Marvel confirmed at Wizard World Chicago what many readers of Ghost Rider have suspected: The fight between Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze is about to go down.
Written by Jason Aaron, the story has been building in the comic since Ketch, known to fans as the '90s Ghost Rider, showed up in issue #23 as a servant of the angel Zadkiel. Blaze has been more than a little ticked off at Zadkiel since he found out Ghost Rider was a servant of heaven instead of hell -- and Zadkiel is the angel pulling the strings.
The Danny Ketch character hadn't been seen since his own run as Ghost Rider ended years ago, and there was previously no explanation given for his absence when the new title launched again with Blaze as Ghost Rider. Now that he's shown up on the side of Blaze's nemesis, things are really going to heat up.
While the story of Ketch's journey between his time as Ghost Rider and his choice to work with Zadkiel will be told in a mini-series by Simon Spurrier, Aaron will tell the story of the battle between the two Ghost Riders in the main title beginning with issue #28. Newsarama talked to Aaron to get the scoop on the Ghost Rider vs. Ghost Rider fight.
Newsarama: You surprised readers a bit with that reveal of Danny Ketch in issue #23. Where did the idea for Ketch's return come from?
Jason Aaron: It was editor Aubrey Sitterson who first suggested it. We needed somebody to serve as an earthly lieutenant for Zadkiel, since we knew Zadkiel himself wouldn't be showing up for a while. Aubrey suggested Ketch and at first I was opposed to the idea, just because I didn't want to dredge up all that old Ghost Rider continuity. I wanted to keep the book as new reader friendly as possible. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, especially the chance to grow Ketch's character a bit. And once the great Simon Spurrier was brought in to write the mini-series that would serve to fill in the blanks in Ketch's story, I was really freed up to just plow right ahead with what I wanted to do.
NRAMA: Danny's clearly working for Zadkiel in his appearance here. Is Danny being mind-controlled by Zadkiel? Or is this a free will choice on his part to follow the angel? And if it's a choice, can you give us a clue as to why he would do that?
JA: He's definitely not being mind-controlled. In the main series, we'll get an explanation of Ketch's rationale, but for the full story you'll need to check out Simon's mini-series, which is just terrific. In addition to telling Ketch's story, it also really expounds on the history of the Spirit of Vengeance, which is really cool.
NRAMA: Zadkiel seems to have everyone wrapped up in his evil wings. Just who is this Zadkiel guy? And what can we expect to see from him in the coming months?
JA: He's a big bad angel is what he is. He's been in charge of heaven's black ops ever since the Flood. Once upon a time, God flooded the entire world because it was so out of control with sin. Afterwards, he promised Noah he wouldn't do that again. Instead, he put Zadkiel in charge of battling demonic insurgents and keeping humanity's excesses in check. When God condemned Sodom and Gomorrah, it was Zadkiel’s crew who swept through the cities, slaughtering every man, woman and child they could find. When the walls of Jericho fell, it was Zadkiel and his warriors who fought alongside Joshua and the Israelites, slaughtering every living thing within the city. They fought with King David, conquering the Philistines. They were at Gettysburg and Guadalcanal. At Rorke’s Drift and Stalingrad and Hamburger Hill. For every Hitler who emerged over the years, there’ve been five more that Zadkiel has kept from being born or from maturing to adulthood. Behind every war over the millennia, every mass murder, every pandemic, there’s been Zadkiel, manipulating all involved, purging sinners, thinning the herd of humanity.
NRAMA: Can you tell us anything about what motivated Ketch's service to this messed-up angel?
JA: That'll be the main story for Simon's book. Ketch's overall rationale was actually inspired by a line from issue #37 of the original Ghost Rider series, one that Michael Fleisher wrote. Ghost Rider says, "The taste of vengeance is as sweet as it is deadly." So the Ghost Rider may be a curse, but the power that comes with it is also quite addictive.
NRAMA: Is it safe to assume that when Danny was Ghost Rider, he was also unknowingly working for heaven and not hell? Or is there a twist we don't know about?
JA: The Ghost Riders seem to have a long history of being lied to, so yeah, that's one of the questions both Ketch and Blaze have these days.
NRAMA: Now that we've been told Danny and Johnny will come into conflict in Ghost Rider #28, can we expect an all-out, chain-swinging brawl? And will it be hand-to-hand between Danny and Johnny, or are minions and/or mind games involved?
JA: This is a big time, Ghost Rider vs. Ghost Rider throwdown the likes of which has never been seen before. In round one, it's just brother vs. brother, Blaze vs. Ketch, but by the end of the arc, there'll be more combatants involved. And wait'll you get a load of them.
NRAMA: If Danny is one of Zauriel's main soldiers on earth, does he have powers? Anything in particular that's going to kind of mess Johnny up when they battle?
JA: All I'll say is, it wouldn't be much of a battle if Ketch didn't have powers. As for what those powers are and how they're the same or different from his old GR powers, we'll just have to wait and see.
NRAMA: Tell the truth. Danny's just jealous, isn't he?
JA: There's maybe a touch of that, yeah, but it's not that simple.
NRAMA: Favorite line or moment you can tell us about in the Johnny vs. Danny conflict?
JA: My favorite part is the ending and where that leaves both characters and how it really flips things on their ear for my second year on the book.
NRAMA: Ghost Rider has always had an element of good vs. evil in his stories, even when his series was its most gritty. But you've taken
the idea of "good" and twisted it by making the angels the bad guys. Among all the kitsch and camp that you've thrown in, is there some commentary here about the battle of good and evil being taken to the extreme on both sides?
JA: Um... yeah, sure, that was my thinking all along. Yeah, that's the ticket.
NRAMA: OK, then tell us what else we'll see coming up from Ghost Rider in the coming months.
JA: Issues #24-25 find Blaze in a maximum security prison, getting his ass kicked by a beefy, Bible-quoting sociopath called The Deacon, and that story also features the debut of new artist Tan Eng Huat. After that, Ketch returns for issues #26-27, along with a bevy of old Ghost Rider villains, including The Orb, Blackout and my favorite, Doghead. There's also a death, a debut and the return of a certain hellfire shotgun. The big arc, titled "The Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance," begins with issue #28.