The war against evil in the Marvel Universe spans two fronts. While costumed heroes battle it out with dastardly villains in public, stranger and more monstrous champions contend with the things that lurk in the shadows. Former stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze was once such a champion. As the human host to the Ghost Rider, Blaze regularly transformed into a fiery, skeletal, motorcycle riding entity armed with supernatural powers. Whenever innocent blood was spilled Blaze would change into his alter ego and ride into action, usually against some form of bloodthirsty monster or malevolent demon.
Blaze’s transformations into the Ghost Rider always caused him an incredible amount of physical pain, and battling monsters and mad men led to extensive emotional anguish as well. Blaze thought of the Ghost Rider as a curse and when he was recently offered the chance to rid himself of the Spirit of Vengeance he took it. That chance came at the beginning of writer Rob Williams and artist Matthew Clark’s inaugural arc on the new “Ghost Rider” series. The arc came to a close in issue #4, in stores now, and in it Blaze discovered his decision had consequences. He passed the curse of the Ghost Rider onto a teenage girl and in order to keep the world from being destroyed he had to free her from the forces manipulating her.
What comes next for Johnny Blaze, though? How does he feel about this new direction in his life? As part of CBR’s ALL COMICS EVE Halloween horror fest, we reached out to Williams who set up an appointment for us at a nearby honky-tonk where we got the answers straight from the man himself.
CBR News: Johnny, thanks for doing this. Let’s start off with the big question. Our readers know that you’ve been struggling with the curse of the Ghost Rider for years and it looks like you finally rid yourself of it. How does that feel?
Johnny Blaze: [Triple Bang!!!] That’s the sound of three champagne corks popping, hoss. Feels good to be free, y’know? Damn good. Kinda like when Bowie finally wised up and dissolved Tin Machine. Although that was just two albums whereas I was bonded to a demon, was the Spirit Of Vengeance on this earth and had my head on fire as a profession. If you wanna pick hairs I guess there were differences. Minor ones. But I’m out, baby. The curse is gone and that’s a MAJOR relief.
You may no longer be Ghost Rider, but that doesn’t mean the Spirit of Vengeance is gone. We’ve been hearing reports of a new female Ghost Rider. We understand you’ve had dealings with her? What is she like? Is she dangerous? Does she have the same set of powers you did when you transformed?
Yeah, the new Ghost Rider’s dangerous. Carrie skinny dipping with great white sharks dangerous. Some apocalyptic cowboy named Adam bonded the Spirit Of Vengeance to a teenage girl named Alejandra, some poor orphan he’s trained her entire life to be this incredible warrior. If you’ve been lucky enough to run into me in a bar you’ll know that Johnny Blaze is a laid back, charismatic, ruggedly handsome kind of guy (and I’ll pay you back the money I owe you soon as I’m solvent, OK?). This new Ghost Rider’s different. Got some serious intensity and anger issues on her. Imagine Ray Lewis playing the Steelers with Angelina Jolie’s body and a flaming skeleton for a head. Like that. But weirder. I suppose I feel sorta responsible for her. Been trying to take on a sorta advisory role, you know. I’m Colonel Parker, she’s Elvis, if you get my drift. Just with less cheeseburgers.
This new Ghost Rider isn’t the only supernatural being still in your life. We know you’ve recently been seen in the company of Mephisto, and the last time you two were together it looked like you signed something for him. What was going on there? What made you sign a contract with an infernal being? Isn’t that what got you cursed in the first place?
[cough] Look, sometimes a dude needs a space bike in order to save mankind and, in such circumstance, there ain’t exactly space bike dealerships on every street corner. Mephisto may be a giant, heavily sun burnt pain in the hind quarters but he does good bike, y’know? ‘Sides, I’ve signed so many contracts over the years, I lose track. I believe I was a relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs for half a season in the late ’80s (as far as the IRS are concerned). Never played a game. I signed, I’ll get outta it, somehow.
Based on your adventures so far we’re inclined to believe you. It seems like your recent dealings with the new Ghost Rider came about because of the global panic caused by the Asgardian Fear God known as the Serpent, who was recently taken down by the Avengers. With the Serpent gone and the world seemingly back to normal, what’s next for Johnny Blaze? Are you going to catch up with the new Ghost Rider or are you just going to take things easy for awhile?
Responsibility’s a lot like “American Idol.” You can do your damnedest to avoid it, but eventually you’re going to switch channels and find Ryan Seacrest’s creepy ghoulish smile telling you that you passed on the Ghost Rider to this girl and now it’s YOUR job to try and help her. I may be mixin’ my metaphors there, when I’d much rather be mixin’ a good cocktail. But, bottom line is, this new Ghost Rider’s a weapon that could burn down the world if it gets in the wrong hands. This girl needs help, and I intend to give it.
You’re man who spends most of his time on a motorcycle, so we can imagine helping this new Ghost Rider will take you all over the country and maybe even the globe. Any cities or towns you’re interested in visiting? We hear Vegas is nice this time of year.
I been to Mexico, Nicaragua, hell and outer space of late. Be cool to just kick back and enjoy some leisure time in the near future. And where better for an ex-Ghost Rider to go than Las Vegas? The original Sin City. I hear they got some crazily cool casinos there. One by the name of the Hellagio interests me greatly. Might just stop on by.
While we’re on the topic of travel, let’s talk traveling companions. Recently you’ve been doing a lot of traveling by yourself, so people who don’t know you might assume you’re on your own. You’re not though. You have a brother, Danny Ketch. Have you spoken with him recently? If so, how is he?
THAT DUMB SUMBITCH NEAR WIPED OUT EVERY GHOST RIDER THE WORLD’S EVER KNOWN!! DO NOT MENTION HIS NAME IN MY PRESENCE, Y’UNDERSTAND???
That said, it’s his birthday soon. Better drop him a card. Thanks for the reminder.
No problem. Well Johnny, you’ve been a good sport taking the time to chat with us. So we’re going to go over to the bar and buy you a beer. Before we do that though any last comments you’d like to share with us?
Zzzzzzzzz… [snort] Wha?
Oh yeah… YEAH… sorry, I nodded off there for a second your questions were SO DAMN INTERESTING.
Having said that, I will gladly accept those ten beers you just offered me. And the shots of whiskey that go with them. Thank you kindly for your time.
Be sure to check out all of CBR’s CBR’s ALL COMICS EVE stories and coverage.
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