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Flames of Truth: Way Talks “Ghost Rider”

by  in Comic News Comment
Flames of Truth: Way Talks “Ghost Rider”
“Ghost Rider” #17 on sale now – check out our 6-page preview here

The Devil’s been running loose in the Marvel Universe for over a year now, but if Ghost Rider has his way that’s going to change very soon. “Revelations,” the current storyline in “Ghost Rider,” marks not only the final stage in the conflict between Lucifer and the Spirit of Vengeance, also the final storyline for series writer Daniel Way. With “Ghost Rider” #17 on sale now, we spoke with Way about the arc and his bittersweet departure from the book he helped make a success.

In “Ghost Rider” #14, the first chapter of “Revelations.” Johnny Blaze devised a plan to banish the remaining Lucifer fragments, and although Johnny’s reputation as a screw-up may precede him, it doesn’t mean his plan is destined for failure. “Even a broken clock is right twice a day,” Daniel Way told CBR News. The writer has kept the exact details of Johnny’s plan a secret, but readers saw hints of it in “Ghost Rider” #14, which featured  the Rider dispatching a number of the Lucifer avatars in a variety of spectacular ways. “Johnny had to establish some ground rules with Ghost Rider, which were basically no human casualties. By the end of the arc if you go back reread that issue you’ll see that Blaze lets Ghost Rider loose exactly when he should.

“Also, we didn’t want it to be all of the sudden there were just two Lucifer fragments left,” Way continued. “That issue is supposed to show a lot. There will be many more Lucifer avatars along the way but eventually we’ll whittle it down to a final confrontation.”

“Ghost Rider” #18 on sale in December

In issue #16, “Revelations” Part 3, Ghost Rider cryptically remarked to a Lucifer fragment that he’s got help with his plan, which left some to wonder if Ghost Rider was only referring to Johnny Blaze’s trucker girlfriend, Dixie, or some other assistants. “He’s definitely referring to Dixie but there are other pieces involved as well,” Way confirmed. “He’s gotten one really big one by the end of that issue.”

In Issue #17 of “Ghost Rider” is on sale now, and in it, Ghost Rider finds an unlikely ally in his campaign against the Lucifer fragments, the devil himself! “Lucifer is about to fall victim to his own nature,” Way explained. “[Ghost Rider’s] plan hinges on all these little pieces of Lucifer playing ball accordingly. They can’t kill themselves but 665 of them need to die so one can remain. But as the numbers go down and the fewer pieces become more powerful every one of them starts to want to be the one that stays. That’s the nature of Lucifer he’s always thought highly of himself. So at a certain point one of these avatars will reach out to Ghost Rider and say, ‘You want to kill them and so do I! So let’s work together to fix those backstabbing sons of bitches and then we can settle this you and me.'”

Pages from “Ghost Rider” #18

For a storyline called “Revelations,” the first three chapters have been shrouded in mystery, but the final three parts of the arc will answer many big questions including one that’s been dogging Ghost Rider since his first appearance. “We’ve never really had a clear picture of what Ghost Rider actually is,” Way said, “Because every time we do get one, somebody refutes it. But it’s always been a variation on the same theme, some sort of demonic power linked to hell. At the end of issue #18 you’ll finally have the definitive answer of what Ghost Rider really is and what it means to be the Spirit of Vengeance.”

January’s “Ghost Rider” #19, is the concluding chapter of “Revelations,” which means the time for The Rider and Lucifer’s final battle is drawing near. “Lucifer will have all his power and be halfway to Heaven; so he’ll be looking to celebrate,” Way explained. “Unfortunately for him though, he’s not going to be as strong as he thinks he is. That’s always been Lucifer’s problem. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Johnny’s ignorance but Lucifer’s problem is even worse, ego and that feeling of superiority.  So someone afflicted like that is pretty easy to blind side.”

Pages from “Ghost Rider” #18

Lucifer’s ego might prove his downfall in his final battle against the Ghost Rider but a dark secret coming to light might prevent the conflict from even happening. “Johnny’s going to learn something awful in issue #18  and than in #19 he’s going to be left with one of those huge decisions that make comics great,” Way said. “It’s a massive, life or death, back against the wall decision that he has to make as Johnny Blaze not Ghost Rider.”

Like his protagonist, Way also had a tough choice to make when he walks away from “Ghost Rider.”  “I absolutely love writing ‘Ghost Rider’ but opportunities come around and you’ve got to seize them,” Way said. “I was given the opportunity to take over another book but between ‘Origins,’ some creator-owned stuff and an animated project, I had to decide what I could trim to make room for this new book. Dumping ‘Ghost Rider’ was an awful decision because I loved writing that book but it’s just one of those career decisions.

Page from “Ghost Rider” #18

“[Series artist] Javier [Saltares] is one of those guys who would be completely happy penciling ‘Ghost Rider’ for the rest of his career because he loves the character. There have been times where I’ve felt exactly the same way. It’s just so much fun. Luckily this new book will allow me to stretch some new muscles but it will also be a riotous and rambunctious book like ‘Ghost Rider,’ perhaps even more so.”

One of the reasons Way’s decision to leave ‘Ghost Rider” is so bittersweet is because he won’t get to tell all the stories he wants to tell. “I had this one revelation I wanted to bring to the character and it’s what got me the book in the first place,” Way said. “Unfortunately, because of scheduling and the movie, we couldn’t start the series that way. So we came up with the 666 pieces story, which bought us plenty of time. Now I’m finally getting a chance to pull the trigger on that one idea and I’m out of here. I definitely had some regrets about it.  I had gotten used to the idea but when I turned in my last script it was like, ‘God damn it!'”

Way may regret walking away from writing “Ghost Rider,” but with Jason Aaron (“The Other Side,” “Scalped”) set to take over, he knows the book and his original idea are in great hands. “Jason is a fantastic writer,” Way stated. “I’m a huge fan of ‘Scalped.’ When we finally got the official word that Jason was going to replace me I made sure he had all of my notes and that any questions he may have had were answered because as you’ll see I leave him completely teed up. I think Jason will do really well. He’s primed and ready to go.”

Saying goodbye to “Ghost Rider” has been difficult for Way because of how much fun he’s had writing the book, and for that he’d like to thank the fans. “It’s been a really positive experience,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of cool feedback from fans and I hope readers dug the story. It was a pretty wild ride for me and I hope it was the same for them.”

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

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