Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Original Ghost Rider (1992) # 18

Cover Artist: Gary Barker
Published: Dec. 1993
Original Price: $1.75
Title: "The Desolation Run"
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: Sal Buscema
Inkers: John Tartag & George Roussos
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Phil Rache
Editor: Len Wein
Title: The Curse of Quetzalcoatl, Part 4: "Ghost of a Chance"
Writers: Tom Brevoort & Mike Kanterovich
Artist: Dick Ayers
Inker: Rich Ayers
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colorist: Mike Worley
Editor: Evan Skolnick
In the most desolate desert area of the United States, a cross-country motorcycle endurance race is preparing to go underway. One of the bikers is Johnny Blaze, who took the Stunt-Master's place in the race as a way to forget his most recent battle with Satan and the departure of Roxanne Simpson. Among the other racers are Terry Fairbanks and Nora Joyce, a divorced couple that were once a riding team but who are now opponents, and Douglas Forester, the man funding the race who is also a competitor. While Blaze checks his bike before the race, the race's starter - a man named Lemuel Driftwood - attempts to strike up a conversation with him. Even though Johnny really doesn't want to talk, he listens as Driftwood tells him about Forester's family dying in a plane crash, and that he sponsored the marathon as a way to forget his pain. Lemuel then says that he himself was raised in an orphanage and was sick a lot as a child - a turn of discussion that causes Blaze to brush off the conversation by saying he needs to check over his bike. Disappointed, Driftwood decides it's time to start the race and fires his pistol into the air, prompting the racers to begin. After a few quick moments, however, Lemuel makes an impulsive decision to prove that he's just as good as the bikers, hopping on a stand-by bike and joining the race himself.
Unknown to Blaze, among the fans at the race's start lurks the disguised Inferno, who has been charged with the task of making Johnny die while committing an evil act, hence condemning his soul to Hell. Inferno resumes his demonic form as he teleports to another part of the desert, finding the pawn he plans to use to trap the Ghost Rider: none other than the incredible Hulk. Using his fear-inducing powers, Inferno causes the Hulk to be attacked by an illusionary version of the Ghost Rider. The hallucinatory Rider causes the Hulk much pain, but then just as suddenly as he appeared he disappears. The Hulk is now in a furious rage at being attacked, and he leaps off to find Blaze (whose location has been placed in the man-brute's mind by Inferno). Inferno watches the Hulk leave, sure that when the monster attacks the bikers Blaze will run to save himself...and then, after the Hulk kills Blaze, his soul will belong to Satan.
Back at the race, Blaze undergoes the transformation into the Ghost Rider, having forgotten that most of the race takes place at night. While he scrambles for an explanation, Mr. Forester tells him that his ghost tricks won't scare anybody out of the race, and John thanks himself for having the foresight to include the Ghost Rider bit into his cycle act. The six racers continue on until, suddenly, the Hulk crashes down in their path, determined to kill the Ghost Rider. Unable to stop in time, Forester jumps off his bike, allowing it to crash into the Hulk. Annoyed by the crash, the Hulk prepares to kill Forester...but, to the surprise of all, Lemuel Driftwood rides to the rescue, barely pulling Forester away in time before the Hulk strikes. Blaze attempts to lure the Hulk away, but finds that his hellfire does little to harm the rampaging monster. The Hulk attacks, knocking Blaze from his bike, but before the advantage can be pressed, Fairbanks and Joyce manage to distract the goliath while Forester and Driftwood help Blaze to his feet. Having regained his senses, Blaze blankets the Hulk with hellfire, burning up all of the oxygen around his head. Eventually, the Hulk passes out due to lack of oxygen and falls to the ground defeated. The bikers celebrate momentarily before Blaze recommends that they leave the area before the Hulk wakes up. Later, after the weary bikers make it to the finish line, the one racer that continued on during the Hulk's attack (and subsequently won the race), asks Blaze why he helped a bunch of losers instead of winning the prize money. Johnny looks back at the four people who helped him and tells the other man that he's got it wrong, "there isn't a loser in the pack".
"The Curse of Quetzalcoatl, Part 4: Ghost of a Chance": El Ojo confronts Phantom Rider, convinced he's actually el Aguila, the man responsible for el Ojo's brother's death. The desperados form a firing squad and Phantom Rider asks for a cigarette and tequila as his last request. He makes a Molotov cocktail and the explosion covers his escape. El Aguila arrives to help.
This issue is a reprint of Ghost Rider (1973) # 11.
This issue also included an all-new back-up story featuring the old western Ghost Rider, Carter Slade, now re-named the Phantom Rider as of West Coast Avengers # 19.
The synopsis for the Phantom Rider story comes from Ghost Rider: The Official Index to the Marvel Universe.