Ghost Rider is an instantly recognizable superhero, with his motorcycle and chain ablaze with hellfire, and the grinning skull staring enemies down with Penance Stare. But what are Ghost Rider’s powers and abilities and how powerful is Ghost Rider really?
Ghost Rider is a very powerful character in the Marvel universe, with his signature Penance Stare stopping almost anyone in their tracks and permanently disabling them. He has a range of other dark abilities including a powerful chain weapon.
Let’s look at what makes this Eldritch-infused superhero so powerful, what his abilities are, and what the limits of his powers are. We’ll consider just powerful Ghost Rider by taking into account the pros and cons of all his powers.
How Did Ghost Rider Get His Powers?
Johnny Blaze AKA Ghost Rider made a literal deal with the devil to save his sick and dying stepfather, Crash Simpson. While he didn’t get the typical Christian devil, he got Mephisto instead, the end result was perhaps much the same.
Mephisto passes himself off as the traditional devil as feared by many on Earth, similar to the devil from the Christian religion, or from Hades in the ancient Greek religion and myth.
When summoned by Johnny Blaze, he granted his wish but as the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. Blaze’s stepfather was saved from illness but then died in his next stunt that went wrong.
Whatever the result, Blaze had given up his soul for the deal and when Mephisto came to collect it, he instead cursed Blaze by fusing him together with another demon, Zarathos. Blaze then became Ghost Rider.
Ghost Rider Powers & Abilities
Ghost Rider has many powers and abilities that draw their source from evil, vengeance, and from the Eldritch domain.
One of his most defining abilities is the Penance Stare. By staring at a criminal or other evildoer, the victim is forced to relive all the harm they have ever done, putting them into a permanent coma-like state.
Ghost Rider also has a metal chain that is bathed in hellfire, that can both be used offensively to deal massive damage, or just keep someone in place while Ghost Rider attends to other business.
Infusing the chain with hellfire is not the end of this power, as Ghost Rider can also imbue any other object with hellfire, most notably this is on motorcycles. Ghost Rider is also seemingly able to summon objects, mainly forms of transportation like bikes and horses.
Ghost Rider also has significant strength that flows directly from Zarathos. Zarathos is already a very powerful demon, and it is only the human form of Ghost Rider that prevents more of this power from coming out.
The demonic thirst for vengeance that curses Ghost Rider forces him to always seek out and punish evildoers. While this can be slightly tempered by Ghost Rider, it is a gnawing obsession that he has to try and control to the best of his ability.
When Blaze takes on the Ghost Rider form, he also can cause large spikes to grow around his body, a protective fire engulfs his body, and any vehicle he uses travels at very high speeds as well as disobeying various rules of physics by riding on water or vertically.
Ghost Riders are thought to be indestructible in so far as they can only be killed or destroyed by God.
The hellfire surrounding him also can cause some environmental damage, as it will burn things around him, which can be slightly hazardous when gas pipes are around.
Johnny Blaze has also gained some new powers and items, including a hellfire shotgun and hellfire breath, and the ability to travel between incorporeal realms. Other Ghost Riders such as Danny Ketch, and Robbie Reyes have some variations on these base powers.
For example, Ketch’s chain can respond to his mental commands, being able to lengthen, change direction in mid-air, harden into a staff, and many other material changes.
How Powerful Is Ghost Riders Penance Stare?
The Penance Stare is easily Ghost Rider’s most powerful ability, and that’s saying something when considering the huge range of demonic abilities available to him.
While originally wielded by Ghost Rider’s brother Danny Ketch, Ghost Rider employs the move after seeing how devastating it can be.
The Penance Stare will have different effects depending on how evil or morally bankrupt the target is. Generally, the Penance Stare will overwhelm its target with any remorse they may have, sometimes causing paralysis or catatonia.
For truly evil or corrupted souls, the ability will cause their immediate death by immolation in hellfire.
It is relatively easy to inflict on people, as Ghost Rider just has to approach them and lock eyes within a distance of a few meters.
Not all characters are permanently destroyed by it, with examples such as Mr. Hyde, Deadpool, the Punisher, Cletus Kasady, Conan the Barbarian, and Thanos all surviving it among several other notable exceptions.
Mr. Hyde had a split personality, so his human form survived the stare, whereas Deadpool, the Punisher, and Thanos are thought to have no remorse for their actions and so cannot be made to feel guilt or shame. Madcap is so masochistic he just enjoyed reliving it all.
Other characters with different eyes or other variations in eyes don’t suffer from the stare, and villains like Venom are also unaffected due to their symbiotic bond. This is also thought to be the reason why Conan survived the stare.
Symbiotes have a big advantage over Ghost Rider, as any damage or pain inflicted by Penance Stare instead gets reversed right back into Ghost Rider himself, causing temporary disablement.
Some other characters who are missing souls, like some of the many demons that Ghost Rider is trying to defeat or run away from, also won’t get affected by the Penance Stare.
On the other hand, though, the overwhelming power of the Penance Stare is on display when Ghost Rider takes down some of the biggest and most powerful beings using it, such as the almost unstoppable being Galactus being driven away from Earth with it.