The Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch Omnibus, Vol. 1 AKA Ghost Rider by Mackie & Texeira is the #50 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus of 2017 on Tigereyes’s Secret Ballot.
Visit the Guide to Ghost Rider for information on the reading order of every Ghost Rider appearance from 1973 to present. And, visit the Marvel Masterworks Message Board to view the original posting of results by Tigereyes.
What Is It? Ghost Rider (1990) resurrected the spirit of vengeance concept but with a new spirit haunting a different host.
This volume would collect a third of that title’s run, from #1 in May 1990 through late in 1992 – before it splintered into an entire supernatural line rife with inter-connected stories and crossovers.
Past Ranking: This year is the book’s debut placement in the ballot results.
Creators: Written by Howard Mackie with pencils by Javier Saltares, Ron Wagner, and Mark Texeira (with Larry Stroman, Mark Texeira, and Andy Kubert), inks by Saltares, Texeira, Jimmy Palmiotti, Mike Witherby, and others, colors by Gregory Wright, and letters by Janice Chiang and Michael Heisler.
Probable Contents: Ghost Rider (1990) #1-27 (or maybe through 30), Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (1988) #28, X-Men (1991) #8-9.
This could add Ghost Rider / Wolverine / Punisher: Hearts of Darkness OGN, and stories from Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #64-71 & 90-118 and Marvel Collector’s Edition – all written by Mackie save for the stories in MCP #107-116.
All of those MCP stories add up to in the area of 12 whole issues of comics, so they could easily fit into this volume. It could also include Fantastic Four #347-349 – Ghost Rider’s introduction to the wider Marvel Universe – which fit neatly after #6.
Can you read it right now? Not entirely, unless you have the single issues. Ghost Rider (1990) has only been reprinted through issue #20 in a pair of Classic collections, plus #26-27 have been collected variously alongside X-Men issues that crossover with them. Visit the Guide to Ghost Rider for the full details.
Those previously-collected issues are exactly what’s on Marvel Unlimited at the moment – #1-20 & 26-27.
In 1990 Marvel took a then-unusual step of debuting an all-new, all-different legacy hero in the first issue of his own ongoing title.
The hero was Ghost Rider. Marvel previously published a Ghost Rider comic from 1973 to 1983, but the human host for that spirit of vengeance was trick motorcyclist Johnny Blaze. Blaze was mothballed after the end of his series, seen jew a few times in the rest of the 80s. This relaunch used an all-new character – Danny Ketch – as the host for Ghost Rider.
The switch didn’t seem to bother fans – probably because many of them hadn’t been able to read during the original comic’s run! Ghost Rider took off almost immediately, later expanding into a multi-book line with regular crossovers that would rival The X-Men for complexity.
In fact, Ghost Rider has the rare distinction of being the only non X-book to have a direct crossover with X-Men other than Avengers for years in either direction.
The mega-sized initial issue is a complete origin for this new Ghost Rider. Though he is a supernatural hero, his original was decidedly pedestrian – fending off gangsters and drug dealers that lead back to Kingpin.
The choice gave him much more cannon fodder to tear through with bloody panache, which positioned him much closer to the anti-hero Punisher than the magical Doctor Strange (both would guest star in early issues). More ghoulish villains lurked at the fringes of that story, including a pair of almost-comedically vicious Blackout and Deathwatch.
Fans associate artist Mark Texeira with this era of Ghost Rider, and his fingerprints are everywhere on this run. While he didn’t take over pencilling duties until relatively late in this run, his distinctly dark, scratchy lines can be seen from the start in his inks and finishes over layouts by Javier Saltares.
The first six months of this run were fairly-standard supernatural Punisher fare worth a re-read more for the rapid evolution of Texeira’s style than for the story. After some of the threads of Ketch’s origin are resolved in issues #6-7, Howard Mackie settles in to more of the supernatural themes of Ghost Rider.
The allure of Ghost Rider isn’t how bloody he beats his opponents, but his unquenchable thirst for vengeance while Danny Ketch vacillates from unwilling captive to eager accomplice.
It’s also around this point that colorist Gregory A. Wright completely clicks with Texiera’s art, and we start getting interiors to match the bold, colorful colors of the run.
It’s never common for a comic’s interior to be even more stunning than the cover, but Ghost Rider achieves it in this era for several issues running. It was a struggle to choose covers for this write-up rather than entire issues’ worth of interior pages.
Add to that the drama of a demon-hunting Johnny Blaze back-from-obscurity at the end of issue #13, and the back half of this run is really on fire. The subsequent Ketch vs Blaze confrontation in issue #14 is the most riveting issue of the run to that point, but the series stays strong for the remainder of the run.
Having Blaze as an antagonist and occasional mentor allows Mackie to play more of the duality of the relatively mild-mannered young Ketch versus the vicious, vengeance-obsessed spirit sharing his body.
That made a second pass at some of the themes and foes of the first issues much more compelling, by comparison. Plus, there’s Spider-Man story with a horrific Keith version of Hobgoblin. And, of course the run culminates in the epic crossover with X-Men to fight off the alien Brood, with the X-Men half and covers drawn by Jim Lee.
But, seriously – no one draws a flaming skull quite like Texiera, as in the intro and splash to issue #13:
Will we see this omnibus in 2018? No.
Marvel has only ever omibused Ghost Rider once, and it was for a modern Jason Aaron run. While the character has been getting some screen time on Agents of SHIELD, it’s a different host for the Spirit of Vengeance (from the All-New Ghost Rider comic) and Marvel only supported it with a single TPB.
I think it’s much more likely that we’d see a line of Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch Epic Collections, which could knock out this entire run in around eight collection.
Would I recommend buying it? Yes, if you have a proven record of enjoying 90s comics, Ghost Rider, or Mark Texeira.
This is one of the better of Marvel’s more “X-TREME” types of 90s books filled with blood, beatdowns, and demons. Mackie had the benefit of writing off in his own corner of the universe until he established the character, which is a big reason why this single book was able to explode into an entire line.
It’s a definite yes for fans of Ghost Rider – since the tone of his 70s series was so different, this is really the classic, defining run of the character as we think of him today no matter who happens to be playing host to which the spirit of vengeance.
And for Mark Texiera fans, this is a holy grail – his pencils never looked better on the interior of a book than they did on this run. To get an omnibus of pages that look as clean as the versions on Marvel Unlimited would be revelatory.
The 2017 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot Results
- #60 – What If? Classic Omnibus, Vol. 1
- #59 – House of M Omnibus
- #58 – Captain Marvel by Peter David, Vol. 1
- #57 – X-Force by Kyle & Yost
- #56 – Namor, The Sub-Mariner, Vol. 1
- #55 – X-Force, Vol. 3 AKA Cable & X-Force, Vol. 1
- #54 – Conan The Barbarian, Vol. 1
- #53 – Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron
- #52 – Incredible Hercules by Pak & Van Lente
- #51 – Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day, Vol. 1
- #50 – Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, Vol. 1
- #49 – Captain America (Silver Age), Vol. 3