Ghost Rider and Doctor Who
Greetings Flame Heads. You read the title right. Ghost Rider and Doctor Who (not Doctor Strange). These two characters have a lot more in common than you realize. Doctor Who celebrated over 50 years recently with Ghost Rider having over 40 years under his belt (although the Ghost Rider name has been around since 1949).
Both Ghost Rider and Doctor Who have their iconic devices that have helped identify their characters. This is not unique to these two heroes, but they are easily recognizable by fans and casual observers.
Indulge me on this one. Ghost Rider has always had a ride. This has been
true in every iteration. Ghost Rider used a Horse (Slade), Motorcycle (Blaze, Ketch, Alejandra) and now an automobile (Reyes). We even briefly saw a Ghost Rider (Mirza) incarnation riding a flaming elephant! Over the years, fans have been married to the idea that Ghost Rider and the motorcycle must go hand in hand. Fans dismissed Slade as he was later (confusingly but quietly) retconned to become the Phantom Rider. Also if a supporting Ghost Rider (Mirza) rode a flaming elephant, it was dismissed as being “not my Ghost Rider.” But with Reyes, now we have a direct change of the motorcycle to an automobile. Personal opinions aside, the ride (device) has changed.
As for the Doctor fans have been treated with more consistency in regards to the Doctor’s devices. The two most iconic (and profitable for BBC) has been the TARDIS and the sonic screwdriver. While the designs of each have changed, and reshaped over the years, there have been changes that have divided (or applauded) by the community. The first being the TARDIS when it was briefly a she. When the TARDIS became human (Doctor’s Wife, May 2011). Many consider this a brilliant piece of writing and one of the greatest Doctor Who episodes ever. But what brought fans to arms was when the sonic screwdriver was replaced (briefly) with sonic sunglasses. Sound familiar?
A much more unique aspect of these two characters is the reincarnation. My introduction to Ghost Rider came with the first reincarnation with Daniel Ketch. As for Doctor Who, I started with Matt Smith. As you can surmise, I was hooked immediately and went back and watched many of the other episodes.
The reincarnation aspect of Ghost Rider brought us both amazing and controversial versions of this hero. Ghost Rider is not unique in having a different persona (Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel to name a few) but I feel that Ghost Rider has a more intimate pathway to reincarnation. His incarnation has involved a possessed soul of some sort infiltrating that of the human counterpart. Different authors have explained away what this soul is (a medallion, Zarathos, an Angel, a Demon, a mass murderer, etc.), but all have used the device of possession of the soul.
Doctor Who has doubled down on the reincarnation aspect and has made it the device for which the show has developed. Each incarnation bringing new aspects and every fan can point to their favorite. It has been well documented that the reason for the change of actors in Doctor Who was due to the first doctor leaving the series.
Marvel is in the process of re-branding many characters with varying success. Change scares people. But with change comes the possibility of absolute brilliance. I for one look less at what is being written and more to who is writing. A good author can take any character and make it come to life. When I look at the future of Marvel, I cannot help but trust that good writing will triumph. And when the writing fails, I can still say that I get to see a flaming skull racing around smacking bad guys.
If you liked this article, check out my other Ghost Rider article and Robbie Reyes’ new team!