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How Guardians of the Galaxy Sets Up Marvel's Challenge of the Ghost Riders

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy #6 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, David Curiel and Cory Petit, on sale now.

Robbie Reyes may be the youngest person to be possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance, but that hasn't stopped him from experiencing things that would put all previous Ghost Riders to shame. He is currently the youngest member of the Avengers, with his very first mission consisting of taking control of a cosmic Celestial space giant.

However, things didn't go so well for Robbie during the Avengers' battle against the Shadow Colonel and his Legion of the Unliving. The demonic hound, Sarge, successfully took control of Ghost Rider and turned him against Earth's Mightiest Heroes. While the physical Ghost Rider body is used as a weapon of mass destruction, Robbie's spirit was banished to Hell, where a familiar face was waiting for him.

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Thanks to the events of last year's Doctor Strange-centric series, Damnation, the new ruler of the underworld is the former Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze. Mephisto's actions in Las Vegas left the throne attended, which Johnny was more than happy to claim for himself. Though Johnny is considered one of the good guys, his most recent actions in the pages of Avengers possibly reveal that the responsibility of ruling over the dead has gone to his head.

Ghost Riders, Assemble!

Right before Robbie escaped Hell in Avengers #16, Johnny promised he will be back down there eventually, and that when they see each other again, they would have "a little ride." Okay, so that's not too ominous of a warning. However, Marvel Comics' July 2019 solicitations revealed Johnny and Robbie would cross paths again in Avengers #22, in a story arc titled "Challenge of the Ghost Riders."

A planned exorcism on his hell-charged car will bring the King of Hell back into play, pitting him against the Avengers as they try to save Robbie from whatever mystery plan Johnny has in store for his Ghost Rider successor. But as Guardians of the Galaxy #6 shows us, Robbie isn't the only Ghost Rider who will be pulled into this challenge.

Created by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, Cosmic Ghost Rider debuted in Thanos #13, and immediately became a fan-favorite character with his combination of a unique look and mysterious past. From the start, all we know about the character is he was a Ghost Rider, Herald to Galactus and Black Right Hand to King Thanos from the far-flung future. We soon learned Cosmic Ghost Rider was Frank Castle, the Punisher, adding a new twist to his already appealing backstory.

Cosmic Ghost Rider joined Starfox's Dark Guardians to hunt down Gamora, who they feared would be the host for a reincarnated Thanos. During a battle between the Guardians of the Galaxy, Hela and Thanos' Black Order, Cosmic Ghost Rider dies yet again and finds himself back in Hell. It's there that Frank Castle runs into Johnny Blaze, who he also challenges to a race.

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A footnote on the page tells readers that they will find out more in Avengers #22, which is the first part of "Challenge of the Ghost Riders." So instead of just featuring Robbie Reyes and Johnny Blaze, Marvel's newest Spirit of Vengeance will also play a role in the Ghost Rider story arc. Of course, the more intriguing possibility is Johnny dispatches the Cosmic Ghost Rider as his secret weapon against the Avengers.

With the powers of a Ghost Rider and Galactus herald at his disposal, Cosmic Ghost Rider may be one of the only characters in the Marvel Universe with the powers to stand toe-to-toe with Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

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