Ghost Rider: Where Do I Start?

Spikes. Leather. Motorcycle. Flaming Skull.

Who else but Marvel's Ghost Rider could fit that bill? Since his creation in 1972 he's starred in a host of miniseries, ongoing and has even guest-starred with the biggest in comics — including a stint as a member of the Fantastic Four! With news coming out of C2E2 last week that Marvel was revving up a new series for the Spirit of Vengeance and that a second Ghost Rider flick is in production now, we turn to the extensive library housed in iFanboy HQ (3rd floor, next to hardware) to pick out six books that will help you get to know Ghost Rider better.

Ghost Rider Omnibus: This 500+ page tome colllects the complete run of writer Jason Aaron on old flame-head. With the news that Ghost Rider isn't a demon but an angel from heaven, Aaron puts Ghost Rider front and center in a battle against the forces of Heaven and a hostile take-over by one of its own. Joined with artists Tony Moore, Tan Eng Haunt and Roland Boschi, Aaron fleshes out the flesh-less Ghost Rider with a supporting class including a legion of other Ghost Riders from other times and places.

Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch Classic Vol. 1: Although Johnny Blaze was the first Ghost Rider, the 90s saw a new man take the mantle — Danny Ketch. Using a modern-ized battering ram of a bike, this new Ghost Rider blazed through comics in the late 90s in one of the pinnacles of the character's fame. This collects the first ten issues of his 90s series, and is by Marvel stalwart Howard Mackie and two of the definitive artists of the character ever: Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira. A bonus for this is the two-part crossover with the X-Men in the streets of New Orleans against the Brood!

Ghost Rider: The Road to Damnation:  When Preacher writer Garth Ennis was announced as doing a Ghost Rider series, people erupted. And that's a no brainer, given his run on Preacher as well as Punisher. What we saw in this miniseries was a startling different kind of Ghost Rider, going through time and establishing it as more than just one man but a true Spirit of Vengeance. Stunning artwork by Clayton Crain only makes this a better package. If you like this, search for their sequel miniseries, Ghost Rider: Trail of Tears.

Essential Ghost Rider, Vol. 1: Every fire starts with a spark, and the spark of Ghost Rider is found in this collection of stories. It tells the startling origin of Johnny Blaze as he sells his soul to find a cure for his adoptive father. In the transaction, Blaze becomes connected to a fire-headed demonand is tasked with putting a stop to supernatural — and all-too-real — threats the character comes across.

Ghost Rider: The Hammer Lane: Without argue this is probably the most over-looked in our selection today, and it's still having trouble finding an audience. This miniseries by writer Devin Grayson and Trent Kaniuga is far different than what's come before or since for the Spirit of Vengeance, but I'm repeatedly drawn back by the unique characterisation and the mind-blowing art by Kaniuga. Truly the art is the draw for me here — it's like  a mix of Chris Bachalo and Skottie Young, and definitely worth a look.

Ghost Rider, Wolverine, Punisher: Hearts of Darkness: Not only is this a team-up, but Ghost Rider gets first billing over both Wolverine and Punisher. Those were the days of the mid-90s, and in this story we have this trio going up against Mephisto's son Blackheart as he tries to usurp his father. Blackheart's plan is to turn these three heroes into his own army, but when that goes downhill he turns a small midwestern town against them. This one is a hard one to find — originally published in the mid-90s as a slimline graphic novel one-shot, it's been out of print for years but worth the search to find it — especially for the John Romita Jr. art!


  1. This column is awesome.  I’ve bought a few works that you recommended and I’ve enjoyed them all.  Thanks!

  2. Fantastic article, more like it please! I am getting the must have stories from every superhero e.g Brubaker omnibus on Captain America. My question is which is the definitive, must own Ghost Rider? The Omnibus?

  3. I have the Ghost Rider, Wolverine, Punisher: Hearts of Darkness and the sequel book Ghost Rider, Wolverine, Punisher: The Dark Design. My brother got them for me for Christmas back in the 90s and both were fun.

  4. The Hammer Lane is probably my favorite visual representation of Ghost Rider.

  5. Which is the definitive Ghost Rider? Anyone? Please!

  6. Definitive Ghost Rider is Jason Aaron’s run on the title. HANDS DOWN! I will praise his run forever! It is absolutely fantastic! A nice overarching story that is summed up with a terrific ending. So I definitely would suggest the Jason Aaron Omnibus for anyone interested in Ghost Rider.

  7. I agree SpiderTitan, Aaron’s run was legite. A definite must buy for any Marvel fun. 

  8. Jordan0061: The two below you are right; get Aaron’s run for the definitive, bridging the past, present and probably what the new series might look like.

  9. Ghost Rider, Punisher, Wolverine! Man I thought I was the only one who bought that!

    My LCS had a copy of it on sale for their 2 year anniversary of opening the place. Not the greatest story ever but fucking gorgeous Romita Jr. art. An obvious ‘seconded’ for getting that one-shot. 

  10. The Aaron ghost rider omnibus is awesome. I read the entire run in issues, and didn’t hesitate to double dip when the trade hits. Probably my favorite Aaron work aside from Scalped.

  11. Trail of Tears is also really good. Totally different, set after the Civil War in the Old South. The story can be harsh and tragic, and it doesn’t end like you think it will. But it’s a story that needs telling. Plus more beautiful Clayton Crain artwork!

  12. @TheNextChampion  I remember buying that one-shot as well, thinkinng I would be getting something awesome. At that time in the ’90s, anytime Wolverine, Danny Ketch Ghost Rider, or Punisher appeared in a comic outside their own, sales went up (as well as the value in the collectors’ market). The story is pretty forgetable, and there’s no rational reason for those three characters to team up and fight Blackheart, especially the Punisher. (You don’t bring a Glock to a hellfire fight.) Also, I’m not a big fan of JRJR’s art except for when he draws Punisher, so that was probably the only good thing about the book. 

  13. @Kodaiji: That story does represent Punisher perfectly. When in doubt, in the case for Blackheart, just keep shooting and don’t ask questions.

  14. I read Aaron’s run in singles, but ended up grabbing the omnibus so I could have it all in once nice package.  It’s a fantastic and fun read.

    I used to have that Hearts of Darkness GN.  I read it so many times when I was a kid.

  15. Hammer Lame: The beginning of the End for Ghost Rider. Seems like everything after that thing came out just plain sucked.
    The recent stuff has been even worse. I just wish Marvel would fix this guy and straighten out his story and make him interesting again. Having 20 Ghost Riders running around is so stupid. Go back to the way it was originally and seperate the Blaze and Ketch Riders and I might be able to put Ghost Rider back as my all time favorite character.

  16. @Zarathos81  Marvel did straighten it out.  It actually makes sense now.  If you do not like having multiple GR’s around, okay, I can understand it, but how is it stupid?? 

    Please explain how a denizen of Hell running around doing good makes sense.  Dude made a deal with the devil and now he is a hero??  That only makes sense if you disregard every story about individuals dealing with the devil.

  17. Just picked up Ghost Rider Classic: Danny Ketch, man I forgot how much I loved that series when it first started back in the 90’s.