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Appearing in 1st story
- Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) (Possessed by Zarathos)
- Death Rider (Danny Ketch) (Possessed by the Spirit of Corruption; first appearance as Death Rider)
- Symbiote Hive
- Venom (Eddie Brock) (Referenced)
- Necrosis (Mentioned)
- Lillith (Mentioned)
- Dormammu (Mentioned)
- Emma Bothma (Freed from Blackheart's control)
- Det. Stacy Dolan (Freed from Blackheart's control)
Races and Species:
- Heaven (Mentioned)
Synopsis for 1st story
Speeding through the streets of Manhattan, Ghost Rider drags Mephisto behind his Hell Cycle using his hellfire-infused chain. Mephisto interrupts Ghost Rider's lament that assuming he could make a difference by becoming the King of Hell was unbearably naive in order to complain that he's uncomfortable. Ghost Rider snaps that he could make it more uncomfortable, narrowly evading being attacked by a massive jet-black wyvern-like monster with large white eyespots. As more dragons dive out of the sky, Mephisto gleefully remarks that this looks bad, goading Ghost Rider into intervening by stating that saving the lives of innocent mortals is beneath his station as the King of Hell. Recognizing that Mephisto is pressing his buttons, Ghost Rider thinks to himself that the former Hell-Lord is right that he has to intervene - noting that there's no point in stopping Lilith's attempted coup d'etat if millions of innocents die in the process. Ghost Rider snares one of the symbiote-dragons with his chain and is pulled off his Hell-Cycle, dragging Mephisto after him.
Attempting to dismount him, the symbiote-dragon ploughs into a nearby building, sending debris plummeting to the street below. A cabbie exits his vehicle and shouts angrily that Ghost Rider nearly damaged his car, only to be impaled from behind by a demon - who commands his horde to kill Ghost Rider to restore Mephisto to power. In the sky above, Mephisto alerts Ghost Rider to several more oncoming symbiote-dragons, telling him to hurry up and kill the one he's riding. Realizing in disgust that it's at least bonded to a symbiote, Ghost Rider sets it ablaze with hellfire and climbs into its head to use his Damnation Stare on it - noting that he's not sure how effective it will be considering the dragon doesn't seem to have a soul and that the backlash from using it on symbiotes hurts him almost as much as it hurts them. As the symbiote-dragon dives towards the ground, Ghost Rider notes that the Damnation Stare seems to have severed whatever connection it had to the others, but before he can think of a way to kill it its head is suddenly lopped off.
Sent sprawling, Ghost Rider and Mephisto pick themselves up to see Danny Ketch, Sara the Caretaker, and Blackheart. Helping Ghost Rider to his feet, Ketch informs him that he's going by Death Rider now, wanting to synergize with his former Ghost Rider identity. Ghost Rider observes that the dragon isn't bonded to a symbiote like he thought but is a symbiote in the form of a dragon, noting that it's trying to infect him but can't for some reason. Telling the others not to get near it, Ghost Rider notes that even being decapitated by Death Rider's Blight Blade has only incapacitated it and that it's already reconstituting itself. As Death Rider says they need to find a way to kill it and the thousands of others like it attacking the city, Ghost Rider notices Blackheart and attacks him, demanding to know why Ketch and Sara are working with Mephisto's son. Death Rider informs Ghost Rider that Blackheart wants to stop Lilith from taking over Hell, Ghost Rider snapping that he only wants to do so in order to take over himself. As Death Rider and Ghost Rider bicker, Sara and Blackheart watch and trade sarcastic quips. Saying they'll deal with Blackheart's inevitable betrayal when the time comes, Death Rider tells Ghost Rider that Blackheart took Emma Bothma and Det. Stacy Dolan hostage in order to force his cooperation. Ghost Rider asks what Blackheart's plan is to end the civil war, only to realize that Mephisto took advantage of the distraction to escape.
Fleeing through the city, Mephisto gloats that he's going to book the first plane to Florida - shoving civilians out of his way. The leader of the horde of demons tackles him to the ground, but is snared by the symbiote-dragon's living abyss and taken over along with the other demons - roaring that they're here to devour Mephisto. Sara grimly states they need to get Mephisto away from the symbiotes, and that if they can't kill the aliens they need to find a way to incapacitate them. Blackheart charges into combat against the symbiote-possessed demons, Sara drawing her swords and suggesting Johnny use his Damnation Stare on them to take advantage of them being offshoots of the symbiote-dragon. As a symbiote tries to take over Sara, Ghost Rider grabs one of the demons and prepares to use his Damnation Stare on it only for a symbiote to engulf his head and try to bond with him. As the leader of the demons gloats that Ghost Rider will join their ranks or die, Death Rider cuts him down before freeing Ghost Rider with his Blight Blade. As a symbiote tries to take over Blackheart, Sara tells Ketch to stop lollygagging. Back to back with Death Rider, Ghost Rider watches in horror as Blackheart and Sarah are taken over by symbiotes, then grabs one of the demons and blasts it with a full-force Damnation Stare. As the incapacitated symbiotes melt off the demons, Mephisto walks up to one of them and scornfully asks if they were sent by Lilith to assassinate him. Terrified, the demon pledges fealty to Mephisto, who smugly gloats before Blackheart walks up and says he has a plan to end the civil war in Hell. Extending a claw, Blackheart sacrifices the demon to conjure a portal to Hell, and Mephisto thanks Blackheart for his loyalty. Before he can pass through, Ghost Rider snares him with his chain. As they quarrel, Sara tells Ghost Rider to let Mephisto go and reclaim his throne. Incredulous, Ghost Rider demands to know why the Caretaker say that when he's the key to stopping Lilith's army. Sara and Death Rider agree that Ghost Rider isn't cut out for ruling Hell but that Mephisto has been doing so for millennia and can be counted on to put a stop to Lilith. Sara remarks that they know how Mephisto operates and can deal with him when he inevitably attacks them again, but that Lilith won't stop until she's destroyed everything. Ghost Rider angrily demands to know how they can ask him to just give up everything he's sacrificed, reminding them that Mephisto is the one responsible for his damnation in the first place - as well as the damnation of countless others. Retracting his helmet, Danny Ketch says he should have listened to Johnny and helped him right from the start, and that he's sorry for not doing so. Pointing to the symbiote-dragons swarming across the city, Ketch says that the Ghost Rider is needed in the world of the living, as there's no point in saving the souls of everyone in the world if there are no souls left to save. Ghost Rider growls that Ketch is making a big request for him to trust in the self-proclaimed Prince of Lies, Ketch promising to kill Mephisto himself if the devil reneges on his promise.
As a show of goodwill, Mephisto captures the symbiote-dragon and promises to dispose of it in the Cauldron of Infinite Cosmic Flame - a gift from Dormammu that has gone unused for eons. As the portal to Hell closes, Ghost Rider's crown disappears and he grumbles that he already regrets this. Mounting his horse as Ghost Rider and Sara climb onto their motorcycles, Death Rider says that he knows this isn't how Blaze hoped this chapter of his life would close out but that they have to take what they can get and never stop fighting.
At the Fadeaway Pub, Emma Bothma and Det. Stacy Dolan regain consciousness. Emma asks if she hallucinated an eight-foot tall demon, but Stacy says she didn't and advises her to find a different bar to work in since everyone in Danny Ketch's life sooner or later winds up being literally dragged through Hell; departing to check on her children.
In Hell, Mephisto's return is lauded by his subjects. As he gloats, Blackheart asks if he should dispose of the captured symbiote in the Cauldron of Infinite Cosmic Flame, but Mephisto smugly says there's no such thing and that he lied in order to get a return ticket home and thought that having a pet symbiote would be fun. Telling Blackheart to store the symbiote for later, Mephisto sits on his throne and remarks that it's good to be home.
THE WAR FOR HELL’S THRONE MEETS THE KING IN BLACK!
All Ghost Rider wants is to destroy Mephisto, round up an army of escaped demons, and secure his seat on the throne of hell. Is that so much to ask? But now a dark god from space has shown up to throw the world into chaos, and some of Johnny’s old friends have come to ask for his help. It may take everything they’ve got to stop this madness. Maybe even…the devil himself?
- This issue is full of continuity errors. It infers that the events of Ghost Rider Vol 9 had only recently concluded, when they seemed to conclude shortly after Incoming #1, which was before Empyre. Even if they didn't, they had to conclude before the Age of Khonshu arc in Avengers (Vol. 8) #33-Avengers (Vol. 8) #38, since Mephisto has returned to power by then, and because Avengers (Vol. 8) #45 is part of this event. Finally, Mephisto is shown back in power in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 5) #60, which occurs days after Last Remains and therefore after this event.
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