This was a prestige one-shot with a cool back cover (above) and a second, inner cover (below).

Storywise, it started with a recast of Scarecrow as a zealot who worshipped his own pitchfork.

He’s seen wandering the Arizona desert, looking for someone to kill, and he is found by Blackheart, who makes him an offer (that we the readers don’t see yet).

Blackheart then approaches Johnny Blaze, who is drinking at a bar, and says he has murdered his own father–Mephisto–and now he wants to access Zarathos to create Hell on Earth.

*Note: I don’t recall him actually killing Mephisto, so this may be a lie. In my own version of Marvel history, I’m going to say he’s taking advantage of the fact that a demon called Satan was in fact killed by his own son–Son of Satan, in concurrent issues of Hellstrom, killed his father and in that same series established that what we know of as “the Devil” is actually a generic term for numerous underworld demons. So, in my view, Blackheart is telling a lie that is close enough to the truth that maybe Johnny Blaze would have heard of it.

And perhaps even more interesting: Blackheart tells Blaze he killed his father–the ancient demon Mephisto–but then, in the same meeting, tells Blaze that Zarathos is not cead because ancient demons don’t really die.

Blackheart then chokes Blaze until he is nearly dead, which brings forth Zarathos–who won’t let Blaze die. And so Zarathos walks the Earth. Blackheart puts him inside a prison, where Ghost Rider goes through the cells, one by one, killing the guilty. This is a harrowing and appropriate use of characters who personify evil.

To keep the new Ghost Rider away from the action, Blackheart puts Danny Ketch and Scarecrow into Hell and offers them a shot at what they really want: Ketch can save Roxanne Simpson and his own sister (who are both dead) and bring them back to Earth, or Scarecrow can kill them and be free of the curse of his pitchfork.

In the end, Ketch must choose between taking over as Earth’s Ghost Rider (and stopping the demon’s murderous rage) or saving the women in Hell. He of course chooses to be Ghost Rider again.

This is a really good one-shot, which brings Ketch back as Ghost Rider. There haven’t been many really good Ghost Rider stories lately–this is refreshing. It is odd to me that they put such important events in a one-shot.

Leave a Comment