WHY MARVEL’S GHOST RIDER IS WORTH LOOKING INTO
“This is what I look like when I’m smiling”
With rumors beginning to flood the internet and fan-boys (such as myself) and fan-girls going with the buzz of the small screen flow, I felt that it is about time that we discussed this peculiar character; Ghost Rider. I have to point out here that the character has been rumored to appear soon on Netflix with a new actor as the vexed Johnny Blaze. Although this is some big news, I feel that there are still some fans who’ll greatly miss Nicholas’ Cage’s portrayals of the character.
To start this off I feel that I should be clear here and point out that although some of you out there might rate McFarlane’s Spawn higher than Ghost Rider, I want to assure you now that there is more to consider here when it comes to the latter. You see, unlike Ghost Rider, Spawn is limited to the spiritual aspect and does not fully, ‘walk both worlds’ as Ghost Rider does. Again, Spawn is a single individual who does not quite draw on any other being’s power other than his own in order to do what he does. Last but not least, I’d love to point out that Ghost Rider’s ties to Zarathos are quite unique and raise the Rider’s threat-level higher than that of Spawn when it comes to raw might and power. [Don’t get me wrong here, but Spawn IS an amazing character with incredible power, though he is no match for Ghost Rider as you’ll soon see].
Ghost Rider’s link to the mystical is through the ancient demon, Zarathos. Zarathos was Mephisto’s challenger when it came to seeking rulership over hell. What’s interesting about this is that he was almost as old and as powerful as Mephisto, and had already amassed for himself a large number of followers in his bid to take over Mephisto’s throne. By the time he was discovered and trapped in a crystal by Mephisto, he had waxed powerful. This way hell’s threatening divide was stopped up and mended.
Later on, Mephisto uses this very crystal to create the Ghost Rider. A process he undertakes by merging the crystal to the ‘soon-to-be’ Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze. What makes this particular Ghost Rider special to me is the fact that he did not make his pact with Mephisto out of selfishness, but rather out of selflessness. In his pursuit to save his dad, Johnny does the unthinkable and makes a deal with Mephisto who had since pursued and tracked him down for his own personal reasons. Conveniently for Mephisto, Johnny was in a desperate state and he used this to his own advantage and made the desperate Johnny into the Ghost Rider, while simultaneously denying him the one thing he wanted; the health and life of his father.
Tragic though, this may be, it speaks volumes about how we become what we least expect because of devastating circumstances that come our way. As though led by misfortune, Johnny’s loss became his greatest consolation for justice as he took on the mantle of the Ghost Rider! Now, tasked with the job returning wandering escaped souls [back] to hell, Johnny takes on the eery, mysterious and mystical persona of the dark angel, Zarathos.
Endowed with incredible power, the Ghost Rider is born. Zarathos’ power is freely given to Johnny to bring in the escaped spirits to their rightful place but [then again] here’s the twist; Zarathos lends all of his power to Johnny because through him, he gets to do that which he has painfully longed to do…he gets to bring justice to himself by getting revenge on the one being that put him in his present situation, Mephisto. This great power is alluded to in the World War Hulk Series when Ghost Rider intentionally avoids fighting the Hilk because of fears that the collateral damage would be severe. Basically, he knew that his might, combined with that of an enraged Hulk would cause death and that was not his mission when confronting him.
Why I bring this up is because of a little known fact; the Rider fights against Mephisto, rather than for him. In this way he is a very remarkable character. Intimidating though the Rider might be, he does not shy away from being what the Rider’s innate nature is-a fusion of two beings to create one new one-the Spirit of Vengeance. Allow me to make my point here; it is at this point that the Rider truly walks both worlds. He is as much a son of sorrow as a human being, as well as the expression of a disgraced spirit. He is capable of understanding as well as navigating his way mentally and physically in the astral and the physical plane.
As a Christian, I find this tremendously helpful in concretizing my understanding of what the Christian is. He is very much a being walking in two worlds; that of the spirit and the material. Not only is he called to do so, he is to embody the divine spirit that lives in him; that is, Jesus Christ himself. As the Scriptures would say, “as he lived, so also ought we to live…[and] as he is so also shall we be.” This has profound implications, especially when we consider that we become ‘Sons of God’ (see my previous posts on the concept of ‘son of god’ as applied to Christ). We are also said to be be transformed…but I’ll go more into that in a separate post soon.
Please remind me!
Remember, to keep riding and keep searching :-)!