Published: February, 1967
Written by: Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas
Art by: Dick Ayers, Vince Colletta
Marvel Comics, 18 Pages
The character referred to nowadays as the Phantom Rider was actually the first version of Ghost Rider. They changed his name later on due to there being confusion with the more modern Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze. However, now there are at least five different Ghost Riders, so whatever… confusion once again ensues!
Anyway, I’ve read stories featuring the Phantom Rider but I never really knew his origin story. I guess I always assumed that it was similar to all the other Ghost Riders but it is, in fact, quite different.
Being that this is his first appearance, this also serves as his origin.
This Ghost Rider a.k.a. Carter Slade was just an average dude in the Old West. He had some boxing experience under his belt, so I guess that helped him know how to throw a punch. However, he gets his ass kicked almost immediately and nearly dies.
He is then saved by some powerful spirit while in the care of some nice Native Americans. They give him some glowing powder, he then tames some special horse, decides to rub the glowing powder all over his outfit and thus, becomes the original Ghost Rider.
It’s a bit of an odd origin tale but so where a lot of early comic book origins. But this is also probably why he was soon replaced with Johnny Blaze, the first Ghost Rider with a flaming skull, motorcycle and magic chains.
The story is hokey and kind of weird, even for late ’60s comics. But I thought the art was pretty good for the time and it lives up to what was the Marvel standard.
Having now checked this out, it’s certainly not a must read and the first Ghost Rider is kind of an obscure character anyway. But it’s not a waste of time and worth reading if you already have an affinity for the character.
Pairs well with: the issues that came after it, as well as other ’60s and ’70s Marvel titles with horror elements.
Marvel actually included this guy in the first Ghost Rider movie. I didn’t actually know that Slade was a pre-existing character so that’s interesting. My favourite GR era is the earky 90’s Dan Ketch stuff. It’s dark and brutal with nice original villains and superb art.
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The Ketch era is the one I read the most.