Thursday, September 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Marvel Team-Up #58 Spider-Man & Ghost Rider

Back when comics were in spinner racks and you could get three or four for a dollar, you had some pretty wild one-shots. In this case, Spider-man got to help Ghost Rider or vice versa defeat the terrible Trapster - formerly Paste-Pot Pete, one of the worst named villains ever, hence the new moniker.

It's a pretty decent story by X-Men writer Chris Claremont with solid artwork form Sal Buscema and Pablo Marcos.

Ghost Rider looks a little too much like he's wearing a skin tight mask and not having an actual flaming skull, but otherwise, everyone looks cool enough.

The story: Trapster escapes prison to pay back a perceived slight by Ghost Rider, trying to kill Johnny Blaze who's in NYC doing stunt work for a film. After a near-success, spectator Peter Parker jumps in to save Ghosty as Spider-man. Whew! This ticks Trapster off so he nabs Spidey [see cover] and takes off with him. Ghosty follows as they battle on the sky sled. Trapster ends up crashing the sled on an aircraft carrier in the bay, and seriously causes trouble, almost getting an F-15 Tomcat to launch fully loaded. Spidey web-grabs the joystick and saves the day again.

Trapster goes below decks and, while standing next to several barrels of aviation fuel, pulls out a mini-bomb, telling the heroes to "Back Off!" or he'll turn the entire ship into a pile of scrap.

Ghost Rider's not impressed. Using his supernatural hell fire - which will NOT set off the fuel - he immolates the villain in soul-searing flames.

Liberal Spidey yells at Ghost Rider
for saving a ship full of soldiers,
and a homocidal maniac from Hell.
Way to go, Spidey. :(
In a micro-second, the Trapster experiences Hell Itself.

He cries out to God. He whimpers. He begs forgiveness saying how sorry he was. He drops the mini-bomb.

For this, Spidey reads him the riot act.

Not the Trapster, who just threatened to kill hundreds of innocent servicemen. No, Spidey says that the terror and horror that Ghost Rider used to stop a dangerous sociopath was terrible. "We are supposed to be better than the filth we fight!" he screams at Ghost Rider.

The more I think on this story, the less I like that response.

I blame Chris Claremont for it, who would go to great fame writing other emotionally subjective stuff for X-Men. I don't think Claremont a bad writer, but damn, he is one screwed-up moralist.

Even more silly is the fact that Ghost Rider, for once, did something truly godly: he caused a villain to repent HARD. I mean, who succeeds in that? [I think other writers let this go, but they should have run with it.]

Let's Review This Conclusion, Shall We?
A murderous man who was willing to kill Ghost Rider, then Spider-man, then everyone on an aircraft carrier just to keep from being captured got a real taste of Hell. Not an illusion of Hell. If we take Ghosty as a real Spirit of Vengeance, then it is HELL. As Claremont writeth:
"His scream is a terrible thing to hear - transcending fear, pain, hatred, humanity. If it has a reason for being, it is despair."
Spidey hates that the man's mind is nearly destroyed, and says so vociferously.

But Spidey, you were wrong on this. Dead wrong.

Jesus warned people of hell, and made no bones about how bad it was going to be. No one wants to be a hellfire and brimstone preacher - I sure don't - but we have no choice at times. Souls are at stake.

If what the Bible says is true, then there is a Heaven and there is a Hell.

In this fictional case, the Ghost Rider saved a soul, not destroyed a mind.

Because, dear poppets, he gave the greatest mercy in the universe to the very man who sought to kill him: he let him see where he would go in his evil.

He didn't torture him for hours.

He did not break his bones or even punch him.

He did not behead him or burn him.

He simply showed him his destination if he pushed that button.

That's why the Trapster repented and called on God for mercy.

For this, we are supposed to be sorry? Angry?

Nah, kids. Listen to your ol' Uncle Justice on this one.

You oughta be glad someone warned you. Because if they didn't you might assume all is O.K. and it ain't. "'There is none righteous; no, not one,'" echoes Paul in Romans. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

Be the Trapster. No matter how wicked or selfish or stupid you have been, call on God to save you. Or more accurately, call on Jesus to pay for you.

'Cause He will. He knows Hell is forever.

He doesn't want you there. He wants you with Him. Forever.


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