March 31’s Ghost Rider: King in Black #1 (opens in new tab) from writer Ed Brisson, artist Juan Frigeri, colorist Jason Keith, and letterer Joe Caramagna followed up on threads from Brisson’s truncated Ghost Rider (opens in new tab) run, picking back up with Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch, Mephisto, and more, and setting a new status quo for all involved.
As Knull’s forces invade Earth, a portal to Hell opens, releasing dozens of demons on New York City. Reigning King of Hell Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider rockets from the pit on his motorcycle with former King of Hell Mephisto in tow, imprisoned by Johnny’s spectral chains.
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Before Johnny can corral the demons, one of them is subverted by a Knull symbiote. Ghost Rider fights the demons off, hampered by his captive, Mephisto.
Just as he’s about to be overtaken, some familiar faces appear – Danny Ketch (now calling himself Death Rider as the Spirit of Corruption), the Caretaker, and Blackheart – and save him. They entreat Johnny to set aside his loathing for Blackheart, Mephisto’s son, and help them end the war for the throne of Hell he’s been fighting with Lillith, who wants to conquer what was once Mephisto’s.
As they’re explaining their plan, Mephisto escapes. While they search for him, Blackheart explains that only Mephisto knows how to keep Lillith from conquering Hell – a fate worse than going back to how things were before Ghost Rider overthrew Mephisto.
Eventually, Johnny reluctantly agrees, and the group dispatches the Knull symbiotes through the use of Johhny’s Damnation Stare, rounding up the demons in the process. Blackheart opens a new portal to Hell, and Mephisto claims the Knull symbiote, stating he plans to dispose of it in the flames of Hell.
Johnny, Danny, and the Caretaker reluctantly watch Blackheart and Mephisto return to Hell, vowing to fight his evil together.
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Back on the throne of Hell, Mephisto explains that he never intended to destroy the symbiote, instructing Blackheart to imprison it somewhere “for a rainy day.”
Ghost Rider: King in Black #1 essentially acts as a finale for Ed Brisson’s truncated Ghost Rider title, which was canceled after scheduling issues caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It’s unclear where Ghost Rider’s story will continue next.
For Mephisto’s part, he may play a role in the upcoming May-launching summer crossover Heroes Reborn (which pays homage to the 25th anniversary of the 1996 event of the same name). Prior to his imprisonment by Johnny Blaze, Mephisto struck a deal with SHIELD agent Phil Coulson, making him the leader and government handler of the Squadron Supreme of America, a new version of the classic Marvel characters who are pastiches of DC’s Justice League.
In Heroes Reborn 2021, the world is remade into a universe where the Avengers never formed, with the Squadron Supreme of America – the Mephisto-created versions – now considered Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Mephisto has also had recent dealings with Doctor Strange, with both appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #60 as Strange interrogates Mephisto about something wrong with Peter Parker’s soul – potentially calling back to the deal Peter’s ex-wife Mary Jane struck with Mephisto all the way back in 2007’s Amazing Spider-Man: One More Day (opens in new tab). The plot line hasn’t come up in Amazing Spider-Man since.
Ghost Rider’s next ride is a mystery, but there’s no need to wait to find out what’s next for Spidey. Stay on top of all the planned new Spider-Man comic book releases for 2021 and beyond.