The Spirit of Vengeance returns in an ongoing series by Rob Williams and Matthew Clark, launching with a "Point One" issue June 8, and this new "Ghost Rider" series is the subject of Marvel's latest "Next Big Thing" press conference call, taking place right now. On the line are Williams, Assistant Editor Sebastian Girner, artist Matthew Clark, and moderator and Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi.
"As with all the Point Ones, our aim is to make it an easy jumping on point for new readers," Williams said. Williams noted that, while there have been others, Johnny Blaze has always been "the main Ghost Rider," though he's always viewed it as a curse. From "Fear Itself," though, Blaze is offered "a Faustian pact-there should always be a Faustian pact in 'Ghost Rider," that he can be rid of Ghost Rider, but that someone else would have to be saddled with the curse.
Blaze, though, does ultimately take the bargain. "It's going to come back and bite him on the nose, and he's going to have to deal with the repercussions of what he's done," Williams said. "He's not just going to be able to walk away from it.
"The fact that there is a new Ghost Rider is going to have terrible effects on a lot of people," he added. "Ghost Rider is not a super hero-it's a supernatural weapon of mass destruction."
Williams said the new GR is "a girl, which brings a whole new aesthetic to the series." He also said that this character has trained for the role her entire life, "not necessarily against their will."
The writer reiterated that the character is not a superhero, but has a "grindhouse," horror aspect.
"There's going to be a lot of people chasing after it, trying to get their hands on the Ghost Rider," Williams said, referring again to the spirit as a weapon. "Imagine a Marvel version of 'Easy Rider.'"
Clark spoke about the cool factor of drawing the character, with Girner adding that he "doesn't get to kick up his feet and have a beer at Avengers mansion," that there's always someone after him. Clark joked, "He's got a villain who's got a giant eyeball for a head-a giant. eyeball. for a head!"
Asked about the motorcycle, Clark said, "I'm giving her a top-of-the-line vehicle," noting that past Ghost Rider's have always ridden the best of their eras.
"Matt really knows his bikes, which is handy, because I don't," Williams said. "He's making the bikes look really cool."
"I can't get away, in my art style, with faking a bike," Clark said. "People are going to go, 'that's not a real motorcycle'-the closer you can get it to a real bike, the more people will believe it."
Issue #1 will be "the female Ghost Rider's first outing," and right away she's up against Sin, Williams said. But, again, "This new Ghost Rider views it as an opportunity, views it as a warrior, and is going to use the powers in a way you've never seen before-Johnny wasn't interested, he didn't see its potential." The confrontation in issue one "feels like one god of destruction against another god of destruction."
Both new and classic foes will appear, Williams said. "There's a major brand new antagonist in the first storyline," he said, "but there's a quite a few old-school villains, Blackout and Deathwatch are in issue 1."
"You've got to temper it, and drive it forward in new directions," Williams added. "But you've got to get The Orb in there."
Speaking to the "Fear Itself" tie-in, the question came of what does Ghost Rider fear. "Which one?" Williams said. "Johnny feels that his worst fears have already come true," he said, while that, for the new Ghost Rider, "what she fears is what she wants." "Suddenly she's got this role thrust upon her, that she's always been taught is what she's meant for, but it's not what she expected."
Williams praised the Jason Aaron/Tony Moore run, while noting that he wanted to bring new readers "up to speed very very quickly" rather than getting into the deep history right away.
Williams said that tone would be similar to that in his "Amazing Spider-Man" backup. He said that he enjoyed writing Johnny Blaze, because "He's funny, he's completely irreverent, he doesn't give a shit about anything at this point." He added, though, that the character was not meant for straight comedy nor should it be too serious. "He's a guy with a flaming head on a motorbike-as much as you want to tell a serious story, it should be fun."
The writer clarified that the new Ghost Rider is someone completely new to the Marvel universe.
"We do" have plans for Danny Ketch, Williams said. "It's a loose plan, not in the immediate arc."
A question came about, since Ghost Rider is "essentially a flaming skeleton, how do you indicate that it's a woman?" Clark joked, "Boobs," before getting into details such as long hair, build, etc. "She's not going to have eyebrows or lipstick or anything like that."
"Lipstick on a skull is just wrong," Williams added, prompting further banter.
Williams said that "the scope of the series is pretty wide," and that portions of the first arc would take place in Nicaragua and Los Angeles. "One of the initial things you think about how to do this character is keeping him in motion," he said, adding that there were elements to a "road chase movie."
"The Ghost Rider's either got to be chasing something or being chased by something."
Asked if the new Ghost Rider is someone new to Johnny Blaze's life, Williams said, "Yes, she is," adding that part of the bargain was that it would go to somebody he didn't know. "Somebody is going to show Johnny Blaze exactly what he's done, and the apocalyptic consequences of that," Williams added. "He's going to try to be a selfish bastard about it," he continued, but instead this will challenge him to be a better person than he's been.
On the decision to make the new GR female: "I would never claim that it's the most original idea in the world, but it does bring something new to Ghost Rider," Williams said, noting that the primary concern was looking at what's been done before and attempting something new.
Williams said the new series connected to the previous series because "it's still the Spirit of Vengeance, it's still the Demon Zarathos-I just felt very important when I said 'The Demon Zarathos,' for some reason."
With this, the call concluded. "Ghost Rider" #0.1 is on sale in June, followed by #1 in July.