The Ghost Rider spotlight has shifted to the new, muscle car-driving Robbie Reyes over the past couple of years, as the Felipe Smith creation has now joined the ranks of Jason Aaron's Avengers team. To be fair, Robbie Reyes is an awesome character and his attention in big titles is well-deserved, but it was only a matter of time before the original Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, returned with a vengeance. That moment finally arrived this week at the end of Avengers #16.
For most of the issue, Robbie was stuck in traffic down in the depths of hell as the Spirit of Vengeance took over his body up on Earth, fighting the rest of the Avengers. The entire time Robbie was down below, there was a mysterious character constantly talking to him, teasing difficulty for him up ahead. This character wasn't revealed until after Robbie had already been rescued, and his inner monologue introduced a flashback to his final moments in hell.
That last page featured Johnny Blaze in all his glory, sitting on his bike and still reigning as the King of Hell. He left Robbie with a menacing speech that suggests their stories are about to intertwine once more.
"You'll be back," Johnny says to Robbie. "And the King of Hell will be here waiting. And next time I see you, Ghost Rider, you and me... we're gonna do a bit more than just talk. We're gonna have us a little ride."
Robbie went on to explain in his monologue that it wasn't Johnny or hell that he feared, but the idea that he was something even worse.
"Johnny Blaze was a good guys once. He was the greatest Ghost Rider who ever lived. Now he's something that chills my bones. Maybe because I know I'm already more of a monster than he ever was."
The Johnny Blaze we know and love has been absent from the pages of Marvel since the Damnation event last year, when he took over as the King of Hell. His return in this Avengers series shouldn't be a surprise, though. Not only is the ongoing saga dealing with some of the darker corners of the Marvel Universe, but writer Jason Aaron also has a rich history with the character, having written quite a few Ghost Rider comics over the years.
What sort of role do you think Johnny Blaze will play in the Marvel Universe going forward? Could he somehow be tied into the War of the Realms crossover? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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