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The Top 10 Villains of Ghost Rider

Updated on July 20, 2012

The Greatest Enemies of The Rider - Revealed!

The Spirit of Vengeance, called forth in times when evil is present. Blazing forward on a motorcycle composed of hellish flames, flaming steel weapons and chains, this entity exacts judgement with his Penance Stare. He is The Ghost Rider, a creature of mysterious origin and cryptic background. Some say he is a tool of demons, others claim he is a weapon of the Heavens; in every case, he is a force of exactitude, burning away sin within the soul of malevolence.

Picture: Mephisto, Lord of Hell and Master of Dark Humor.

Now before you, the time has come. You've heard of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but are you aware of his greatest, horrific battles? The most vile and diabolical opponents he has faced in his supernatural adventures?

Here you will be introduced to the Top 10 Villains of the Rider since his beginning in Marvel Spotlight #5 in 1974. Back then, we were just starting to learn what his terrifying opponents would soon fear: The Rider is Coming!

Ghost Rider Villain #10: The Scarecrow - The Contortionist of Fear

Ebenezer Laughton, The Scarecrow
Ebenezer Laughton, The Scarecrow

From before The Ghost Rider's appearance, Ebenezer Laughton has been a tool of evil. First appearing in Tales of Suspense #51 (1964) his original skills were as a professional contortionist for the carnival. Aided with his trained crows, he embarked on a career of thievery, facing defeat at the hands of heroes such as Iron Man and Captain America. But little did they know this small-time crook was capable of more gruesome acts...and it took The Ghost Rider to reveal them.

Known as The Scarecrow, Laughton was the villain who killed the mother of Danny Ketch, the second incarnation of Ghost Rider. Until then, instilling fear and theft were his major pursuits; later, after a series of defeats and near-death, he would undergo surgical implants that gives him the ability to exude fear-inducing pheromones. Their side effects would also heal him when feeding off people who were terrified. Armed with a pitchfork, his murder of crows, and waves of chilling frenzy, he had advanced to a serious tier of villainy.

The Scarecrow is now alive and well, working throughout various circles of evil. His motives have evolved to the erratic and horrible; he is easily a psychotic killer and whatever the demonic, macabre processes have done to him, it has created a monstrous and mentally dangerous foe.

The Ghost Rider Action Figure - Collectible

I have this figurine and it's an excellent, smaller-sized figure from the Hasbro company. Just some notes:

*It comes with a SHIELD file and a weapon accessory (chain).

*Don't expect to find a hellcycle in the package; it's not there.

*It also comes with a stand.

*It's fully poseable.

Marvel Universe 3 3/4 Inch Series 10 Action Figure Ghost Rider
Marvel Universe 3 3/4 Inch Series 10 Action Figure Ghost Rider

From Hasbro, this is a stunning rendition of the Johnny Blaze or Daniel Ketch version, with the blue motorcycle stunt uniform. It's an piece of work, but I couldn't tell if it was the Blaze or Ketch version; it's Blaze's uniform, but the fiery chain comes from the Ketch version.

 

Ghost Rider Villain #9: The Orb - The Weird and Vengeful Stunt Driver

Drake Shannon, The Orb
Drake Shannon, The Orb

The original Orb was part-owner of the circus-stunt driver team with Crash Simpson, Johnny Blaze's mentor. His name was Drake Shannon and in the beginning, things had worked well until jealously ended their partnership. Drake's life changed during a contest against Crash which erupted in a terrible accident and caused him to slide many yards on his face. This permanently disfigured him.

One of Ghost Rider's weirdest villains, he encountered The Orb first in Marvel Team-Up #15 (1973) with Spider-Man when the villain wanted to take back ownership of the show. Not many bad guys are given powers to take over circus acts, but Drake got lucky; he claimed he received his helmet's hypnotic powers, and later his eye beam, from They Who Wield Power, a group that has never been revealed.

The Orb, even at his most ridiculous moments, has been a continual threat in the career of The Ghost Rider, appearing quite frequently for someone of his bizarre nature. (Maybe writers just like throwing him in as filler.) Besides running his own master plans, he's also served in teams who have collectively tried to kill the Spirit of Vengeance. Currently, there is a belief that Drake Shannon is dead; although there is no substantial proof, the most recent version of The Orb carries a ray gun and his "ocular" head is said to be real.

Ghost Rider Villain #8: Centurius - The Man Without a Soul

Centurius, The Man Without A Soul
Centurius, The Man Without A Soul

In the first run of the Ghost Rider series, (Ghost Rider, Volume 1, issues #1-81, 1972, see Special Notes), the Rider was Johnny Blaze, a stunt-driver who had made a "deal with the devil" in exchange for saving the life of his step-father, "Crash" Simpson. It later turned out to be a bad move; Johnny, we learned, was infused with a powerful entity known as Zarathos, capable of taking over his physical form and controlling hellfire. Why do you need to know this? Because it's fundamental in understanding his next greatest villain, the man who nearly killed the demon.

Long ago, this individual was known as Centurius, one of the younger leaders of an ancient tribe. As Zarathos rose in worship, the warrior saw their existence - and the life of the woman he loved - threatened to extinction. To get rid of the creature, he made a pact with the demon, Mephisto. It became a powerful battle, but with supernatural assistance, he succeeded in containing the creature; in return Mephisto took his soul for his own, making him an unwilling immortal.

Surfacing as a prominent villain in Ghost Rider #72 (1982), Johnny finally met Centurius face to face; now the warrior-tribesman had become a shadow of his former self. He was a monster by his own right, feeding off the souls of others with his Crystal of Souls. In their first battle, our hero was soundly beaten; this was how we learned his powers would not work on the soulless.

Centurius is the premiere villain in the first Ghost Rider series and managed to become the key figure freeing Blaze from the demon Zarathos. It also ended the series in 1983. Using the crystal, the demon and villain end up captured within, battling unto eternity. Only in later stories did they, inexplicably, free themselves and haunt the Rider once more.

Special Notes: The Ghost Rider Story

There's two important nuances about Ghost Rider's story.

First, the original Ghost Rider story was from 1967. It was about a cowboy-superhero, Carter Slade, who wore a suit covered in meteor dust. He's not technically part of this saga.

Second, the origin behind our Ghost Rider is mysterious and the 1974 version was the first interpretation of a story that has greatly evolved.

The Ghost Rider Omnibus - Searching for Answers? Let's Ride!

This Omnibus is a tell-all of stories about the Ghost Rider, becoming extremely important if you're trying to make heads or tails from previous plots in his background. The reason this is fantastic is because there's a lot of conflict. For example, is he really an agent of hell or is he a weapon of heaven?

All this is clearly refreshed, detailed, and well-explained in these pages.

Ghost Rider Omnibus
Ghost Rider Omnibus

Packed with 21 thrilling Ghost Rider issues, this hardcover format contains never before seen art and commentary from the writers and artists on the Spirit of Vengeance. You'll also be introduced to the REAL main villain through the words and insight of Jason Aaron.

 

Ghost Rider Villain #7: Lilith - The Mother of All Demons

Lilith,  Mother of Demons
Lilith, Mother of Demons

With the success and ending of Johnny Blaze, a second Ghost Rider volume was planned and implemented in 1990. This time, however, the hero is Daniel Ketch in a unique twist, and after two years of blazing his own trails of vengeance, he embarked against one of his most memorable villains, and story arcs, of all time. It's known as the "Rise of The Midnight Sons" saga, and the villainous fiend at the heart of this tale is sorcerous lady known as Lilith, The Mother of All Demons.

Lilith first appeared in Ghost Rider #28 (1992), but she comes from the pre-cataclysm era of Atlantis, before it sank below the seas. A demon and immortal being, she had walked among people, delivering her own brand of evil, until Atlantean Sorcerers captured and contained her within the belly of the monster, Tiamat, for the rest of eternity. With the increase in exploration, and the scientific discovery of the creature, she is freed and prepares to exact her vengeance on the world.

With her own vast powers in sorcery and demonic heritage, Lilith became one of the Rider's deadliest foes. To thwart him, she summoned all her spawns of Lilin, demonic beings with their own powers, and embarked on a battle that included Dr. Strange, Johnny Blaze, and a host of other villains and good guys. She even made a pact with the famed demon, Zarathos. Lilith's battle with the Rider lives in infamy; she barely escaped destruction, but she remains one of his greatest threats of all time.

Special Note: Rise of The Midnight Sons

This story is contained in these issues:

Part I: Ghost Rider #28 (1992)

Part II: Spirits of Vengeance #1 (1992)

Part III: Morbius #1 (1992)

Part IV: Darkhold #1 (1992)

Part V: Nightstalkers #1 (1992)

Part VI: Ghost Rider #31(1992)

Ghost Rider Villain #6: Vengeance - The "Other" Spirit of...Vengeance

Vengeance, The Other Spirit of Vegeance
Vengeance, The Other Spirit of Vegeance

Unbeknownst to many purveyors of the Ghost Rider's Saga, he is not the only Spirit of Vengeance. In actuality, there encompasses a whole army, designed by Heaven, to be used as weapons on those who commit acts of sinful transgression. And in that horrible militia, we learned that one of them received a soul-bond similar to Johnny Blaze and Daniel Ketch. Filled with terrible wrath and a nature towards physical punishment, this creature, called Vengeance, met the too many times in conflict.

First appearing in Spirits of Vengeance #9 (1993), Sgt. Michael Badilino, a brutal cop leading the Ghost Rider Task Force, was approached by Mephisto and tricked into giving up his soul in exchange for the power. Later, we would learn that Michael was possessor of an artifact "Medallion" that, by heritage, would tie him to the Vengeance spirit regardless.

Although all the Spirits of Vengeance his similarities, Vengeance is unique in that his bones are black (typically appearing purple in the comics) and his body is covered with spikes and chains of bone; he still maintains the supernatural flame and wields a hellish cycle of his own, draconian in design.

Later in his career, after defeats and misplaced alliances, Badilino would be cleansed of the creature and pass it along to another cop, Deputy Kowalski. Although his undertaking of the spirit hasn't been as successful, Vengeance still remains a potential threat to Ghost Rider in the future.

Ghost Rider Villain #5: Blackout and Deathwatch - The Maniacal Madmen of Murder

Blackout and Deathwatch
Blackout and Deathwatch

When the second incarnation of the Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch, became a Spirit of Vengeance, he encountered two super-powered enemies which would appear time and time again during his adventures. They were the most ruthless of his foes, hounding him at every step, and it all started in Ghost Rider #1 and #2(1990) when the duo of Blackout and Deathwatch butted heads with our hero.

"Blackout" is the only name by which we can refer to the pale-skinned, vampiric-styled killer whose powers include the ability to generate a light-inhibiting field. Completely cold-blooded, and aided by his super-strength and agility, he killed many of Danny's friends, including his comatose sister, Barbara Ketch.

Working as a criminal underworld boss, though, Deathwatch, a "Translord" posing in human form paid, used, and teamed with Blackout to perform diabolical assassinations and treacherous acts. Skilled in the art of Ninjutsu, he is actually from a demonic dimension and capable of stealing lifeforce to lengthen his own longevity.

Both of these creatures, whether human or supernatural-horror, have battled Ghost Rider many times since their appearances. One of their most fear-inspiring trademarks is their willingness to kill anyone, including other villains working at their side. There is no telling how far they will go - they have even murdered an entire precinct of cops down to the last man!

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Trailer #2 - Featuring a villain of the past.

At the time of this Countdown, Ghost Rider 2 was released. For those of you interested in catching the latest Ghost Rider movie, their version of Blackout was the main villain.

Although the director has taken certain liberties with the origin of Blackout, you'll recognize him as the albino-skinned, vampire-like creature sparring against our Spirit of Vengeance.

Ghost Rider Villain #4: Zarathos - The Original Spirit of Vengeance

Zarathos, Blaze's Spirit of Vengeance
Zarathos, Blaze's Spirit of Vengeance

Few heroes are possessed by true evil; the consequence of such commitment usually turns them into what we call an "anti-hero" - or a figure of questionable intent that ends up doing good by happenstance. Yet, putting this difficulty aside, what most fans of Johnny Blaze, the first Ghost Rider, know is that his most threatening foe was...himself! This became realized in Ghost Rider #77 once we learned the Spirit of Vengeance within him was none other than a powerful demonic entity known as Zarathos.

Zarathos' first appearance is technically Marvel Spotlight #5 (1973), back when Ghost Rider originally started his ride. Ironically then, he didn't know his true identity; he was just a confused creature that exacted justice from those doing wrong. It later turned out that his destiny came to fruition under the manipulations of none other than Mephisto. With ageless rivalry between the two, the lord of Hell eventually gained the upper hand and infused the servant demon into Blaze for missions.

Blaze, after multiple bouts of losing control, eventually ousted the demon during a confrontation with Centurius in Ghost Rider #81 (1983); the demon fled his body to fight the man without a soul, both becoming captured in a crystal soul gem. Later, though, Zarathos would be freed and eventually return to haunt Johnny again (this occurs in Hammer Lane series, also called Ghost Rider, Version 3, where Blaze had to learn to live with the spirit inhabiting him.)

Ghost Rider VIllain #3: Blackheart - Scourge of The Underworld

Blackheart
Blackheart

Among the greatest and most vile demons to plague the Ghost Rider, the one he is likely to remember most, only recently crawled from the pits of Hell to push his dark wiles upon the innocents. He also had goals to overthrow his maker and attempted to make his own Spirits of Vengeance, showing a level of cunning and evil that left others in his somber wake. A main villain of the Noble Kale lineage, his name was Blackheart.

To first introduce him, though, we go back to Spider-Man and Daredevil; Blackheart originally appeared in Daredevil #270 (1989), and wasn't actually born, but spawned from evil accumulated at the hands of Mephisto. (Nevertheless, the two speak of their relationship in terms of father and son.) Once he was released on the world, he attempted to subjugate the two heroes in an effort to influence the spread of evil. Later, he would turn his vile gaze to our flamed-skulled motorcyclist (Ghost Rider #77 (1996)).

After minor acts of evil, Blackheart's greed surfaced and he realized his true destiny: rule over the kingdom of Hell. Of course, that didn't bode well with his creator and the two were at odds. Through a long series of adventures with the Ghost Rider caught in between, eventually Blackheart succeeded, but only to be double-crossed, whereupon he was killed. Or so we believe.

Blackheart in The Ghost Rider Movie - The Ghost Rider Origin Film

In the first Ghost Rider Movie from back in 2009, Blackheart was the main villain and appeared with his "father". Although the name Mephisto was never used, we can ascertain the relationship between the two from the comic books.

Ghost Rider (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray]
Ghost Rider (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray]

Nicholas Cage stars as Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stunt-driver who has made a pact with the lord of Hell. Now, in times when evil is near, he undergoes a stunning transformation; flaming skull, chains of hellfire, he becomes the Ghost Rider. In this origin film, he faces the son of demon controlling him and must cleanse the creature from the earth!

 

Ghost Rider VIllain #2: Zadkiel - Archangel of Vengeance

Zadkiel, The Archangel of Vengeance
Zadkiel, The Archangel of Vengeance

One of the common themes that qualifies opponents as Ghost Rider villains is their link to evil. Most of his nemeses are, in some way, connected to the lower levels of the underworld and hell. (Reviewing the earlier parts of the list show us characters who were, at least, granted their powers by other denizens of evil.) And yet, where in all of this fantastical, antithetical adventure will we place the agents of heaven? Where do they fit into the hierarchy of the Rider's enemies?

Well...right here, of course.

And that's especially true when referring to one particular angel, a former archangel who you could say was Ghost Rider's original boss: were talking about an agent of heaven, none other than Zadkiel.

In his earlier career, he was God's "right hand man", given control over the Spirits of Vengeance. His first appearance, Ghost Rider #27 (2008) (although he was referenced in Ghost Rider #19); that's when we learned he wasn't too happy about humans. It appears Zadkiel hates them and had a bit of a conflict with God.

What makes Zadkiel such a great villain? Easy question: he's the first enemy of Ghost Rider than took over heaven and used the Spirits of Vengeance as his weapons. You're talking about one of the greatest battles ever witnessed on the divine plane and it all came to fruition in the Ghost Rider series Heaven's On Fire.

Last check, though, the mighty Angel who conquered Heaven was just as soundly defeated. The last pages of the story arc suggest that he remains chained and imprisoned in Hell.

Heaven's On Fire - Ketch and Blaze, In The Land of The Divine

One of the best stories in the Ghost Rider Universe, Heaven's on Fire tell Zadkiel's tale, one of a power hungry divine creature that couldn't stand the discretion of his maker. Available as a paperback, the entire plot unfolds in the manner of a hellish thriller.

Ghost Rider: Heaven's On Fire
Ghost Rider: Heaven's On Fire

Collecting all six of the Ghost Rider: Heaven's on Fire issues, this purchase is the summation of Zadkiel's war on Heaven, where he uses a prophecy to enact a radical change of leadership. In these pulse-pounding issues, you'll get it all, Johnny Blake, Danny Ketch, Spirits of Vengeance, Hellspawn, it's all there.

 

Ghost Rider VIllain #1: Mephisto - Ruler of Hell

Mephisto, Ruler of Hell
Mephisto, Ruler of Hell

And so, dear readers, we are down to the number one most vile and diabolical villain of the Ghost Rider. Let's be fair: who else could it be other than Mephisto, the Lord of the Underworld and ruler of Hell? Technically, he's the devil (or demon) that spurned the Rider saga, captivating Johnny Blaze's imagination and hope by offering him a contract of servitude until the end of days. Heck, most Ghost Rider fans give him credit as the original sin-maker.

What might surprise you, though, is that Mephisto is pretty old by comic book standards; he predates Ghost Rider by a few years, first appearing in Silver Surfer #3 (1968) as an icon of evil and ultimate power that rivals our silvered-cosmic spaceway rider. What pushed Mephisto towards flame-headed motorcycle enthusiasm is the tendency for the issues to be filled with supernatural mystery. At the beginning of Ghost Rider's origin in 1972 (Marvel Spotlight #5), we knew there was a demonic entity involved, only later would we know it was this being.

Where's Mephisto now? Don't worry, he's always appearing around Blaze and other superheroes; in 2012 he was dating one of the New Mutants for Valentine's Day. Guess he just can't get enough time with them. He's still up to his old tricks of manipulation, corruption, and dark temptation. And he's also gone through many physical changes; that's a pretty easy task when your appearance is subjective and based off the of the concept of evil.

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Ghost Rider Thoughts - Your comments for The Rider.

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    • BenBush LM profile image

      BenBush LM 3 years ago

      I love the Ghost Rider story!

    • JaySamson1 profile image

      JaySamson1 5 years ago

      Wow, this is an amazing lens! Good job!