Everybody who’s anybody remember the time that Hell’s Spirit of Vengeance, the Ghost Rider was separated from his host, stunt bike racer and mullet-haver Johnny Blaze by the evil red wizard, Azaziah, right? Like, I don’t have to go into details about how this Merlin-looking motherfucker deposessed Johnny in an effort to take the Ghost Rider for himself? And Blaze and the Ghost Rider realized they were both far weaker without one another and reunited and it felt so good? Good, I can skip all that boring crap and get straight to the blasphemy.
In this new reality, Azaziah knocks Johnny on his ass and gives himself the power of the Ghost Rider easily. Then it’s an easy thing to summon Ghost Rider’s hellcycle and go out to try and take over the world. I’m a little delighted by the idea of an immortal wizard turning into an Evel Knievel style stunt racer but I guess thing about different hosts making different looking Ghost Riders hadn’t been written yet. Shame. I’d kill for a bearded skeleton riding around in a flaming wagon like Satan’s own Santa Claus.
Azaziah takes his motorcycle across the sea, heading straight for Vatican City in Rome. His goal: To murder the Pope! For by sacrificing the pope, Azaziah will be able to control the minds of every Christian on Earth. Or all of Christendom, as he repeats over and over and over again.
Back in America, Johnny regains conciousness. Remembering Azaziah’s words about planning to attack “the pearl of Christendom”, Johnny realizes that this was the name people in the middle ages gave the “seat of papal authority”. Which is pretty good for shit-kicking hick in need of a haircut. Friggin’ hippy. Johnny realizes his chances of biking to Rome are pretty low so he steals a plane and gives chase.
Meanwhile, Azaziah has rampaged through Rome, openly mocked the papal guard for their ridiculous uniforms and taken the Pope to one of Vatican City’s many ancient torture chambers.
Johnny finally arrives on a stolen Vespa but he busts his leg trying to jump the circle of hellfire surrounding the Vatican. Nice one, buddy. I thought jumping over fire on a motorcycle was literally the one thing you were good at. Azaziah quickly finds him and chains him to a wall, knowing he can’t kill Johnny without killing himself as well. Wonder if that’ll come up later.
Azaziah returns to normal (or “Old Man in a flowery dress form.”) and prepares to sacrifice the Pope, summoning a huge scarlet scimitar to stab him with. Gotta say, the pope’s taking all of this surprisngly well. He spends a lot of time just hanging out.
Luckily, Johnny’s able to pick the locks on his chains. By which I mean he pulls them out of the wall. Lousy shoddy ancient masonary. He’s then able to snatch the scimitar away before it can commit papalcide. Azaziah returns to Ghost Rider form but Johnny bonks him on the skull with the shattered masonary and then stabs him with the scimitar. This final act of heroism kills them both, leaving a very confused Pope wondering just what the fuck has happened.
Next we go to our backup AND cover story, an actual Daredevil comic by Frank “I’m not crazy yet” Miller! This one starts off simply enough with Daredevil’s usual origin: Kid saves blind man, kid gets hit in the face with chemicals, chemicals fall down storm drain, chemicals mutate four baby turtles and a rat, turtles and rat form media empire that lasts thirty years. Simple!
This time around, we learn that the chemical truck in question belonged to Tony Stark and Stark’s been following it across town to keep an eye on it. When Matt Murdock’s face gets splattered, Tony bustles the kid into his awesome flying car and takes him to the best medical facility on the planet: the SHIELD helicarrier on a rare day when it isn’t crashing.
Unfortunately, all of this has been noticed by an agent of HYDRA who had been following Stark following the chemical truck. (You know, I’ve read a lot of Daredevil origins and I never remembered the truck accident being this BUSY.) The Hydra Agent figures an acid splattered teenager might be worth having for some reason and sends a Matt Murdock doppleganger robot over to Matt’s father’s gym. The fact that they have a Matt Murdock robot just kicking around raises the question of why they would want a human Matt Murdock who also can’t see at all but whatever. Robo-Matt kidnaps Matt’s father and then disappears from the story.
Up on the Helicarrier Stark and Fury have discovered that the chemicals have enhanced all of Matt’s senses. And dehanced his eyes significantly. Matt’s pretty bummed but Fury thinks that his new powers will make Matt a perfect SHIELD agent and begins training him right away.
About a month passes and Matt starts asking Fury about his father. Matt’s been missing a while and he suspects his father is worrying. Unbeknownest to Matt, Fury’s had SHIELD agents looking for Matt’s dad since they picked Matt up and had no luck finding him. Fury lies to Matt, making some lie up about Matt’s father being sent on a completely legitimate cruise or something but Matt realizes he’s lying and quits.
Matt’s just wondering how he’s going to locate his father when he’s approached by the shittiest double agent ever to work with SHIELD or Hydra. She offers to take Matt to see his father and the two of them try to escape the Helicarrier. It takes about three seconds for them to be recaptured by Fury who tells Matt that they’ve located the Hydra base Matt’s father is stashed at. Which is really handy considering an hour ago, nobody had any idea where the hell he was. Also if you’re wondering who the double agent was, what side she was actually on and what happened to her, join the club. She too disappears from the story.
Matt approaches the underwater Hydra base, easily defeating the guards in some really damn sharp Frank Miller action sequences. He quickly rescues his dad from the pole in a giant empty room he was strapped to and then they escape. Fury also shows up to kill some people. Hooray!
Safely back on the Helicarrier, Matt finally tells his father what’s been going on and takes a job with SHIELD. Matt’s father celebrates that his son has found a good, useful career. And Robot-Matt and the SHIELD Double Agent have a Vegas wedding.