Ghost Rider #39
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #39
We don't yet know that Vengeance is really police detective Michael Badilino, but considering the number of times in this issue alone that the police ask where Badilino is while Vengeance is rolling around, i think we're supposed to guess
One major difference between Venom and Vengeance is that Vengeance works directly for Mephisto.
Say what you will about Venom, including "there's no way i can accept him as a good guy", but at least he's not literally a minion of the devil. Of course the original Ghost Rider got his powers from Mephisto too, so we're working under different parameters in this corner of the Marvel universe.
Mephisto - who wants the medallion on Danny Ketch's motorcycle - tells Vengeance to find Caretaker to locate Ghost Rider. Caretaker is currently talking to Doris Ketch, Danny's mom, which already means that there's a lot more going on than we knew about, and from their conversation it sounds like Barbara, not Danny, was supposed to become Ghost Rider.
There's been no hint that Danny's mom has been involved in any machinations prior to this, but it seems that we've settled on an origin for Danny's version of Ghost Rider at this point. It's smart to have Caretaker and Doris bring up her grief-stricken attempt to bring back Barbara via Reverend Styge, since that otherwise would be the main objection to a retcon that Doris was secretly in the know about anything Ghost Rider related.
Meanwhile, Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze roll into town with some of the Quentin Carnival refugees.
When Vengeance attacks Caretaker, Ghost Rider shows up to help.
Note Vengeance talking about how he and his family have suffered at the hands of Zarathos (which is who he thinks Ghost Rider is).
Vengeance is shown to be stronger than Ghost Rider, but the (tediously) mysterious Caretaker is able to stop him.
Before he was attacked, Caretaker had resolved to tell Ghost Rider his origin. But with the police arriving in the aftermath of the fight, Caretaker tells him to flee, saying that "it will all be made clear soon. If not by me... by others! It's all about to happen!".
Vengeance recovers and attacks Caretaker again, but Caretaker teleports away. Blaze then says he's taking the Carnival folks to "Eli's place in the mountains".
This is Ron Garney's first issue on the series (coming here from Nightstalkers) and he provides nice visuals for the fight with Vengeance. Between that and the promise to answer some of the mysteries that have been plaguing this series, this series feels like it might be getting back on track at the moment.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The first time we see Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze in this issue, they are in New York (Greenwich village) in a truck with the members of the Quentin Carnival that they rescued in the aftermath of Spirits of Vengeance #10. With a goal of trying to get the Ghost Rider books closer to publication date, i considered the possibility that the characters have been living out of the truck for a while, with Ghost Rider going off to participate in his various guest appearances. But the dialogue makes it hard to deny that the events of Spirits of Vengeance #9-10 took place recently, so i've pushed this back in publication time to go soon after Spirits of Vengeance #9-10, which in turn has been pushed back in publication time for a domino chain of reasons (see the Considerations there, obviously). Spirits of Vengeance #12 seems to take place next (#11 is a fill-in), and probably also doesn't take place too long after this.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showCaretaker, Clara Menninger, Doris Ketch, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Kodiak, Mephisto, Miranda Woods, Noble Kale, Vengeance, Wolff
This is the first mention of the Medallion and annoyingly everyone acts like they've been after it all along.
Posted by: Michael | November 14, 2016 7:55 PM
Note how Mrs. Ketch looks *completely* different now than when the series started...
Also: doesn't Vengeance mention how his family suffered at Zarathos' hands suggest that he *wasn't* supposed to be Badillino?
Posted by: Piotr W | November 14, 2016 8:54 PM
It's unbelievable how badly this title has stumbled. The first year or so, it seemed it was going to be a great title. But Mackie had no idea where to take it, and by now it's just mediocre. A beloved title that's been around for hundreds of issues can survive a period like this, but Ghost Rider just does not have the staying power to keep lasting like this.
Posted by: Chris | November 14, 2016 10:28 PM
I know that I have this issue, but I cannot remember a single thing about it.
Agreed with Chris. I think that for the most part the first two years of Ghost Rider were really good. In hindsight, you can see that by issue #24 Howard Mackie had wrapped up pretty much all of the plotlines that he had set up at the beginning of his run. It was at this point that the title really began to meander. I doubt it's any coincidence that this was also the point where Marvel decided to use Ghost Rider to spin off the whole line of Midnight Sons books, which seriously diluted the concept.
Perhaps Mackie should have left GR with issue #24, since it feels like he really didn't know what he wanted to do with the character after that. Then again, I don't know if any other writer would have been all that more successful on the series, since Marvel would still have gone ahead with the Midnight Sons line, forcing whoever was writing to book to deal with crossovers and unwieldy subplots.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 15, 2016 11:21 AM
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