Johnny Blaze has been the most popular Ghost Rider under the Marvel Comics umbrella for most of his history. But, the first issue of the character's new ongoing series points at some sinister undertones for the rider as he settles into his new role. Blaze is no stranger to some danger and dark elements in new titles, but Ghost Rider #1 takes things a step beyond even that. *Spoilers follow for Ghost Rider #1*
In recent months, Johnny Blaze got exiled to the underworld as he took over ruling Hell in Mephisto's place. He's been doing his thing, causing fear in the hearts of his citizens, but now he has to clean up a mess that happened on his watch. Demons have been escaping the realm and making trouble topside. Blaze is out to bring them back or neutralize them, he runs into fellow Rider Danny Ketch to ask for some help in Brooklyn.
Ketch has seen better days and is drinking himself into an early grave after the grief of losing his mother has compounded his depression along with other recent events. The two Riders bring down a demon and Ketch wants no part of this team-up. He's still emotionally scarred from watching one of their fellow riders meet a grisly end in Absolute Carnage.
Alejandra Jones battled the evil symbiote during Absolute Carnage: Symbiote of Vengeance. Blaze was present for that adventure as an astral projection. He and Ketch were not able to save Jones, but they did help her protect and innocent village from being slaughtered. That guilt has Ketch stuck in neutral and Blaze, like most of his friends and acquaintances, wants the Rider to snap out of it.
Blaze makes a vague comment about how they would talk about the prospect of working together again before taking off into the night. Ketch goes to visit his mother's grave and an apparition with her appearance warns him to be wary of Blaze. The new King of Hell is being corrupted by the power held in that position and doesn't even realize it. To make matters worse, he's got a full-on war bubbling below the surface back in his domain as some of the demons are none too keen on having Blaze sit on the throne.
Some of the recent tie-ins explored the fact that there is a burgeoning Ghost Rider army assembled down in Hell waiting to be tapped into. Readers are probably wondering how that group of Riders will factor into these new adventures. Robby Reyes kind of lingers in the background as well. The last time he appeared, he was racing Johnny Blaze for his life and freedom. More answers will be coming up in the next issue as the intrigue around this horned Ghost Rider revs up.