Spoilers for Marvel Legacy #1
With this week's premiere of Marvel Legacy #1, the future of the comic book universe has once again been changed. After the alterations from Secret Wars and Secret Empire, things are in disarray. But Marvel's newest initiative aims to set things straight by bringing back classic elements and characters and marrying them with newer heroes and concepts. The blueprint for all of this is the oversize one-shot Legacy which asks just as many questions as it answers.
While telling the story of Odin, the Phoenix Force, and the original Black Panther, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, and Starbrand, Marvel examines the current state of its universe. Along the way, Captain America begins a new journey, Wolverine returns from the dead, and the history of the Avengers is rewritten with the addition of a new member. For Ghost Rider fans, the series also establishes an exciting new status quo. Not only did we get to see an ancient Rider who rides a Mammoth, but Robbie Reyes gains a classic power.
In the present day, the current Starbrand picks a fight with Ghost Rider in an effort to prevent him from uncovering an ancient Celestial buried underground. Starbrand's considerable power almost defeats Robbie, until he unleashes his Penance Stare. Considering all the people Starbrand has killed, from two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents just moments before to the dozens of classmates he killed when his powers awakened, the pain proves too much. Starbrand explodes, leaving only his mark behind.
While Robbie seems to brush off this death rather easily, Starbrand did appear to be less of a hero and more of a homicidal maniac in the moment. What the future holds for the character is unknown, but the Ghost Rider looks to have an exciting one.
When Robbie Reyes was introduced as the All-New Ghost Rider, his look and choice of vehicle set him apart. Soon enough, however, it was discovered that he wasn't possessed by a Spirit of Vengeance like previous Riders. Instead, the ghost of his serial killer uncle was inside of him. Mostly, this meant that Robbie had a different set of demons to face as he still had many of the standard Ghost Rider abilities. The main one he lacked, however, was the Penance Stare—until now.
The Penance Stare is one of the most powerful abilities a Ghost Rider has. Only able to be used on the guilty, the Stare conjures up all the pain the target has ever inflicted on an individual. The more harm they've done, the more it burns. Despite Kevin Connor being presented as a somewhat innocent kid, the destruction he's caused as Starbrand made the effect of the Penance Stare on him deadly. It also means Robbie may be turning into a true Spirit of Vengeance.
As part of the new Marvel Legacy line, Johnny Blaze will return to the forefront in Spirits of Vengeance. What this means for Robbie is unknown, but Legacy makes it clear that his future as a Ghost Rider is far from over. As the MCU positions Robbie as a proper Ghost Rider on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it looks as if the comics are attempting something similar.