…Ghost Rider’s origin?

Ghost Rider's origin

My biggest problem is that there were too many underlying contradictions in the Ghost Rider series, including a) WHY Zarathos, A DEMON, would LOAN his POWERS to Johnny Blaze TO BATTLE society’s EVILS, and b) why Satan would free his opponent to devour souls when this is what led to Zarathos acquiring the power to challenge him in the first place?

My own solution to these questions seemed to be to come up with a counter-mythology that would allow people to be saved from Hell, since I think readers had seen enough of people making deals with the devil and being taken to Hell.

The thinking behind this proposal therefore suggests that there are forces that are dedicated to the undoing of what Satan does… a force for release and redemption which will be the equal of Satan, with foot soldiers that have the power to prevent the damned from becoming food for the soldiers of Hell.

So, in the beginning, well before the Great Cataclysm which sank Atlantis, we have the Earth ruled by the race of Elder Gods known as the N’Garai.

Humanity is enslaved by these gods, serving as their workers, pets and meals. They are eventually defeated and driven from the Earth by the Asura, the Assassins of Heaven led by the not-yet-fallen angel, Lucifer, and humanity gains its freedom.

However, Lucifer absorbs so much of their energies that he is transformed into Satan, along with his heavenly army, the Asura, who all become demons. While stories since have suggested something else entirely, the N’Garai sought vengeance upon the fallen angel Lucifer by specifically plotting to slay his daughter, Satana.

Nevertheless, returning to Heaven, the degenerated Lucifer leads the Asura in war against God, resulting in the Assassins of Heaven being cast down from the Earth, Zarathos, one of Lucifer’s lieutenants, among them, condemned to take possession of human hosts in order to be active.

Zarathos comes to be worshipped in Pyrrophlagalon, the “City of Burning Souls”, in the Nightmare Empire of Acheron. During this time, Centurious, a prince of Acheron, falls in love with a Priestess of the Cult of Zarathos, Lilith (of Midnight Sons fame). But Lilith confesses her love to the demon Zarathos, and she knows within her heart of hearts the feeling is mutual.

Jealous, Centurious scales the Mount of Avarice, performing a dark occult ritual to summon Satan so he can bargain for Lilith’s love. Needless to say, Satan takes his soul for the chance to love the princess.

Centurious, however, cannot love Lilith, as a man with no soul has no emotions, so when he attempts to seduce her, she rejects his advances. In his rage Centurious rapes Lilith (finally explaining why, in Spirits of Vengeance #15, Lilith gasps in surprise upon seeing Centurious unmasked for the first time since she recognises him as the one who assaulted her).

Lilith gives birth nine months later to the first human child born without a soul – a sign of the end times – and consequently becomes the Mother of Demons, a living gateway through which the N’Garai can return to Earth.

But another, more sinister, level to the birth of this child exists: it will serve as the physical body for the indwelling of Satan. The child has no soul of its own to be “possessed” by Satan, which will allow it to be used in a more complete and powerful manner than in a typical “possession”.

Zarathos, meanwhile, is wishing to UNDO the curse of the N’Garai that made him a demon and return to the state that exists outside the cosmos. But unable to walk the Earth in his true form whilst the repercussion of his own rebellion still remains in the mortal plane, he strikes a deal. He is permitted to impose his soul upon descendants of Centurious’s line in an effort to prevent the apocalypse… and hence have them act as his avatars, so that he may act through them to set right the evil he spawned.

It has been known that Centurious’s ties with the Ghost Rider point to something more… what that something is can finally be revealed. That is, Johnny Blaise’s line is descended from Centurious. This is why Centurious, once he is demasked in the Road to Vengeance crossover, seems so familiar to Dan Ketch’s Ghost Rider. This also explains that it is from Centurious’s lineage that Johnny inherits his aptitude for performing powerful sorcery. Together Blaise and Zarathos become the Ghost Rider, purifying and purging souls of their negative elements in order to save them from falling into the clutches of Satan.

How? Well, despite it previously being stated that the Ghost Rider was collecting souls for Satan, in this new series he comes to discover that he is ‘collecting’ the souls of evildoers, and can make use of their abilities and life forces to increase his strength, agility, reduce his vulnerability, and so on.

But these abilities, he discovers, have to be willingly surrendered by his ‘inmates’ but it’s in their best interest to do so, since in addition, Ghost Rider is sort of a living purgatory. If they help out by giving their life energies up to him, then they get time taken off of their imprisonment. Eventually, if they survive, they can pass on to a better afterlife. Hence, he becomes a truly unique character, in that he is a living redemption engine.

As for the mystery of the Fallen, it is known that they were originally members of the Blood who fought against Zarathos in the distant past. However, those members who would become known as the Fallen discovered the true purpose of the Blood: to guard the true (and continuing) bloodline of Centurious, thus ensuring Satan has a vessel to occupy for the grand finale of human history. Turning their back on their original mission, the Fallen choose instead to assist in ensuring the crusade of Zarathos has a chance of success.

Postscript

As for the whole conundrum that arose from the second Ghost Rider introduced in the early nineties, well I believe the answer’s RIGHT THERE… and yet “no one sees it, but how in the hell can they MISS it?”

It begins like this. Leader of the Hidden, Regent, was yet another guise worn by Satan in an effort to convince Roxanne Simpson into surrendering to him any children she might have to Johnny if he promised to cure Blaze of the curse of Zarathos. Desperate to save Johnny, Roxanne agrees.

Years after Roxanne gives birth to Emma & Craig, Regent comes for the children, transporting them back in time to be raised by Jack Ketch, member of the Hidden, and his wife Francis. The children are renamed Barbara and Daniel.

As for villains to pit the Ghost Rider against this time around, I have a few thoughts:

Zodiak could have been a decent villain, but I would slightly reimagine him in the following way…

During the 1970’s, the fallen angel, Lucifer, was revealed to not only have lead the angels to drive the N’Garai from the Earth, but to have lead the war against Heaven that resulted in twelve angels being cast down from the Earth.

Zodiak thus sets about increasing his power a thousand-fold through imprisoning these twelve demons within his body. He pits himself against Zarathos after having absorbed the first few, and Ghost Rider must prevent him from succeeding with all twelve, particularly the daddy-of-them-all, Satan himself.

This could be the thrust for a new series.

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10 Responses

  1. I need to sleep, but I followed you over from REMARKABLE because I love these analyses. Are you working as a professional writer—could we see you at Marvel? Labors of love, of course, know no need for a paycheck to inspire their wit, which this has in spades. I hope to come back with more to say, though I’ve missed most of comics, including GR’s incarnations, in the past decade.

    I am nuts for A Trout in the Milk AND anything Gerber-related.

    Would you like ‘be chill, cease ill’ or integr8dfix.blogspot.com on your blog roll? I too know how inspiration makes giddy private worlds; I do mostly original stuff, but I’m wrapping up a Defenders story treat plotted before the Gerber issues fell into my hands to suggest call-backs in my ending (already including Englehart’s last STRANGE run in cameo).

    • Great to have you Lue. Please feel free to comment on my previous posts too – it’s not too late you know.

      Regent/ Satan did this to draw forth Zarathos from the Crystal of Souls he became imprisoned within along with Centurious. Barbara (Emma) ends up getting killed, the event leading Daniel – given he is really the adult Craig Blaze and therefore another soulless offspring of the Blaise lineage – to become the latest host for Zarathos, leaving the soulless Johnny Blaze to finally become available as the indwelling of Satan.

      Don’t know why the surname “Blaze” was never recognised as an Americanisation of “Blaise”…the confessor of Merlin, the “devil’s good son”. I think this would also be great dimension to explore and bring into the whole Zarathos/ Blaise history as well.

      Speaking of overlooked minutiae, it has also occurred to me that the term “regent” brings to mind Dormammu’s *regency flames*. Does this somehow suggest a connection between our flaming biker and the Flames of the Faltine?

      As for me at Marvel, while I’d love to, I’ve not had any invites as yet. Maybe start a campaign on my behalf if you like;)

      You’ll be glad to know I’ve got some upcoming posts on Englehart and Gerber that I’ve been holding back for some time now.

      Your defenders story sounds interesting, and no problem linking to your blog too.

  2. Okay, saw your resume over on the link. If you only get to do one big 2 run, I hope you get to do Ghost Rider (if your scripting is as nuanced as your plotting).

  3. I love that “Blaise” thing! There’s a story in that, for sure. Neat things from the welter of Arthurian legend: in one recounting, Blaise chronicles Merlin’s history for him, but is also instructed to “keep part of the story dark, as I myself am.”

    Gives me chills, every time!

    Another bit: the name “Blaise” may be derived from Bleho Bleheris, a bard who was reputedly the source of the legend of Gawain…which is a hell of a complex thing in itself, since I think it’s generally accepted now that the Welsh “Gwalchmei” is the ultimate root of the Gawain character, as “Bedwyr” is the ultimate root of Bedevere. But then Gawain does seem to include a lot of the original Cei Wyn, too, as Lancelot eventually becomes confused with bedevere even in the later continuations…

    A big muddle, that Arthurian stuff!

    And so it’s pretty fertile ground for fan-fixes. Get Merlin in there, James! Merlin the one-off, the failed Antichrist, the duplex spirit-doctor of Britain. Marvel’s version of Merlin is as yet pretty thin and boring — that doesn’t seem right. Hey, I wouldn’t complain if you made him a mutant, even…

    • The implication being that Blaise baptised Merlin to prevent him becoming the Ghost Rider of his time? Fantastic!

      It was never explained where Johnny picked up his penchant for dabbling in the Dark Arts, but perhaps we finally know the reason. It is not so hard to adduce if he is descended from the Arthurian archimage. Well done.

      How about a What If where Merlin becomes Ghost Rider?

      While you mightn’t complain about me making him a mutant, was Merlin not a *son of satan* but instead a *Son of Centurious*?

      pillock, can we set ourselves the challenge here to come up with a suitable connection between Blaise, Ghost Rider and Merlin having a connection with both?

  4. This is ALL… SO…. AWESOME.

    (Well intended, and totally non-ironic, deeply deserved)
    *S-L-O-W C-L-A-P*
    *S-L-O-W C-L-A-P*
    *S-L-O-W C-L-A-P*

    BRAVO, Sir!

    ~P~

  5. Have been thinking on Blaise of late and how to connect him to Ghost Rider.

    Given Blaise is most known for being Merlin’s confessor, he would be well-versed in coming up with appropriate PENANCE for people.

    This is most interesting when Ghost Rider himself wasn’t averse to apportioning penance!

    However, it seems more likely that Johnny’s lineage, if descended from the soulless Centurious as I claim, is related to Merlin given the halfling himself was the alleged “son of satan”; and moreso if Merlin is the failed Antichrist!?

    That is, if Merlin was to be the Antichrist whom Satan would possess, this would mean in my fix he would be a descendant of Centurious, so his baptism would more likely be a “baptism of fire” where he is merged with Zarathos.

    But how could the confessor Blaise be responsible for this if he is likewise connected to the Centurious/ Blaze/ Ghost Rider lineage?

    What’s interesting about Blaise is when Merlin departs his birthplace with his mother the priest accompanies the prodigy in an effort to test him. This stinks of the Biblical Book of Job.

    We know that Blaise became the wizard’s lifelong friend, and chronicler, but you’ll recall even the Lady of the Lake didn’t trust Merlin.

    Was this meant to suggest that Blaise was Satan and became Merlin’s friend slowly corrupting him?

    Oh, and I like the idea of Zarathos’s original angelic name being Zarathiel since it’s very close to Seraphiel, leader of the Seraphim/ Burning Ones:)

  6. I really liked a lot of the elements in this – Lilith as Centurious’ princess was particularly inspired, and I could totally see the “time-traveling Blaze kids actually being Dan and Barb” twist being very successful. You seem to have thought things out carefully and I like how it all ties together, but I think it’s just too much. Ghost Rider is a character that has had his origin completely rewritten three(!) times since the start of the 1990s (the Medallion origin, the Noble Kale origin, and the most recent Heavenly Weapon origin), and this would really make things even *more* convoluted.

    You should also keep in mind that there’s a flaw in your opening statement about the relationship between Zarathos and Blaze: the demon didn’t *allow* Blaze to use his power to punish the guilty, that was the part of Satan’s curse for Zarathos. Blaze wasn’t the only one being cursed, Satan placed Zarathos inside Johnny’s body as punishment for the big Z. Because of their shared curse, Zarathos was shackled by Blaze’s conscience and guilt, which meant he could only punish “the guilty” instead of just frying everyone he came across. That brings me to what I think is the biggest flaw in your proposal: it completely rewrites the relationship between Blaze and Zarathos by changing the demon’s motivation. The Zarathos of the early 1980s was undeniably EVIL, that was what made the struggle between him and Blaze so interesting. Giving him a more benevolent motivation for his actions during that time would, in my opinion of course, rob him of what made him so fun to read about.

    Two caveats to my opinion above: a) Ghost Rider’s problems with amnesia make it really easy to erase and retcon history, so what you’re proposing wouldn’t be impossible to do, and b) I’m so obsessively versed in Ghost Rider history and lore that changes to the established status quo and origin (whatever they may be at the time) just instantly turn me off because I’ve seen it happen so many times before. So I am not a typical reader, I’m slavish when it comes to the character and naturally have thought-out opinions about where he’s been taken and where he should go next, lol.

    All that said, though, this was really cool to read and when I get the time I’ll be checking out some of your other “fixes”!

    • Hey Chris, Glad you really liked my post, particularly my origin for Lilith and Craig and Emma as Dan and Barb:)

      While I’m aware Ghostey’s had his origin completely rewritten countless times, my post was an attempt to clean up all the convoluted iterations since; which I think I’ve done quite successfully! That and his initial origins were never quite that clean to begin with, hence why it became convoluted in the first place with writers trying to fix it unsuccessfully.

      With regard to Zarathos’s not allowing Blaze to use his power to punish the guilty being part of Satan’s curse for Zarathos, we’re talking about THE PRINCE OF LIES here, and I was coming more from the perspective of Plato’s Critias that it is the human element of the Gods’ offspring’s nature that leads to their corruption and downfall. So in my plot, while Zarathos is turning over a new leaf, it is the human element of the bonding that leads to his corruption returning, and his once again becoming undeniably EVIL. Recall it was Blaze who made the pact with SATAN first so he wasn’t the INNOCENT one to begin with. He knew how to invoke SATAN himself, not some lesser demon. Hence why I connected him to Centurious, and his following the pattern of his ancestor… it was in his genes, so to speak!

      With regard to your own thought-out opinions, do tell:)

      Thanks again for reading and I look forward to your further comments!

  7. These are so good, Nathan, and I don’t usually have all the material at hand to argue any given points—but it’s such a creative way of thinking of Marvel, making the familiar fresh again!

    Ghost Rider is such a fantastic icon, but never has a story line seemed to take him to the A-list. Your analysis is more likely to send me back in the direction of Critias than Ghost Rider. I am interested in the story engine idea of something in human nature corrupting supernatural bodies rather than vice versa. The bits with Merlin require another look, as he’s a favorite of ours across his various iterations.

    Tying Lilith to Centurious does a lot to elevate a character who was written to be important to the mythos, crucial, even—but he’s quickly shoe-horned into the end of the first series. My life drifted away from a line-wide knowledge of Marvel sometime after Dan Ketch appears, so this is largely new information to me and it reminds me of the Flash.

    Boils down to this: to bring a character to life in people’s minds, you need the one great story there is to tell for him or her. If it’s really well-made, it might carry the elements of a story engine. The Fix always leaves us with a formerly broken character, now in possession of at least the One Great Story.

    Somewhere in dreams, there’s a long box of great comics written by Nathan Masters…

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