Daniel Ketch (Ghost Rider)

Mav brings to us another iconic character, who however received one of the worst live action adaptations ever: Danny Ketch, the second Ghost Rider. Danny appears in a very different version in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, where he’s portrayed by Fergus Riordan as the son of Roarke, conceived to grant the demon all of his powers on Earth as in Hell once he’s used as a new vessel. As he becomes closer to his infernal father, Danny starts to demonstrate demonic powers of his own, but he never gets to be the Ghost Rider as he is in the comics. Luckily, we still have the original one. Let’s see.

Danny and Barbara were siblings, born from Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale, but when they were still newborns their mother decided to give them away, wanting to protect them from the curse affecting her family. The two siblings were adopted by a widow, Francis Ketch, who raised them in her house in Brooklyn, New York City. As far as Danny knew, he was the son of Francis Ketch. Danny grew up very close to his sister, and when he was a teenager he let her convince him to take her to Cypress Hills Cemetery on Halloween night, as she hoped to see some psychics trying to contact Harry Houdini by his grave. What they found, however, was something completely different: two rival gangs, one commanded by Kingpin and the other by Deathwatch, were having a fire fight at the cemetery, and the two siblings found themselves just in the middle of it. Danny tried to keep his presence hidden, but Barbara screamed, and a goon shoot her in the chest with his crossbow. Panicking, Danny took her sister and ran to a nearby junkyard, looking for a place to hide. Deathwatch’s goons followed them there, and Danny frantically looked for a means to escape… until he spotted an old motorbike with a weird, glowing gas cap. He approached it meaning to use it, but the moment he touched the gas cap (which actually was the Medallion of Power) with his sister’s blood on his fingers, his skin melted, revealing a blazing skull underneath: Danny had just become the new Ghost Rider. With his new powers, and with innocent blood crying for vengeance right at his side, Danny defeated effortlessly Deathwatch and his men, but instead of rushing Barbara to the nearest hospital, the Rider took over and started torturing those men, until he was interrupted by the arrival of the police. Ghost Rider escaped, leaving Barbara behind. When Danny finally came back to be himself, he learnt that the cops had brought his sister to St. John’s Hospital, but she had lost too much blood, and she had fallen into a coma.

Danny blamed himself for what had happened to Barbara. When he sensed evil nearby, or when an innocent was hurt, he would turn into the Spirit of Vengeance, but his aim was punishing the bad guys more than helping the good ones: his mind, in fact, was only partially his to control, as somebody else guided his actions when he was on fire, a “somebody” that he couldn’t still give a name to. Of course, his primary mission and vengeance was against Deathwatch, so Danny started hunting for him, wanting to make him pay for what happened to his sister. The moment he found him again, Deathwatch had hired a powerful demonic assassin, Blackout, and quite ironically that confrontation even worsened the starting situation, as Blackout killed Barbara in an effort to destroy Ghost Rider by murdering everyone he held dear. After dealing with Blackout, Danny realized that he couldn’t maintain his regular life as he had before, as he would have endangered everybody close to him. He started distancing himself from pretty much everyone (his girlfriend Stacy Dolan being a notable exception), and to take his mission as the new Spirit of Vengeance more seriously. He started to follow and to channel the Rider’s urges, and thus he eventually obtained his long awaited vengeance against Deathwatch, killing him and destroying his criminal empire. The more he fought as Ghost Rider, the more he learnt to control him, and he even managed to cooperate with other heroes, such as the X-Men, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk and The Punisher, in fighting evil. Then, he suddenly found himself being hunted: Johnny Blaze, the previous Ghost Rider, believed he was possessed by Zarathos, the evil spirit who used to empower him, and wanted to kill him… just as Blackout was out killing people again. Only when Blaze witnessed the new Rider save a child in Central Park instead of pursuing Blackout, he understood that he wasn’t possessed by Zarathos, and that he was something different entirely. Blaze became Danny’s mentor, and the two soon discovered that they shared much more than a flaming skull…

Danny Ketch is a man with a curse: originally an easy-going boy with a passion for motorcycles and a cheerful attitude, he became increasingly gloomier and darker, as his new life costed him the lives of many people he loved and forced him to solitude. As the Ghost Rider, his bond with the soul of his ancestor Noble Kane gives him all the powers of the original Rider: he’s virtually invulnerable, he is extremely strong, fast and agile, he senses evil nearby, he can generate and control hellfire, he wields a magic chain that can take the shape of any weapon he can imagine, he drives a Hellcycle moving at impossible speed on every possible surface and even between dimensions, and of course he masters the Penance Stare, a mystic technique that makes an evil-doer suffer all the pain he has inflicted on others at once. The most powerful Ghost Rider ever along with his brother Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch fights against a curse that runs in his blood, a useless struggle that will only end in one way…

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