We here at The Marvel Report – in conjunction with Geeks of Color and LatinxGeeks – have decided to anoint January as Ghost Rider Month. Let Marvel and networks like ABC know how much you loved Gabriel Luna’s performance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and would support a spin-off show by tweeting out the hashtag #WeWantGhostRider. For those of you who still need more convincing, or would like to learn a little more about our hot-headed antihero, read on for a comprehensive history of the life and times of Robbie Reyes!
Robbie Reyes debuted in All-New Ghost Rider #1 in May 2014, making waves as a young and vibrant Latino rider who drove a car rather than a motorcycle. Writer Felipe Smith told Newsrama back then that “some might have been shocked” by the various changes, but “as much as I am a fan of the original Ghost Rider, I was 100% in agreement with it.” The intent of Smith and artist Tradd Moore was for Robbie’s to feel sleek and techno while still being grim and intimidating, and it’s safe to say they succeeded.
Robbie’s backstory in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is similar to his comics origin, having grown up in an East Los Angeles neighborhood that he can’t wait to get out of. One big difference, though, is the tragic event that leads to his transformation. Unlike the show, Robbie in All-New Ghost Rider borrows a car from the auto shop he works at in order to win a street race for $50,000. Unbeknownst to him, the car had secret cargo in it that a paramilitary cartel was willing to murder him to obtain. Robbie was left to bleed to death while the car was set on fire, but thankfully(?) the spirit haunting the vehicle transferred itself to him instead. The biggest difference here is that Robbie wanted to money to help make a better life for his brother Gabe, who was already in a wheelchair.
Robbie is still a high school student, which makes life pretty stressful when he’s got to deal with bullies and tests in addition to cartels and spirits of vengeance. Then he takes care of his brother and holds down a part-time job to top it all off? You’ve got to admire the boy’s work ethic and drive, which he needs considering the web he’s caught up in from the beginning. Grumpy, the owner of the car Robbie ‘borrowed’, is part of one of the East LA gangs. While at a party, Grumpy uses one of the pink pills said car was carrying to turn himself into a rage monster. Turns out those pills weren’t roofies, but rather steroids that unlock super-powers devised by Dr. Calvin Zabo.
That’s right! Mister Hyde – AKA Daisy Johnson’s father on the show – is the man behind the shipment of pills in Robbie’s haunted car. And he’s so terrifying and unstable that he even inspires fear in the rugged military men he commands. These various factions are at each other’s throats, and they’re all looking for Robbie while he is still trying to get a handle on what happened to him and what the parasitic spirit inside of him is.
Once the spirit reveals his name to be Eli Morrow, it’s only a matter of time before Robbie feels hopeless enough to trust him. A tragic shooting at Canelo’s Auto and Body shop does the trick, and sets the newest Ghost Rider’s course straight for vengeance. An undead, bulletproof fire spirit versus an evil version of the Hulk? You definitely want to check it out now, don’t you?
One thing you can absolutely expect from this series is action. Every page is full of kinetic energy, with several different threads clashing at once. It can be overwhelming to read, but it’s worth it. And while the concept of Ghost Rider is a horror story in and of itself, perhaps the bleakest and most interesting part of the story is Robbie’s outlook on humanity. Despite being a hardworking, intelligent and caring young man, his experiences have caused him to lose faith in other people – and that’s something that Eli is quick to latch onto and use to his advantage. Aside from his younger brother Gabe, there’s very few people that Robbie can trust considering that even his own parents abandoned him.
If you’ve watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season, you know the connection with Eli Morrow is both stronger than Robbie knows and even more sinister. The family ties are both heartbreaking and heartwarming, as we eventually see how far Robbie will go to save his brother’s soul even if it means damning his own.
Once you catch up on all twelve issues of 2014’s All-New Ghost Rider, pick up Robbie’s latest run! He’s still being written by Felipe Smith, and he’s about to make some new friends – or enemies – out of the Totally Awesome Hulk and X-23. Trust us, there’s plenty of material in Smith’s stories to make a whole series starring Gabriel Luna, even with an aged up Robbie.
Remember: if you have any ideas for a Ghost Rider spin-off, or for Robbie Reyes’ return to ABC, let everyone know using #WeWantGhostRider on Twitter and other social media platforms!