Shocking as it may be but I've never been a huge fan of Ghost Rider. I remember reading a few issues back in the '70s and I also read the few issues of the 1990s revamp with Danny Ketch. Don't remember much about that one except that the first issue had a glow-in-the-dark cover. Ahh, the 90s.
I say shocking because Ghost Rider has everything I want in a superhero comic book. It's full of crazy stupid. It's a guy in leather riding a motorcycle with fiery wheels. Oh and his head is also on fire. And it's a skull. And he goes around punching people in the name of vengeance. He was even a member of a super group once. Seriously, what's not to like? But Ghost Rider never did it for me, so when Marvel gave GR yet another series, I hardly noticed it until new writer Jason Aaron took over with issue #20, collected in this trade. Johnny Blaze is back as the Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch is back too. I thought they killed him off. Oh well) and he wants revenge on the rogue angel what did this to him. Yes, Ghost Rider's origin has been retconned. The Spirit of Vengeance was bonded to the soul of an ex-circus motorcycle stuntman because the stuntman wanted to save his dying father. Turns out the Spirit wasn't the devil's idea, it was Zadkiel's, a rogue angel. Kinda makes sense I suppose. After all why would the devil turn one of his suckers into a Spirit of Vengeance meting out justice to evil people? Vengeance, hell. The devil would probably give the evildoer a pat on the back, a cigar and his or her choice of a fiery duplex in Hades. But Johnny Blaze is still out of luck because he did make a deal with the devil, damned his soul to Hell anyway and still has to do Heaven's dirty work by hunting down the guilty. So yeah, Blaze is pissed off with everyone especially Zadkiel the rogue angel. But Zadkiel has a plan of his own. He needs the Spirit of Vengeance to overthrow God so he can sit on the Throne of Heaven himself. Yes, really.
So that is Jason Aaron's take on Ghost Rider in a nutshell. It's all about Johnny Blaze finding a way to reach Zadkiel and kick his arse while Zadkiel sends his groupies to capture Johnny alive so they can use his powers to defeat God. And Zadkiel followers come in many shape and sizes, including:
Over zealous, psychotic nurses with automatic weapons riding motorcycles! It's like Jason Aaron looked into my mind and took notes!
Not only that but both the Ghost Rider and the sexy psycho nurses have to deal with a highway haunted by cannibalistic ghosts and it doesn't end well for some:
Bye-bye, sexy, psychotic nurse who wants to help overthrow God
The second half of the trade sees Johnny in a middle of a prison riot and he's looking for a convicted priest who made a deal with a Satanist group in prison to protect himself from Zadkiel and his assassins. That's just crazy and awesome at the same time. Ghost Rider gets out of this one by pummelling the bad guy with an over sized edition of the Bible. Irony in comic books. Who woulda thunk it?
I think as long as Jason Aaron is writing Ghost Rider, I'll be along for the ride.