What If... Ghost Rider Were Separated from Johnny Blaze?

Though it gets bottom copy on the cover, this story is first inside the comic. Let's call it an opening act then. Heavy metal before the bluesy street sounds of a Daredevil story. Like a lot of heavy metal opening bands, the music's loud to hide the fact that the lyrics suck. Is this metaphor going somewhere?

What If Vol.1 #28 (August 1981)
Based on: Ghost Rider #43-44
The true history: The wizard Azaziah once split Johnny Blaze and the Ghost Rider in a bid to take control of the demon. Instead, the Rider went on a rampage. They both started losing energy as their bond weakened. Johnny had to destroy the wizard's magic globe (and the wizard himself) and then ram his bike into the Rider's over a pentagram to fuse the entities back together.
Turning point: What if Johnny didn't manage to destroy Azaziah's globe?
Story type: Slayer
Watcher's mood: Big hands, I know you're the one
Altered history: Sometimes, things just don't work out. Azaziah knocks him out when he tries to destroy his snowglobe and the wizard gets to fulfill his plan - to bond with the Ghost Rider...
...and then take over the whole of Christendom! By golly, yes, he's very much obsessed with Christendom.
None of that Islam or Buddhist or Wiccan stuff for him. If you can't see a church from any patch of dirt, no sir, he doesn't want it. So of course he's off to the Vatican.
This Ghost Rider is a lot more powerful thanks to Azaziah knowing a shitpile of 5th-level spells, so he has no problem breaching Vatican security.
And they have PIKES! Yes, unstoppable. Meanwhile, we learn of another difference between this alternate Earth and ours. What if there was no such thing as airport security? And what if all planes had enough fuel to get from the American Southwest to Italy? Answer: Johnny would hijack a one-pilot plane without a weapon, have it flown to Rome, and 13 hours later, would be on the steps of the Vatican ready to face the Ghost Rider. Johnny steals a bike (I don't think he has a license to drive an actual car) and jumps over the hellfire surrounding Vatican City, but oh! Fail!
Well, seems the bond between Johnny and the Ghost Rider is still alive and well. If you hurt one, you hurt the other. Azaziah takes care to lock Johnny up lest he gets himself a papercut or something. He wants to be real focused as he sacrifices the Pope to the Dark Gods.
However, Johnny frees himself, then the Pope, and then stabs the Ghost Rider in the chest. But remember that bond they share?
And so ends the saga of Johnny Blaze. At least he gets last rites performed by the Pope himself.
Books canceled as a result: Ghost Rider dies before the 48-issue mark, robbing us of another 3-4 years of the series, and while I have no doubt the Danny Ketch series would still have occurred, Johnny Blaze cannot star in Spirits of Vengeance or the most recent Ghost Rider series. We might also have been spared the Ghost Rider film.
These things happen: Johnny Blaze was indeed freed from the Ghost Rider curse in Ghost Rider #81 when the demon jumped after servant of Mephisto Centurious into soul crystal. Johnny milled around as a carny for a while until he met Danny Ketch who had somehow bonded with the Ghost Rider.

Next week: What If Daredevil Became an Agent of SHIELD?
My guess: See no evil, fight no evil.



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