by Bevan Thomas
We return again to the Name Game, where classic old comic book names are attached to totally new characters. I’ve always been a huge fan of Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider, specifically the Johnny Blaze version. The later nicer nineties one I could take or leave, but there was a lot to be said for the original Ghost Rider’s sadistic delight in burning the souls of his enemies. That said, I’m also a really big fan of spiritualism, Voodoo, shamanism, etc., and their concept of channelling where you can get yourself “ridden” by a spirit. So I decided to go that direction here, and fortunately found an artist who’s for it who’s a big fan of ghosts as well. Jayleen Weaver is actually working with her twin sister to compile an anthology of ghost story comics that I’m involved with.
Anyway, here’s Ghost Rider.
Real Name: Roxanne “Roxie” Simpson
Aliases: Shaman, Wendigo
Occupation: Shaman and medium, former temp
Group Affiliation: Ghost Rider & Nightmare, Sentinels of Liberty
Roxanne “Roxie” Simpson thought she was just a regular young woman with a BA in comparative religions, a temp job, and no real career prospects or direction in her life. Then, one day her boss died of a heart attack at work and suddenly his soul was howling in her mind!
Roxie ran screaming from the building, never to return.
A few months later, the Sentinels of Liberty were battling the Ex-Man known as Abomination. To increase its mass and power, the Abomination had been absorbing numerous panhandlers into its body, though finally one proved far more than to be expected. A vagrant whose mind, over the last few months, had become a screaming parliament of spirits. It was far, far too much for the Abomination to handle and with a scream, the monster collapsed into unconsciousness.
Somehow, contact with the Abomination released something in Roxie’s brain, and she found herself in a room, speaking to all the ghosts that were dwelling in her body. One came forth and introduced himself as the Shaman, a Siberian hero who had been a member of the Liberators during World War II though was later executed in the 1951 Stalin purge against all metahumans within the USSR who did not match the “ideals of Communism.” The Shaman was Roxie’s grandfather and his powers were inherited by her. She would be a shaman for the new world, and he would teach her how: “I will show you how to ride the ghosts instead of them riding you.”
In time, Roxie learned how to choose when to manifest the ghosts and maintain some part of her mind while doing it. She became a medium, helping the bereaved to contact their departed loved ones, as well as an advocate for the dead, assisting ghosts in settling their affairs on Earth. Also, by channelling especially powerful ghosts, Roxie can fight crime as Ghost Rider of the Sentinels of Liberty.
She struggles to be a modern-day shaman and superhero, always trying to do the best she can to help both the living and the dead.
A modern day shaman, Ghost Rider can sense the presence of ghosts and other spirits, and communicate with them. She can also open herself up to the Spirit World, allowing spirits to enter her body, and can even summon them from Limbo, the ghostlands, though cannot summon any who have passed on through the Veil to whatever final fate awaits them.
Whenever Ghost Rider summons a ghost, it enters her body. She can keep them powerless, only capable of communication, or allow them control over her body, speaking through her mouth, moving her limbs, etc. She also has a rare gift that she can “ghost ride,” which means that her spirit joins with that of the ghost, making their personality a synthesis of the two selves, and granting her access to the memories, skills, and even powers of the ghost. If their personalities are really different, then these synthesis becomes more difficult, and the minds might end up struggling for control. Because of her willpower and the fact that it is her body, Roxie usually is the dominant self, but there are exceptions.
If Roxie focuses enough, she can product ectoplasm, a bizarre white substance that oozes from her mouth, eyes, and nostrils and can be formed into bodies for her ghosts to allow them to function independently from her body. This generally requires a lot of concentration, and is thus very difficult. The one exception is Nightmare, which because of Roxie’s strong connection, is able to manifest relatively easily.
She can send her soul or occasionally her body into either realms of the spirit, including Limbo or people’s dreams. If she links arms with other people, she can take them with her as well. She can also exorcise ghosts, demons, and other beings, forcing them to leave a body they’re possessing, flee the area, or even return to the realm from whence they came.
There are certain spirits that she has a particular strong connection with. The two strongest are her grandfather Shaman and her steed Nightmare. Other ones she frequently draws upon are the aboriginal shapeshifter Shadowcat, the wild west gunslinger Black Tom Cassidy, the trickster hero Impossible Man, the 1930s crimefighter Madame Masque, and the half-human monster-hunter Silhouette.
Without any spirits to ride, Ghost Rider has no powers. Also, particularly powerful spirits can take over her mind. The most dramatic example of that is the Wendigo, a rapacious aboriginal cannibal spirit that has a particular fascination for Roxie. Possessed by the monster, Roxie tried to devour her teammates in the Sentinels of Liberty and might have succeeded if the Human Torch hadn’t driven out the monster with her spiritual light. At other times, Roxie has been controlled by demons, vengeful ghosts, and the fiendish Scarlet Witch.
The ghost of a warhorse who, it is said, was once ridden by Sir Lancelot himself. The noble steed was one of the first spirits who manifested to Roxie, seeking her out in the hopes of finding a new noble master to serve, and now has almost become her totem. She has dubbed him “Nightmare” for the sake of a bad pun and because, ironically, he protects her from bad dreams. She can create an ectoplasmic body for Nightmare with relative ease, and he is blessed with numerous powers: the ability to run through the sky, to turn invisible and intangible, and to enter Limbo or people’s dreams with ease (certainly much more ease than Ghost Rider can do on her own), and often it seems Nigthmare’s very presence in her mind helps increase her willpower for dealing with other ghosts. They are an inseparable team.