|Item Data|| |
|Publish Date:||FEB 1982|
Ghost Rider (1973) 65-A by Marvel
"The Lair of the Loan Shark!"
During an intrepid high-wire cycle stunt, Red Fowler loses his balance atop his partner, Johnny Blaze's shoulders. Quick thinking and awesome riding skill save both men from a fatal dismount and descent. The only injury, it seems is Red's bruised ego. He accuses Johnny of deliberately fouling the stunt to come out looking the big hero.
Fowler gets a shock on returning to his trailer. The Loan Shark and his ruffians have been laying in wait to collect on a debt. Red bluffs them that he needs more time to pay, but the Shark leaves him a deadline for the next night to find $10,000.
In Johnny Blaze's trailer, a familiar mental conflict is waged. Johnny struggles to contain the Demon, to no avail. The change is fluid. The Satan-spawn is reborn. With a gesture that defies known physics, the Demon forms a cycle from solid flame to roar off into the night looking for misadventure.
With unfortunate timing, Red Fowler catches sight of the Ghost Rider motoring towards him. He is creeped out by the eerie apparition tailing him, and decides to duck under cover of a culvert.
Red thinks he's safe as the Demon biker passes overhead, shrieking with laughter. It is merely a diabolical ruse, as the Spirit of Vengeance toys with his prey. The Brimstone Biker doubles back to sever an aqueduct, flooding the culvert as a consequence.
Red panics, dreading that he'll drown. But in mocking, spectral tones, the Ghost Rider assures him that there's not enough water from the supply to cause him fear.
Fowler drags his sorry carcass back to Quentin's Carnival, where he freezes upon sight of the Harley from Hell. What follows next astonishes Fowler, as he witnesses the transformation back to mortal Johnny Blaze. Fowler's so shook up, he refuses to believe what his eyes are telling him.
Lengthy sleep is loudly interrupted by an alarm clock sounding. Red panics again, the Loan Shark and his goons will be back in an hour's time. Time, then to make a quick sharp exit, and put some distance between him and his impatient creditors.
That was a plan, but the Loan Shark had anticipated that Red would make a run for it. Fowler's bundled into a limo and whisked off to face his fate elsewhere. Luckily Johnny Blaze caught sight of this, and follows the limo to a yacht moored at the Marina.
Ever the pragmatic businessman, Loan Shark proclaims that killing Red will set an example to all other debtors. This is when Johnny Blaze makes his heroic entrance, fists flailing wildly. Johnny takes care of a few hoods before their numbers pacify him.
The worst possible outcome for the thugs is to be scorched by soul-searing Hellfire as the Ghost Rider takes control of the situation. Crazed by a lust for retribution, Ghost Rider burns everything aboard the yacht until it too, explodes into a fireball.
Vengeance sated for now, Blaze carries Fowler back to the Carnival to convalesce. Red discovers a new-found admiration and respect for his colleague and vows to keep his secret for him.