As “Agents of SHIELD” gets closer and closer to its September 20 season premiere, ABC has been hyping the arrival of Ghost Rider, whose addition to the series was first announced at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
For most people who haven’t read the Marvel comics, Ghost Rider is best known from Nicolas Cage‘s portrayal of him in the 2007 film adaptation of the series and its 2012 sequel, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”
But Luna’s Ghost Rider isn’t the same as Cage’s. That’s because in 2014, Ghost Rider was included as part of an ongoing initiative by Marvel to add more women and people of color to its roster of superheroes. In the years prior, we saw Miles Morales become Spider-Man, Sam Wilson take over as Captain America, and Miss America get reimagined as America Chavez.
So it was that Robbie Reyes, a Chicano teen from East L.A., became the new Ghost Rider. Instead of riding a motorcycle like the original Rider, Reyes drives around in a Dodge Charger. One night, while in a street race trying to win enough cash to move his mentally disabled brother to a better neighborhood, Reyes is gunned down by a gang looking for drugs that had been stashed away in his car — unbeknownst to Reyes.
Instead of dying, Reyes is possessed by a spirit named Eli, who claims to be a Spirit of Vengeance that will help him get back at the drug dealers. Reyes agrees and is transformed into Ghost Rider.
It turns out that the drugs were meant for the gang’s leader, who used them to turn into a massive beast named Mr. Hyde. With Eli’s help, Reyes slays Mr. Hyde and his gang, and becomes known as a dark protector of the barrio. Thing is, Reyes really isn’t interested in striking down the wicked as a full-time job, and instead uses the Ghost Rider powers to become the top street racer in L.A. Eli, furious with this new path, begins to take over Reyes’ body and go on a rampage.
Fortunately, Reyes gets help from the original Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze. Together, the two realize that Eli isn’t a Spirit of Vengeance, but actually a Satanic serial killer who tricked Reyes so he could take over his body and return to the living world. With Blaze’s help, Reyes manages to subdue Eli. Unfortunately, he will never be free of the evil spirit, so he makes a deal with him.
“Find me the worst scum on the planet,” Reyes says. “Find me the foulest, darkest degenerate souls to walk the Earth… People like you, Eli Morrow… And I’ll gladly destroy them. But I will kill no one else.”
According to Joss Whedon, “Agents of SHIELD” will put its own spin on how Robbie Reyes became the new Ghost Rider, but will take the comic book’s emphasis on Robbie’s relationship with his brother and make it a major part of the new season. “”We are staying true to the comics in the places where we feel like it’s really important,” he told EW. “We love the character’s family dynamic and the East L.A. kid in him.”
Season 4 of “Agents of SHIELD” premieres Sept. 20 on ABC.