Ghost Rider has been a Marvel Comics superhero since the seventies. The comics company brought out a lot of supernatural heroes in those days. WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER, SON OF SATAN, MAN-THING, and others. But there was something special about Johnny Blaze, the young motorcycle daredevil who sold his soul to save the life another another and was betrayed in that bargain. Ghost Rider became a supernatural force constantly at war, caught between the forces of good and evil inside himself.
Ghost Rider broke out of the pages of MARVEL SPOTLIGHT and grabbed his own title magazine, which lasted for about ten years or so, with sporadic frequencies. Johnny Blaze's character and the nature of Ghost Rider went through a lot of retconning.
Greg Cox's book is a novelization of the movie coming out in February, and I was torn between waiting to be surprised with the film or reading the book. I passed it by twice, then picked it up and read it in two sittings. Ghost Rider was one of my favorite characters because he looked so cool and I rode a motorcycle for a while.
The book/movie is essentially a re-envisioning of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider's origin. It follows some of the retconning, like being with his father, Barton Blaze, and progresses from that spin. Of course, there's a girl in the movie version: Roxanne Simpson, who had been the daughter of the circus owner where the Blazes performed their death-defying motorcycle stunts.
The book/movie starts out with a prologue featuring the first Ghost Rider, a man named Slade who was a Western hero in Marvel Comics (he got retconned into the mythos as well later). This Western Ghost Rider hid a contract worth 1000 souls and rode off into the sunset.
Fastforward to the tragedy that left Johnny Blaze's soul exposed. Mephistophles returns for Johnny's soul and transforms him into the Ghost Rider to battle Blackheart. Blackheart is actually Mephistopheles's son and intends to take over his dad's rule because he thinks his dad is being too cautious.
The Ghost Rider in the book/movie is an interesting blend of Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch, who was the second modern Ghost Rider. Ketch first had the spirit chain of fire used to flail bad guys, but it looked way too cool too pass up for the movie.
Greg Cox's book is a great treatment of the script. I cruised through the pages and had a great time living the adventure. It's narrative-heavy because it's from a movie script, and there isn't much dialogue occasionally, but overall it's a solid read.
I may have lost the mystery of what's going to happen in the film, but I'm still looking forward to all the special effects and seeing Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider on the big screen.