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Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze/Daniel Ketch)

Fictional character biography

Cover to Ghost Rider #1, September, 1973. Art by Gil Kane. © Marvel Comics. Ghost Rider
Cover to Ghost Rider #1, September, 1973. Art by Gil Kane. © Marvel Comics.

Johnny Blaze, a stunt daredevil, was the son of Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale, born in Waukegan,
Illinois. He spent his early years in the Quentin Carnival where his parents starred in a stunt show with Craig “Crash” Simpson. Blaze’s family had ended when his mother abandoned Barton and Johnny and took the family’s remaining two children, Barbara and Danny, with her.

Losing his mother caused Blaze to repress many of his memories of her and his siblings. When his father died in a stunt, Blaze was adopted by Crash and Mona Simpson. The Simpsons helped Blaze by fabricating his past with the hope that it would be less painful than the truth. Now believing that his real mother was Clara Blaze, who had died, Blaze became an enthusiastic member of the Simpson clan, growing closer to their daughter, Roxanne. The two soon became inseparable and, as they grew older their fondness for one another moved beyond familiar.

Blaze would eventually join the Simpsons into their own traveling stunt show — the Crash Simpson Stunt Cycle Extravaganza. Crash had become a real father figure in Blaze’s eyes, and on learning of Crash’s life-threatening cancer, Blaze turned to the occult. His studies led him to a spell which supposedly could summon Satan himself. Johnny was unaware that he in fact had summoned Mephisto. Desperate to save him, Blaze sold his soul to Mephisto in return for Crash’s cancer to be cured.

Crash Simpson’s cancer was cured or at least Johnny believed it was, although Crash died soon after in a stunt trying to Jump over 22 cars. Mephisto, when confronted by Blaze over Crash’s death, declared that he had kept his end of the bargain. Johnny’s exact words in the bargain had been for Crash to be spared the disease which was killing him, not for the cancer to be cured, though this had been Johnny’s intent. True to his word, Mephisto had ensured that Crash had not died of cancer, but instead had lost his life during the failed Jump, which Mephisto quickly pointed out when he came to claim his prize. Blaze, still at the mercy of Mephisto, believed he would lose his soul until he was saved by Roxanne. Roxanne proclaimed her love for Blaze, and drove Mephisto away with the purity of her emotion.

Blaze was unaware that Mephisto had bonded him with the demon Zarathos as an act of revenge for not being able to obtain Johnny’s soul for himself. Johnny was transformed into a Ghost Rider, a leather-clad skeleton, his head cloaked in a sheath of flame, the night after Crash’s death. While Johnny still had his soul, he was forced to punish the wicked and evil upon Mephisto’s demands whenever needed. Whenever he was in the presence of evil he would transform into the Ghost Rider, to exact the devil’s revenge, returning the evil to Hell. Blaze was not completely lost in the transformation however, and would also help the innocent when they were in danger.

As the Ghost Rider, he encountered Daimon Hellstrom. Johnny later came to work as a movie stuntman for Delazny studios. As the Ghost Rider, he teamed with Morbius, Man-Thing, and Werewolf by Night. He lost a motorcycle stunt riding championship to Flagg Fargo, and later came to work as a stunt rider for the Quentin Carnival. Eventually, Zarathos would gain control of Johnny Blaze, and the Ghost Rider would become the spirit of Zarathos unleashed. Johnny himself was becoming stronger as well, and the conflicting personalities led to a battle over Blaze’s physical body.

Centurious appeared, stealing Blaze’s soul into his soul crystal. Zarathos, weakened from the ordeal used the last of his strength to shatter the crystal, freeing Blaze’s soul and many others contained inside of the crystal as well. Before the crystal was reformed, Centurious was absorbed into the crystal. Zarathos followed him into the crystal, freeing Blaze from the curse, restoring his soul, and ending his time as the Ghost Rider.

For a while, Johnny became a drifter and then an adventurer. He eventually became the owner of the carnival. In time, he learned of the existence of Daniel Ketch as the Ghost Rider. Believing the new Ghost Rider to be Zarathos, Johnny traveled to New York City to kill him. Johnny abducted Ketch and battled the Ghost Rider. Johnny became convinced that Ketch was not Zarathos, and aided him against Blackout. Alongside the Ghost Rider and Spider-Man, Blaze then fought the Hobgoblin. He also helped Ghost Rider and the X-Men battle the Brood Queen.

He later teamed up with the new Ghost Rider to form the “Spirits of Vengeance”. During this time Blaze would again ride a bike with wheels on fire and would sling a hellfire spitting pump-gun. Their mentor Caretaker would later reveal that they were in fact brothers. In the team’s first appearance, they battled Lilith and her Lilin.

Blaze went back to leading his carnival. Despite it being staffed with many powerful entities, it was nearly destroyed in a demonic attack led by the creature Vengeance. The dead, friend and foe alike, were taken by government forces to be dissected. Blaze, with the help of friends, living and dead, breaks into the facility and destroys all the bodies.

A later confrontation with the forces of evil would lead to Roxanne’s death. Blaze would later become a demon hunter and hunt down the demons responsible for her death and kill them all. Roxanne was later discovered to have been resurrected as or simply transformed into the being named The Black Rose. She was later returned to Johnny, despite memory loss, in the final issue of the Dan Ketch series of Ghost Rider. Roxanne’s current status is unknown, as she hasn’t appeared in any Ghost Rider comics since, outside of flashbacks.

The Hammer Lane

Starting over, Blaze eventually found a new job as an accountant and a new girlfriend, Chloe, in the 2001 Marvel Knights series The Hammer Lane. Though free from the curse and with his soul back, Johnny would eventually transform back into Ghost Rider, through means unknown. Johnny encountered an old man who seemed to know about the recent return of the Ghost Rider, and claimed that the current woes of the former stunt cyclist were due to the fact that he needed to learn to forgive himself for his past mistakes and move on with his life.

This Ghost Rider entity spoke only a singular line, and was much more savage than Noble Kale. However, there is no indication as to who or what this creature was. This entity would appear not to be Zarathos, who is either dead or else is trapped within his own body which had been turned to stone. However, Zarathos and Centurious were believed to have been trapped within the Soul Crystal for the rest of eternity which itself was shown in the hands of Mephisto, so the possibility that this Ghost Rider is an incarnation of Zarathos isn’t an impossibility.

Johnny Blaze soon found himself constantly pursued by demons of Hell, intent on forcing him to make good on the demonic pact he had made. It was all that the Ghost Rider could do to out-run the evil, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually, Johnny was captured and taken to Hell.

The Road to Damnation

The Road to Damnation series, by Garth Ennis & Clayton Crain, finds Johnny Blaze trapped in an endless cycle of torture and escape in the pit. It is here that the angel Malachi appears to the Ghost Rider, offering to free him from Hell with his soul intact, in exchange for hunting down the demon Kazann who has been unleashed upon the earth.

Malachi tells Blaze that the only way he will be freed from Hell permanently is to beat the Archangel Ruth to Kazann, in order to stave off the destruction that she will cause should she fight him. Along the way, Blaze meets a demon, Hoss, who is also in pursuit of Kazann, and offers to help the Ghost Rider since they are after the same goal.

Hoss and Blaze fight with Ruth and she steals his bike, they pursue her in Hoss’s Cadillac. When they arrive to where Ruth is Kazann is already free, thanks to the efforts of a corrupt paraplegic business owner named Earl Gustav. Hoss and Ruth fight while Blaze battles Kazann, who lets Johnny know he’s been duped by Malachi. As this happens Gustav’s secretary, Jemima Catmint, makes her boss recite an incantation that sends Kazaan back to Hell. Johnny thinks he’s free, but gets shot in the head by a dying priest (whom he had blasted with hellfire earlier) with a holy bullet and is sent back to Hell. He confronts Malachi who reveals that he tricked Johnny. Johnny threatens to kill him, but is prevented from doing so by Ruth, who kills him herself. Hoss appears, and reveals that Kazann and Malachi were actually brothers, who passed information to each other about Heaven and Hell. Once Kazann escaped from Hell, Malachi needed to find someone (Ghost Rider) to get him back before Ruth, in order to prevent Kazann from spilling the beans about Malachi exchanging secrets of Heaven with him while he was being tortured by angels.

Vicious Cycle

In July 2006, a new ongoing monthly series began with a story titled Vicious Cycle, which was written by Daniel Way with art by Mark Texeira and Javier Saltares (the same artistic team from the 1990s series). The storyline takes place after the Ennis miniseries, and features Johnny Blaze finally escaping hell.

Blaze’s escape is a plot engineered by Lucifer himself, as when Johnny escapes from Hell the devil comes with him. During a battle at a gas station, Blaze defeats the corpse of a recently-deceased father that has been animated by the Devil. Detecting the magical disturbance caused by Ghost Rider’s escape, Doctor Strange investigates the situation, but, believing Doctor Strange to be Lucifer in disguise, Blaze attacks him, and for the first time he uses the Penance Stare, debilitating Dr. Strange. It is then that the celestial being Numecet appears and reveals the intent of Lucifer to Blaze. She tells Johnny Blaze that he is stronger than he can comprehend and is a vital part of Lucifer’s plans, as he intends for the Ghost Rider to kill each of the bodies he has possessed. It is revealed that when Lucifer traveled to the mortal realm his essence shattered and spread to 666 recently deceased people — each one of them resurrected and imbued with a portion of the devil’s strength.

In order to reform his body each one of the human hosts has to die, but they cannot die from suicide as that is a sin and would send the devil back to hell. As each one falls the remaining will become even stronger, and Ghost Rider must kill them because the remaining bodies will become so powerful that no other being could kill them. Numecet attempts to dissuade Blaze but to no avail.

Civil War

Johnny ends up in Sleepy Hollow, Illinois where a serial killer is decapitating local children and soon learns his identity: the supervillain known as Jack O’Lantern. Killed by the Punisher, Stevie Levins’ body is occupied by one of the several aspects of Lucifer. The local Sherrif thinks Blaze is to blame but soon realizes the truth. Ghost Rider and The Sherrif confront Levins/Lucifer at the door of a Preacher’s house, and after a short fight Ghost Rider tears out Levins/Lucifer’s heart and smashes his head.

World War Hulk

Johnny Blaze angers the Ghost Rider when he tries to save several people and allows the Lucifer fragment they were currently fighting to escape. Later after watching a broadcast on T.V., Blaze decides to go to New York and fight the Hulk, against the Ghost Rider’s will. The issue ends with Ghost Rider coming to a halt on his motorcycle in front of the Hulk.

After attempting to urge the Hulk to stop, Ghost Rider engages the Hulk. Their battle is monitored by Doctor Strange and Mister Fantastic. Dr. Strange believes that the demonic entity that supplies Ghost Rider’s mystic power is possibly capable of defeating the Hulk, stating that his powers are limitless, and only inhibited by the human side of the Ghost Rider, even going as far as to call his powers “godlike”. However, as it is Ghost Rider, not the fully powered Zarathos who is engaging the Hulk, the Hulk easily defeats Ghost Rider. After the battle, the true Zarathos emerges to face the Hulk, but Ghost Rider regains control of the shared body and rides off because, as Dr. Strange says in the end of the issue, Ghost Rider protects only the innocent, which none of the Illuminati are.

Powers and abilities

The common theme of the Ghost Rider is a human host who transforms into a flaming-headed motorcyclist with supernatural powers. When riding their bikes, the vehicles can travel faster than conventional motorcycles and can maneuver impossible feats such as riding straight up a vertical surface or across water.

Initially when transformed, Blaze’s motorcycle would simply catch fire. Later, he could create a cycle made of pure flame (hellfire). Hellfire is a supernatural flame which typically burns the soul and not the body, but also could be used as regular flame. Projecting hellfire as a weapon is his main form of attack. He also possesses supernatural strength and resilience, as well as almost total invulnerability to physical damage. Any damage he does take is quickly recovered, as Ghost Rider is made of pure hellfire, which he can use to immediately regenerate any lost limbs or holes in his body

For a time, when Daniel Ketch was the Ghost Rider, Johnny did not have his typical powers. Instead, he wielded a shotgun that fired mystical force-blasts and rode a mystic motorcycle (both somehow empowered by exposure to Ketch’s hellfire).

In the newest incarnation of Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider, another main weapon in his arsenal has been his chain, which was first used by the Dan Ketch Ghost Rider. The chain, much like the rest of Ghost Rider, is made of hellfire given a solid physical substance. Ghost Rider can control the exact movement of the chain with his mind, allowing it to do things normal chains cannot, such as reach vast distances and wrap around enemies without fail. The chain is seemingly unbreakable. This incarnation’s most powerful weapon is the “Penance Stare”. When he locks eyes with his victim, he can make them experience all the pain and suffering that they have inflicted on everyone in their lifetime, permanently damaging their soul in the process.

The entity which is the current source of Ghost Rider’s power has been described by Doctor Strange, the Sorceror Supreme of Earth, to possesses sufficient mystical power to challenge the Green Scar incarnation of the Hulk, as shown in World War Hulk.

Originally Posted by Phaedros of Dicefreaks
On this Thread

Daniel Ketch, Ghost Rider
Medium Outsider (Chaotic, Good)
Wounds: 80 WP Vitality: 675 VP (25d12+300)
Initiative: +9
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 42 (+5 Dex, +25 natural, +2 armor), touch 15, flat-footed 37
Base Attack/Grapple: +25/+40
Attack: Unarmed strike +41 melee (2d8+17/19-20) or chain +45 (1d10+20/19-20)
Full Attack: Unarmed strike +41/+36/+31/+26 (2d8+17/19-20) or chain +45/+40/+35/+30 (1d10+20/19-20)
Space/Reach: 5 ft. /5 ft.
Special Attacks: Penance stare, hellfire burst
Special Qualities: Demonic form, spirit of vengeance, vengeance never dies
Saves: Fort +35, Ref +19, Will +21
Abilities: Str 40, Dex 20, Con 40, Int 16, Wis 24, Cha 24
Feats: Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Great Cleave, Improved Critical (unarmed), Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (unarmed)
Epic Feats: Overwhelming Critical (unarmed), Legendary Tracker
Climate/Terrain: Any Land
Organization: Solitary (unique) or pair (with Blaze)
Challenge Rating: 30
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic good
Advancement: By character class

Spirit of Vengeance: Dan Ketch can transform himself into Ghost Rider by touching a mystical amulet on his motorcycle. It gives him the following abilities.
+15 bonus to Intimidate checks.
Can lift x5 what his Strength score would indicate.
Can sense the harming of an innocent within a 20 mile radius.
Bonus feats: Diehard, Endurance, Epic Fortitude, Great Fortitude, Track.
Darkvision.
Double wound points and maximum VP per HD.
Favored enemy (the guilty). Ghost Rider receives a +5 bonus to locate and destroy those guilty of crimes against the innocent.
Ghost Rider’s presence causes fear to all that can see him (Will DC 17).
Ghost Rider’s unarmed strikes inflicts 2d8 damage.
Improved mettle.

Penance Stare: Ghost Rider can look into the eyes of his enemy and force the guilty to feel the pain they have inflicted on the innocent. Resisting it requires a Will save (DC31) or the criminal is paralyzed with fear and agony for 2d10 hours.

Demonic Form: Ghost Rider is resistant to most forms of physical attack beyond the mystical.

  • +25 natural armor rating.
  • Damage reduction 25/-.
  • Immune to fire, cold, and electricity.
  • Acid and sonic resistance 50.
  • Immune to ability drain, critical hits, death effects, disease, domination, poison, sleep, and transmutation.
  • Regeneration 5. Ghost Rider must heal naturally from magical or unholy damage.

Hellfire Bursts: Any slashing attack that does more then 10 points of damage to Ghost Rider causes a burst of hellfire from his injury. This burst inflicts 4d6 damage to the attacker. Half this damage is fire and half is unholy. Ghost Rider can remove his gloves to cause this damage with his unarmed attacks, though he rarely does so.

Vengeance Never Dies: If any attack inflicts enough damage to destroy Ghost Rider, his body seems to perish, usually in a burst of hellfire. Ghost Rider will reform at the site of such a destruction within 10 rounds. He will be at full health and usually angry.

Vulnerability: Ghost Rider is vulnerable to magic assaults. He suffers a -2 penalty on saves against spells. Ghost Rider takes double damage from unholy attacks such as hellfire.

Possessions:

Riding Leathers: Ghost Rider wears heavy black riding leather. It gives him a +2 bonus to his AC, and the spiked gauntlets increase his unarmed damage by +2.

Mystical Chain: Ghost Rider carries a mystical chain he can use in combat. It is an exotic weapon for anyone but Ghost Rider. The chain has a +5 bonus to attack and damage rolls, and inflicts 1d10 damage with a range of 60 feet (the chain can magically change in length).

Ghost Rider can fling the chain in front of him turning it into a hail of razor sharp links which inflict 1d4 each. The chain turns into 50 such links. They can be targeted at a single target or broken up in any ratio across any area within 100 feet of Ghost Rider. The chain automatically reforms on Ghost Rider’s person within two rounds of such an attack.

When using his chain, Ghost Rider is considered to have Exceptional Deflection, Infinite Deflection, and Improved Critical (spiked chain), Weapon Focus (spiked chain), and Whirlwind Attack.

Mystical Bike: Dan Ketch’s ordinary-looking motorcycle turns into the flaming ride of the Spirit of Vengeance. The motorcycle travels at a speed of 150 ft. It features a battering ram on the front that inflicts 2d10 damage and the bike is considered a Huge creature for overrun and bull rush attempts. Ghost Rider receives a +25 bonus on any checks to control or use his motorcycle. If destroyed, the bike reforms in 10 rounds.

Written by Bane.

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