Marvel Just Introduced a Whole New Kind of Ghost Rider

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have had no shortage of terrifying threats to deal with as of late, most of all, that of Mephisto and his Council of Red. As Mephisto’s army terrorizes their predecessors throughout history, the Avengers of today have embarked on a race through history to save those very same heroes. When it seems as though the demon finally has them cornered, a new figure emerges from the past to stave off the impending onslaught. As much as the Avengers would like to think they’ve come to save one of their own, the Samurai of Vengeance is actually the one who saves the day.

Avengers #58 (by Jason Aaron, Javier Garron, David Curiel and VC’s Cory Petit) finds the eponymous team separated in the middle of feudal Japan before being beset on all sides by time-displaced minions of Mephisto. Before Captain America and the Avengers’ most recent addition Nighthawk can come to any harm, this era’s Ghost Rider, or rather Ghost Ronin, emerges to cut down their assailants. His presence is short-lived on that particular battlefield, as he quickly dissipates before appearing to stop the Viking ship headed straight for Namor and Echo. After yet another gruesome disappearing act, the Samurai of Vengeance has finally cleared the way for the Avengers to reassemble so he can point them in the right direction.

It turns out that the cursed swords which have kept the once deceased Ghost Ronin fighting are more than just the source of his infernal abilities. He tells the Avengers that the swords are also aware of their mission as if the blades had a mind of their own. This isn’t too far off from the most well-known Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, whose own Spirit of Vengeance came to him in the form of his Hellish motorcycle. There is a major difference between the two though, the spirits who speak to the Samurai of Vengeance seem to have a benevolent, almost advisor-like relationship with the one who wields them.

This doesn’t just separate the Ghost Ronin from the likes of Johnny Blaze or Daniel Ketch, but nearly every other iteration of the Ghost Rider that fans have seen. Even the Ghost Rider of the Hyborian Age was more analogous to his modern-day counterparts. Rather than seeking out vengeance or any sort of infernal retribution, this version of the character is only concerned with protecting the world around him and helping those who would do the same. In spite of whatever menace it may invoke, his cool blue flames are better suited to illuminate the Avengers’ path than they are to burn away the stain of Mephisto.

This doesn’t mean that Ghost Ronin isn’t suited for the fight, but that the insight he provides the Avengers is a far more potent weapon for them to carry than his cursed blades ever could be. The Samurai of Vengeance doesn’t know how they will get there, but he knows that the heroes and their enemy are headed towards the genesis of their legacies. The Stone Age Avengers, the very first of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, are Mephisto’s ultimate target, and with Ghost Ronin’s help, the heroes now have a trail to follow.

The wandering Samurai of Vengeance may seem anathema to what the Ghost Rider is supposed to be, yet his subversion of those expectations is exactly what the Avengers were in need of. By taking so many steps away from the prototypical Ghost Rider, Ghost Ronin hasn’t just redefined what a Spirit of Vengeance can be, but what the legacies in the Marvel Universe are capable of. Despite any aesthetic changes or shifts in the personality that is expected, Ghost Ronin is still very much the kind of infernal hero that the Avengers are used to fighting alongside. Hopefully, for the sake of the universe, it will be the last time any of them have to.

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