Friday, March 09, 2007

Panic On Pier One! (Marvel comics)
Marvel Team-Up #58 When: June 1977
Why: Chris Claremont How: Sal Buscema & P. Marcos

The story so far...
Whilst heading home, Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson find themselves in for a treat when they discover a film crew rolling outside of Peter's Chelsea residence.

Amongst the film crew is Johnny Blaze, playing the role of Stunt-Master.Blaze, stunt cyclist extraordinaire, is of course the alter ego of the demon spawn dark hero known as Ghost Rider, the spirit of vengeance!

Filming begins, but a routine stunt goes wrong when Blaze's front tyre is ensnared by an unseen adhesive shot atop one of the cars he's bunnyhopping.
The force of his momentum tears the front tyre from the cycle, and Johnny Blaze makes the change from man, to Ghost Rider!

Webbing comes to the demon's aid at the last second, but when Spidey finds himself snared by thick paste, will the spirit of vengeance return the favour?

Previous Form:
The Trapster (#64): The Trapster has both a victory and defeat as member of the Frightful Four.
Spider-man (#2): Spider-man has victories of Scorpion, Kraven, Tombstone and others.
Ghost Rider: Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) has not yet been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Spider-man 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Ghost Rider 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Ghost Rider 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Ghost Rider 5 (Lasers)

When you break it down, this is a hilariously one-sided fight.
The Trapster doesn't even break a twenty overall, which makes him one of the few feature characters to fall into the Human Class. Which is bad news bears when you're up against not one, but TWO superhero studs.

Like various more street level characters, Trapster certainly has the ability to play above his stats. Granted he isn't a Tombstone, but the versatility provided by his super-durable adhesive paste is a fairly hefty tool.
Along with various offensive applications, it comes in pretty handy for your run of the mill incapacitation through bondage, and can even throw up defensives like a super sturdy quick-dry wall.

Of course, even with that said, if we take a look at the opposing keys to victory you have a smorgasboard of ways for Ghost Rider and/or Spidey to take him apart. Webbing, hellfire, super strength, nearby sea, flaming hellcycle... That isn't even breaking it down to measure how each talent can beat him.

Honestly, The Trapster is in deep water in this one, which is probably the reason he never gets any respect. Aim low, Pete. Aim low.

The Math: Spider-man & Ghost Rider
The Pick: Spider-man & Ghost Rider

What went down...
Having saved Ghost Rider from a messy crash, Spider-man finds himself entangled in the sticky paste of The Trapster!

Ghost Rider summons his hellcycle so that he might pursue the villain, while he recounts the tale of his arrival to Spider-man from atop his Anti-Grav Platform.

During a daring escape from custody, the Wizard freed his Frightful Four friends with the use of one of his many crafty contingencies, concealed within a dummy tooth.
As they left, The Trapster spied a newspaper that featured an article on the Johnny Blaze film, and decided to stretch his legs with some payback for a previous meeting.

While Trapster blows his own trumpet, Spidey makes his move, shooting a web line to the front of Trapster's floating platform.
With a safe anchor he puts his weight into applying pressure on the long strand of hardened paste, and manages to break it!

Though his arms remain bound, Spidey uses his web-line to swing up onto the platform, and delivers a devestating kick to the face of the villain formerly known as Paste-Pot Pete.

Staring down the barrel of the paste gun, Spidey tries to swat it away with his pinned arms. He proves unsuccessful, and the Trapster shows some developing enginuity, using a magnesium flare in his belt to blind the web-slinger.

Blinded, Spider-man is left a sitting target to even the Trapster, not known for his bruising.

The punch sends Spider-man hurtling off the Anti-Grav platform, toward the streets below, but fortunately the Ghost Rider was still entow.

Imitating a move he picked up from the Human Torch, Ghost Rider drives his cycle in a tight circle, creating a vortex of hot air that slows Spider-man's descent, and allows him the chance to catch the falling hero!

The Trapster comes around for a second shot, but Ghost Rider blasts a vengeful burst of hellfire toward the villain. It damages the platform heavily, but not enough to prevent Trapster steering toward refuge aboard a docked Navy carrier.

Spidey breaks free of his shackles, and leaps into action with the Ghost Rider.
GR is first onboard the boat, jumping from an elevated highway atop his hellcycle.

[Paste-Pot] Pete is waiting with his paste gun ready, building himself a hardened wall directly in the path of the netherworldly rider!
Any ordinary biker may be thrashed, but the Ghost Rider is able to leap from his flaming hellcycle as explodes in a burst of flame, before summoning it once more so that he may land directly on it!

Trapster so perturbed by being outmatched, doesn't even notice that he flees right into the waiting fist of the amazing Spider-man! The victory, however, is brief, as finely tuned spider-senses warn Spidey of an incoming attack from one of the sailors aboard the ship.

Ghost Rider once more comes to the web-slinger's aid as the seamen open fire.

Meanwhile, The Trapster seeks to commandeer a jet as means of distraction to facilitate his escape. He starts the F-14 rolling toward the West Side Highway, and only Spider-man's fantastic leaping prevents certain disaster.
Using his webbing and some quick thinking, he pulls the plane harmlessly into a nose dive off the bow of the carrier.

Ghost Rider corners the fleeing Trapster aboard the ship, and prepares to deliver unbridled vengeance, but Spider-man is forced to intervene at the last second!

With his prey pinned against barrels of fuel, Ghost Rider could be endangering the entire crew with his flaming retribution. Or so Spidey believes!

The Ghost Rider, unrelenting, blasts jets of hellfire at the villain with little regard for the surroundings. Trapster collapses to the ground, gripped in a figurative hell in his mind.

Ghost Rider callously reminds Spider-man that his hellfire has more poperties than merely the physical. Spider-man is unable to subscribe to his vicious means of penance, thus the two part ways, with Ghost Rider bitterly reminding his ally that he is what he is. A demon spawn spirit of vengeance.

The hammer...
Despite their uneasy resolution, Ghost Rider and Spider-man emerge victorious! What a team!

A rare milestone on the site comes with this entry!
This is officially the one hundredth post on the website, which is a pretty big deal by anyone's book! Traffic's slowed down a little, but we've come a long way from the first post, so a big shoutout goes to all of you coming back regularly! Cheers!

Now, as far as reasoning for this post, I'm going to admit this was purely a grab at scoring some hits off the feature film. I haven't seen it, but I know it's got a lot of new readers interested in the character, and hopefully this can add to the experience of discovering the character on the page!

I personally don't think the character really came into his own until the Ghost Rider mantle was passed to Dan Ketch, as opposed to Johnny Blaze, who's the GR featured here and in the movie.

At this point in the character's history he sort of feels like a weird superhero, with a very non-chalant reference to an infernal backstory, and off-the-cuff throws to Satan. By the eighties and nineties I think we start to see the character falling into a more unique niche, and finding weight on the nature of his character, as opposed to just being a superhero guest star.

You'll notice the threat of hellfire is fairly regular here. It's not until the nineties that he develops trademark moves like the penance stare, and diversifies into the chains and flame attacks.

You probably see some of that in the movie, but being a PG-13 film, it really doesn't root the character in the same scene I like to think of him as appearing in. This is a character that inhabits the seedier side of the Marvel universe, mingling with similar characters like Morbius and Dr. Strange and Blade.

Of course, during that period of the Dan Ketch Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze still gets a look in, albeit as a man. Although, as you may have discovered if you've begun investigating the character in the comics, Johnny Blaze has again taken up the curse of the Ghost Rider. And I'm not about to pretend I'm above movie tie-ins [hello!], but it will be very interesting to see the Dan Ketch character breached within the pages of those books.

Of course, the vehicle for this Ghost Rider feature was the original secondary Spider-man title; Marvel Team-Up. I don't have a great collection of Ghost Rider books, but this is one that's been on the pile for a while, so it seemed like an opportune moment to throw it up there.

As has been discussed in the Punch-Ups, 2007 is really fixing to be a Spider-man month here on the site, I think. That's probably a trend that will continue, and hopefully you can forgive me! I'm trying to reserve Friday for some versatility, but there's just so much still to come!

Keep the hits coming folks!
If you've played the Ultimate Alliance video game, you'll know Monday is all about Bullseye, and it's one we've been waiting to see since the beginning of the site! Stick around for it! Cheers!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 4

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