VENGEANCE UNBOUND
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THE ORIGINAL GHOST RIDER # 5

SYNOPSIS
"The Snakes Crawl at Night": After fleeing from the Apache known as Snake Dance by attempting to jump over a gorge, Johnny Blaze finds that his bike has been sabotaged when it explodes in mid-air, leaving him to fall to his death in the canyon. The Ghost Rider hits the rocks at the canyon base, and Snake Dance revels in his triumph, believing Blaze to be dead. Meanwhile, back at the rodeo where Johnny is to perform his cycle act, the foreman comments that Blaze has disappeared. Roxanne believes that he must have ridden out the canyon, so the foreman tells Sam Silvercloud to give her a ride there as well. On the way to the canyon, Silvercloud (the one responsible for sabotaging Johnny's bike) tells Roxanne that the land is rightfully owned by the Apaches, and that they will soon reclaim it from the white man. They arrive at Copperhead Canyon, where Silvercloud tells Roxanne that Blaze is dead. He then kidnaps the young woman and takes her to the nearby Indian reservation.

The next morning, the rodeo manager is upset because both Johnny and Roxanne are now nowhere to be found. At that moment, Bart Slade, the cycle show's road manager, enters the room dressed in cycle leathers and says that if Blaze doesn't show, he's more than ready to fill in for him. Hours later, Johnny, now in his human form, awakens on the canyon floor, astonished that he's still alive after the fall. Suddenly, Satan appears before the stunt rider and tells him that he's responsible for Johnny's surviving the crash. He tells Blaze that if he died by the hand of another mortal, he would be unable to capture his soul. Therefore, whenever Blaze's life is in danger, Satan will extend protection over him, until he himself has a chance to take his life. The devil disappears, leaving Johnny alone on the canyon floor. Luckily, a helicopter passes overhead and airlifts Johnny out. Meanwhile, at the Indian reservation, Silvercloud presents Roxanne to Snake Dance, who decides that they shall sacrifice her to the Snake-God as a bride. The witch doctor then returns to his home, where he states to himself that the entire snake ceremony and belief system is a charade, perpetrated to save his people from starvation and poverty.

Blaze arrives at the rodeo just in time, barely making it to his dressing room before nightfall triggers his transformation into the Ghost Rider. He runs out to do his act, and is surprised to find Slade ready to do the stunts himself. Because Bart is a cripple with a bum leg, Johnny stops him from doing the act, but only manages to anger his former friend even more. Blaze continues and starts the stunt show, stunning the audience with his cycle mastery. During one stunt, however, he loses his concentration and crashes his bike into a wall. The Ghost Rider emerges unscathed, but quickly spots Sam Silvercloud standing on the sidelines. He chases the saboteur down and forces him to give up Roxanne's location.

At the reservation, Snake Dance and his men perform the Snake-God ritual, with Roxanne tied to a serpent-shaped stake. Snake Dance tells her that she must prove herself worthy by enduring deadly snake venom, and that only ones who are chosen by the Snake-God can survive. Two snakes shoot out from the shaman's arms, biting Roxanne on each wrist. Snake Dance, knowing all too well that the venom will kill Roxanne, continues his sham by saying that the gods are angry with the Apaches, and that the only way to apease them is to rise up against the white man as an army. At that moment, the Ghost Rider roars onto the scene, quickly dispatching Snake Dance's followers with his hellfire. He unties Roxanne from the stake, but realizes that he must get her to a hospital before she dies. He turns to the Apaches one last time and tells them that Snake Dance is a charlatan, and that they shall never again threaten innocent people. He rides off on his motorcycle, vowing that if Roxanne dies, he shall return to exact vengeance.

"End of the Line", Part 2: Phantom Rider uses his ventriloquism to make Angus O'Donnel think the dead mailman is haunting him. Angus shoots the mailman's corpse and Phantom Rider rescues William as the train pulls in to Bison Bend. Sheriff Brown arrests the terrified Angus.

ANNOTATIONS
This issue is a reprint of Marvel Spotlight on Ghost Rider # 9.

This issue also included an all-new back-up story featuring the old western Ghost Rider, Carter Slade, now re-named the Phantom Rider as of West Coast Avengers # 19.

The synopsis for the Phantom Rider story comes from Ghost Rider: The Official Index to the Marvel Universe.

REVIEW
Read the Review of Marvel Spotlight on Ghost Rider # 9.

Grade: A-


The Original Ghost Rider # 5
Published: Nov. 1992
Original Price: $1.75
Cover: Kevin Maguire

Title: "The Snakes Crawl At Night"
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Artist: Tom Sutton
Inker: Chic Stone
Letterer: Shelly Leferman
Editor: Roy Thomas

Title: "End of the Line", part 2
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Dick Ayers
Colorist: Mike Worley
Editor: Evan Skolnick