The producers and writers of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law have stressed that the Donny Blaze we met in episode four is definitely not Ghost Rider, and that the character of Ghost Rider doesn’t appear in the show. In an interview with Deadline, showrunner Jessica Gao said “He’s not Ghost Rider. His name is Donny Blaze… he’s a magician named Donny Blaze. This is just a magician who picked a stage name that he thought was gonna get a lot of attention… he’s a big character in his episode, but he’s not Ghost Rider.”
While the Donny Blaze we meet is different, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some kind of Marvel Comics inspiration. The name “Donny Blaze” is very similar to “Danny Blaze,” someone who once was Ghost Rider in the comics, but who now uses a different moniker. And for most of their time riding his hellfire-engulfed motorcycle, went under the name Danny Ketch. Are they the same character, or is this just a wink to the comics? We think he might wind up as another Marvel character with a different name. Let’s look at the evidence.
The Marvel Comics History of Danny Ketch
The original Ghost Rider was Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stuntman who became fused with the Spirit of Vengeance. He had his own very popular comic, which lasted from 1973-1983. But once it ended, Ghost Rider more or less vanished from the Marvel Universe. But in 1990, Marvel introduced a new Ghost Rider, in the form of Danny Ketch. The second Ghost Rider was just as popular as the first, but his backstory was a bit different.
One Halloween night, while hanging out in a cemetary, Danny and his sister Barbara were attacked by gangsters; with his sister grievously wounded by Deathwatch. Daniel ran away and hid out a junkyard. There he found a motorcycle with a mystical sigil. When his hand, covered in the blood of his sister, touched the sigil, he was transformed into Ghost Rider. As the Spirit of Vengeance, his face turned into a flaming skull, the power to project hellfire, and a chain and cycle. His deadliest weapon was his penance stare, which allowed his enemies to see and feel the pain they inflicted on others. For the rest of the ’90s, he was Marvel’s one-and-only Ghost Rider.
Danny and Johnny: The Brothers Blaze
After many years on the hellfire motorcycle, Danny Ketch encounter many of Marvel’s supernatural characters like Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, and Blade. Who actually killed him twice! But of course, Danny got better, as one does. Eventually, he came in contact with Johnny Blaze, the motorycylist who was the previous Ghost Rider. After some time, the two discovered they were in fact brothers.
Danny and his sister Barbara were the children of Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale, but were given up for adoption to a widowed woman named Francis Ketch when they were both still babies. Barton was Johnny’s father as well. Which means that Danny Ketch is actually Danny Blaze by birth. Not too much of a difference between the names Donny Blaze and Danny Blaze is there?
Danny Goes From Ghost Rider to Death Rider
After many years, Johnny Blaze became the Ghost Rider again, and stripped his brother Danny of the Spirit of Vengeance. But last year, Danny got a new identity. After Johnny Blaze removed the Spirit of Vengeance from his brother and threw him into the Limbo dimension, where he fought the demon lord Belasco. He turned Danny Ketch into something new — his Spirit of Corruption.
As this new spirit, Danny carried an enormous sword, the Blight Blade, which came out of his own body. Whoever he stabbed with the sword would become overwhelmed by every evil act they’ve ever done, ultimately leaving them as just a mound of goo. (It’s pretty gross). Danny Ketch was no longer Ghost Rider, he was now the Death Rider.
Will Donny Blaze Become the MCU’s Death Rider?
The Death Rider identity for Danny Ketch is fairly recent, only from 2021. Well into when She-Hulk was in production. Could it be that the creators of She-Hulk weren’t lying, and that Donny Blaze is indeed not Ghost Rider, and they are eventually just skipping right to Death Rider? After all, when the MCU eventually does introduce Ghost Rider, he will likely be Johnny Blaze, the first iteration. Especially as that’s the version from the Nic Cage movies.
We could see the MCU removing Danny Ketch from the Ghost Rider identity entirely, hence using his real surname as a magician stage name, since he never really used it formally in the comics. The MCU makes all kinds of changes to the comics’ mythos, so who knows? Maybe Donny Blaze becomes Death Rider the next time he pops up on screen. That is, if we see Donny Blaze on She-Hulk (or ever again) at all. The episode seems to end in a way that he will disappear after that bat-monster debacle. And She-Hulk, or another Marvel hero, will have to face the power of the Blight Blade.