Double-Sized Badass Panels: Ghost Rider Rocks Your Face
Badass Week Continues on the ISB!
(Click for the Full-Size Version!)
Remember, kids: Voting for the ISB's Toughest Man In Comics competition is open until Thursday night at midnight, so if you haven't already, hit up the comments section for last night's post and cast your vote for one of the six nominees.
Tonight, however, as we delve into the second day of my week-long celebration of the most hardcore comics ever printed, we take a look at the Ghost Rider, who, despite not making the list of candidates, is the most supernatural badass of all.
"But Chris!" you may well be asking. "What about Jack Kirby's fin-headed Satanic monstrosity--Etrigan the Demon, who once told the reader that he was going to unleash every horrible thing their minds could imagine?!"
To that, I say simply this: Here's a picture of Etrigan hugging an old man.
And, just for comparison, here's how Ghost Rider deals with the elderly.
For further reference, I point you to tonight's double-sized collection of Ghost Rider's most badass moments.
Ghost Rider #63
Script: Michael Fleisher
Art: Luke McDonnell and Sal Trapani
Those of you who've been keeping up with the ISB in recent weeks have probably become more familiar with Champions-era Johnny Blaze than you've ever wanted to be, but the fact remains: That guy was pretty lame.
Back then, he used to ride around on a motorcycle with a weird skull-shaped windshield with his head bursting into flames every time there was danger (which, considering he was riding around Los Angeles on a goofy-looking motorcycle with his head on fire, probably happened a lot), occasionally breaking into fits of intense and sustained whining.
Ghost Rider #63 changed all that. Because This is the issue where it was made abundantly clear that Johnny Blaze was a man with a demon living inside him. A demon that jumps through a train on a motorcycle made of fire on page two.
Before we move on, I feel that I should point out that the barely-legible caption in the upper-left is someone in the comic shouting the phrase: "HE'S CRASHIN' THROUGH THE FREAKIN' TRAIN!" Because when someone does something that awesome, it has to be said out loud.
Anyway, while Johnny's out crashin' through freakin' trains and--after he wakes up--getting himself a job at the Quentin Carnival, his old foe the Orb--who, in case you somehow missed out on the pure genius that was mid-70s Marvel, is a biker who wears a helmet shaped like a giant hypnotic eyeball that also shoots lasers--is up to no good. And in this case, "No good" means "stealing a bunch of money to buy a better helmet laser."
And buy a new laser he does, eventually attacking Johnny Blaze and forcing him to transform into the Ghost Rider--who, at this time, was still controlled by Johnny's personality. But what with all the eyeball-shaped missiles new super-lasers, Johnny can't possibly defeat the Orb, and he ends up cowering in pain as the Orb gloats in triumph.
And then this happens:
That sound you hear is the Comics Code's prohibitions against the supernatural being shattered beyond all recognition.
Shortly thereafter, Ghost Rider sets him on fire, destroys his motorcycle, and leaves him to die in the desert, and that, just so you know, is why people prefer the Johnny Blaze version of Ghost Rider. Dan Ketch was bonded to the soul of a well-meaning Puritain named Noble Kale who sought to avenge the innocent.
Blaze was cursed with a vengeful demon from the darkest depths of Hell. Contest: Over.
Ghost Rider #67
Story: J.M. DeMatteis
Art: Don Perlin, Dave Simmons, and Tom Sutton
This one may start off like an old urban legend, but trust me: By the end of the issue, you will be freaking out.
Our story begins with Johnny riding around--at night, in the rain, wearing sunglasses-- when he chances upon a young lady in need of a lift, and offers to take her a few miles down the road to her house. Shortly thereafter, he runs across a couple of guys having car trouble, and since he's a pretty decent fellow (you know, aside from that little Devil-worshiping he picked up in his younger days), he stops to help out. But alas, it's just a setup by local douchebag Jock Parker and three other dudes who want to beat the living hell out of someone for kicks.
Normally, this is where peoples' souls would be burned away by the mephitic fires of Hell Itself!, but by this point, Johnny's realized that yes: The Ghost Rider is a demon living in his soul, and has resolved to not let him out, no matter the cost. It gives the story a good kind of Incredible Hulk drama to it, but let's face it: Bruce Banner doesn't have to worry about being dragged alive to eternal torment at the hands of Satan, now does he?
Unfourtunately, once he's knocked unconscious, it's time for Zarathos to show up, and he wastes no time hopping on his hell-fire motorcycle and running the jerks off the road before collapsing back into Johnny Blaze, who staggers to a nearby house, where a kindly old woman takes him in.
The next day, with Johnny's memory slightly fogged from getting beaten down, the woman, Mrs. Stanton, relates the story of how her daughter Sally was killed by a drunk driver--the same Jock Parker from the previous night--then gives Johnny some cash to fix his bike and send him into town. Unforunately, he runs across Parker again, this time at the auto garage where he goes for parts--but with the hazy memory, he doesn't recognize him until Mrs. Stanton tells him back at the house.
Jock figures Johnny was just being a badass and has plans to call the cops, so he gathers his crew and they roll over to the Stanton household, dragging Johnny out of the house, tying him to a tree, and beating him with baseball bats, and all the while he's struggling to keep from releasing the Ghost Rider and burning them all to a crisp.
Mrs. Stanton, on the other hand, is all about getting some revenge, and is halfway out the door with her shotgun when the girl that Johnny picked up earlier--the ghost of her daughter Sally, natch--shows up and tells her that vengeance isn't the way to go, and offers to show her how ugly and brutal vengeance can be.
You may have noticed, by this point, that this particular installment of Badass Panels has been a bit lacking in the "Panels" department. That's because it's all been leading up to this.
You want to see vengeance, Mrs. Stanton? Well let's see what happens when Sally unleashes THE TERRIBLE CURSE OF JONATHAN BLAZE!
Okay, that guy? He's probably still alive.
And this one? He's young. He might walk again.
But this guy?
Yeah, sorry: That dude's dead.
And that's not even the best part. Because then Ghost Rider turns on Jock Parker, viciously beating him until he's crawling, begging for his life, begging for mercy:
You are vermin, Jock Parker! You are human slime! I'll waste no hell-fire on the likes of you!
No...I'll send you into death's icy embrace--WITH MY OWN BARE HANDS!"
"See, mom? I told you that shit was hardcore."
(Special thanks to Scott Simmons (Ghost Rider supervisor - Columbia) for shouting "I'll send you to hell with my bare hands!" across my cell phone tonight.)
The Badass Panels Archive: Prepare Your Face For Permanent Rocking:
| Volume One: Captain America #194 |
| Volume Two: Ode to Punching |
| Volume Three: The Question #2 |
| Volume Four: Impulse #3 |
| Volume Five: Batman Adventures #3 |
| Volume Six: Iron Man #200 |
| Volume Seven: Daredevil #276 |