Ghost Rider, Cowboy or Biker?

Ghost Rider has had an amazing character change from the days of first creation to what is common today. The original Ghost-Rider was a cowboy in the American Wild West, whom many think, first appeared in 1967 in Ghost-Rider #1. He battled evil as a gunfighter, while dressed in a luminescent white costume, complete with a mask and the requisite white hat.


The character’s original creation actually dates back to 1949 where he first rode onto the scene as a back up feature in the old Tim Holt series in issue #11. He was Rex Fury a federal marshal in the Old West dressed up in a luminous white outfit complete with a glowing cape and Stetson.

In 1950, Ghost-Rider was given his own series that lasted until 1954. Then early in 1967 Marvel resurrected the cowboy as “The World’s Most Mysterious Western Hero”. This character lasted for only 7 issues.

While a mysterious western hero, many tales were comprised of elements from the supernatural, such as ghosts, werewolves and vampires. These elements sometimes roamed the range along with the typical rustlers and gunmen.

Cowboy Turns Biker

As the 1970s rolled in, Marvel switched gears and proved that bikers were more popular than cowboys were. In 1973 they introduced their next version of Ghost Rider as a contemporary individual who rode motorcycles.

Johnny Blaze

Enter Johnny Blaze as the second GhostRider character. He made his appearance in Marvel Spotlight volume 1 #5. Blaze was a clean cut, blond young motorcycle stunt performer in a traveling circus. He ended up selling his soul to the demon Mephisto in an attempt to save his adoptive father Crash Simpson's life.

He was then bound with the demon Zarathos, and transformed into a flaming, leather-clad skeleton, and his bike's wheels were cloaked in a sheath of flame. While Zarathos was in control, Johnny turned into a demon biker with a blazing skull in place of his head. While in this earth real state, much like another well-known Marvel character, the Hulk, Johnny took no crap from anyone. More successful that the cowboy incantation, Johnny Blaze survived as the Ghost-Rider for 81 issues until the spring of 1983.

Daniel Ketch

The third character, Daniel Ketch, debuted in 1990 in a new Ghost-Rider series, issue #1. Ninja gangsters attacked Daniel and his sister Barbara. They fled, but Barbara was wounded, so they hid in a garbage dump. Ketch found a motorcycle bearing a mystical sigil, and upon touching it, he was transformed into the Rider. This version was nearly identical to the previous (Johnny Blaze), but his costume and bike had undergone a more modernized tailoring. He thrashed the gangsters, but was unable to save Barbara, who died.

It was later revealed that Daniel Ketch and John Blaze were long lost brothers. Their family was the inheritors of a mystical curse related to the Spirits of Vengeance. Ketch eventually died, but the Spirit of Vengeance that had been bound to him through the bike's talisman lived on. Still later, Blaze became the Ghost Rider again through unrevealed circumstances, reappearing in Ghost Rider (2001 series) #1.

Powers and Abilities

Both Blaze and Ketch were of normal human stature and frame. Their strength Levels were that of normal men of their ages, height, and builds, who engage in moderate regular exercise.

As the Ghost Rider, each possessed superhuman strength, enabling them to lift about 5 tons. They also had immunity to most forms of conventional injury. The ability also existed to create a "hellfire" that could harm or traumatize a human soul, and with which to create a fiery motorcycle to be rode.

More for the Ghost Rider Fans

Now if you happen to be into collecting and reading more, I have researched some excellent resources. Here is a collection of Ghost Rider comics and back issues . I don’t think you will be disappointed.

You may very well find a tidbit or two worthy of your interest. And of course, the ole standby, Amazon has a few items to tickle your taste buds. Just click on the image to the left. Don’t stay too long though, and come back here.

If you want to keep up on the varied and interesting activities going on in the world of comic books, then feel free to sign up for my newsletter “Comics Galore” in the form below. And by all means, I would love to hear your comments and opinions on the directional changes Ghost Rider characters have taken over the years. You can sure leave them for me at my contact page in the menu at the left. I may even be able to include them in my newsletter. I thank you ahead of time.

Dave Gieber


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