The holiday season tends to have a way of bringing out the best in people, even when they aren’t exactly “people” in the traditional sense. This doesn’t just mean aliens, mutants, or cosmic beings, but even the most devilish figures that the Marvel Universe has to offer. In fact, few if any demonic heroes have been touched by the Christmas spirit quite like Ghost Rider, albeit with his own unique spin on what that means.
“Harvey Teabiscuit’s Yule Log” (by Ann Nocenti and Tom Girindberg) from the 1993 Marvel Holiday Special found Harvey struggling through another day of being berated by his mother before heading off to be belittled by his boss. On the way, he witnesses the Spirit of Vengeance pursuing a random villain through the city streets. Apart from getting a glimpse of the Ghost Rider, he is left shaken by the experience of locking eyes with the Hellish hero. The experience also sticks with the Ghost Rider, who can see that Harvey is in desperate need of avenging, especially since he is seemingly incapable of standing up for himself.
The Holidays Brought Out the Best in Ghost Rider
As something akin to an act of self-penance, Ghost Rider takes it upon himself to make up for frightening Harvey by checking up on his boss. Somehow, Harvey’s boss mistakes the Spirit of Vengeance for one of Charles Dicken’s Christmas spirits and immediately breaks down into a blubbering mess over all the ways he has mistreated his employees. Not only does the man openly repent, but he also makes up for these grievances as best he can only moments later, showering Harvey with cash and a well-deserved vacation.
Ultimately, the outcome was still in line with what anyone would have expected if Ghost Rider had been recognized for who he is. What stands out as particularly surprising, however, is that the demonic hero offered to help Harvey in the first place, let alone that he continued to do so beyond their second encounter by accepting an offer for drinks that evening. All of this on top of Ghost Rider’s uncharacteristically introspective nature throughout the story offered readers a truly unique take on both the character himself and, more importantly, what it means to be a Spirit of Vengeance
Ghost Rider’s Duties Go Beyond Marvel’s Supernatural World
Rather than merely dealing out violence and Hellfire, Ghost Rider’s evening with Harvey Teabiscuit proved that the Spirit of Vengeance was capable of wielding a lighter hand in the course of his duties. Simply relying on his presence was more than enough to draw penance out of those who knew in their hearts that they had done wrong. Then again, the villains of this story were in most respects anything but, though that doesn’t make the penance they were served any less valuable.
If anything, taking on otherwise mundane malefactors serves as a reminder that Ghost Rider isn’t just a superhero who happens to dabble in the supernatural. At his core, Ghost Rider is and always will be a force for raw vengeance. Whether that vengeance is for the literal souls of the damned or a man who can’t help but get walked all over. It doesn’t really matter in the Ghost Rider’s eyes, least of all during the holidays.