Fans of Marvel’s fiery-noggined antihero Ghost Rider are in luck this year. After a brief absence from the comic book world and an extended one from other media, the gearhead superhero has returned with a vengeance. Early casting news revealed his return to live action on Marvel’s network presence Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, anyone expecting Nicholas Cage’s biker super-skull is a little behind the times.
The latest incarnation, first brought to life in the pages of the Marvel Universe back in 2014, is Robbie Reyes. The supernatural superhero is now poised to make his return in multiple mediums.
Marvel announced today the return of Reyes to the comic book world (via TV Guide). The latest run of Ghost Rider will feature a story from Tradd Moore and will be written by Felipe Smith, the duo who co-created the most recent iteration. Danilo Beyruth will focus on the inside artwork, while Smith will sketch up the covers. While Marvel would love to have planned their new comic series to run alongside Robbie Reyes' entrance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said the relaunch was merely a happy accident. He claims to have recently been “given a heads up about" the TV inclusion, something the MU staff were "very excited" about:
“We were waiting for Felipe's schedule more than anything. I would have loved to have launched it sooner, but he has a prosperous career in animation, we needed the time to carve it up and do it right.”
For those unfamiliar with the comic, the Ghost Rider series has featured several different iterations, beginning with stunt biker Johnny Blaze (portrayed by Cage in the less-than-stellar 2007 and 2012 outings) in 1972. Created by Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich with art by Mike Ploog and Jim Mooney, the series blended Biker, Occult, and Western subgenres. In it, Blaze made a deal with one of Satan’s henchmen to save his father’s life. He’s then bonded with a demon, Zarathos, and gifted with his trademark flaming skull. Compelled to fight evil, he rides his motorcycle against evildoers, dispensing hellfire to right the world’s wrongs.
The modern incarnation, featuring Mexican-American teenager Robbie Reyes, debuted in 2014. Rather than proffering a deal with an arch-demon, Reyes is killed by gangsters while racing and becomes possessed by the spirit of his Satanic, serial killer uncle (shades of Richard Ramirez). Co-creator Smith claimed the latest ‘Rider’ isn’t cursed, though, explaining:
“Prior Ghost Riders were compelled to do good. Robbie makes the choice to do good things, because it's the spirit who compels him to kill.”
Reyes also eschews the biker look, and is instead bound to his uncle’s former vehicle, the Dodge Charger-like car he was racing the night he died. As a result, the latest Ghost Rider drives a muscle car and his head has been reshaped into more of a helmet format – but it’s still his head. As a result, some fans have joked that the latest series feature a ‘Ghost Driver’ rather than Rider. Smith joked back, saying the world already “had Knight Rider, who was also a black car who talked to him.”
This incarnation of Ghost Rider will partake in the entirety of the MU, unlike previous versions who dwelled in the generally separate ‘occult section’ of Marvel’s comic book realms. Fans can expect guest spots from other members of the relaunched “All New, All Different” lineup, including the Invincible Iron Man’s Riri Williams, the X-23-incarnation of Wolverine, Laura Kinney, and the Totally Awesome Hulk, Amadeus Cho. In addition, Marvel’s TV division couldn’t ask for better timing, as Ghost Rider’s rebirth in the pages of Marvel coincides with his introduction the company’s esoteric side on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
With a new comic and a new recurring spot on S.H.I.E.L.D, Ghost Rider and Robbie Reyes visibility is on the rise. There have also been rumblings of a spinoff show surrounding the fiery-headed hero. It will be interesting to see whether his media saturation will encourage a new series or film based on the waxing and waning popularity of the occult antihero. The skull is in Marvel’s court now.
The latest incarnation of Ghost Rider arrives this November from Marvel Comics. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 premieres Tuesday, September 20 @10pm on ABC.
Source: TV Guide