Ghost Rider (Vol. 2) #48

Background

During the Siege of Darkness storyline, Daniel Ketch, the second Ghost Rider, was killed by Zarathos. After Zarathos was defeated, Vengeance (Lieutenant Michael Badilino) his one-time enemy, has taken up the mantle of Ghost Rider to honor his memory.

Badilino's investigation into the death of Detective Sergeant John Logan leads him to discover that an old enemy, Anton Hellgate, is still alive. Hellgate used his super-powered assassin Dread to flush Badilino out in an attempt to kill him. While Dread's latest attempt on Badilino's life was unsuccessful, but he did manage to kill several of the cops assigned to Badilino's task force. Badilino transformed into Vengeance and was able to subdue him and leave him for the police.

Story Details

  Ghost Rider (Vol. 2) #48
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Arc: Part 2 of 'Under Fire' (2)
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Writer: Howard Mackie
Pencils: Ron Garney
Inker: Chris Ivy

In the interrogation room Badilino has been attempting to beat a confession out of Dread for the last hour, but to no avail. Dread will not divulge any information about Anton Hellgate, but promises to fulfill his contract and kill Badilino. The other cops in the room forcibly restrain Badilino from beating him anymore and tell him to leave. They return Dread to his cell.

As Badilino exits the room, Captain Dolan requests that he field the questions from the reporters out front. He does so, but very reluctantly. Peter Parker is covering this press conference, taking pictures for the Daily Bugle.

Once inside his cell Dread repairs his injuries. He mentally contacts the creature called Rak, another employee of Hellgate, to free him. Rak descends upon the police station and brushes Badilino aside. Badilino realizes his mistake in thinking he could take down that kind of creature with a firearm and finds a private spot to change into Vengeance.

As Vengeance makes his way to the front door, Spider-Man appears and assists him in distracting Rak and Dread to allow the rest of the precinct to get out of the building. They are unable to recapture them and they escape. Vengeance begins his pursuit solo, but is quickly joined by Spider-Man. He informs Vengeance that he planted a spider-tracer on them and knows exactly where they are.

They track them down to an abandoned warehouse where Vengeance and Spider- Man exchange philosophies on killing their enemies while trying to avoid being killed by Rak and Dread.

At this point a hologram of Hellgate appears. He tells Vengeance of his interest in acquiring his powers and kills Dread and Rak for their failure. The hologram then disappears.

Vengeance thanks Spider-Man for his assistance and then tells him to stay out of way in the future.

General Comments

I'm thinking that beating a restrained prisoner during questioning, even if they have a healing factor, constitutes excessive force. I'm sure any team of lawyers Hellgate would have on retainer would jump on that if given a chance. This bothers me greatly not only from a general perspective but also as a ridiculous opening for this story. Had Dread been trying to kill Badilino while in the room, it would have been easier to defend his actions. However Dread is simply sitting there stating flatly that he's going to kill him. This paints all of these cops as, at the very least, highly aggressive or at worst, corrupt. Not really interested in a corrupt cop story.

The rest of the story is a basic team up pairing Spider-Man with "the new guy". The reformed villain angle doesn't work for most characters. Vengeance would be a good example of this. When compared to his predecessor, Badilino falls short of mediocrity. The Ketch version of Ghost Rider was a mystically- enhanced partial amnesiac driven to avenge the innocent. In contrast Badilino is a mystically-enhanced generic "bad cop". This character works best in small doses, not as the main character.

Overall Rating

1.5 webs. When this Vengeance-as-Ghost-Rider arc began (issue #46) it was obvious that they were trying to incorporate the "replacement hero" theme that was used in many comics during the 1990s to lead into issue #50 where Danny Ketch was resurrected. Even knowing that this was temporary, it was a rather boring arc with little of consequence happening.

Footnote

Much like Johnny Blaze, Badilino sold his soul to Mephisto to become Vengeance. His first appearance was in Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance #9

The Ketch Ghost Rider died in Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance #18

The "Siege of Darkness" storyline involved a plot by Zarathos and a group of renegade immortals called "The Fallen" to conquer this dimension. The storyline occurred in:

  • Nightstalkers #14-15: Parts 1, 9
  • Ghost Rider (Vol. 2) #44-45: Parts 2, 10
  • Marvel Comics Presents #143-146: Parts 3, 6, 11, 14
  • Darkhold #15-16: Parts 4, 12
  • Morbuis #16-17: Parts 5, 13
  • Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #60 part 7
  • Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #61 part 15
  • Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance #17-18: Parts 8, 16
  • Midnight Sons Unlimited #4: Part 17