Tag Archives: Danny Ketch

Vengeance for the Rider (Part 2)

Why hello! I didn’t see you there. You appear to be the fans of that Unspoken Decade website. What a coincidence! I happen to be the author of several articles from the site you so love! That’s right! I am the Symbifan, and I was just about to begin the second part of my musings over the small period in time in which Vengeance was the replacement for Ghost Rider! Aren’t you lucky? Well, take a load off and I’ll regale you with my thoughts on the subject….

RCO003-1Our story begins with pain. Pain for the assassin known as Dread as Police Lt. Michael Badilino unleashes fury with his fists for the cop-killer. As his fellow officers attempt to hold the enraged man back, Dread simply smiles and offers nothing but ridicule. (Pretty tough talk for a man dressed in purple jammies! I know. I know. I said that in the last article. But come on! Seriously?!) Finally, Badilino is forced from the room by the others from his strike force. As he stomps through the police station, presumably to get some air, he is stopped by his Captain. The senior officer tells him that since he was the one who captured Dread, the Mayor wants him to be the one to talk to the press about the case. Against his will, as he is not the public speaking type, Badilino begrudgingly complies. (Ha! Go figure! A flaming skull-headed vigilante doesn’t like talking to the press? Nah, I’m sure he’s friendly! After all, he is always grinning!)

RCO004As Vengeance’s alter-ego does his best to answer the questions fired by a frenzied press, no one notices anything spectacular about a certain photographer for the Daily Bugle. And why would they? He seems to blend in perfectly with the crowd. Yes, no one would suspect that this mild-mannered agent of free speech has in fact saved this city more times than he could ever count. For this is Peter Parker, AKA The Amazing Spider-Man! (Wow! Quite the build up there! And I bet you had no idea I was gonna name Spidey as the photographer in his civilian identity, did you? What’s that? It was obvious?! It was the “mild-mannered” comment, wasn’t it? Hey, it could be Superman in disguise! Oh yeah, wrong company. Moving on….)

RCO009As Peter Parker takes his measure of the hero before him, something strange is occurring in the room Dread occupies in the police station. His body is mending! As the assassin heals, he mentally calls out to a creature he calls Rak. (The name makes you male readers wince in pain, doesn’t it?) He calls for aid. Rak seems to be the very same creature from last issue that Vengeance had trouble defeating! The monster answers Dread’s mental summons for help and leaps down to the crowd of unaware reporters below! As chaos quickly errupts, Parker slips away to change into an outfit more befitting the situation! Meanwhile, Badilino opens fire on the monstrosity but to no avail! Rak merely advances! The creature then backhands him away as simply as batting away a fly! It is then that Badilino changes himself. A moment later, Vengeance has entered the scene!

RCO013-1Vengeance wastes little time stomping toward his prey but is soon met by everyone’s favorite wall-crawler as he swings down to help! Both heroes have few words for one another but rather leap into action like the pros they are. It looks like the monstrosity known as Rak will be quickly defeated since it’s now outnumbered! But wait! The odds quickly change as Dread has escaped! The killer wastes little time and strikes out at our flame-headed hero while Spider-Man battles the behemoth known as Rak! It seems like a good strategy: divide and conquer. The only problem is that the two heroes begin to argue over whether the villains’ lives should be terminated! (I bet you know which side Vengeance takes in this debate! Damn blood-thirsty Spider-Man! Just kidding!)

As this conflict goes on, Dread seizes his opportunity and runs Vengeance through with his sword! It matters little to the dark vigilante, though, as he easily snaps the weapon in two and backhands Dread a good distance away! Vengeance then lets loose a huge blast from his chest cavity, seemingly from his injury! By this time, the villainous duo decide a retreat is in their best interests! Telling Spider-Man to handle the crowd, Vengeance makes a hasty retreat himself on his demonic bike. He speeds off in pursuit!

RCO022As the hellish biker roars down the streets in search of his prey, he is interrupted by the sudden appearance of the web-slinger who states that there is a better way. He placed a spider-tracer on the evil-doers during the scuffle! (Good ol’ Spidey! Now that’s an experienced hero right there! Makes me sorry I called him blood-thirsty earlier as for a goof. Oh well, as you now know, no one is safe from the sarcasm of the Mighty Symbifan!) The villains are soon tracked to their hideout where they are hooked up to strange machinery. They seem to be regenerating! Vengeance, being the stealth type, (Yeah, right!) kicks in the wall! Spidey catches up soon after and the battle begins!

RCO025The heroes and villains are soon caught up in mortal combat! It doesn’t take long for our heroes to gain the upper hand, however, when Rak is stabbed by one of Vengeance’s detachable shoulder spikes! Spider-Man then clocks Dread a good one, sending him sailing through the air and to the floor! Vengeance then attempts to stab Dread through the heart with another spike! This, of course, starts a back-and-forth verbal battle between the two heroes about the subject of murder. It doesn’t go on for long before the mysterious Hellgate makes an appearance at last! (Well, in astral form anyway. Wussy!) Hellgate catches his two minions up in an energy wave and they disappear! He then threatens Vengeance that he has now become an interest to him. Soon after, Hellgate disappears as well, leaving the heroes to go their own ways.

Later….

RCO003-1The last part of our journey takes us to Manhattan where a hostage situation is taking place at a convenience store. One hostage is already dead, two police officers wounded, and several still are being held against their will inside. As the surrounding officers go to move in, Vengeance arrives and strolls right in, straight through semi-automatic gunfire! As the barrage of bullets pass through Vengeance’s fiery form, the biker vigilante systematically takes the foolish criminals apart with brutal force! One of them actually gets the “wise” idea to use a machete where bullets have failed! (Dumbass, right?! Even Vengeance comments on it! That’s as stupid as throwing the gun at an enemy after firing an entire clip! God, I always hated that! Moron!) This, of course, does nothing but amuse the new Spirit of Vengeance.

RCO015After, Badilino decides that he just needs to take some time off from everything. The stress of his daily police duties along with his “night job” have finally taken it’s toll. He leaves the station and heads straight to Cypress Hill Cemetery. Meanwhile, the villain known only as Hellgate orders two of his operatives to bring Vengeance in alive! (Yeah, good luck with that, boys!) Returning to the cemetery, Badilino sits in deep thought at the mausoleum where Ghost Rider’s remains lie. But what’s this? Within, the empty eye-sockets of the grinning skull suddenly light up with an eerie glow! While this is happening, Hellgate’s operatives move into position. Sensing something awry, Badilino reaches in his jacket for his gun. While pulling the weapon free of it’s holster, it is seized and crushed by a large, green hand! Turning, the Hulk is revealed! (That’s right, folks! Things just got real in a very big way!)

Badilino bolts into the mausoleum, only to emerge moments later as Vengeance! The Hulk states how he’s only there to investigate Ghost Rider’s sudden disappearance, but his words fall on deaf ears as he’s blasted through a gravestone by hellfire! Understandably mad, the Hulk returns with a earth-shattering uppercut, sending the demonic warrior sailing through the air!

RCO019Hellgate’s operatives witness all that has transpired and decide to let the green behemoth tire Vengeance out before moving in. (Hmmm. These goons may not be quite as stupid as most henchmen are!) Vengeance returns with a low blow with what appears to be all of his might! (Yeah, that one hurt to even look at the picture, I’ve gotta admit!) Really mad now, Hulk attempts to retaliate when, unexpectedly, one of the henchmen gets antsy and fires at Vengeance! (Forget what I said earlier.)

RCO021_w-1With the proverbial cat now out of the bag, the operatives now start blasting at both combatants! Vengeance wastes little time and leaps to attack! The two are ready for this, however, and hold him in stasis in an energy field! This doesn’t last long as the Hulk uprooted a lamppost and strikes both assassins midflight! He then reaches down and lifts Vengeance to his feet. Surprisingly, the two fly back for more! This is easily halted by a well-timed sonic clap and two thrown shoulder spikes! The fight is soon over. Later, the two heroes sit in the graveyard as the veteran hero, the Hulk, gives Vengeance some advice: “Control the power. Don’t let it control you.” Well said words from a man who knows. As the two leave in friendship, the skull of Ghost Rider secretly flares to life, igniting into blazing hellfire!

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Well, that’s it, fellow Legions of the Unspoken. Ghost Rider would return as the Spirit of Vengeance, and Vengeance himself would take second fiddle to the bigger star. I, however, would never forget the short time that Vengeance was “The Rider,” even though most other fans did. My reasoning is that even fictional superheroes deserve their own day in the sun. Don’t you think? We all do.

(This article is dedicated to my own personal hero, my son, James Miller. No matter what life throws at him, he perseveres and overcomes. I wish I could be more like him. Interesting note, he has a large Vengeance action figure that looks down at him from his dresser. A gift from his biggest fan, me.)

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Vengeance for the Rider (Part 1)

RCO001Welcome back, my fellow Unspoken-ites! (God, that’s never gonna catch on….) It is I, your loyal Symbifan, returned to share with you my hilarious and thought-provoking observations. (You know you love me!) This time, I speak of the short but awesome period in which The Spirit of Vengeance had seemingly been destroyed and another rider had risen up to claim the mantle! I speak of course of Vengeance! Intrigued? Well then, without further ado….

RCO003Our tale begins in a dark and dank mausoleum within the gates of Cypress Hill Cemetery. Here, perched atop a dusty pedestal, rests all that remains of the Ghost Rider. His grinning skull stares blankly at nothingness. His unholy flame to burn no more. (Damn, I’m an awesome writer, huh? I mean, I really set the mood there! Self high five!)

Now, it should be noted here that this in not a Ghost Rider story per se. No, this is a story that focuses on the character known as Vengeance during his time filling the boots of the title character. That said, there will be parts of the story pertaining to Ghost Rider or other supporting characters that I will leave out of my narrative. This doesn’t mean that I dislike the original story or characters that the good folks at Marvel so lovingly created. I simply wish to focus on a different character’s journey. This is Vengeance’s time to shine. (Whew! I was way too serious for way too long there! Let’s return to the article, shall we?)

RCO013We find Lt. Michael Badilino parking his motorcycle outside the aforementioned mausoleum. As the motor runs he ponders, with Ghost Rider dead, does he even need or want his powers as the demonic vigilante called Vengeance? He is still a cop after all. He can still do good in the world without his skull-headed alter ego. He wishes to know, not for the first time since his death, what Dan Ketch AKA Ghost Rider, would advise him to do. As he wanders within to pay his respects, he is surprised to see that the skull and leather jacket of his friend and ally….are missing! (But we just saw them on page one! Damn crafty thieves! You turn around for one second and wham!) Enraged, hellfire bursts through the mausoleum doors, transforming Badilino’s bike! Moments later, a transformed Badilino emerges himself. Only he is Lt. Michael Badilino no more. He is Vengeance! Balling his leather-clad fists, he vows that he will find Ghost Rider’s remains and that whoever took them will feel his wrath! (Neat, huh?! Go on. Keep reading!)

RCO017_w-1We then find ourselves at another part of the same cemetery. At this particular mausoleum, graverobbers are just putting the final touches on a lock and chain with their trusty crowbar. They comment on just how much the price for human skulls has gone up. (Take note, kiddies. Comics do teach you valuable things.) As they enter, they immediately find their gruesome prize. But before they can claim it, a clawed hand slashes through the air, decapitating one of the thieves! Unaware of this, Vengeance rides out of the cemetery gates, deep in thought. It’s then that the clawed creature makes itself known as it easily hurtles the fence, bag in hand! Vengeance is witness to this and decides that Ghost Rider would investigate this further if he were in this situation. He revs up his hellish bike and speeds off after the monster, leaving a hellfire trail in his wake!

It doesn’t take long to locate the creature. Vengeance spies it fleeing down a nearby alleyway on foot. Timing it just right, he leaps from his motorcycle and strait towards the monster! Just then, a clawed hand snaps back, catching our hero by the throat! The momentum and the creature’s own strength is then used to toss Vengeance straight into a parked car! (I’d be saying, “Let’s see the Carfax.”) This minor setback doesn’t keep the rider down for long. He leaps to his feet in just enough time for the beast’s form to finally be revealed! (Look at that thing! Damn, it looks like a sexy Kardashian!)

RCO022It then speaks, threatening to take the skull of our ghostly champion! Vengeance answers this with a blast of hellfire channelled from his fist! This hurls the creature through a brick wall at the opposite end of the alley, destroying the bag it carried. It is revealed to have been filled with human skulls! Declaring this to be the thief of Ghost Rider’s skull, Vengeance attacks again by leaping at his enemy. This proves foolish once again as he is struck in midair by a giant fist! The creature then pulls some sort of “lightsaber thingy” from God-knows-where and lifts Vengeance by the throat with it’s free hand. But as the monster raises the weapon to strike, Vengeance stabs it straight through the heart with one of his shoulder spikes! He then follows up by throwing a few more into the beast for good measure! The fight is finished by pummeling what life remains out of it with his fists! (Talk about brutal! I haven’t been this pained since I watched DC’s Steel movie starring Shaq! Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad….the beating wasn’t anyway.)

RCO025-1.jpgLater, Vengeance meets up with others of the Ghost Rider extended family to bury the hero the traditional way. It turns out that the skull and jacket been in the care of a loved one, not quite ready to let go. When the rider is final laid to rest, Vengeance watches from a short distance and makes a silent vow. He would protect the innocent like Ghost Rider before him. He would be the new Spirit of Vengeance!

RCO032But wait, there’s more! Our next issue begins with a highly decorated police officer being thrown from a tall building! He lands many stories below only to be vaporized by a blast from the sword of his killer who’s standing high above! (It’s now that I feel that I have to share a picture of this assassin. Why? Because of his amazing purple jammies, of course! Nothing says hired killer more than a skin-tight purple one-piece after all! We’re dealing with a real pro here!)

RCO004_w-1Anyway, we return to the murder scene where Lt. Michael Badilino has just arrived. He examines what remains of the corpse, stating that he knew the other officer well and that whoever did this is going to pay. Just then, the killer is spotted above by Badilino! He hasn’t left the scene after all! Running at top speed, he rushes after the perp! But when he reaches the correct floor, he finds himself facing not only his friend’s murderer, but his deadly blade! It turns out that the killer, called Dread, has been awaiting him in particular and that a Mr. Hellgate sends his regards! Dread then pulls the same “energy blasting sword routine” on Badilino! Badilino is faster then his friend before him, however, and manages a dodge down some nearby stairs! It is at the bottom of said stairs that Michael Badilino ceases to exist, and Vengeance is reborn!

RCO008Wasting little time, Vengeance races back up the stairs to confront a very confused assassin! Very few words are spoken between them before Dread attacks, slashing his blade through our hero’s midsection! Vengeance counters with a thrown fist but misses as the villain flips over him, onto the roof. It’s there that both combatants unleash energy blasts at one another! But, before the battle can continue, police finally arrive on the scene. Dread executes a backflip and disappears, leaving Vengeance to take an onslaught of bullets from the cops! Not wanting to hurt other defenders of justice, Vengeance falls from the roof and disappears himself.

RCO015-1.jpgWe are then transported to a scene below the Cypress Hill Police Headquarters where Badilino and his special task force plot the destruction of this “new” Ghost Rider as they did the one before. Well, all but Badilino that is. He shows little interest in taking down this fire-headed vigilante. (Gee, I wonder why! This just reeks of irony! I mean, wouldn’t this fall under suicide if he were into the conversation?) Badilino calls it an early night, surprising his police pals, and exits. But he’s not out for the night. Oh no. The night has only just begun for his alter-ego!

RCO020_w-1And what a night it is! Vengeance uses all of Lt. Michael Badilino’s police knowledge to track down, invade, and generally scare the piss out of every criminal lowlife possible! And all the while, he questions those conscious about Hellgate. He continues to come up empty until, feeling defeated, he finally decides to call it quits and head home. Later, while sitting in his apartment, Badilino considers his options until suddenly, his very own task force bursts in his door, weapons at the ready! As it turns out, Dread is in Badilino’s apartment complex, searching for him! Transforming when he’s free of his mens’ prying eyes, Vengeance finds Dread and the battle begins!

The fight starts with Vengeance charging Dread like a damn football player on gamma-steroids (Which seems to be a trend with the guy, admittedly. I mean, geez, his opponent has obviously shown he’s quite the nimble little minx! Think, man! Think!) This is easily dodged with a forward somersault and kick to the spine. (See?!) Dread then comes at the hero with his sword. This time, though, Vengeance is ready and dodges the attack! He then kicks the purple-clad assassin (Snicker!) under the chin, throwing him off balance. Before he can recover, Vengeance then delivers blow after blow until the villain can no longer stand! As the police arrive on the scene to arrest Dread, Vengeance takes his leave, but not before Dread can have the final word. He threatens that when Mr. Hellgate gets him out of jail, he will remember this night and come searching for our hero!

To be concluded….

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(Dedicated to my amazing sweetheart, Renee Grill, for giving me the awesome title for this article and listening to my pointless comic theories and trivia for over ten years! She’s the true superhero for not going crazy! Lol! Love you, baby!)

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