Warning: contains spoilers for Ghost Rider #17!
Ghost Rider has the potential to become the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous weapon, as the notorious Weapons Plus program seeks to harness his great powers for evil ends in Ghost Rider #17, part two of the “Weapons of Vengeance” storyline, which features the Spirit of Vengeance teaming up with Wolverine.
Ghost Rider #17 – written by Benjamin Percy, drawn by Geoff Shaw, colored by Rain Beredo and lettered by Travis Lanham – has Johnny Blaze and Wolverine teaming up to uncover a special Weapons Plus facility, one that specializes in Hellfire research, after unknowingly coming into contact with it years before while protecting a young boy named Bram.
The Weapon Plus Program is Bad News
The “Weapons of Vengeance” storyline, which began in Ghost Rider #16, reveals that Ghost Rider and Wolverine once worked together to save Bram, a boy being menaced by a supernatural entity. In the present, the two check the facility Bram was kept at, and after discovering the child was subject to torture, Blaze transforms into the Ghost Rider. Using his Penance Stare, Ghost Rider extracts information from the facility’s groundskeeper, learning that the child is being targeted by a governmental agency, rather than a demon.. Ghost Rider and Wolverine then set off to Utah, where it becomes clear who they are after: Weapon Plus.
Ghost Rider is Irresistible to Weapon Plus
The Weapon Plus program has a long history in the Marvel Universe, stretching back to its earliest days. Its purpose is to create super-soldiers to fight in wars –namely against mutants. The first product of the Weapon Plus program, or Weapon One, was Captain America. Other products of Weapon Plus include Man-Thing, Luke Cage and of course, Wolverine, who was designated Weapon X. While these various incarnations of the Weapon Plus program have appeared throughout Marvel history, Weapon Plus was not revealed until Grant Morrison’s seminal New X-Men. The Weapon Plus program’s legacy proliferates the Marvel Universe – and now it has set its sights on Ghost Rider.
A being as powerful as Ghost Rider has undeniable appeal to the Weapon Plus program, and his ability to control Hellfire ups the ante even more. Hellfire is a potent weapon, and if Weapon Plus was to find a way to control it for their own ends, it could spell bad news for both mutants and humanity; very few can withstand the heat of Hellfire. Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare could also be effectively weaponized as well–in this issue it was used to extract information. The Weapon Plus program has a long history of experimenting and torturing its subjects; a modified Penance Stare could prove useful in this area too.
The Weapon Plus’ program’s interest in Ghost Rider comes at one of the worst times for mutants. Orchis, an anti-mutant extremist organization, launched an all-out assault at the Hellfire Gala, causing the Fall of Krakoa and leading to a new mutant Diaspora. Nations around the world, including Canada, are rejecting mutants once more, threatening to hunt them done. The Weapon Plus program, created to fight mutants, has now set its sights on Ghost Rider, seeking to weaponize his Hellfire powers. If Weapon Plus, or Orchis, obtained this ability, the balance of power could shift even further in an dangerous direction for mutantkind worldwide.
Ghost Rider #17 is available now from Marvel Comics!