SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for "Ghost Rider" #23, on sale now.
Way back in 1990, Marvel Comics fans were introduced to Danny Ketch, who after touching a mystical sigil on an abandoned motorcycle was transformed into the Ghost Rider. At first glance, it looked like Danny had no connection to the previous Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, but the two later learned they were long lost brothers. Danny's exploits as the Ghost Rider came to an end in 1998 when his series ended in an infamous cliffhanger.
Years later, when the Ghost Rider returned, it had bonded once again with host Johnny Blaze. Danny Ketch was nowhere in sight.
Last year, Danny resurfaced in "Ghost Rider Finale," a special issue that wrapped up the unresolved story from his 1990s series, but his ultimate fate remained uncertain.
In this week's "Ghost Rider" #23, the mystery of Danny Ketch's present day whereabouts is finally answered. He's been shadowing his brother Johnny and working for Zadkiel, the renegade angel Blaze is out to destroy. CBR News spoke with "Ghost Rider" writer Jason Aaron about Danny's return and his future plans for the hit title.
Danny Ketch's return to the pages of "Ghost Rider" has been in the works since last year, when Aaron first signed on to take over the book from outgoing writer Daniel Way. "In fleshing out the details of the whole long Blaze vs. Zadkiel storyline with my editors, we realized we needed a lieutenant for Zadkiel's army, an earthly stand-in for him," Jason Aaron told CBR News. "It was editor Aubrey Sitterson who suggested Danny. At first, I wasn't so thrilled with the idea, just because of the whole huge can-of-worms that Danny represents continuity-wise. But the more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it.
"Fans have been begging for Danny to come back ever since his series ended, and I like that we're giving those fans what they want, but just not in the way they expected. And I'm also really excited about the direction things are headed in, and where we'll be taking Danny as a character."
So far, Danny Ketch has directed a militant group of nurses who serve Zadkiel to attack Johnny Blaze, and talked Lucas, a boy capable of providing Blaze with valuable information on Zadkiel, into committing suicide. Both these actions seem to indicate that Danny is a willing participant in Zadkiel's army. "He's not possessed; he's not being mind-controlled. He's not a clone. He's not an evil twin," Aaron confirmed. "This is the real Danny Ketch, who for some reason has made a decision to side with Zadkiel. Some fans will probably be irked by that idea right off the bat, but once all is said and done and they see where we're taking this character, I think they'll be pleased."
The Ghost Rider may have re-bonded with Johnny Blaze, but Danny Ketch's glowing eyes at the end of issue #23 seem to indicate the former host of the Spirit of Vengeance still has some sort of supernatural power. "Does Danny still have his Ghost Rider powers, and if not, how did he lose them?" Aaron teased. "Those are a couple other questions you'll have to wait to get the answers for."
Now that Danny Ketch has stepped out of the shadows, he'll play a huge role in "Ghost Rider" for the foreseeable future. "He'll be getting some face time with Johnny, but not immediately," Aaron said. "Issues #24-25 find Blaze in prison, getting some face time with all the wrong people. And then Danny returns in issue #26, with a few familiar faces in tow. And then things get totally out of control beginning with issue #28, which starts an arc we're calling 'The Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance.'"
In "Ghost Rider" #24-25, Johnny Blaze is behind bars because he wants to be. He's looking for answers on how to get into heaven and get revenge on the angel Zadkiel. Standing in between Blaze and his quest for answers is a man known as The Deacon. "The Deacon is a big, brutal sociopath who has golden daggers that can cut through anything, including the Ghost Rider. Other than that, he's a swell guy," Aaron laughed. "And as you can imagine, putting a Spirit of Vengeance into a maximum security prison is a bit like shoving the fox into the hen house."
Issue #24 is also the debut of artist Tan Eng Huat, who Aaron says is "doing some stunning work with Ol' Flamehead. Tan's work is really elegant and gorgeous, but still visceral when it needs to be. He's doing fantastic work. Just wait until you see his rendition of a few old school Ghost Rider villains in issue #26."
It's not just old school Ghost Rider villains that Aaron has plans for. "'Ghost Rider' hasn't had much of a supporting cast for a while, but we obviously changed that with the return of Danny," said Aaron. "And that cast will continue to grow in the coming months," Aaron remarked. "Look for the return of the hellfire shotgun and the debut of an all-new Caretaker, and a couple other revelations that'll make your head spin."
For months now, Zadkiel has tormented Johnny Blaze without ever actually being seen in the pages of "Ghost Rider." Look for that to change in upcoming issues. "Zadkiel will be showing his face very soon," Aaron confirmed. "And what a handsome looking face it is."
|Pages from "Ghost Rider" #24|
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