WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Doctor Strange: Damnation #2
Marvel's Avengers just got a demonic upgrade by being transformed into a team of Ghost Riders. In the new limited series, Doctor Strange: Damnation, the five of Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Hawkeye, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Thor, and Falcon - wind up under the thrall of Mephisto's magic, well known to Marvel Comics fans as the demon lord of Hell. And in Issue #2, Doctor Strange himself falls victim to the same Ghost Rider curse.
The Avengers are just the latest comic characters to take on the demonic mantle. Though "Johnny Blaze" is the name most commonly associated with Ghost Rider, the Spirit of Vengeance, others have hosted it to some major storylines and battles. Blaze wasn't the first or the last person to sell his soul to the Devil, succeeded by Danny Ketch in the 1990s and most recently, the car-driving Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes. The Robbie Reyes version of the character is what fans saw in season 4 of Agents of SHIELD. Speaking of which, Even S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Phil Coulson became the Ghost Rider for a very brief period.
The five-part miniseries Doctor Strange: Damnation sees the Master of the Mystic Arts battle Mephisto, who has taken over Las Vegas (and turned it into an even more depraved den of sin). In the first issue, the Avengers try to defeat his forces themselves, but end up writhing in pain before bursting into flames as a new team of Ghost Riders, complete with skull heads. It's all part of a wager that Doctor Strange made with Mephisto, hoping to drive out the demonic lord.
As a result, he too becomes a Ghost Rider-fied version of himself in Doctor Strange: Damnation #2. Take a look:
While this madness is unfolding in Vegas, Doctor Strange's ally Wong has recruited a new team of Midnight Sons, including the original Ghost Rider, Elsa Bloodstone, Iron Fist, Blade, Moon Knight, Doctor Voodoo, and Man-Thing to assist him in saving Doctor Strange and defeating Mephisto. Standing in their way are the newly-turned Ghost Riders, whose super powers make them even more powerful than your average Spirit of Vengeance. Maintaining their particular weapons and powers, Hawkeye now shoots flaming arrows, while Thor's hammer is covered in flames instead of lightning. Doctor Strange - who doesn't emerge until the final page of the issue - is likely the most powerful of all six Ghost Riders, considering his magical abilities and Hellfire could create a deadly combination.
Doctor Strange and the Avengers just the latest Marvel heroes to enjoy a new resurgence in popularity of the burning biker. In the alternate future storyline being told in the Thanos comic series, the Punisher became a cosmic Ghost Rider and a Herald of Galactus. The popularity of the character has even led Marvel to give the hero his own comic book series, Cosmic Ghost Rider. Could it be that turning iconic characters into Ghost Riders may catch on, much like Marvel's decision to "Venomize" heroes like Captain America and Wolverine?
Doctor Strange: Damnation #2 is on sale now from Marvel.