My Misspent Youth — Ghost Rider #20 by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

When last we left out heroes, all hell was breaking loose. A startled eyewitness in the mighty Marvel Universe might understandably interpret that well-worn phrase literally in the case of the fearsome finish of Daredevil #138. A hero dressed in an outfit that evokes the devil is being strangled by a mummy-bandaged fiend with skull for a head and a skeletal horse as transport while another fella with the bone of his cranium fully exposed and flames licking off him is crashing through a nearby window on his chopper. This is not a mundane afternoon.

The story that got underway in Ol’ Hornhead’s title continues, and concludes, in the pages of the comic book series that bears the name of the antiheroic figure breaking glass on his way to join the fisticuffs. In a crossover, writer Marv Wolfman and artist John Byrne hopped onto Ghost Rider in a fill-in between main creative teams. They start Ghost Rider #20 by backtracking a bit, all the better to get those who missed the Daredevil issue one week earlier up to speed.

The Ghost Rider issue quickly catches up, and a detail brought up in the first part comes to fruition. Daredevil determines that the person raging around in the guise of Death’s Head is a different familiar for from his past. In the midst of battle, the masquerade is cast aside.

Death’s Head is really Death Stalker. It’s a very metal turn of events.

With the main mysteries revealed, it’s time for the issue to get down to the fundamental business of having super-powered beings trade blows.

Mayhem transpires, and everything more or less resets by the final panel, a basic necessity of this sort of storytelling diversion meant, as much as anything, to pique the interest of devoted readers of one ongoing series for another that is moderately aligned in sensibility. Whether Daredevil or Ghost Rider got a boost in profile, or readership, from the crossover is difficult to say. Both series definitely endured well past this point, though one unquestionably benefited in the eternal struggle for viability from the arrival of a seismically impactful creator. The commercial goals of the team-up didn’t matter to me when these issues crossed before my eager eyes. I simply appreciated the unhinged drama and action unfolding from panel to panel.

Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.

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