There's a new king reigning in the hell of the Marvel Universe - well, at least one of the hells of the Marvel Universe - and that king is Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider.
SPOILERS for Damnation: Johnny Blaze - Ghost Rider #1 follow.
Johnny Blaze's sudden management level promotion in Hell is due to the events of the Doctor Strange: Damnation event. The story began when Doctor Strange used borrowed Asgardian magic to try to resurrect Las Vegas and all of residents and tourists who died there in Hydra's attack during the events of Secret Empire.
Strange's good intentions backfired. He succeeded in raising Las Vegas, but he raised it out of Hell, where the entire city of sin landed after Hydra's attack. Mephisto, the ruler of Hell, wasn't happy with having his new plaything taken from him and so he followed the city back to the mortal realm and made it Hell on Earth, where everyone is punished eternally for even the most menial sin. On top of that, he's turned several of the Avengers and Doctor Strange himself into Ghost Riders at his service.
Doctor Strange's estranged assistant Wong was convinced by Strange's ghost dog, Bats, to get involved. Wong assembled a new version of the Midnight Sons. Wong's new version of the mystical team includes Blade, Elsa Bloodstone, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Man-Thing, Doctor Voodoo, and Johnny Blaze.
While most of the Midnight Sons make a full frontal assault on Mephisto's Las Vegas, Wong gives Johnny a special mission. Once the Midnight Sons have cleared a path, Johnny rides his demonic motorcycle straight up the side of Mephisto's tower to come face-to-face with the lord of Hell himself.
This immediately appears to be a miscalculation. The Spirit of Vengeance that gives Ghost Rider his power was cursed to be bound to mortals by Mephisto himself. Mephisto blows out the Ghost Rider's flame and pushes the mortal Johnny Blaze from the tower, smiling as he falls to the ground and dies.
But that was actually all part of Wong's plan. With Mephisto busy on Earth, the throne of hell is left unattended. Blaze convinces the now independent Spirit of Vengeance ot help him make his way through the circles of hell to reach that throne. Johnny and the Spirit bond again and ride through hell until Johnny is enthroned.
But Mephisto is a crafty one and time flows differently in hell. Johnny wonders if Mephisto knew what Johnny was up to and allowed it to happen because he knew what torture it would be for a Spirit of Vengeance to be forced to rule over and work with demons and the damned.
What do you think of this big change for Ghost Rider? Let us know in the comments!
Damnation: Johnny Blaze - Ghost Rider #1 is now on sale.