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Summary

  • Ghost Rider’s penitent look makes villains feel the pain of their victims, regardless of remorse.
  • Because Daredevil is blind, he is immune to the Penitent Stare, which creates a gap in his power.
  • In a later storyline, Ghost Rider still manages to influence Daredevil using alternative methods.



Comic Book Questions Answered is a column where I answer any questions you have about comic books (feel free to email your questions to me at [email protected]). Today I’m finding out if Ghost Rider’s penitent look would work on Daredevil.

It’s funny, sometimes when I come up with a topic, people suddenly send a LOT of follow-up questions and I can’t answer them all one at a time, so I wait, but, well, then sometimes I forget the topic and suddenly, well, two years have passed while I was procrastinating on the follow-up question. So I’m going to try to make the follow-up question to this one better.

After I wrote a post a few years ago about why Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare doesn’t seem to work as it should, and then asked if Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare would work on Galactus, reader Dan Q. wanted to know if Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare would work on Daredevil.


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How does Ghost Rider’s penitent look work?

The Penance Stare debuted at a strange time in the Ghost driver Revival series in 1990, as it only appeared in the second issue of the series (by Howard Mackie, Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira) …

Ghost Rider uses the penitent look

The problem, however, is that the term “repentance look” obviously confused people a little, as it made people believe that it confronted the bad guys with the harm they had done and forced them to repent, but only if there was something to repent of. And that’s the trick, because people started to believe that it only worked if the person who committed the murder actually REGRETTED their actions.


Reader Shaun D. Padden actually wrote to us to ask this very question in Ghost driver #35, with the central question: “I don’t understand the remorseful look on the Ghost Rider’s face. Why should a villain care about the pain caused to others? And should a villain not know himself? I mean, isn’t that part of being a bad guy? So why does that remorseful look have any effect on the Ghost Rider’s enemies?”

The editor (or perhaps Howard Mackie himself) replied, “That’s it, Shaun. Why would a villain care about the pain caused to others? All they want to do is cause more pain and suffering. To remedy this situation, Ghost Rider uses his penitential gaze. His gaze penetrates the psyche of the villains and makes them feel what they have done to these people, what it would be like to be a victim and have to live with the pain for the rest of their lives.”


And that’s the catch. You suffer the pain of the victims. It has nothing to do with whether or not you enjoyed what you did in your life, you will still suffer because you will feel the pain the way your victims felt the pain. In other words, even if you are a demon, you will still be affected by the Penitential Stare because it HURTS.

In Ghost Rider’s biography on Marvel’s official website, the Penitent Stare is described as follows: “His primary weapon is the Penitent Stare, an ability he inherited from his brother Danny Ketch. By peering into the soul of the guilty, Ghost Rider causes the affected person to relive all the harm they have done to others over the years. This stare puts his victim into a permanent catatonic state.”

The trick, however, is that you have to actually SEE the look of repentance for it to work on you.


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So, does the penitent look work on Daredevil?

Well, in Daredevil #295 (by DG Chichester, Lee Weeks and Al Williamson), Ghost Rider actually tried to stare at Daredevil with the Penance Stare and it did NOT work because Daredevil couldn’t see anything (although Daredevil could kind of sense SOMETHING was happening)…


I mean, it doesn’t get much more to the point, does it? But doesn’t that just sound wrong? So this magical power that makes people experience all the pain they’ve caused other people in their lives can be stopped simply by being blind? So a blind villain could just kill all the people he wanted and Ghost Rider’s Penitential Stare wouldn’t harm them? That feels like such an oddly convenient loophole for a magical power, but, well, it’s pretty straightforward, you know? It’s said that Daredevil is unaffected by the Stare because he’s blind.

Daredevil and Ghost Rider clashed again almost a hundred issues later, in Daredevil #372 (by Joe Kelly, Ariel Olivetti and Pier Britto), and Daredevil once again seems immune to the Penance Stare, but this time Ghost Rider has pulled off a new trick that I don’t think he’s ever done before or since, by forcing Daredevil to experience what would happen if Daredevil stopped Ghost Rider from taking revenge…


Ghost Rider hits Daredevil

It’s a little confusing, but it was basically a set-up for the Mister Fear storyline Kelly was doing in the book back in the day. Long story short, it certainly sounds like Daredevil and every other blind person is immune to Ghost Rider’s penitent stare, but I guess his fingers on your brain can have many of the same effects, so I think Ghost Rider has some sort of workaround. It’s still weird that blindness is a protection.

There you go, Dan! Thanks for the question! If anyone else has a comics-related question they’d like answered, shoot me a message at [email protected]!

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