The Ghost Rider movie hits theaters in February 2007 and in preparation of that event DK Books has released the Ghost Rider: The Visual Guide, another in their outstanding visual guide series. The book does have coverage of the impending film but the guide takes a look at the long, and sometimes convoluted history of this hero who made his first appearance in Marvel Spotlight in 1972 (and I still have my copy!).
The Ghost Rider's origins have been toyed with and revamped, seemingly by every writer who inherited the reins of this unique character. The DK guide does a good job of presenting these various origins that stretch back to the shadowy ancient past when demons walked the Earth, long before recorded history. The history of the demons Mephisto and Zarathos have ever been tied to the Ghost Rider heritage although we will see that the Original, Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, was the vessel of the defeated Zarathos, while the later Dan Ketch was the true Spirit of Vengeance. Like I said, convoluted, but very interesting to read, especially since it's all in one place.
The Guide follows Blaze through his binding with Zarathos through his time spent as a member of the short-lived super team The Champions. Get up close and personal with all of his powers including his notorious Hellfire. Despite the fact that the original Ghost Rider had a weak cadre of villains such as The Orb, the title still ran for an impressive ten years.
Ghost Rider would take a turn for the darker with the 1990's incarnation as the new Ghost Rider would battle various demonic types such as Blackout, Vengeance, Lilith, and Skinner. But the Dan Ketch Ghost Rider would have powerful allies in the Midnight Sons which included Morbius the Living Vampire, Blade, Dr. Strange, and Johnny Blaze himself. Of course, all of this is presented with gorgeous full color art-work direct from Marvel Comics.
There is a wonderful section that takes readers on a decade-by-decade tour of Ghost Rider's career, giving due credit to the talent which worked on the titles such as writers Gary Friedrich, J.M. DeMatteis, and Howard Mackie, Bret Blevins, Larry Hama, and artists Mike Ploog, Don Perlin, Javier Saltares, Mark Texeira, Adam Kubert, and Clayton Crain. The book is thoroughly complete not only covering the two main, long-running series but also the Marvel Knights limited runs, Ghost Rider 2099,and finally, the brand new series introduced in 2006. And yes, film fans, the book does provide a short peek at the upcoming film with some fantastic insider photos.
DK has scored another hit with this latest Visual guide...now hopefully the film will be just as good!
Reviewed By Tim Janson