First Appearance: Ghost Rider v2 #1 (September 1973).
Appearances: Many others.
Years Active: 18th Century to the present.
The Ghost Rider is the Spirit of Vengeance, which is a supernatural entity designed to avenge the guilty and protect the innocent (most often in that order). The first modern-day Ghost Rider came from the town of Patience, a "good Christian town" presumably located somewhere in North America. At this time--the 18th century, based on the internal evidence of this story, in Ghost Rider v2 #1--Patience is led by one Pastor Kale, a seemingly good man whose leadership is credited with the town's prosperity and wealth. Kale is actually a warlock in the service of Mephisto, buying good harvests and weather in exchange for offering souls up to the demon-lord. When a traveling band of outsiders passes through town, one of its members dies and his daughter remains in Patience, working for Pastor Kale as a maid. She falls in love with Kale's son Noble and they conceive a child together. She also discovers that Kale was a warlock. Kale declares her a witch and has her burned at the stake, meanwhile taunting her with the knowledge that her child will be raised a slave. She, dying, shouts out a curse upon the town, and in response the Furies ('scuse me, the Kindly Ones) descend upon Patience and spend the next seven nights killing everyone in the town, innocent and guilty. Noble is tortured by his father and then dragged to a graveyard where Pastor Kale uses Mephisto's power to graft him on to a skeleton, transforming him into a flaming skeleton demon, the Ghost Rider. Pastor Kale offers Noble's soul to Mephisto in exchange for the power to defeat the Furies. Mephisto agrees, and the Ghost Rider, on horseback and using a flaming sword, fights the Furies for three days before finally killing them. He then needs sustenance, and Pastor Kale offers it to him: his own infant son. Noble refuses, and Mephisto arrives to take Noble away.
Uriel, a pallid flaming entity who is the leader of the "Children of Light" and is presumably an angel, arrives, declaring Noble's soul too pure to be treated in this way. Uriel and Mephisto, who treat each other as equals and refer to each other as "brother," decide that Noble will belong to both camps. Mephisto claims that it is his right to choose a Spirit of Vengeance. (For several centuries before this the Knight of Zarathos performed this job before the demon Zarathos was imprisoned by Mephisto.)
Noble, in his Spirit of Vengeance form, is dressed in black buckskin and wields pistols instead of a sword. Uriel declares that the Ghost Rider will appear only to carry out his duties, the rest of his time being spent in a "mystic void." Mephisto declares that Noble's child will, on reaching adulthood, be the host body for the Ghost Rider, as will the first born of all of his descendants.
This clearly implies that there have been Ghost Riders/Spirits of Vengeance for every generation since that time. We have only seen two such Kales between Noble Kale and Danny Ketch. Ghost Rider #89 showed the Ghost Rider of World War One, who wore blue fatigues (presumably a colorist's error), brown gloves, a red WW1 soldier's helmet, and used a flaming sword (also having a flaming skull for a head). This Ghost Rider fought Verminius Rex, a rat-like being who fed upon battlefield corpses and was presumably a German agent.
Ghost Rider Minus-1 showed Naomi Kale, the Ghost Rider who immediately preceded Danny Ketch, the modern Ghost Rider. Naomi was the mother of John Blaze and the older sister of the father of Jennifer Kale, another modern heroine. Naomi's story takes place 13 years before Dan Ketch's first appearance, which would mean it took place a few years before FF #1. Naomi was the girlfriend of Barton Blaze, Johnny Blaze's father, and was working for Crash Simpson's carnival. She was a drug user and left Blaze while Johnny was still an infant, possibly because of her drug use or because of the manifestation of the Ghost Rider curse. A few years after leaving Barton, she got together with a man named Antonio and bore him two children, but they were put up for adoption. During this time she was also active as the Ghost Rider; although no specific adventures are related, she presumably had quite a career over these several years as the GR. She rides a motorcycle and in Ghost Rider form uses a mystic chain for a weapon. At the time of Ghost Rider Minus-1 Naomi had used spells to prevent Mephisto from turning Johnny Blaze into the Ghost Rider.