Back in 1972, Marvel introduced Johnny Blaze, a gifted daredevil who
became the antihero known as Ghost Rider after selling his soul to a
demon. The character was a fresh and exciting take on the classic
superhero concept and readers quickly embraced him. Ever since his
debut, the character has gone on to appear in multiple television
series both animated and live action, and has even been focused in
two feature films. An interesting thing about the antihero is the fact
that, while Johnny Blaze could be considered the most popular
carrier of the fiery mantle, he isn’t the only individual to have
wielded the Spirit of Vengeance. Due to the ever-evolving nature of
comic books, various writers and artists have explored different
incarnations of Ghost Rider. With that in mind, it’d be appropriate to
rank the 10 most prominent versions of ghost rider.

10. ORIGINAL GHOST RIDER

Not many fans know this, but Johnny Blaze wasn’t the first individual to carry
the Ghost Rider mantle. That honour actually goes to Carter Slade, a character
created by Roy Thomas, Dick Ayers and Gary Friedrich back in the ’60s, who
made his comic book debut in the pages of Ghost Rider #1. In the story which
took place during the 19th century Slade was an idealistic young man traveling
from Ohio to Montana to be a teacher. During his trip, he noticed a band of
white men dressed as Native Americans attacking a group of people. Carter
went to confront them but he was shot. Fortunately for him, he was rescued
by a real group of Native Americans, who took him to their doctor, Flaming
Star. Shortly after bringing Carter back to life, Flaming Star informed the young
man that he was a hero sent by the Great Spirit to combat injustice and protect
the weak. Being the righteous man he was, Slade easily embraced his role as a

superhero. After outfitting himself with a white costume and finding a proper
horse to ride on, he became the Ghost Rider. Carter’s origin tale is, without a
doubt, one of the most out-there backstories in classic superhero media.
However, even with his outlandish nature, it’s difficult to not be entertained by
the adventures of a cowboy-like superhero riding around the desert protecting
innocent people from danger.

9. PHIL COULSON

Phil Coulson made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2008’s Iron Man
and he quickly became a fan-favourite. His popularity was such that, following
his death in Avengers, Marvel brought him back to life for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In season four, the show introduced Robbie Reyes’ version of the Ghost Rider.
The antihero brought an exciting mystical vibe into the series, and he also
opened the door for one of the most awesome mashups presented in
superhero media yet. Near the end of season four, Coulson and his team ran
out of options to defeat their latest big bad, a vicious Life Model Decoy known
as Aida. Desperate to take down the baddie, Coulson made a deal with Ghost
Rider to wield the Spirit of Vengeance. Everyone’s favourite agent became the
new Ghost Rider and easily defeated Aida with the help of his trusty chain.
Following Aida’s death, everything seemed to be going well for the Agents of
S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately for Coulson; however, pairing himself with a
demonic power source cost him dearly. As it turned out, the Spirit of
Vengeance burned away the Kree procedure that was used to bring Coulson
back to life. While Coulson’s tenure as Ghost Rider was brief, watching him as
the fiery avenger defeating a villain was exhilarating.

8. SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE

Ghost Rider may be primarily based on Earth, but he isn’t above going on the
occasional cosmic adventure. In fact, one of the incarnations of the character
even became part of the Guardians of the Galaxy for a time. Back in the ’90s,
Jim Valentino decided to put a fun spin on the Guardians of the Galaxy by

exploring a version of the team that existed in the 31st century. One of the
characters he chose to put in the superhero group was Ghost Rider. Being from
the future, however, this rider was completely different from his past
counterparts. This time around, the man behind the fiery skull was Wileaydus
Autolycus, a former priest who became disillusioned by his church the
Universal Church of Truth. Desperate to make a change in the world, Autolycus
took the powers of the Ghost Rider and started going by the name “Spirit of
Vengeance.” Sometime after taking on the Spirit of Vengeance mantle, the
hero came across the Guardians of the Galaxy. Initially, Autolycus believed
them to be enemies, but he ended up joining the eclectic super team when he
discovered they were actually on his side. Having a future Ghost Rider join a
new version of the Guardians of the Galaxy is a promising concept.
Unfortunately, aside from a few standouts moments spread throughout the
Guardians’ comics, the Spirit of Vengeance didn’t really get much of a chance
to shine during his tenure in the space-based team.

7. GHOST RIDER 2099

During the ’90s, readers got the chance to explore future versions of their
favorite heroes through Marvel’s 2099 comic book line. One of the characters
to get the futuristic treatment was Ghost Rider, with a series appropriately
titled Ghost Rider 2099. Unlike past versions of the character, this Ghost Rider
wasn’t powered by an ancient demonic force. The story centered around
Kenshiro Cochrane, a young and talented hacker with a chip on his shoulder.
Aided by his outlaw teammates, Cochrane went on a hacking mission to steal
an important piece of information. To their misfortune, their mission was
interrupted by a vicious gang who attacked and ultimately murdered them.
Kenshiro escaped but he was eventually killed as well. Right before dying,
Cochrane plugged his mind into the internet. Because of this, he was
transferred into a strange virtual world where he was greeted by a group of
digital beings. The entities convinced Kenshiro to return to the land of the
living to become their champion. Cochrane accepted and his mind was
downloaded into a robotic body. Given the body’s resemblance to the original
Ghost Rider, Kenshiro decided to become the new Spirit of Vengeance. Even

though the concept of a future, tech-based Ghost Rider is intriguing, Kenshiro’s
backstory was quite convoluted and he wasn’t as relatable as other hosts of
the Spirit of Vengeance.

6. MICHAEL BADILINO

In 1992, Howard Mackie and Ron Wagner introduced a new player into the
Ghost Rider mythos: Michael Badilino. As a boy, Michael suffered a terrible
tragedy. One day, Michael’s father was attacked by Johnny Blaze’s Ghost Rider
who was controlled by an evil entity at that time. Badilino Sr. went mad after
the attack and he killed his wife, daughter and himself, leaving little Michael
alone. Following that tragedy, Michael grew up obsessed with getting revenge
on the Ghost Rider for what he did to his family. As an adult, Badilino struck a
deal with Mephisto to become a Ghost Rider-like creature known as
Vengeance. Having finally attained the power to achieve his life-long revenge
dream, Vengeance went on the hunt for the Ghost Rider. Following a few run-
ins with Danny Ketch, Michael discovered his family’s connection to the Spirit
of Vengeance lineage, and he decided to drop his vendetta against Ghost Rider
to become a hero. Sadly, Michael’s tenure as a do-gooder didn’t last long. At
one point, Badilino was kidnapped by Anton Hellgate, a villain obsessed with
obtaining the power of the Ghost Rider. Michael was freed, but the ordeal left
him mentally unstable. He eventually lost his mind and killed several of his
coworkers as Vengeance. Having realized what he had done, Vengeance took
his own life. Aside from his small role in the Ghost Rider universe, Badilino is at
the bottom of our list because of all the damage he caused as the Spirit of
Vengeance.

5. ALEJANDRA JONES

Marvel’s 2011 “Fear Itself” event marked a turning point for several beloved
characters, one of which happened to be Johnny Blaze. In the storyline, Blaze
was tricked by a man named Adam to give up the Ghost Rider curse. Feeling
desperate to free himself of the Spirit of Vengeance and finally live a normal

life, Johnny accepted the deal. The Spirit of Vengeance was then transferred
into Alejandra Jones, a young woman who had been trained since childhood to
become the next Ghost Rider. Thanks to her training, Alejandra became an
incredibly powerful Ghost Rider. So much so that she was even able to harness
abilities that had never been used by previous riders. Despite her great
potential, Jones didn’t share the heroic personality of her predecessors and
she ultimately lost part of her powers to Johnny Blaze, who realized the
mistake he had made in giving up the Ghost Rider curse. While she retained
the ability to turn into Ghost Rider, Jones decided to go into hiding, bowing to
get revenge on Blaze for taking away her power. Alejandra brought an
intriguing psychological dynamic to the Ghost Rider mythology. She wasn’t an
outright villain, but it was often hard to tell where her allegiances lied. The
character hasn’t had a big presence in the comics lately, but given her
potential, it’s probably only a matter of time before we see her pop up once
again.

4. ROBBIE REYES

As part of its All New All Different line of comics, Marvel gave new spins to
some of its most popular characters. For this new era in the prolific superhero
universe, writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore were tasked with coming
up with a fresh take on the Ghost Rider. Out of this came Robbie Reyes, a
down-on- his-luck young man responsible for taking care of his little brother,
Gabe. Having no money to support Gabe, Robbie turned to illegal street-racing.
One fateful night, Reyes was killed by a gang looking to steal something from
his car. Right at that moment, the spirit of a sadistic criminal named Eli Morrow
who happened to be Robbie’s uncle took over the young man’s body and
revived him, turning him into the new Ghost Rider. Using Eli’s powers, Robbie
vowed to make his city safer for his little brother. A unique thing about this
Ghost Rider is the dynamic between Reyes and Eli. Throughout their
adventures, Robbie found himself in a constant psychological struggle as he
fought to keep Morrow at bay so as to retain control of his body. Another
fascinating aspect about Robbie’s Ghost Rider is his relationship with his
brother. Robbie may be an agent of evil looking for people to punish every

night, but he still has to be a responsible role model for a little boy who idolizes
him.

3. RED HULK

As far as mind-blowing superhero mashups go, there are few that compare to
the time the Hulk bonded with the Venom symbiote and the Spirit of
Vengeance at the same time. In the 2012 “Circle of Four” storyline, a demon
known as Blackheart concocted a plan to make Hell come to life on Earth
through a mystical portal. To his dismay, Red Hulk, Agent Venom, X-23 and
Alejandra Jones’ Ghost Rider got together to take him down. Unfortunately for
the heroes, Blackheart proved to be a powerful adversary both physically and
mentally. He not only smashed them around as he pleased, he also created a
group of super villains with the ability to make the ragtag team of crime-
fighters live out their harshest traumas and insecurities. Having realized that
they couldn’t beat him alone, Red Hulk bonded with the Venom symbiote and
the Spirit of Vengeance. This resulted in a strange Venom/Ghost Rider/Red
Hulk hybrid that managed to go toe-to- toe with Blackheart and eventually
defeat him. The unlikely Ghost Rider/Venom/Hulk combination didn’t last long,
but it left a big impression on readers.

2. DANNY KETCH

Nearly 20 years after Johnny Blaze first jumped into the scene as the Ghost
Rider, Marvel introduced a new host for the Spirit of Vengeance in the form of
Danny Ketch, a character created by Howard Mackie and Javier Saltares. Ketch
made his comic book debut in the pages of Ghost Rider Vol. 3 #1. In the story,
Ketch and his sister, Barbara, went to a graveyard to see Harry Houdini’s grave.
While there, the siblings found themselves caught in the middle of a gang fight,
and Barbara was wounded with an arrow. Danny hid his sister away from
danger, and while he waited for the gang conflict to end, he saw a motorcycle
in pristine condition. While admiring it, Danny accidentally touched the bike’s
gas cap, which turned out to be a mystical amulet. The amulet awakened and

Danny was turned into the new Ghost Rider as a result. Despite making his
comic book debut years after Johnny Blaze came into the scene, Ketch proved
to be a worthy successor of the Ghost Rider mantle thanks to his inherent
heroic nature and bravery. Danny became quite popular over the years, and he
went on to become a staple in the Ghost Rider mythology. While Ketch isn’t
the best Ghost Rider out there, he’s certainly one of the greats, and one that’s
earned his place as one of the most beloved hosts of the Spirit of Vengeance.

1. JOHNNY BLAZE

Johnny Blaze made his debut in the Marvel universe back in 1972. The
character was remarkably different from anything the House of Ideas
had tackled before but nonetheless, Blaze captivated readers with his
edgy style. Unlike most other superheroes, Johnny didn’t have a clean
origin story. He was a man cursed by a demon to roam the world,
looking for evil to punish. One of the most attractive things about Blaze
as a character, aside from his flaming skull and flaming motorcycle is the
fact that, at the end of the day, he isn’t technically a superhero. He’s
just an individual fighting against impossible odds to retain what little is
left of his humanity. Yes, he wears a cool costume, fights bad guys and
saves innocents whenever he can, but he’s in a perpetual state of
misery. In fact, a big part of his character is the constant pursuit to get
rid of his curse to be able to live a normal life. That’s a very compelling
dynamic, and it’s one that’s been masterfully explored throughout
Blaze’s lengthy comic book history. Aside from a brief cameo
appearance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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