Characters Appearing: Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Zarathos
Ghost Rider #51
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #51
Really, Johnny? This is "one time" that you shouldn't complain about being Ghost Rider because he saved your life? I'm pretty sure that happens every issue.
The ghost trucker could at least have put his warning message before the part of the highway that he tries to kill people on, though. Johnny Blaze doesn't find it until after he's knocked off the cliff.
The ghost trucker actually isn't the bad guy of the issue. After his cliff dive, Johnny encounters a rich kid fixing a flat tire on his car and winds up getting caught up in a kidnapping plot, with a motorcycle gang trying to ransom the kid to his uncle.
The uncle refuses to pay the ransom on the grounds that it would just encourage people to kidnap more family members, so it's lucky that the kid met Johnny. And this might be a lame plot overall, but you can not deny the awesomeness of Ghost Rider catching a bottle of nitro that was tossed at him, and just swallowing it and laughing!
Johnny Blaze is definitely kind of dumb, though, because after the battle - and i mean directly after, with no explanation - we see Johnny loading up the cyclists into a truck owned by "Clem", and being surprised that Clem is the ghost trucker.
Did he seriously not realize that "Clem" was the "Clement" that wrote the spooky note? I guess he might not have realized that Clem/Clement was an actual ghost, but in that case was he just totally cool about handing the bikers over to a murdering trucker? What made Johnny think he should load up the bikers into some random dude's truck?
I dunno. It's a truncated story due to the inclusion of a second back up story. I originally wasn't going to cover the back-up, since it's really a Western era Night Rider story with a brief framing sequence featuring Johnny Blaze.
But then i saw how the kid in this story was getting his math problem wrong.
It's pretty weird for him to be off by just 3. So either Robert Wentworth was uncannily good at estimating, or else instead of teaching long multiplication, teacher Carter Slade is making the kids memorize huge multiplication tables and the kid just got 166 x 3 mixed up with 167 x 3.
Anyway, the story is about some hillbillies that try to convince the kid that grave robbing is more profitable than book learnin'...
...so Carter Slade has to change into the Night Rider to scare him straight.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Ghost Rider vol. 3
If the ghost hates motorcyclists so much, then why did he help Johnny and the kid? And even if Clem was really a good samaritan, wouldn't it be dangerous to put 6 dangerous criminals in his truck?
Posted by: Michael | February 22, 2015 2:09 PM
Maybe Harlan Ellison was referring to this Ghost Rider story when he called Michael Fleisher "bugfu'k" and "derange-o" in his 1980 Comics Journal interview. He later said he meant it as a compliment. Stories about demons and ghosts single-mindedly pursuing vengeance can get like this.
"But then i saw how the kid in this story was getting his math problem wrong."
The kid must have thought 7x3 was 18. Following that error, 167x3 would be 498.
Posted by: Holt | April 14, 2018 10:56 PM
That Ellison interview was actually conducted in late 1979; this issue would have been on sale around September 1980.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 15, 2018 3:43 PM
Wasn't Ellison referring to Fleisher's run on The Spectre, where he came up with various horrifying ways for the main character to kill bad guys?
Posted by: Tuomas | April 16, 2018 1:37 AM
It appears that Fleisher's work on DC's Spectre was indeed part of Ellison's stated rationale for making his somewhat back-handed and possibly misconstrued statements in that interview about Fleisher's mental state. I always tended to believe Ellison's arguments when he said that he meant them to be taken as compliments towards Fleisher's creativity and imagination.
While looking this up on line this morning I was saddened to learn that Fleisher died earlier this year on February 2, 2018: http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news/rip-michael-fleisher/
'But despite the controversies surrounding his “Adventure Comics” run and his novel Chasing Hairy (which followed two young misogynists), Fleisher’s portrayal of the Spectre continues to be the most popular iteration of the character, with subsequent series by Doug Moench and John Ostrander drawing considerable inspiration from Fleisher’s run.'
Posted by: Holt | April 16, 2018 7:35 AM
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