|First appearance||Exiles #1 (August, 1993)|
|Created by||Steve Gerber
|Alter ego||Jonathan Martin|
|Abilities||Enhanced regeneration, ability to speak to the dead, ability to see imminent death|
Fictional character biography
Jonathan Martin was one of the unfortunates who contracted the Theta Virus, which provided superhuman powers, but also killed its host. In Jonathan' case, both outcomes occurred; he became an undead being, neither truly alive nor dead.
Jonathan joined the Exiles, a group of Theta Virus victims with super-powers, but the entire group was killed by an explosion caused by Amber Hunt. Of the original Exiles, only Hunt, Deadeye, Deming and a comatose Catapult survived, while Ghoul, after powering up by assimilating the corpse and the energies of the mercenary Bloodbath, killed himself causing an explosion that destroyed Visionary Productions' base.
Ghoul rose from his grave with a slightly altered appearance and became a member of the Ultraforce. He sensed imminent death around Pixx, and tried to befriend her and convince her to leave the team, but she was repulsed by his appearance and avoided him. Teammate Topaz thought his suggestions were motivated by sexism, and blasted his arms off.
Ghoul was captured by Atalon, leader of the Fire People, so that he could use Ghoul's ability to speak to the dead to communicate with the Fire People's ancient ancestors. When Pixx chose to disarm Atalon's stolen arsenal of nuclear missiles, even though the area was already contaminated with deadly levels of radiation, Ghoul realized that this was the death he had foreseen. With his limbs once again removed, he could only watch helplessly as Pixx, her radiation suit damaged, leapt from warhead to warhead, her body quickly succumbing to radiation poisoning; she finished the last missile just before her last breath of life.
Ghoul was buried under tons of rock as Atalon collapsed his cavern, but Prime eventually dug him out. Ghoul also convinced Atalon that the island he'd created with his powers was a suitable land that met the approval of his ancestors.
Ghoul was one of the few Ultras basically unaffected by the Black September event, but he was eventually fired from Ultraforce (along with everybody else) by Black Knight. He got a job as a cab driver, at which he was notoriously unsuccessful, until the former Mantra (Lukasz), gave him a magic ring which gave him the appearance (and smell) of a normal, living human being. Ghoul eventually joined the reformed Ultraforce, but the series was cancelled after only 15 issues.
Powers and abilities
Ghoul is extremely hard to kill, since he is essentially already dead. Only the total disintegration of his body can permanently kill him. His limbs, if torn off, can be reattached or, in time, grow back. He does not feel pain and is immune to disease, poison, and radiation.
Ghoul can communicate with the spirits of the deceased, even those who have been dead for tens of thousands of years. He can, in some cases, also sense a person's imminent death.
Ghoul is constantly making wisecracks, jokes and sarcastic remarks. He does this to try to hide the emotional pain of his grotesque condition and the tragedies he's seen. He deliberately distances himself, while at the same time he is saddened by the fact that he seems to get along better with the dead than the living.
In other media
Ghoul appeared in the Ultraforce animated cartoon; along with Prototype, they were the comedians of the group, albeit Ghoul appears to be kind of an hen father to Pixx and Prime, even without knowing the latter one real age, only by believing him brash and in need for counseling. Ghoul is one of the three "founding" Ultraforces, sent to recruit Prime, Hardcase and Prototype in their earlier mission, the other two left at the Ultrabase being Contrary and Pixx, acting essentially as the right-hand man and "front office" for Contrary herself, who prefers sending him around rather than recruit directly other Ultras.
In this version still knew about Pixx's final fate, and tries to convince her to leave before being killed in action. However, instead of being beaten by Topaz on the charge of sexism, he's merely talked against his intention by the Queen of Gwendor and Pixx, who convince him that, even if younger than everyone else, Pixx can bear the weight of her role as much as her older teammates, and actually welcomes her dangerous role as a way to repay Ghoul of his kindness. Despite this, he's deeply saddened when the young girl dies in front of his eyes, and scavenges the place of her death to find her corpse and give her a proper burial, in which he's reminded the value of her choice.
Instead of convincing Atalon into residing into his newly created island, he calls upon the Fire People's ancestors, who denounce the villain for his crimes against humanity and the young Pixx, causing his own people to dethrone him and give the lead to his mellower, peace-loving lieutenant, who thanks Ghoul and promises him to reign under the approval of her ancestors.
Ghoul was one of the action figures produced for Galoob's Ultraforce line