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Blazing a New Trail: Aaron Talks “Ghost Rider”

by  in Comic News Comment
Blazing a New Trail: Aaron Talks “Ghost Rider”
Jason Aaron’s run begins in “Ghost Rider” #20, on sale February 13

What do you do when you’ve been robbed of any chance for a normal life? When you learn all the pain and misery you’ve suffered is because somebody else made a choice for you? If your name is Johnny Blaze, and you’re host to the Ghost Rider, you’re going to hop on your bike and go looking for payback.  This is the premise that kick starts new writer Jason Aaron’s first arc on Marvel Comics’ “Ghost Rider.” CBR News spoke with Aaron about his plans for the book and his first arc, “Hell-Bent & Heaven Bound.”

It was Aaron’s love of the darker corners of the Marvel Universe that drew him to “Ghost Rider.”  “My favorite Marvel books from the ’70s are the horror titles, like ‘Man-Thing,’ ‘Tomb of Dracula’ and ‘Son of Satan,'” Jason Aaron told CBR News. “And I’d put ‘Ghost Rider’ in that category too, since I’ve never really thought of him as an out-and-out superhero. I jumped at the chance to work on the character.”

Aaron feels the Ghost Rider is a living weapon that’s found a very dangerous and appropriate wielder in the form of Johnny Blaze. “The Ghost Rider is a Spirit of Vengeance, the fuel-injected wrath of God,” said Aaron.  “Its driving impulse is to avenge the blood of the innocent and prune the undesirables from among the human race. And Blaze is its reluctant host.  He’s a loner who was raised in a carnival, a guy who dabbled in Satanism as a kid, and still today doesn’t know quite where he fits in among the framework between heaven and hell.  He’s lost pretty much everyone he’s ever loved over the years, all because of the curse of the Ghost Rider, and the only thing that seems to keep him going day after day is the gravel in his guts and the thirst to make someone pay for what’s happened to him.”

Pages from “Ghost Rider” #20

Aaron’s “Ghost Rider” run launches out of the revelations made about the Rider’s origin at the end of previous writer Daniel Way’s final arc, but it is also very new reader-friendly. The arc begins a short while after Way’s last issue, and finds Johnny Blaze at an emotional low. “He’s basically at the end of his rope,” Aaron remarked. “Here he just scored a big victory against the devil, and he’s thinking he managed to put one over on the bastard who turned his life into a horror show.  But now it turns out that the devil wasn’t even the real culprit.  The devil took advantage of him, sure, but it was heaven that did the most damage.  So now, at long last, Blaze finally knows who was really responsible for turning his life into one huge mess. Forget Satan.  Forget Mephisto.  Forget Zarathos.  Those were all beings that used him, but they weren’t the man at the top.  That dishonor goes to Zadkiel, the renegade angel.  So all that matters to Blaze now is getting his revenge, once and for all.  The only question is how do you get your hands on an angel?

“We don’t really know much about Zadkiel at this point,” Aaron continued. “We haven’t even seen him yet.  All we know is that he’s the head of heaven’s ‘black ops’ division and that he now has his sights set on achieving what Lucifer once failed to do and that’s seize the throne of heaven for himself. In future issues, we’ll learn why heaven needs a black ops division and what exactly that entails.  And we’ll see Zadkiel’s grand plan for a heavenly coup d’état begin to unfold.”

Pages from “Ghost Rider” #20

Johnny Blaze’s hunt for Zadkiel begins in “Ghost Rider” #20, in stores February 13, which kicks off Aaron’s first arc, “Hell-Bent & Heaven Bound.” “It’s a four-part story that takes Blaze to a small town in the mountains of Montana where he finds a young man named Lucas who’s had a near-death experience and come back with a scary story about life on the other side,” Aaron explained. “In order to get any answers from Lucas, Blaze must first fight his way through a bevy of machine-gun toting nurses and race down a haunted stretch of roadway, all the while unaware of the infernal machinations going on all around him, under the watchful gaze of Zadkiel and his mysterious lieutenant. 

“There’ll be action aplenty; action that serves to put the ‘Rider’ back in ‘Ghost Rider.’  But also some quiet character moments that help to explore the darker edge that I think makes Johnny Blaze one of the Marvel Universe’s most interesting characters. The arc features stories entitled ‘Machine Gun Nurses A-Go-Go,’ ‘Deathrace on Ghost Cannibal Highway’ and ‘Mondo Mayhem in the Mighty Marvel Manner.’ What more do you need to know?”

Pages from “Ghost Rider” #20

Following “Hell-Bent & Heaven Bound,” the story of “Ghost Rider” will span both the Earth and other planes of existence.  “Blaze and Ghost Rider will be traveling all over the country and even to the far corners of the globe, looking for answers,” Aaron said.  “Along the way, we’ll get hints and glimpses of what’s going on in the afterlife. We’ll also be introduced to a few new supporting players and we’ll even witness the return of a few characters from the past.”

Aaron’s plans for “Ghost Rider” call for Johnny Blaze to stick to his own personal road of vengeance and to stay off of the six-lane highway of the larger Marvel Universe. “Other than the occasional guest star, Ghost Rider will remain confined to his own little corner of the Marvel U, which I think is when he works best,” Aaron remarked. “Right now, Blaze basically doesn’t give a damn who is or isn’t a Skrull or if Captain America is really dead.  He’s got his own problems to worry about and everybody else can go to hell.”

“Ghost Rider” #21 and #22

Joining Aaron in chronicling Johnny Blaze’s quest for vengeance is new “Ghost Rider” artist Roland Boschi. “Roland is an incredibly talented young artist and brings a really dynamic style to ‘Ghost Rider,’ especially the action scenes,” Aaron stated. “Wait until you see him get to totally cut loose in issue #22.”

Aaron promises his “Ghost Rider” run will be a turbocharged blend of action, horror, and gritty character moments. He also wants to reassure fans the recent revelation about Ghost Rider being a member of the Heavenly Host doesn’t change a thing about the character.  Aaron said, “Let’s get just one thing straight: he may be an angel now, but he’s still not taking any shit.”

Now discuss this story in CBR’s Marvel Comics forum.

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