Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch)

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Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider (vol. 3) #1 (May 1990).
Art by Javier Saltares.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Ghost Rider vol. 3, #1 (May 1990)
Created by Howard Mackie
Javier Saltares
In-story information
Alter ego Daniel "Danny" Ketch
Team affiliations Midnight Sons
Secret Defenders
New Fantastic Four
Notable aliases The Spirit of Vengeance
Abilities Superhuman strength and durability
Ability to project regular and ethereal flame
Ability to travel between interdimensional realms and along any surface
Wields magical chain
Rides flaming motorcycle
Penance Stare

Ghost Rider (Daniel "Danny" Ketch) is a comic book character, a supernatural superhero in Marvel Comics' main shared universe. He is the third Marvel character to use the name Ghost Rider, after Johnny Blaze, the first supernatural Ghost Rider, and the Western hero known as the Phantom Rider, who used the name in 1967, just a few years prior to the emergence of Blaze in Marvel Spotlight.

Publication history[edit]

The third Ghost Rider debuted in Ghost Rider vol. 3, #1 (May 1990). The series ended with a cliffhanger in vol. 3, #93 (Feb. 1998). Marvel finally published the long-completed final issue nine years later as Ghost Rider Finale (Jan 2007), which reprints vol. 3, #93 and the previously unpublished #94. Ketch appears in the current Ghost Rider series alongside Johnny Blaze. In support of the series, Ketch received his own miniseries Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, written by Simon Spurrier.[1][2][3]

Reception[edit]

In their review of Ghost Rider #80-85, Wizard gave the series their lowest possible rating, citing convoluted and tangential plots, overlong fight scenes, and inappropriately cartoonish art.[4]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Daniel Ketch was born in Brooklyn, New York. One night, Daniel and his sister Barbara were attacked by gangsters; with his sister grievously wounded by Deathwatch, Daniel fled and hid in a junkyard, where he found a motorcycle bearing a mystical sigil. Upon touching the sigil, he was transformed into the Ghost Rider; this Ghost Rider was nearly identical to the previous, though his costume and bike had undergone a modernized tailoring. He thrashed the gangsters, but was unable to save Barbara, who had slipped into a coma as a result from her injury;[5] she was eventually killed by Blackout,[6] whom Ketch had acquired as a mortal enemy.
Ketch later learned the origin of Zarathos from the mystical dream lord Nightmare[7] who believed the entity to which Ketch was bound was Zarathos reborn yet again and freed from the Soul Crystal. Ghost Rider denied this, though others, including Mephisto, believed otherwise.[8]

When Ghost Rider became a part of the team the Midnight Sons, he died twice in the process. The first person who killed Ghost Rider was the vampire hunter Blade, who was at the time possessed by the mystical book the Darkhold. He was soon revived by the Darkhold Redeemers, along with everyone else killed by Blade. The second time the Daniel Ketch Ghost Rider died was when fighting Zarathos, but as previously, was resurrected.[volume & issue needed]

Ketch and Johnny Blaze later learned they were long-lost brothers and that their family was the inheritor of a mystical curse related to the Spirits of Vengeance. Ketch eventually seemed to die, but the Spirit of Vengeance to which he had been bound through the bike's talisman lived on, and Ketch himself was resurrected via a bonding with the Noble Kale Ghost Rider.[9]

This Ketch/Kale hybrid version of Ghost Rider eventually became the King of Hell in brokered arrangement with then-ruler Blackheart. In return for Ghost Rider coming to Hell and marrying two hand-picked demon brides, Pao Fu and the Black Rose, Blackheart would free the Ketch line from the curse; Kale accepted. On the night after the dual wedding, Black Rose betrayed Kale and tried to kill him. When she failed, Blackheart revealed that the entire arrangement had been a plan to kill Kale and destroy his soul. Black Rose was revealed to be Roxanne Simpson, the supposedly dead wife of Johnny Blaze. In response, Kale killed Blackheart, became King of Hell, and learned he was in fact the angel of death.[volume & issue needed]

Danny slipped into a coma in the mortal plane and was later revived by his dead mother (Naomi Kale-Blaze) and brother (Johnny Blaze) and went on to live a seemingly normal life. Unfortunately, this was not to last; his longtime girlfriend Stacy found out she was pregnant with Danny's child and ran away.[volume & issue needed]

Reborn again[edit]

In Peter Parker: Spider-Man #93, Ghost Rider is seen being summoned forth on the streets of New York, his powers out of control due to lacking a host. Mistaken for the cause of a nearby building fire, he's confronted by Spider-Man. Ghost Rider then destroys the ground, revealing the true source of the blaze: a group of armed men below who plan to incinerate the city using an explosive device, in order to purge it of its superhuman community. Stopping the fanatics but unable to disarm the device, Spider-Man requests that Ghost Rider take the device somewhere before it blows. Weakened and confused, he says he is unable to.[9]

Danny Ketch then arrives, puzzled by Ghost Rider's presence, telling him that he is Noble Kale and should be in Mephisto's realm. Ghost Rider replies "I am not he!" and Spider-Man interrupts, saying that the timer on the device is about to end. Without any other option, Ghost Rider requests Dan to re-merge with him, giving him the strength he needs to contain the blast. Reluctantly, Dan agrees and the two are joined to become Ghost Rider once more.[9]

The newly-reformed Ghost Rider takes the device, asking Spider-Man to coat him with webbing in order to contain and absorb the explosion. He does so, moments before it ignites. Afterwards, Ghost Rider is seen driving his bike away from the scene, having survived the blast.[9]

Addiction[edit]

In the miniseries Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, Danny is tormented that his life has fallen apart due to his family curse, and thus has the Noble Kale Ghost Rider exorcised from his body by the techno-mancer Mary LeBow. No longer having the Ghost Rider's power causes Danny to fall into a deep depression, becoming a drunk who fights bar thugs for kicks. He is approached by Mister Eleven, a talking crow that continues to encounter Ketch over and over, giving him 'doses' of the Ghost Rider power, luring him in with longer amounts each time. Eleven explains to Ketch the true history of the Spirits of Vengeance and how some past Ghost Rider incarnations were unable to cope with such a magnitude of power, going insane and burning out their soul.[volume & issue needed]

He also explains that Verminus Rex, from Blackheart's old Spirit of Vengeance, is hunting other Spirits of Vengeance in order to feed his own growing addiction. After absorbing the spirit from another Ghost Rider that knew of Rex's location, Danny finds out where he is hiding and finishes him off, absorbing the other spirits Rex had taken in the past. Taking on such an amount of power pushes Danny over the edge, causing him to go insane. Zadkiel intervenes, offering to take away Danny's pain from the overdose and in return, gather other Spirits of Vengeance and absorb their essence in order to "save the host's soul". Desperate and with no other option, Ketch agrees, becoming a knight in Zadkiel's service.[volume & issue needed]

Danny is next seen in the shadows speaking on the phone with the head nurse hunting Johnny Blaze, the sign of Zadkiel on his hand.[10] Ketch then encounters Lucas, the young boy Blaze is trying to save, and seemingly convinces the boy to kill himself.[11]

The last stand of the Spirits of Vengeance[edit]

Seven riders show their flaming heads for the first time in this story arc by writer Jason Aaron and artist Tan Eng Huat. Daniel Ketch returns with a new mission: to collect the powers of all the Ghost Riders for the angel Zadkiel to prevent the corruption of the powers with their human hosts. Zadkiel has other motives he keeps to himself, of which he needs the powers of the riders for: to tear down the walls of New Jerusalem and wage war on the heavens.[volume & issue needed]

The story begins in Tibet with Chinese soldiers harassing a village, questioning them about weapons that killed two of his garrison patrols. During the harassment a peasant enters on a donkey. After a few exchange of words and an order to kill given by the General, the peasant changes and kills the General's men while his back is turned. When the General turns back he sees the Ghost Rider and gets a Penance Stare for his trouble. After the attack the rider goes back to his sanctuary where he is visited by Danny Ketch. A short while later Sister Sara and Johnny Blaze arrive at the sanctuary to find out how to get back at Zadkiel. After entering, they find the peasant and donkey burnt to husks.[volume & issue needed]

That night the two are visited by Ketch and begins a battle with a show of power. When Blaze does the Penance Stare to his brother, he sees exactly what has transpired. Ketch has murdered the hosts of numerous riders for their powers. During a show of pity for the fallen, Ketch is able to return the stare on Blaze, and sends Blaze into temporary insanity. Before Ketch is able to take the power of Zarathos, he is stopped by the new caretaker Sister Sara. She rescues Blaze and they go to a safehouse. At the safehouse, during Blaze's self-pity and Sara's trying to pick him back up, they are visited by two more Ghost Riders, the Arabic Molek and the Chinese Bai Gu Jing, with whom they follow to Japan.[volume & issue needed]

When Blaze's team arrives in Japan, they learn Ketch has already taken the power of the rider Yoshio Kannabe. After the conquest, Ketch has another talk with Zadkiel via communications link. During the conversation Zadkiel massacres the squad of the Asura who guard the gates of heaven. Zadkiel tells Ketch to wait to attack the riders til the last ones are together. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, former cop Kowalski follows a contact to get a hellfire shotgun for his revenge on Blaze. After acquiring the item he is then driven to the middle of a desert to sit and wait for his chance.[volume & issue needed]

After leaving Japan, Blaze's team journeys to the City of the Skulls in the Congo where the last stand would be made. There they meet the Lords of the Congo, the Ghost Riders Baron Skullfire and Marinette Bwachech, and their Phantom Riders. During the day Sara tells Molek about her new experience becoming a Caretaker, and her wonders about religion, with which she is given secret information that Molek knows about both.[volume & issue needed]

As the Ghost Riders and their forces get ready for battle, Blaze has his eyes opened back up by kids going to fight. He quickly snaps out of his depression and joins the others for the final battle. During the course of the battle Baron Skullfire dies and the spirit is transferred to one of the Phantom Riders, after which Ketch creates hellfire duplicates of himself to take the powers. A wager is then made by Blaze and Ketch on a race between the brothers around the world for the fates of the powers. During the race, Blaze is critically injured by Kowalski's shotgun and Ketch takes the rider from him as his duplicates overpower the others.[volume & issue needed]

Moments later Ketch rises up to the sky and Zadkiel is then able to take heaven. The sound of the gates falling is enough to be felt by Spider-Man's senses, and loud enough to be heard by people and everywhere including Hell and Asgard. When an injured Blaze returns to the City of the Skulls, Ketch falls from the sky and reveals that the battle for Heaven has already been decided. As more energies fall from the heavens, one strikes Kowalski and changes him into a new rider that looks a lot like Vengeance.[volume & issue needed]

Trials and tribulations[edit]

After the battle with Zadkiel and his Black Host, Ketch parts ways with Blaze and Sara, taking to the open road on his motorcycle and reminiscing about being Zadkiel's puppet. Now, he simply waits for the end of the world to soon come. He comes across a blown-up gas station, destroyed by the demonically-possessed Highwayman. He attempts to pass by it but his bike refuses to budge however, and Ketch is forcibly turned into the Ghost Rider.[volume & issue needed]

Danny finds the Highwayman further up the road, having finished slaughtering a bus full of UFO watchers and hippies to feed the demons in his semi. Ghost Rider faces off with the Highwayman, eventually tearing his head off in a high-speed chase. His severed head attempts to crawl away, sprouting arachnid legs and cursing the Ghost Rider. Ketch picks it up and sets it ablaze with a spew of hellfire. He transforms back into Danny Ketch and rides off, reflecting on how close he was to being rid of this life as the Ghost Rider.[volume & issue needed]

Current events[edit]

Danny was briefly consulted by Superior Spider-Man regarding his old foe Blackout, who had just kidnapped May Parker. After informing Spider-Man of Blackout's abilities and weaknesses, Danny tells him how evil and cruel the half-demon is, referencing Barbara's death at his hands. He advises Spider-Man to kill Blackout if he gets the chance.[12]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Ghost Rider vol. 3, #80 (Feb. 1996), depicting the red-and-orange leather armor. Cover art by Salvador Larroca.

The Ghost Rider is empowered as a result of the magical properties of a mysterious emblem affixed to a large and powerful motorcycle possessed by Daniel Ketch. This gives him the ability to transform into a mystic being which appears as a flaming skeleton dressed as a motorcyclist, and provides him with superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and durability. As the Ghost Rider, Ketch can use his Penance Stare — the ability to cause others to experience a level of emotional pain equivalent to that which they have caused others as a result of illegal or immoral or unjust activities. When in close combat, he locks eyes with his victim and makes them feel all the emotional pain that person has ever inflicted on anyone in their lifetime. This, of course, has several weaknesses. If high on drugs like cocaine, or if the person is blind, or if he cannot make eye contact due to the victim having more than two eyes, Ghost Rider's Penance Stare cannot function. An attempt to use the Penance Stare on the symbiotic being, Venom, resulted in Ghost Rider being knocked unconscious. It also cannot work on soulless beings such as Centurious.[volume & issue needed] He can control the degree to which the Stare punishes its targets, once using the stare to free Wolverine from telepathic control by making him relive the pain he caused to others during a single day in the First World War.[13]

As the Ghost Rider, Ketch uses a length of heavy chain approximately 3 feet (0.91 m) long which possesses magical properties. For instance, when it is thrown it is able to separate into individual links which behave like shuriken, later reintegrating and returning to the Ghost Rider's hand. The chain can grow in length, is supernaturally strong, and can transform into other weapons such as a spear. He can also spin it fast to be used as a drill.

The common theme of the Ghost Rider is a human host who transforms into a flaming-headed motorcyclist with supernatural powers. When riding their bikes, the vehicles can travel faster than conventional motorcycles and can maneuver impossible feats such as riding straight up a vertical surface or across water. In a one-shot comic featuring Doctor Strange and the Daniel Ketch/Noble Kale version of Ghost Rider, it was shown to be capable of riding on nothing but air. This was repeated shortly after Kale started to regain his memories, causing him to alter his suit by sheer force of will, and created an entirely new bike.

When empowered, Ketch's motorcycle undergoes a more radical transformation. It changes from a conventional looking motorcycle to one that appears both powerful and high-tech. Along with flaming wheels, the bike includes a shield-like battering ram on the front. Like the Blaze/Zarathos version, this Ghost Rider's bike was capable of incredible stunts, such as driving up sheer walls, across water, and in at least two known instances, through the very air itself.[volume & issue needed] Ghost Rider also created two other bikes that he could utilize in the same manner as the one he normally rode, one out of necessity when Blackheart stole the original in a crossover graphic novel that brought together Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and the Punisher, and again in the regular series as a spare in case something made him unable to get to his regular cycle. The latter would wind up in the hands of Johnny Blaze.

He has displayed some other powers briefly, like the ability to summon a wall of flame. In the beginning, Ketch could only transform "when innocent blood was spilled" and had to touch the gas cap of his motorcycle. Later it was revealed that this was only a psychological limitation he himself caused, and which Daniel later overcame.

Unlike Blaze, the Ketch Ghost Rider possessed a Penance Stare which made the target experience all the pain and suffering they've caused others (Although he could control the extent and influence of this power; he once used it to free Wolverine from hypnosis by simply making him experience the suffering he caused on a single day in the First World War[14]). He possessed hellfire powers similar to the Zarathos/Blaze version, but he also had the ability to destroy the undead and was supposedly the incarnation of the angel of death and judgement, which detailed the supposed origins of the Noble Kale version of the Ghost Rider.[15]

In addition, Ketch and Noble Kale actually worked together to an extent, unlike Blaze and Zarathos, who battled for dominance and control over their shared body. Kale had a compassionate side and while there were times that he seemed tempted to simply take over completely, he refused to do so, though he felt anger at condemning Daniel to only being able to live his life out half the time, while he dominated the other half. Kale and Ketch, like Blaze and Zarathos, could sometimes communicate through dreams, and in at least one issue communicated via messages written on a mirror in lipstick.

Other versions[edit]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the Ultimate Marvel reality, Danny Ketch aka "The Ghost" was a master spy and one of the many newest recruits of General Nick Fury's Howling Commandos in order to battle Reed Richards and his Dark Ultimates, who violently started remolding the world their own shape.[16] He is entirely normal in his appearance but has the ability to breathe fire. During the events of Cataclysm, he sacrificed himself to save those infected by the Gah Lak Tus virus and destroy the City of Tomorrow. Though his body died, his consciousness was placed in a mechanical body by SHIELD to create the Machine Man.[17]

Marvel Zombies[edit]

In the alternate-dimension Marvel Zombies universe, the Daniel Ketch version of Ghost Rider is seen in his living form in the Marvel Zombies prequel Dead Days. He is part of the resistance organized by Nick Fury to take down the Marvel Zombies but is later seen being overwhelmed in a battle with the infected.[volume & issue needed] In the Marvel Zombies miniseries, a zombified version of Ghost Rider appears as one of the infected superheroes trying to attack and devour the Silver Surfer and part of the zombified superhero attack on Dr. Doom's fortress. It is suggested that he did not survive the attack of the Silver Surfer as he no longer appears with the survivors in the aftermath.[volume & issue needed] He later resurfaces in Marvel Zombies 3 as part of Kingpin's undead alliance and tries to attack Machine Man. He is dispatched quickly when Machine Man slices his head off and steals his motorcycle to evade the zombies.[volume & issue needed]

Marvels[edit]

Danny Ketch appears on the last page of the Marvels series where he is shown as a young newspaper delivery boy. The main character of Marvels, Phil Sheldon, refers to him as "A nice, normal, ordinary boy" and has a picture taken of him of as a symbol of ordinary humanity.

Spider-Man/Human Torch[edit]

A younger version of Ketch can be seen during the third issue of the Spider-Man/Human Torch miniseries written by Dan Slott. He is interviewed about Spider-Man and the Human Torch, and is approximately the same age as his appearance in Marvels.

New Fantastic Four[edit]

In a reality where the Fantastic Four were killed, Ketch joins Spider-Man, Wolverine, and the Hulk in forming the new Fantastic Four, the group defeating- among other foes- a new Frightful Four consisting of Venom, Sandman, Sabretooth, and the Abomination, the team having been brought together by Doctor Doom and given enhanced powers by Mephisto. In the story's sequel, Ketch is one of the many heroes killed by Thanos' use of the Infinity Gauntlet, resulting in the other three team members recruiting Iron Man as a temporary replacement.[volume & issue needed]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The Daniel Ketch version of Ghost Rider appeared briefly as a memory in Gambit's mind during the 1990s Fox X-Men animated series. He did not speak on that occasion.
  • The Daniel Ketch version of Ghost Rider appeared in the Fantastic Four episode "When Calls Galactus" voiced by Richard Grieco.[18] He helps the Fantastic Four and Thor fight Galactus. Ghost Rider ended up subjecting Galactus to the Penance Stare.
  • The Daniel Ketch Ghost Rider who appeared in The Incredible Hulk episode "Innocent Blood", again voiced by Richard Grieco.

Film[edit]

  • While it was Johnny Blaze who was the host of the Ghost Rider that appeared in the 2007 film Ghost Rider, elements of Daniel Ketch, such as the spikes on the outfit and the use of a chain as a weapon and the Penance Stare, were incorporated. Blaze has taken the costume and abilities in the comics since.[citation needed].

Video games[edit]

  • The Danny Ketch version of Ghost Rider also appears as a guest character in Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety, offering the player assistance when called upon.
  • Danny Ketch's costume is an alternate costume for Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. In recognition of his time in the new FF, the player receives a team bonus of 'New Fantastic Four' when playing a game with a team of Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk and/or Luke Cage (Hulk being only available via download).

Collected editions[edit]

  • Ghost Rider: Resurrected (Ghost Rider Vol. 3 #1-7)
  • The New Fantastic Four: Monsters Unleashed (Fantastic Four #347-349)
  • X-Men & Ghost Rider: Brood Trouble in the Big Easy (Ghost Rider Vol. 3 #26-27 and X-Men #8-9)
  • Rise of the Midnight Sons (Ghost Rider vol. 3, #28, 31; Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance #1, Morbius #1, Darkhold #1 and Nightstalkers #1)
  • Spirits of Venom (Web of Spider-Man #95-96 and Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance #5 - 6)
  • Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch - Addict (Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch #1-5; Ghost Rider Finale)
  • Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch Classic, Vol. 1 (Ghost Rider Vol. 3 #1-10)
  • Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch Classic, Vol. 2 (Ghost Rider Vol. 3 #11-20)

References[edit]

  1. ^ WWC: Simon Spurrier & Javier Saltares Tackle Danny Ketch, Newsarama, June 27, 2008
  2. ^ WW Chicago: Spurrier on “Danny Ketch: Ghost Rider”, Comic Book Resources, June 29, 2008
  3. ^ Spurrier's Spirited Danny Ketch: Ghost Rider, Comicon, October 13, 2008
  4. ^ "Ghost Rider: Confusion Rides this Book to Death". Wizard (72). August 1997. p. 108. 
  5. ^ Ghost Rider (vol. 3) #1
  6. ^ Ghost Rider (vol. 3) #7
  7. ^ Ghost Rider (vol. 3) #11
  8. ^ Cloak and Dagger #18
  9. ^ a b c d Peter Parker: Spider-Man vol. 1, #93 (July 1998).
  10. ^ Ghost Rider #22 (2008).
  11. ^ Ghost Rider #23 (2008).
  12. ^ Superior Spider-Man Annual #1
  13. ^ Spider-Man & Fantastic Four #3
  14. ^ Spider-Man & Fantastic Four #3
  15. ^ as revealed in Ghost Rider #93
  16. ^ Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #27
  17. ^ Cataclysm: Ultimate Comics Ultimates #3
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ The Ghost Rider In Animation - A Retrospective

External links[edit]