvel Comics Presents #6, art by Juan Frigeri
Marvel Comics Presents #6, art by Juan Frigeri
Marvel Comics Presents #6 2nd printing cover, art by Juan Frigeri

     Now let us check out some related comics that will be tie-in issues with the Challenge event and also featuring a Ghost Rider:

  • From the June 2019 solicts

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GHOST RIDER VOL. 1 HC
Written by GARY FRIEDRICH with ROY THOMAS, MARV WOLFMAN & DOUG MOENCH
Penciled by MIKE PLOOG, TOM SUTTON & JIM MOONEY with HERB TRIMPE
Cover by MIKE PLOOG
Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider, makes his Marvel Masterworks debut! In 1972, one of the most iconic characters in comics history — the flame-skulled Ghost Rider — burned his demonic presence into readers’ minds! A legion of fans found themselves addicted to the Rider’s combination of hell-on-wheels drama and action-horror adventure. And it all begins here, when Johnny Blaze makes a deal with the devil to save his friend’s life. The payment? Transformation into the Ghost Rider! The stories that follow take the horror hero to Hell to battle Satan, pit him against the tempting Witch-Woman and team him with Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan. Written by Gary Friedrich and gloriously illustrated by Mike Ploog, Tom Sutton and Jim Mooney, this iconic series is beautifully restored for this Marvel Masterworks edition! Collecting MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #5-12 and GHOST RIDER (1973) #1-5.
328 PGS./Rated T …$75.00
ISBN: 978-1-302-91817-0

     Now this is important as we will finally for the first time be getting a collection of the early adventures of Johnny Blaze printed in color with a hardcover edition that will be in comic shops this October.  There are plenty of back issues and also reprints of those as well, but this will be part of the Masterworks series and these are top shelf collections.  With this publication there just might be something happening to the Rider(s) in October that merit this being available to readers. 

  • From the July 2019 solicts

AVENGERS #21
JASON AARON (W) • TBA (A) • COVER BY STEFANO CASELLI
CARNAGE-IZED VARIANT COVER BY TBA
The war is over, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are looking to celebrate. That’s right, there’s a party at Avengers Mountain! But who invited the Squadron Supreme of America?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Avengers #21, art by Stefano Caselli

AVENGERS #22
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
CARNAGE-IZED VARIANT COVER BY JUNGGEUN YOON
THE CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS STARTS HERE!
Robbie Reyes wants to get rid of the flame-headed monster inside him. So it’s time to do the common sense thing: perform an exorcism on his car. Only problem is, Johnny Blaze, the king of Hell, has some plans of his own for the newest Ghost Rider and his Avengers friends.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Avengers #22, art by Stefano Caselli

     From those covers you can see there will be a demonic theme with the Avengers as Mephisto and Johnny grace those covers.  So it looks like the official Challenge will begin and we have Johnny, Danny, and Frank in place.  How will they all tie in with the Avengers and will they all be together or against each other?  Will Robbie have to worry about Johnny since his Spirit of Vengeance is Eli Morrow and was a Satanic Serial Killer; so the Riders might not take a liking to his influence on Robbie and need to get rid of Eli. 

  • From the August 2019 solicts

AVENGERS #23
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
MARVELS 25TH VARIANT COVER BY ALEX ROSS
Bring on the Bad Guys Variant Cover by MIKE MCKONE
AVENGERS MOUNTAIN: POSSESSED as CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS continues!
It’s Ghost Rider vs. Ghost Rider in a wild race through hell, while the Avengers have to fight for their lives against their own Celestial headquarters, which is now possessed by a rather shocking, rather murderous hell-damned soul!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

     From that solicit we now know the Riders will be taking each other on, so how will this Civil War play out?  Are the Riders okay with Johnny being the King of Hell?  Is he using his power for good or evil?  What will Danny Ketch be thinking of all this madness?  Is it Eli Marrow who has possessed Avengers Mountain?  Has Robbie been changed?  Does Cosmic Frank even care?  

  • From the September 2019 solicts

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SYMBIOTE OF VENGEANCE #1
ED BRISSON (W) • JUAN FRIGERI (A) • Cover by PHILIP TAN
CODEX VARIANT COVER BY TBA
VARIANT COVER BY TBA (VIRGIN VERSION ALSO AVAILABLE)
Carnage is hunting down previous symbiote hosts for codices that will unlock a direct link to the symbiote god Knull! And he’s not asking nicely…he’s taking them by force! Which means former Ghost Rider Alejandra Jones is next on his hit list!
With Johnny Blaze preoccupied as Hell’s king, it’s up to Danny Ketch to ride again and keep Alejandra out of Carnage’s clutches!!!
40 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T+ …$4.99

Absolute Carnage: Spirit of Vengeance #1, art by Phillip Tan

AVENGERS #24
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
IMMORTAL WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY TBA
THE CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS!
If the Avengers thought one Ghost Rider was tough to deal with, wait’ll they see how many Spirits of Vengeance have just been unleashed by the King of Hell, Johnny Blaze! Including the craziest, most powerful Rider of them all…That’s right, it’s the Avengers vs. Cosmic Ghost Rider!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Avengers #24, art by Stefano Caselli

THE PUNISHER #15
MATTHEW ROSENBERG (W) • Szymon Kudranski (A) • Cover by GREG SMALLWOOD
IMMORTAL WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY TBA
THE BATTLE OF NEW YORK!
• You can’t fight City Hall…unless, of course, you’re Frank Castle.
• But he won’t fight alone!
• Unfortunately, Zemo’s got his new Thunderbolts, and they’re ready for war.
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

The Punisher #15, art by Greg Smallwood

     Now this month’s set of comics are really exciting…Danny goes to save Alejandra, but did he go on his own or did someone send him?  Will Alejandra be joining in on the Challenge as well?  Cosmic Frank will be fighting the Avengers, so which side will Robbie be taking or is he the reason why they are fighting?  Then a Ghost Rider appears in the Punisher book but we don’t know who it is…and trust me I asked the writer, Matthew Rosenberg.

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     So at the time of this publication that is how far the solicits can take us, so who knows what will happen outside of the conclusion of the Challenge of the Ghost Riders in issue 25 of the Avengers; I know the conclusion will happen here as I checked Amazon for the trade paperbacks and they reported the Avengers by Jason Aaron volume 4 tpb will contain issues 21-25.  Now something else interesting that will be happening as we have heard in other news, the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider will be appearing on the small screen again with a new show on HULU.  Here is the official press release:

Per Marvel and HULU press release: (show will air sometime in 2020)

“Marvel’s Ghost Rider, also known as Robbie Reyes, is a quintessential antihero, consumed by hellfire and supernaturally bound to a demon. Reyes lives on the Texas/Mexico border and when he unleashes the Rider, Robbie brings vengeance for the innocents he encounters, but struggles to control the power he wields. Marvel’s Ghost Rider is executive produced by Ingrid Escajeda, who will serve as showrunner, Paul Zbyszewski and Marvel’s Jeph Loeb.”

     Now it has also been reported that Gabriel Luna will reprise his role as Robbie, which is great and he was awesome in the role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so why this entire hubbub about Ghost Rider?  Well he will start becoming a hot commodity again and I’m also predicting that we will be getting a comic book series again…how do I think this?  Well in October some participating comic shops will be handing out comics as treats as part of Halloween Comic Fest and Marvel will be re-releasing the Johnny Blaze Damnation issue as a new titled book:

Ghost Rider King of Hell #1

(W) Christopher Sebela (A) Phil Noto Johnny Blaze takes the fight to a different devil than he usually faces – Mephisto!  But Mephisto will show Johnny his own brand of suffering – and give Johnny PLENTY of reasons for vengeance.
Rating: Teen

Ghost Rider King of Hell #1, art by Clayton Crain

     Those should be out just in time for the Masterwork and (hopefully) a release of a new Ghost Rider comic title, but how many Riders will it feature?  Who should it feature?  If I had my say I would say call it Ghost Riders and feature Johnny, Danny, Alejandra, and Robbie.  What do you think?  Chime in on our social media and let us know, as always GEEK OUT!

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