Ghost Rider #47-52 (1994): Vengeance takes over the book

I thought I’d start this post with a pretty cool “transformation” shot, since these issues mark the transformation of this book from Danny Ketch/Ghost Rider to Officer Badilino/Vengeance. 

Danny Ketch has died so now a new spirit of vengeance, named Vengeance, is on Earth looking for bad dudes to burn.

When Howard Mackie started writing the new Ghost Rider, it was good—fresh.  But it got stale—telling the same stories over and over, and wrapping around a massive horrorverse of mediocrity.

This is a chance for a reboot, but it’s largely the same stuff.  A new villain, Hellgate, summons other new villains like “Dread” and “Rak” (who we will never see again), to provide fodder for Vengeance.  Oh, and Slaughter Boy.

In other words, the death of Ketch and birth of Vengeance is used as an excuse to launch a whole bunch of new villains, rather than to try something new and different with the Ghost Rider idea.

Oh, and there’s a Spider-Man guest appearance.

And Hulk.

It’s all so pointless that by #50, Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze are back, and they’re also fighting Hellgate.

How is he back?  No idea.  But it has something to do with Zarathos.  It’s a double-sized issue, but apparently that’s not enough space to give us more backstory.

Hellgate seems to have the power to resist Ketch’s “penance stare.”

Ghost Rider officially reclaims his book with #51.

And by #52, Hellgate’s taken care of.  Actually, he runs away when all his soldiers are defeated. 

Also along the way, side character Jack D’Auria puts on spandex and becomes Shriker.

There are some back-up stories about Vengeance in #s 50-51.  Apparently, you can never have too many flaming skulls.

These issues feel rushed and pointless.  There are some moments where it looks like they might get good, but they fade quickly.

I’m grading this story as average.  I’ve been grading books contextually, against the other Marvel Comics on the market at the time, but it’s hard to rate this higher—even though it’s actually better than most 1994 books.  Because mid-‘90s Marvel is largely unreadable.

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