Warning: The following contains spoilers for Ghost Rider #2 by Ed Brisson, Aaron Kuder, Craig Yeung, John Lucas, and Luciano Vecchio.
The Penance Stare is one of Ghost Rider's signature moves, as well as one of the most powerful attacks in the Marvel Universe. In Ghost Rider #2, however, Johnny Blaze unleashes a new attack that's even more devastating.
Recently made the new King of Hell, replacing Mephisto, Johnny Blaze's newest mission is to round up a cadre of escaped demons. As these demons are disguised as humans, Blaze employs a new attack to quickly send them back to hell: the Damnation Stare.
Ghost Riders: Hell and Back
During the issue, Blaze attacks a cruise liner, as many of those enjoying its festivities are escaped denizens of hell. These demons, seeing the change in their ruler as a chance to strike out on their own, attempt to forge new lives as humans. They cry in fear, claiming to be reformed, despite having literally sacrificed humans to take on their forms. Johnny Blaze points this out, and violently exclaims how the horde have not reformed as they have claimed. To drive this home, Blaze locks gazes with them with his new Damnation Stare.
This attack judges whether or not the individual being stared down is worthy of remaining in the mortal plane, or if they deserve to be sent straight to hell. Unfortunately for the demons that Blaze uses this on, they fall into the latter category. The result leaves the demon's heads as cindering balls of flame, painfully matching Ghost Rider's own. One demon, who seems to take the Damnation Stare in a burst of hellfire, is left as a crispy, dusty husk. The demons' immortal souls fittingly meet a different type of fire afterwards.
Ghost Rider: Damnation Stare vs. Penance Stare
The Damnation Stare obviously bares a great resemblance to the more common Ghost Rider ability of the Penance Stare. The Penance Stare overwhelms the target with feelings of guilt, remorse and sorrow over the pain they have inflicted upon others throughout their life. Despite now being considered one of the character's trademark moves, it was only introduced in 1991. Here, it was a power wielded by Danny Ketch, the second Ghost Rider. When Johnny Blaze later retook the mantle of Ghost Rider, however, he gained a litany of new powers, including the Penance Stare.
Despite its immense power, the Penance Stare had limitations. It didn't work on people with less or more than two eyes, and was also ineffective on those who were remorseless in their actions, such as Thanos, who actually enjoyed it, or The Punisher, who really just suffered an upset stomach. The Damnation Stare seems to be exclusive to Blaze in his new King of Hell form, and thus, is probably more powerful than even the Penance Stare. It hasn't been shown, however, as to whether or not it can damn anyone, or simply the escaped demons that had once been stuck in hell anyways.
Ghost Rider #2 is available now.