Characters Appearing: Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Zarathos
Ghost Rider #60
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #60
Johnny Blaze is still in Chicago, getting a burger when a local criminal steals his bike. He transforms into Ghost Rider, catches up with the thief, and throws him through the window of a storefront church.
And he's spotted by the church's Reverend Joshua.
Reverend Joshua is no ordinary reverend, though. We see him go to his back room, to a closet with some unusual clothes...
..and then we go to flashback.
Oh, no no no no! Is this really happening? Are we really taking a black preacher, in 1981, and putting him in African tribal gear and calling him Black Juju?
Yep, we are.
Well, at least he's only Black Juju on the cover and last issue's Next Issue blurb. He sticks to the more unwieldy but at least not as horribly offensive Destroyer of Demons for this issue's interior. But seriously. Did someone challenge Michael Fleisher to try to out-awful Brother Voodoo? He succeeded.
Johnny Blaze returns to the church the next day to try to pay for the window, and he gets attacked by Joshua, Destroyer of Demons.
In DoD's favor is the fact that he's the first guy in a while to give Ghost Rider a real challenge. Ghost Rider is actually forced to flee.
Mixed in with all of this is the fact that Joshua's daughter is dating a mobster.
She's blind to that fact and won't hear it when her father tells her so...
...but she soon finds out for herself.
She runs out of the limo and makes enough noise about the explosion he's planning that Johnny Blaze hears about it. He chooses to rescue the daughter as Johnny...
...but then transforms into Ghost Rider to make it to the train tracks in time. However, when he gets there he's attacked by Destroyer of Demons again.
Ghost Rider has to ignore DoD to get rid of the bomb.
This causes Reverend Joshua to re-evaluate his anti-demon prejudice.
"May God bless you, and also accept the blessing of the Leopard God that gave the witch doctor of the Yoruba people my magic amulet."
Destroyer of Demons is listed in a Civil War handbook, but this is otherwise his only appearance.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Ghost Rider vol. 3
Sure, Destroyer of Demons, Ghost Rider isn't too bad- it's not like he burned down a town a few issues ago.
Posted by: Michael | February 23, 2015 8:38 PM
With all due respect,fnord, is a black preacher taking up juju magic really that offensive? I mean if it were a white preacher, it wouldn't make much sense.
Around this time, we have a white priest who decides to become a crusading knight and I don't recall anyone taking any offense. A bit earlier, we had a Scandinavian american who decides to become a mad viking and I don't recall offense taken. I don't see why juju is offensive and viking isn't.
I'd much rather villains draw on their ancestral past for inspiration than have it just be random. I like the idea of trying to add villains from less common backgrounds to combat the demonic GR.
That said, DoD is lame. But I could imagine a cool juju villain.
Posted by: kveto | February 24, 2015 4:26 PM
I can see your point to an extent, Kveto, but i do think there is a big difference from, say, the Crusader. He was an overly zealous Christian that became a villain and whose interpretation of Christianity was shown to be false (it's why Thor beats him). Here we have someone that is purportedly Christian but we're shown that no, he really gets his powers from an African Leopard God. And yet somehow is still a Christian reverend. I think that plays into a couple of stereotypes, not just 'black people are savages' (something sadly easily found in many a Yahoo News comments section) but that black Christianity isn't real Christianity (something that came out during the Jeremiah Wright situation, for example).
People don't take offense to the Crusader because there's no prevalent stereotype that says white people are all really knights in shining armor or even zealous crusaders (or vikings). But black Americans do have to contend with the savages stereotype. And then add to that the weird Christian/Leopard God juju contradiction.
I get what you're saying. England gets Captain Britain, the Middle East gets the Arabian Knight, and there can be an African hero that uses "black juju". They're all based on their region's supposed histories and legends and they can all be somewhere between offensive and well done depending on how much care and attention they get from the creators. Maybe if Destroyer of Demons was from Africa, not the United States, i could see it better. The Black Panther having a Panther God works because he's from an uninterrupted lineage that worships a tribal god (and because he's got a lot of positive attributes; he's not just a throwback to an African stereotype).
I'm sure Michael Fleisher intended no harm but i do think "Black Juju" is pretty offensive.
At least we can agree that DoD is lame! :-) I think that's part of the problem, though. If the character was created with more thought and wasn't introduced with some unacknowledged contradictions, why, he could have been as unoffensive as Brother Voodoo!
Posted by: fnord12 | February 24, 2015 5:32 PM
I get what you are saying as well. I just see this as a well-intentioned attempt to add some diversity/cultural history, i guess very unsuccessfully. (unsurprisingly, when writers get bashed for these types of things, they become afraid to try again, hence we get little diversity)
I don't think him being african would be vastly different from black american. I'd hazard to guess that many black americans would have an interest in African history/culture/juju magic no matter how far removed they are generation-wise. the same way an american with european ancestry might be interested in scandinavian or germanic or greek gods despite their ancestors living in the new world for umpteen generations.
With the Christianization of western africa long before 1980, I doubt you'd find many traditional juju priests there or in america. So i don't see how making him an actual african would help other than placing him closer to the source material.
(I think its silly for the crusader and the black knight to be Americans, considering that country has zero claim to chivalry, but Im not gonna be offended by it;-)
Posted by: kveto | February 24, 2015 6:38 PM
Historically, though, many Yoruba deities became associated with Christian saints- that's how Santeria and Voodoo came about. Look at Haiti- many Haitians find no contradiction in being both Voodoo and Catholic, no matter how contradictory that seems to an outsider.
Posted by: Michael | February 24, 2015 8:06 PM
The original script was apparently REALLY caricatured. Credit assistant editor Lance Tooks with cleaning up the more racist-sounding dialogue with some spot re-writes.
Posted by: Cecil | March 12, 2016 2:24 PM
Comments are now closed.
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