When Marvel posted on Twitter its light rail at San Diego Comic-Con advertising Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, fans took notice of the design: a chain lit on fire. That’s the signature of Ghost Rider, the demonic superhero who rides a supernatural Harley Davidson. It wasn’t long until a handful pointed out a fiery chain was also used by Hellfire, a recurring antagonist introduced last season whose role could have been upgraded to series regular.
But maybe it is Ghost Rider after all. TVLine is reporting the Season 4 casting for S.H.I.E.L.D. is calling for “a pair of Latino brothers, one of whom is always the most dangerous person in the room, the other paralyzed in a wheelchair.”
If you’re up on your Marvel comics, that’s a near exact description of Marvel’s “all-new” Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes — who drives a vintage Dodge Charger instead of a motorbike — and his younger brother Gabe.
Introduced in 2014’s All-New Ghost Rider written by Felipe Smith, Robbie Reyes is a mechanic in Los Angeles looking out for his younger brother Gabe who is paralyzed from the waist down. Hoping to move out of their neighborhood plagued with gang violence, Robbie enters an illegal street race with a fat cash prize. But in true John Carpenter fashion, Robbie’s souped up muscle car is possessed by the ghost of Eli Morrow, a serial killer and Satanist.
During the race Robbie is pursued by a local gang and drives into a dead end. They kill him, but as they leave the ghost of Eli takes over Robbie and turns him into the new Ghost Rider.
Whether it was coincidence or not, All-New Ghost Rider was released a year after the character’s movie rights were reverted to Marvel after two duds from Sony that starred Nicholas Cage as the original Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze.
When Marvel reacquired Ghost Rider it came along with another one of violent anti-heroes, the Punisher. Since that time, Punisher has made his way into Marvel’s movie and TV continuity in Season 2 of Daredevil on Netflix, with his own solo series on the way. Now, it may be Ghost Rider’s turn.
Johnny Blaze isn’t a household name like Peter Parker, but it seems beneficial on Marvel’s part to introduce a whole new Ghost Rider in comics (especially one who is an ethnic minority) shortly after it can legally have the character in its movie and TV slate. All-New Ghost Rider finished with issue #12 last year, but the fall of 2016 could be when Robbie Reyes just gets started.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns for its fourth season this fall.