Ghost Rider #6-9
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #6, Ghost Rider #7, Ghost Rider #6, Ghost Rider #8, Ghost Rider #9
A crazy FBI agent forces/badgers/pleads with Ghost Rider...
...who doesn't think of himself as a super-hero, to help him with the latest Zodiac crime wave. He teams up with the loser known as the Stunt-Master (who gets badly injured and hospitalized during this story).
It turns out that all the Zodiac members are actually one member of the team, Aquarius, who made a deal with a demon (the same demon who last issue powered up Roulette, Slifer), allowing him to have the power of all the members of the Zodiac "for one year".
He's on a vendetta against the former head of the Zodiac, Cornelius Van Lunt, who gave him space cancer.
Unfortunately, the demon considers "one year" to actually be defined as using each of the Zodiac powers once.
Once he's done that, the Slifer takes his soul. Cute, but not worth two issues of set-up. And can he appeal since he never turned into Ophiuchus?
After the failures of Roulette and Zodiac, Satan is not pleased with Slifer, but Slifer claims that the problem is that he was forced to work through human agents. So Satan powers-up Slifer into a one-eyed demon called Inferno (who could easily have been a He-Man figure).
While Ghost Rider fights Inferno ...
...Satan tricks Rocky into renouncing her protection of Johnny (using an illusion of her father suffering in Hell).
Ghost Rider had earlier learned from a mysterious Messenger that Crash Simpson's soul was safe, but we learn in this issue that the Messenger was actually Satan in disguise, and he was lying.
When i read the issue with the Messenger, i kind of got the impression that he was originally meant to be an agent of Heaven. Maybe Isabella didn't like that idea? But surely that can't be the case because of what's coming next.
Johnny manages to beat Inferno, and then - no kidding - Jesus shows up to defeat Satan.
Johnny's soul is now no more or less safe than any other human.
Then, in the first of two epilogues, Rocky leaves Johnny, feeling that she needs to do a little growing up on her own. Earlier in the book, before Rocky was brought to Hell, she sees a vision of her father suffering, but she tells Johnny that she's ok. Satan considers that a "white lie" that will lead her down the path of corruption.
That's a very rigid moral system they have to live by in the Marvel Universe.
In the second epilogue, Satan, not one to give up easily, transforms Inferno into a human shape with the goal of tempting Blaze into "committing evil" (but we don't see Inferno's new form).
Ghost Rider makes the point again this issue that he is not a super-hero. But Jesus sure is! What an awesomely bizarre conclusion to this story.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Original Ghost Rider #14, Original Ghost Rider #15, Original Ghost Rider #16, Original Ghost Rider #17
Inbound References (9): show
Inferno bears a strange facial resemblance to Kierrok from X-Men #96.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 20, 2011 1:45 PM
Tony Isabella stated later that he had no idea how to solve the Satan Vs. Ghost Rider scene at the end, so Steve Gerber suggested that God save him. Tony changed that to Jesus, beginning the "friend" plotline. This may explain the writer credit given to Gerber in Essential Ghost Rider V.1(though the Essential put him on issue #11, probably an outright production error). Gerber never actually wrote the Ghost Rider except for MTIO #8.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 9, 2011 8:39 PM
Satan actually reveals that the Crash Simpson Roxanne aees in hell is actually an illusion, and the real Crash has been byond his reach since he died -- but then, *is* Satan (or Mephisto, or whatever). Who knows what the truth is?
Posted by: Gary Himes | August 26, 2013 8:04 AM
The demon is not "Silfer" but "Slifer." I mention this only because future Marvel writer Roger Slifer was (per Wikipedia) an old crony of Isabella's from something called the CPL Gang, and (per the Comic Book Database) first worked for Marvel that same month as an editor on MONSTERS OF THE MOVIES #2, so it appears to be an in-joke.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | March 27, 2014 2:04 PM
Ah, this was the good old days of Ghost Rider, with Jesus and Satan.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 27, 2014 5:28 PM
Religious things were appropriate for Ghost Rider, but they made a mistake by involving t he top two guys of both sides. Picking some other demon from the Goetica, say a marquis or duke of hell, as tormentor of Blaze, and some member of the lower orders in the angelic hierarcy, say a throne or virtue, would have served the exact same purpose storywise, but not be over the top.
The problem with involving any of these powers is that the writer needs to have a very clear idea of what the devils can or cannot do. There are very strict rules about temptations in legend; and in comic books in general magic/occult can too easily lead to deus ex machina and make conflict irrelevant. It takes skill to pull off these themes right.
Posted by: Chris | March 28, 2014 2:56 AM
@Matthew - thanks for pointing that out.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 28, 2014 10:09 AM
There are two interesting signs in #8: one says "Rex Morgan Memorial Hospital"(a reference to the sleep-inducing comic strip), and the other says "Claremont Art Company". In many places the dialogue and narration in #8 sounds a lot like Chris Claremont--maybe he did some uncredited scripting here?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 5, 2016 9:05 PM
I wonder if the inclusion of Jesus in the GR storyline was meant as a counterbalance to the Satanism and witchcraft (or as Pat Robertson would say, the AH-CULT!) that permeated many of the titles in Marvel's horror line? Anyway, IMHO, the Wolfman/Colan tandem made better use of the Savior in the "possessed" portrait in the latter part of the Tomb of Dracula saga.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 8, 2017 8:43 PM
I'm surprised that Bendis didn't have Jesus join The Avengers. And then when there were letters that protested this as pandering (just as happened over Spidey and Wolverine being on the team), the editors could have pulled out the same "what, we're NOT supposed to sell books?" answer/excuse that they used in OTL.
I mean, religion and self-righteousness were just made for each other, after all.
Posted by: Dan Spector | February 11, 2018 5:55 PM
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