Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts Again

by Ryan Kirksey

101921C-300x157 Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts AgainOnce again, we seem to find ourselves in the middle of explosive interest in all things Ghost Rider, and many of the character’s key issues are hotter than Johnny Blaze’s skull.  What’s driving the interest? What are the key issues to buy? Are the top-dollar key issues already out of our price range? Are there any underrated keys still left? Let’s dig into some hell-raising Ghost Rider questions to see what we can find.

Ghost Rider is Always on the Back Burner

As we all know by now, we typically see big spikes in Marvel comics when there is some relevant MCU news attached to the character. Look at what happened with Adam Warlock last week. Everyone and their dog had a Fantastic Four #66 and #67. They all had a Marvel Premiere #1 or a Thor #165. Once the news cycle starts churning, the values start climbing the ladder.Thor-165-2-210x300 Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts Again

But Ghost Rider has been relatively benign in the rumor department. There were a couple theories over the summer that Ghost Rider would appear in the upcoming Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, with everyone from Nic Cage to Norman Reedus taking the mantle. But those seem to have been distributed by less than reputable sites and no fire has come out of that smoke so far.

But, as we will see below, the market for Ghost Rider seems to always be rising. Why? What drives the popularity and the desire to pursue sales at ever-increasing prices? It turns out it may be two things: Scarcity and fanatical followers.

The Scarcity of Bronze Age Ghost Rider

I read an interesting thought piece one time debating which would be the best Bronze Age book to own in a 9.8 grade for long-term value: Incredible Hulk #181, Giant-Size X-Men #1, or Marvel Spotlight #5. At first glance, you would want Wolverine or the famous new iteration of the X-Men. These are wildly more popular than Ghost Rider and have more of a mainstream place in comic culture.

Marvel-Spotlight-005c-204x300 Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts AgainHowever, go check the census numbers for those three books on GoCollect’s new database. What you will find are 11,875 blue label Hulk #181s (including 172 9.8s), 9,683 GSX #1s (202 9.8s), and just 3,789 MS #5s (and only four 9.8s). These 9.8 books are so scarce that they are likely the most valuable books from the Bronze Age. In fact, one of them sold at auction for $264,000 in June. That’s much higher than the record sale for Hulk #181 ($84,000) and GSX #1 ($72,000).

Why is the book so scarce? Well, if kids from the 1970s were anything like me, their parents might have something to do with that. My entire comic collection was trashed when I was 13 after my parents read a couple Ghost Rider issues and didn’t like the content. The whole selling your soul to the devil/Spirt of Vengeance story doesn’t fly with many. And as mutants and super-teams took off in the 1970s, the combination of those two factors caused many Ghost Rider issues to be lost forever.

With only about a third of the graded copies in existence compared to other popular Bronze Age books, the scarcity principle is driving the dollars here.

Ghost Rider Was the “Hero” Others Couldn’t Be

By the time the early ’70s came around, most superheroes were the same brand of square-jawed, broad-chested, patriotic superhumans that had ruled the 50s and 60s. Even “outcasts” like the mutants had a righteous cause to join the ranks of every other human and hero that existed and be treated equally. But then Johnny Blaze rolled into town. He represented every rebellious and anti-hero archetype one could conjure at the time. ghost-rider-marc-silvestri-feature-1-300x150 Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts Again

As my Instagram comic friend Kyle (@comicsandcds) put it, “Ghost Rider represents a lot of forgotten cool from the ’70s. He’s a grindhouse B movie character; stunt riding mixed with occult that’s perfection.”

Ten years earlier, it would have been unheard of outside of adult pulp magazines to have a hero who made a deal with the devil (Mephisto) to save someone else or a hero who discovered a spell that could summon Satan. Because of these and many other factors, Ghost Rider developed a cult following that still exists to this day.

Which Issues to Watch

Marvel Spotlight #5

The granddaddy of all Ghost Rider books. But – as mentioned above – perhaps the most valuable book of the Bronze Age in a high grade. But since most of us can’t afford the upper end, let’s look down at the mid-range. According to the updatedms-5-numbers-160x300 Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts Again GoCollect database, MS #5 copies in a 7.0 grade sold at around $1,000 – $1,200 in October 2020. Fast forward one year later and those same copies have passed more than $3,000 on both eBay and Heritage Auctions. The latest book sale saw it dip back down to $2,300 in this grade so we should monitor to see if a buying window opens.

Similarly, a 4.0 copy was selling for $700-$800 a year ago but most recently sold for $1,475 in late September and $1,200 in early October. Investors are catching onto the ROI opportunity on this book, and it may not be too long before it’s near impossible to find one under four figures.

Ghost Rider #1 

The first solo issue of a stand-alone Ghost Rider series has also become a blazing-hot commodity in the past year. Ghost Rider #1 CGC 9.0 copies that sold for $600 in November 2020 now cross $1,200-$1,500 in many places. I personally invested in a CGC 8.5 copy over the summer after I caught one for a good price, and I don’t have any doubt in its ability to rise.

Ghost-Rider-1-201x300 Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts AgainA 7.0 copy is still going in the $550 range after selling for $400 a year ago. If you want to look further down the scale, three copies in a 5.0 grade sold over the past month for under $500. This book also holds additional value because of the cameo appearance of Son of Satan, an enduring foe for Ghost Rider. His dominance in Ghost Rider stories also has led to rising prices for…

Ghost Rider #2

We really have to start thinking of scarcity for the graded versions of these books when we get to Ghost Rider #2. There are fewer than 900 total CGC copies of this book on the census. The bad news/good news scenario, however, is that most copies that are graded exist in the high range (79% of books between 8.0 and 9.8). But those high-grade books remain very affordable.

Ghost Rider #2 books as high as a 9.0 grade sold for under $350 in September. Even a 9.4 copy sold at Heritage for just $408 at the end of the month. If you are a Son of Satan fan or believe that this character will eventually have to appear in future projects alongside his longtime nemesis, it’s a great speculation book at reasonable prices. This remains a top-five Ghost Rider key issue.

Marvel Premiere #28

With the Morbius movie (FINALLY) arriving in theaters on January 28, 2022 after a two-year delay, there is much speculation about what the future will be of that character in any Sony or MCU projects. People often forget, the Morbius trailer was the very first entrée we had into a merging of the Sony and Marvel Cinematic Universes.marvel_premiere_28-192x300 Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts Again

Marvel cinema has shown a willingness to go darker for its future. Does that mean we might see a Legion Of Monsters group that first appeared in Marvel Premiere #28? Morbius is here. Ghost Rider is possible. Is Werewolf By Night also a possibility if Marvel pursues a horror theme?

Based on these thoughts, this book gained steam over the last year as well. Since the beginning of 2021, there were 25 recorded sales of this book between grades 8.0 and 9.4. A 9.4 copy sold in January for just $310. A 9.2 copy (one grade-tick worse) sold in August for $725. That was at the peak of collectibles value, so monitor future sales of this book to see if there is a dip.

Ghost Rider #1 (Danny Ketch)

Right around the time we were all salivating over the X-Men and Spawn books of the early ’90s, a new Ghost Rider rolled into town. The new rider was Danny Ketch. Motivated by the death of his sister, this new blazing biker set out on his own path of vengeance. Old and new versions of the character often had confrontations, but later learned to work together.

The new Ghost Rider #1 caught a spike back in the summer. A Marvel sleuth caught news that Marvel designated a new production team as Richmond Street Productions LLC. That just happens to be right next to Cypress Hill Cemetery in Brooklyn, which is the first place we see Danny Ketch as Ghost Rider.

Almost 96% of the CGC graded copies of this book exist in grade 8.5 and above. No point in looking lower. But since 9.8 copies hit $500-$600 back in mid-summer, they have mostly dipped back down with the lack of news. The most recent 9.6 grades sold for $120 and $144.

Ghost-Rider-1-194x300 Ghost Rider is Burning Up The Charts AgainPast Marvel movies (not associated with the MCU) featured Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider. Would the MCU go a different direction to space themselves from Nic Cage’s character? Perhaps. But if they do, they might just go with someone who already exists in the (pseudo) universe. Someone like Robbie Reyes.

All New Ghost Rider #1 (Robbie Reyes)

The TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced us to the character of Robbie Reyes in Season 4. While he wasn’t on a motorcycle, former car mechanic Reyes did play a Dodge Charger-driving version of Ghost Rider.

Reyes as the Ghost Rider first appeared in All New Ghost Rider #1 in 2014. Those books have steadily been selling in the $300-$400 range in the second half of 2021, with all sales coming in the 9.6-9.8 grade range.

There has been speculation that the MCU would pursue a Hispanic hero as part of their diversity initiative, so a character like Reyes would make sense, especially considering there is MCU history with the story. They could choose to bring back Gabriel Luna to play the role or recast it, depending on how closely they want to stick to the S.H.I.E.L.D. canon.

Ghost Rider Isn’t Going Away

Needless to say, even if he remains an under-the-radar hero, The Burning Man isn’t going away. Ghost Rider is like that itch that won’t go away even if you scratch it, or even if you try and avoid it. The combination of unique character design, anti-hero status, and scarcity of his most famous books make this a character that should be on the rise for the foreseeable future.

With several of Ghost Rider’s partnering characters slated or rumored to appear in the MCU, it may just be a matter of time before this underground, dark, hellish hero gets thrust into the light.

Why do you think Ghost Rider has staying power? Do you own any key issues? Let me know in the comments!

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5 comments

Chris Pauer October 21, 2021 - 12:58 pm

The other reason MS #5 would be rarer is distribution. Hulk was a best selling title…although X-Men was on its last legs as a reprint title, the Giant Size issues, many of them one shots (like GS Super Stars and GS Super Heroes) were often found in department stores besides news stands (I bought my copy of GS. Super Stars at my local target). Marvel Spotlight I feel was not included in the most popular distribution packages, or may have had less issues per site.

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Hickory October 21, 2021 - 1:47 pm

Mark Texeira brought some real grit to Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. Felt right for the character. Wish they would bring out CGR. He’s a lot of fun!

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VooDooMaestro October 25, 2021 - 5:07 am

I have to say, that I believe the main reason for why there’s so few 9.8s also has to do largely with the fact that it’s an all black cover. All black covers have always been extremely susceptible to small color breaks, fingerprints, and color rub. They don’t hold up well.

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DANIEL BELO October 21, 2021 - 3:12 pm

Bought Ghost Rider #1 (1973) well centered in 1 9.0 White Pages for $480 back in 2018, simply because I love the cover art. Glad I did !!!….Thanks for the insight.

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MATRIXCOMIX October 21, 2021 - 3:48 pm

Great piece, Ryan. All of these books are indeed important (and expensive). I just wanted to throw something out there for collectors. As recent trends have shown, and something you touch upon with your Ghost Rider #2 inclusion, is that once the 1st appearance of a character goes nuclear, collectors gravitate towards the second appearance, first solo title, AND origin.

Here is where I want to suggest the very affordable (for now) key book, Ghost Rider #68 vol. 1. Not only does this issue have a classic cover featuring Mephisto, but it is the “ORIGIN of Johnny Blaze, re-told with new details”, per CGC. That means this book is the key story in understanding the Blaze character we all know and love today! And it is a great story with an awesome twist ending.

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