• Ridha Rizqi Nafi'ah

Myth of Utilitarianism as Reflected in the Characters of Johnny Blaze the Ghost Rider and Surt the F

When people talking about “hero” they will think about a person who fights the bad and saves the world. Hero, according to Wikipedia, is a person or main character of a literary work who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through impressive feats of ingenuity, bravery or strength, often sacrificing their own personal concerns for a greater good. The concept of hero catches a lot of people attention and become a popular and be loved figure. “Popular beliefs and values are the meanings which lie behind the artefacts and events which are their visible expression --they are the truths which explain the facts and thus weave existence into a pattern which we can all recognize and share.” (Nachbar & Lause, 82). All the popularity that makes “hero” figure become worldwide is indeed because of the help of literary works which spread around and become popular. Actually, the concept of hero already exists long before people start to write their history. Long before people do writing, they already have their own way to tell the story of heroism. People would spread the story orally and the story was an adventure story of a hero. The story spread around from people to another and the story would be re-told over and over again. Maybe the stories will not any longer similar story with the original which firstly told, but a hero is still a hero.

As the time goes by, heroes become popular. A lot of authors or writers are venturing a hero in their works. Heroes are not any longer a knight who goes to save the kingdom or a demi-god who fight the monsters. In recent centuries, the appearances of a hero are following the trend in the era. Even hero figure is no longer a knight or a demi-god, an author or writer still make their hero special. The hero they are made share the same worship with the previous figure from the elder stories. Not only inspired by the ancient hero figures, author or writer also put another ancient figure in myth to become their inspiration for their hero. Authors will make the same pattern as the ancient figure because the ancient figure’s figure already closes with people, as they treat the ancient figure as a myth. Based on author’s belief, they treat a myth as a “significant and long-lasting—vital to the mindset of the culture which holds it—and that it is widely accepted as being true. . . The myth is believed and people make choices and take action based upon belief in the myth.” (Nachbar & Lause, 84)

There are a lot of heroes in literary works. One of them is Ghost Rider. Ghost Rider is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Johnny Blaze is the second Marvel character to use the name Ghost Rider. Johnny Blaze become a Ghost Rider after he made an agreement with Mephisto and sold his soul to save Crash, his father, from his cancer. He did not realize that Mephisto bound him with Zarathos. Then, Johnny was transformed into a Ghost Rider, a leather-clad skeleton and his head cloaked in a sheath of flame.

From the appearance of Ghost Rider, his look is far to be called as a hero. Flaming –skeleton rider with black leather jacket and motorcycle is not the appearance of a hero, but indeed Ghost Rider is a hero. Comparing with an ancient figure, Ghost Rider share the same worship with the Norse figure Surt; the ruler of Muspellheim. Surt is a fire giant and has existed since before creation. Surt is foretold as being a major figure during the events of Ragnarök.

Analysing Ghost Rider’s appearances, a rider cannot be parted from a motorcycle and black leather jacket. People may think that black leather jacket makes them feels hot when they wear it, but for who often use a motorcycle, like rider, they will find that black leather jacket is much more comfortable to use because it can protect them from the wind and cold while riding. The black colour itself also symbolize of power and strength. Moreover, when Blaze transforms into a Ghost Rider, he got a chain around his body that it can be his weapon to fight the evil. When Blaze transforms, he will become one with Zarathos. When the two of them united, they have a great power.

When Blaze transform into a Ghost Rider his body will be covered in flame, but his clothes will remain still; even in future appearances, it will transform again into a spiked leather jacket and chains. As a Ghost Rider, he can change his motorcycle to transform and surround it with hellfire. After some practice he have done to control his power, later, he can control the hellfire; even he can make one for himself. Hellfire "burns the soul" without leaving physical injuries on the victim. Ghost Rider also can manipulate the hellfire to become his weapon; like covering his chain with fire, shooting a fire from a gun, and later he has an ability of hellfire breath.

A skeleton also become the features of Ghost Rider. Connecting the skeleton with the Norse mythology, a skeleton is something sacred in Norse. Speaking of a skeleton, it cannot be apart from Odin’s crows, Huginn and Munnin, who become the eyes, spys, and messengers for Odin. Huginn and Munnin will fly around and gather information; even from the death, to be reported to Odin. Skeleton or skull is also a symbol of will, desire, and knowledge which need a sacrifice. In Blaze case, his desire to save his father turn him into a Ghost Rider, but not all of his transformation gain an ill fate to him.

Even if he is blessed with such a great power, Blaze always talks to himself, “you cannot live in fear”. The words that he always said before he does his show indicate that he is afraid. His agreement with Mephisto and his bound with Zarathos make him immortal, but even he knows that he is immortal, he still afraid. He hopes that he got the second change because actually, he is regretting what he already did by made an agreement with Mephisto. Become a Ghost Rider is nothing but make him more afraid to become himself. He is haunted by the nightmare that he would harm people, but in the end, he realized that his power causes no harm to innocent people.

Transforming nightly into the Ghost Rider, John became involved with a local motorcycle gang, Satan's Servants. Their leader, Curly Samuels, had gained the Ghost Rider's trust. In the ends it turns out that Curly betrayed Blaze. Later, Blaze found that the soul of Crash lurked in Curly’s body. Crash made a deal with Satan that Satan will give back his life if he betrays his son. In the ends, Blaze turns into a Ghost Rider and killed Crash. Nothing good by killing his own father, but after all, he does not want to make his father carrying a sin in his whole life if he can achieve his goal. It is okay even if he has to be part with his father again as long as he can make sure that his father will be happy in his everlasting sleep.

Ghost Rider has a red flaming fire around him when he cannot control himself or lose himself or when he get angry, but the flame will turn into a blue flame when his girlfriend calms him down. When Blaze covered in a red flame, everyone who touches him will burn from the flame, but when the flame turns into blue, the fire is safe. The transform of the flame is due to his feeling for his girlfriend. He does not want to hurt her even when he turned into a Ghost Rider. Blaze also wants to free himself from the curse of becoming a Ghost Rider, so he fought Zarathos who wants to win over Blaze body, and also Blaze wants to fight his arch enemy; Mephisto. He wants to live a normal life with his beloved and the first step before he can do it is to fight Zarathos to get his whole control of his body and mind; and win over Mephisto to free himself from the contract.

Comparing the appearances of Blaze and Surt, they are both different and similar in the same time. The different is that Blaze is the symphony of 21st century style while Surt is the melody of the ancient one. Blaze with his motorcycle and black-leather jacket cannot be compared with Surt who only use a loincloth. Surt indeed is a giant, but to wears only a loincloth in a place like Muspellheim, which covered with fire, he surely fears nothing. The word “Surt” itself comes from Old Norse Surtr, presumably a reference to its charred appearance. Black still dominated as the symbol of power and strength. Great power also comes from him. Including his flaming sword which shining brightly more than the sun and in the end of Ragnarok it would engulf the earth.

Surt, in the Poetic Edda, often mentioned as “Surt: the ruler of fire world” as he was the one who rule Musphelheim. Surt, with his followers, were the dwellers of Muspheilheim. When Ragnarok came, Surt led the dwellers of Musphelheim to go to the battlefield. Surt was the eldest creature in the world of Yggdrasil. After the battle in the beginning of the world, for protecting his existence, Surt went to Musphelheim and hide. As the ancient one maybe it is not appropriate to hide but to protect his existence and for his goal, lead the Ragnarok, he had to sacrifice his freedom and hide. Musphelheim was also not an enjoyable place. Surrounding by only fire in Musphelheim must be tough. But all have to be done for a better end.

When Ragnarok came, he led the dwellers of Muselheim and fight in the battlefield to fight the Aesir. He himself, in the end of Ragnarok and as his final battle, had to face Frey; the ruler of Alfaheim. As the ruler of Alfaheim, Freyr was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and was pictured as a phallic fertility god; Freyr is said to "bestow peace and pleasure on mortals." All the good thinks came from Frey. Unlike Surt, Frey was the compilation of kind, gentle, and tender mixed with good-mannered and good-looking of him. It was truly the opposite of Surt. With his flaming sword Surt slayed Frey, but in their battle, there were no one win or lose. Surt’s flaming sword engulfed the whole universe. After that, as in poetic Edda states, that the sea will arise and there would be a lovelier earth with a pleasant field where the grain shall grow unsworn. There also would be some of the Yggdrasil’s dwellers whom still remain and become the dwellers of the new universe.

Even they have an ill fate, the both of two are loyal, even their loyalty is different one with another. Blaze shows his loyalty from the reason he fights. Blaze gave his loyalty to his beloved one. Unlike his enemy, Legion, who only fight for his pride and for the power for himself, Blaze fights and sacrificing himself to protect his beloved one. In other hands, Surt loyalty is for his existence. As the first creature in the world he may be also the strongest among the other, but for the sake of his existence and to destroy his successors he hides and with all his patience in the Muspellheim.

Even though they have an ill fate in their life but everything is worthy enough to have a better life. Either Ghost Rider or Surt are change. And all the change brings the better life. Blaze, even he becomes a Ghost Rider he can protect the one he loves. He also saves the residents around him who hunted by an evil. Surt, after his fought with Frey his flaming sword engulf the earth. The destruction he made was recovers and became a better new world. From the worship they share, they pointing that no sacrifice is unworthy because if the sacrifice is sacrificed for the greater good, the unworthy sacrifice will turn worthy.


#GhostRider #MarvelComic #NorseMythology #Mythology #Giant #Surt #Musphelheim #Ragnarok #Frey #Zarathos #Mephisto #JohnnyBlaze #Huginn #Munnin #Hellfire #Utilitarianism #TheEddas #SastraInggris #IAINsurakarta #Hero


© English Letters IAIN Surakarta 2016


Gedung E Lt 2 R. 204

Jl. Pandawa Pucangan Kartasura Sukoharjo 57169

Central Java



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