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Day Two of the Motorcycle Championship at Claremonte Arena is about to commence! It is newcomer Flagg Fargo versus Johnny Blaze, former champ, just out of retirement! As the two motorcyclists prepare for the night’s events, Flagg’s constant goading of Johnny is starting to get to him, and he finds he can barely control himself. When Johnny looks like he might strike Flagg, the ref steps in and warns Johnny to keep professional during the event.

The championship starts, and though it begins smoothly, Johnny makes a mistake on the final turn of the obstacle course. Flagg aces the course, and seems to set the pace of the day. For every course Johnny wins, Flagg wins two. And so it is that at the end of Day 2, the scores are Flagg at 625 to Johnny’s 400. Fargo lips off at Johnny after the game, chiding “You’re in way over your head- If I were you, I wouldn’t even bother comin’ back tomorrow!” And this time Johnny doesn’t hold back, walloping Flagg in the chops. The ref comes to break it up and dismiss them. Fargo states “ While You been ridin’ around the country feelin’ sorry for yourself, I been workin’! I been practicing!” Johnny leaves to find his backers are starting to have their doubts that Johnny can pull it off, as well.

During his meal at the diner, a tough thug comes in picking up a huge order of food. Johnny immediately recognizes the man as one of the warehouse robbers he’d seen the night before. Following the thug to a waiting van outside, he changes into Ghost Rider, and goes off in hot pursuit of the crooks. But after a wild chase, the crooks mysteriously disappear again, and this time Johnny notices that both times, Flagg Fargo’s trailer has been nearby. He deduces that Flagg must be in on it, and smashes in on the startled Flagg Fargo relaxing inside. He manhandles Fargo, demanding he admit to both leading the warehouse crooks AND cheating in the motorcycle championship. He leaves Fargo with, “Once I have caught your slimy accomplices and made them confess, I will return to inflict the full vengeful fury of the Ghost Rider unleashed!”

Later, Johnny laments the foolishness of his acts. He has no proof that Fargo is either a crook or a cheat…and what if he’d accidentally killed him as Ghost Rider? He doesn’t want to even think about that! Winning the championship means so much to him, he even briefly entertains using his Ghost Rider powers to cheat and get ahead, but thankfully opts to race the race honestly.

Johnny knows he must get a good night’s sleep for the final challenge the following day, but after tuning up his cycle, finds he cannot sleep. He drives around aimlessly all night, till he realizes it is morning. He is about to head back, when he sees Flagg’s trailer. Standing atop a mountain view, he can see a nearby hidden road covered by brush that hide the criminals vans from street view! So, here is where they have been escaping to! He bursts in on them as Ghost Rider, and makes quick work of them. He tries to get them to confess involvement with Flagg Fargo, but they insist they have nothing to do with him.

With the capture of the warehouse robbers behind him, Johnny arrives at the Arena with a newfound determination to win. Flagg comments that Johnny looks like he’d been up all night, but Johnny brushes it off, and prepares for the duel! This time, Johnny pulls out all the stops and performs incredible stunts. But Flagg is professional, too, and in the end, just barely manages to still beat Johnny with a close call of 825 to 820.

Johnny’s backers are furious. “Get outta here, Blaze you Bum!” they yell. “Yeah, take a powder, you has-been!”. But it is Flagg Fargo himself who comes to Johnny’s defense. He remarks that all his life he’d wanted to be the best, but what he’s seen Johnny do tonight he can only dream of. So even though Flagg won, he considers Johnny the winner. He offers the trophy to Johnny, but Johnny declines it. “You won fair and square.”

The scene ends with Johnny in his room, head in his hands, dealing with his loss.



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dmstarz's favourite marvel comic cover no232 0

The set up for Ghost Rider is excellent, isn't it? Becoming a monster due to a deal with the devil. This allowed the comic to be considerably more macabre with its visuals than some of the other regular books. A few issues before the above, we have the Spirit of Vengence threatening Blaze with a trip to Hell and the above, whilst not as gruesome or grotesque as many of the other covers, is still pretty unsettling. The artists, two Bobs, Wiacek and Budiansky, fearlessly pepper the cover with the ...

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