Get To Know Marvel’s Ghost Riders: The Phantom Rider

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One of the things that always impresses about Marvel’s casting is the dedication that the actors have to the source material. While fans might be skeptical of new characters or a new take on characters, the actors treat the material with respect.

Gabriel Luna is no exception. His desire to embody the Ghost Rider mythos is dedication. His respect is awesome, and as a big Johnny Blaze fan  I was super happy to see Mr. Luna reading about all of the history and treating all of it with respect.

In tribute to Mr. Luna’s dedication we’re launching “Get to Know Marvel’s Ghost Riders” starting with Carter Slade. Every Tuesday there’ll be a brand new Ghost Rider for you to learn about, gearing up for Robbie Reyes to make his debut on Agents of SHIELD and his return to comics in November.

THE FIRST GHOST RIDER.

Marvel’s first Ghost Rider was originally known as the Phantom Rider, a horror comics staple in the Tim Holt comics created by writer Ray Krank and artist Dick Ayers. The character appeared until the introduction of the comics code in 1949.

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After the character’s copyright on the name and motif had lapsed, Marvel introduced their own horror free version of the character dubbed the Phantom writer with original artist Dick Ayers. The character was inspired by Ghost Riders in the Sky by Stan Jones. With the introduction of the supernatural Ghost Rider, Marvel changed the cowboy character first to Night Rider (an unfortunate choice as that name is associated with the Klu Klux Klan.). At least five men have been the phantom rider, several currently active today. Originally JT James was Carter Slade’s ancestor and his hellfire powers were inherited. In the MCU, JT James’s backstory has been rewritten to make him an inhuman.

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The Phantom Rider’s characters have not always had the most noble intentions, particularly Lincoln Slade, a former US Marshal who raped the comic book version of Mockingbird.  While this has no bearing whatsoever in the MCU canon it’s a defining trait of the characters. In looking at the Phantom Rider we have to look to the past and the future. The biggest difference between the series?…

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THE CURSE OF THE GHOST RIDER FAMILY.

The First superhero Ghost Rider was stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze. Originally believing that he sold his soul to the devil to save the life of his father as he was dying of cancer (only to have his father Barton die in a stunt accident literally the next day) Johnny was possessed by the demon Zarathos who was bound to serve as Hell’s Bounty Hunter. Using hellish means to serve the side of good, Zarathos did heaven and hell’s bidding while Blaze became an outcast.

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The origin of the Blaze connection to heaven and hell actually comes from his mother Naomi Kale. Naomi is descended from Noble Kale, a man who fell in love with an African woman named Magdelena who was a part of a traveling carnival. His abusive father discovered their union and sacrificed Noble’s soul to hell.  Unknown to him, Magdelena sent a curse of her own after the Kale family, sending furies to destroy their township. Noble’s father had his son turned into a demon used to defend the town, but rather then accept his tribute – the flesh of his newborn son between Magdelena and Naomi, Noble killed himself.

The family has battled Zarathos, fought off Noble, and has ties to both heaven and hell at this point thanks to the machinations of various other characters. Each Ghost Rider however is in essence -at it’s heart – a love story. A story of characters battling their inner demons to do what’s right by others. Robbie’s story is a unique and awesome chapter and one we look forward to exploring in the MCU. While the Blaze clan’s history has taken them to heaven, Robbie’s story is much more down to earth.

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THE IMPACT OF THE CHARACTER.

Spanning two different movies that met with mixed reception (Ghost Rider the original film has a 26% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes) the original canon might seem like a relic of a bygone era. (There’s nothing more heavy metal then a flaming skeleton in a leather jacket after all) there’s a lot for people to appreciate in the stories of family and battling literal inner demons.

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Over the next 4 Tuesdays, The Marvel Report will be introducing you to each Ghost Rider, culminating with the current MCU ghost rider Robbie Reyes. on September 20th. If you’re looking for a primer into this fascinating and to be frank magical part of the MCU, Keep tuned in!

Are you intrigued, excited to learn what the future has in store? Excited to learn about Robbie Reyes and those who came before him? Sound off in the comments below.

 

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