Friday, March 11, 2016

Ghost Rider: Cycle of Vengeance # 1

Cover Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Published: March 2012
Original Price: $5.99

Title: "Ghost Rider"
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Artist: Mike Ploog
Letterer: Jon Costa
Editor: Stan Lee
 
Title: "Life's Blood"
Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Javier Saltares
Inker: Mark Texeira
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Bobbie Chase
 
Title: "Vicious Cycle" Part 1
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Javier Saltares
Inker: Mark Texeira
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Colorist: Dan Brown
Editor: Axel Alonso
 
Collection Editor: Mark D. Beazley
Assistant Editors: Alex Starbuck & Nelso Ribeiro
Layout: Jeph York
 
SYNOPSIS
"Ghost Rider!": Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider, rides through the streets of New York City and accidentally witnesses two men killing another. Wanting no part of what's happened, he rides on, but is then chased by the killers. Upon trapping him in an ally, the men are shocked to see Blaze's flaming skull. The Ghost Rider points his finger, causing flame to erupt on the ground. The men make a run for it, and Blaze rides back to Madison Square Garden, where he transforms back into his human form. He thinks back to try and remember what happened, hoping to find some answers in the past.
 
Johnny's father, Barton Blaze, died in a motorcycle accident when his son was very young. Johnny was then adopted by Crash Simpson, another stunt rider that ran his own cycle show with his wife Mona and daughter Roxanne. Johnny grew into adolescence, and had followed his step-father's footsteps by taking up cycle riding. When he was fifteen, his motorcycle caught fire during a practice session. Though he attempted to save his family, Mona Simpson is killed in the bike's explosion. Before she dies, she makes Johnny promise her that he'll never ride in the show due to the danger, which he agrees to. Five years later, Johnny is discovered riding in secret by Roxanne, who tells him that she is in love with him. Later on, Crash tells the two that he has cancer, and that the show's performance at Madison Square Garden will be his last, if he lives to even see that.
 
Determined to keep his step-father from dying, Johnny researches some occult books, finally using them to summon Satan. In exchange for Johnny's soul, the Devil will spare Crash Simpson from the cancer that's killing him. Three weeks later, Crash tells Johnny that he plans to try and break the world's cycle jump record at the Garden. Johnny knows he'll be fine, due to the deal he made with Satan. When Crash attempts to jump it, he doesn't make it, and dies in the resulting accident. Furious at what happened, Blaze suits up, mounts a bike, and does the same stunt...and makes it, breaking the world record. That night, Satan returns to claim Johnny's soul, claiming that he only said he'd spare Crash from the disease and nothing else. As Satan prepares to take Johnny to Hell, Roxanne enters and banishes the demon with the pure essence of her soul. She tells Johnny that she read his books behind his back, and learned how to send the devil away. The next night, however, Johnny begins to burn with fever, until his head suddenly transforms into a flaming skull. Every night since, he has undergone the transformation into...the Ghost Rider!
 
"Life's Blood": Late at night, Dan and Barbara Ketch are taking a walk through Brooklyn's Cypress Hills Cemetery. The two hear gunshots nearby, and go to investigate. They witness a man named Deathwatch, dressed in a ninja's outfit, kill another man over a briefcase. Barbara screams when Deathwatch snaps a man's neck, which gives away their position. An arrow is shot, piercing Barbara in the heart. Deathwatch orders his men to track the two down and kill them. During the confusion, Pauline, a member of a gang called the Cypress Pool Jokers, steals the case. Dan manages to drag his sister into a nearby autoyard, where he stumbles across a strange looking motorcycle. As the ninjas close in, the bike's gascap begins to glow. Dan touches it and is engulfed in hellfire. Moments later, the Ghost Rider explodes from Dan's hiding spot, holding the wounded Barbara. He makes short work of the ninjas, but is then attacked by the police, who believe him responsible for what's happened. After a lengthy chase, the Rider loses his pursuers and transforms into Danny, who runs away from the motorcycle in a panic.
 
Later that night, the ninjas return to Deathwatch, who is actually a wealthy businessman. Using his psychic powers, he learns of the Ghost Rider. He then kills one of the ninjas for their failure. Elsewhere, the Kingpin is informed that his briefcase has been stolen. He tells his aide that the contents are dangerous and it must not fall into the wrong hands. Back at the cemetery, Pauline and the rest of the Jokers open the briefcase, only to find three locked canisters inside. They decide to hide them, so whoever wants them can't find them. Danny, meanwhile, staggers into the nearest hospital, where he collapses in front of his mother, his girlfriend Stacy, and her father, police captain Dolan. The next day, Dan awakens and is told that the police brought Barbara to the hospital, and that she's in a coma.
 
A few hours later, Dan returns to where he left the motorcycle, hoping that the magic within it will somehow help him heal his sister. Half a mile away, the Jokers are caught by the Kingpin's men, who demand to be taken to the briefcase. During the conversation, one of the kids is stabbed in the chest by a throwing knife. Deathwatch's ninjas descend onto the street, and a firefight immediately begins between the two groups. Danny hears the gunfire, and then sees the bike's gascap begin to glow. He places his hand upon it, and is transformed into the Ghost Rider. The demon attacks the assassins, defeating them easily, until one hits him with a rocket launcher. He then tells Pauline to take him to the canisters, and she tells him that they're hidden in three different mausoleums in the cemetery, and that she doesn't remember which ones. Before she can say anything else, the Ghost Rider knocks the man out with his chain. He then takes the boy that was stabbed to the nearest hospital. The next day, Dan overhears Captain Dolan blaming the Ghost Rider for hurting Barbara. Dan visits his comatose sister, the only person that knows his secret.
 
"Vicious Cycle" Part 1: Trapped in Hell, the Ghost Rider races through the underworld's dark gates, blowing through them with a horde of demons on his heels. Having finally escaped, the Rider turns to observe the horde, only to find that he hasn't escaped at all - he is still in Hell. And as Satan watches atop his tower, calling the Rider a "sucker", Johnny Blaze falls to his knees after realizing that he's fallen for the Devil's trick once again.
 
In his tower, Satan is approached by his minions, who praise him over his manipulation of the Ghost Rider. While Lucifer admits that he's well aware of his superiority, in the case of the Ghost Rider he knows just how to pull the strings. The Ghost Rider, meanwhile, rages at the fact that he may never get out of Hell. Punching furiously at the ground, he uncovers a small demon hidden beneath the dirt. Though the little demon protests otherwise, Blaze accuses him of observing him for Satan. While the demon asks the Rider for his help, a group of demonic horsemen charge toward them. Blaze prepares to fight, but instead watches in bewilderment as they ignore him in favor of snatching up the smaller demon, catching him with a hooked chain and dragging him away. As the demon is dragged back to Lucifer, he yells to the Rider that if he saves him he can dig them both out of there.
 
In the tower, the digging demon - Greexix - is brought before Lucifer, who tells him that had he simply told him that he no longer wished to serve in the Pit he would've gladly relocated him. Instead, he ran away. Greexix attempts to explain that he just got lost, but Satan sends him off to be tortured regardless. One of the riders then tells Lucifer that when they found Greexix he was speaking with the Ghost Rider. Outside, as the minions drag Greexix off to be tortured, Blaze rides past them and catches the small demon with his chain, pulling him free. As they're chased by the demon horde, Blaze tells Greexix that they're going to the Pit. When Greexix protests, Johnny corrects himself and says they're not going INTO the Pit...they're going OVER it. Jumping over the giant gorge on his mystical motorcycle, Blaze and Greexix crash on the other side, buying them only a small amount of time. His eyesight poor, Greexix asks the Rider if there are mountains and a cave nearby. Spotting it, the two make their way into the cave. Greexix tells Johnny that when they reach the bottom of the cave he'll start digging, and that they're pretty close to the boundary already. Greexix explains that people's assumptions have a huge effect on Hell, commenting that it's pretty funny that Hell looks exactly like one would think it would look. That's Lucifer's only power: deception. He uses people to get what he wants because he can't get it himself. Greexix himself had been used in the Pit, digging to expand it deeper and deeper to fit more and more souls inside. One day he gave up and tried to escape...and found water. Blaze hesitates, saying that there's no water in Hell - to which Greexix replies, "exactly". The little demon asks Johnny if he's going to help him, so they can both escape. Johnny says yes, but thinks to himself that Greexix is a demon, in Hell because he deserves to be. Blaze promises Greexix, not feeling the least bit guilty about lying, and takes the demon's hand...only to find Greexix transformed into Lucifer himself, who says that lying is a sin. Lucifer laughs as the water rises to engulf the trapped Ghost Rider, and as he loses consciousness he hears Satan say "see you on the other side".
 
On Earth, a young couple walk across a moonlit beach. While a light flares across the water in the distance, the couple see hundreds of people walking up out of the water and onto the beach. The light grows closer...as the Ghost Rider rides across the water, back on Earth.
 
ANNOTATIONS 
This issue is a reprint of Marvel Spotlight on Ghost Rider (1972) # 5, Ghost Rider (1990) # 1, and Ghost Rider (2006) # 1.
 
This issue was published as a tie-in to the Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance film that was released in theaters in February 2012.