Ghost Rider-The Archetypal Hero

November 12, 2009
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Among the many heroes of Marvel, few can relate to the dark and tragic story of the Ghost Rider. Over the years there have been several incarnations of the Spirit of Vengeance, but only one holds the true power and glory associated with it: Johnny Blaze. The first Rider to have been created and the one who started it all, his sad tale continues on today as an archetypal hero.

The first trait of an archetypal hero is his or her unusual birth. Johnny Blaze was never a normal boy. He was born into a family of circus performers named Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale. This circus connection is the key to everything that happens to him early in life and is how he acquires the means to summon the devil. Soon, his mother leaves with his siblings, leaving Barton and Johnny alone and creating a huge hole in his heart. To add to his troubles, it is not long when Barton dies and Johnny goes to live with another circus performing family called the Simpsons. This is the second trait: the hero goes to live with another family.

Johnny quickly warms up to the Simpsons. They are the kindest people he has ever known, Crash is like a father to him in ways Barton wasn’t, and he even begins to fall in love with their daughter, Roxanne. Unfortunately, his life is cursed with bad luck for anyone close to him as one day he discovers that Crash had been diagnosed with cancer. Terrified of losing a second father, Johnny turns to devil worshippers within the circus who give him the means to contact the devil. Desperate, he performs the ancient spell and creates a bargain with Satan: his soul for the cure to Crash’s disease. Satan agrees but the next day Crash doesn’t realize he is cured and commits suicide in a daredevil jump over 22 cars. That night, the third trait of an archetypal hero occurs: Johnny experiences the event that will begin his adventure. Satan comes for his broken-hearted soul but Roxanne, his childhood love, interrupts and saves him. Instead of having his soul taken, Johnny is possessed by the spirit Zarathos and becomes the Ghost Rider.

Now, one thing about Ghost Riders is that there is one for every major country in the world and they are all possessed by a Spirit of Vengeance. As such, Johnny is the only one in America who can wield the power of hellfire. That brings up another trait. Archetypal heroes usually possess a weapon only they can wield. Hellfire is Johnny’s weapon. Also, archetypal heroes have supernatural help. All Ghost Riders have a Caretaker who aids and guides then with their powers while keeping the truth about their origins hidden. Johnny received the assistance of angels at one time as well.
The story of Johnny Blaze is a long one, as is his journey. He first tries to rid himself of the possessing spirit Zarathos, but after doing so finds a new Ghost Rider had emerged. His name is Daniel Ketch and the Caretaker explains that they are brothers. Then after a series of events Danny, too, loses his powers. Years later Johnny is forced to make good his deal with the devil and his soul is taken to hell, but this isn’t the end. He eventually escapes, bringing Satan with him. Therein starting his second adventure: to send the scattered pieces of Satan’s soul back to hell. This summarizes up another trait: the Journey.
Finally, the last trait of an archetypal hero is his Unhealable Wound. For Johnny, this is the fact that he caused the death of Crash Simpson, his true father and the father of his lost love Roxanne. Because of his bargain, Satan made Crash commit suicide and die in his final jump, therefore sending his soul to hell. He will never know atonement, no matter how hard he tries, for he committed the greatest crime possible.
Johnny Blaze forever regrets his decisions and that regret drives him on to face new foes. He is the perfect example of an archetypal hero and is loved by fans all over the world. Of all the Marvel heroes, the Ghost Rider is a story that will never stop with one but live on in the forms of others in the future.





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