Moon Knight, Ghost Rider and Diabolical Deals

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Character motivations are one of the major aspects of any piece of literary analysis. Especially starting in middle school, where the multiple stimuli of comics are still important for engaging students, the character motif becomes a major part of reading fiction. Character motivation also happens to be one of the most important elements when considering one of the oldest motifs in Western storytelling: the Faustian bargain.

Featured in everything from Greek mythology to a wide swath of Marvel comics, the Faustian bargain is quite simple in its basic structure: the protagonist makes a deal with the devil, usually for forbidden knowledge – often chaos results. . In the original oral history and play, Dr. Faustus, the protagonist, learns forbidden knowledge and lives his life, only to lose his soul to Satan as a result of the deal. In two modern accounts, ghost rider and moon knight, the Faustian bargain makes the protagonists become superheroes, but at a huge cost. Since most students have encountered some form of media exhibiting the “dealing with the devil” archetype, many will no doubt be able to engage with prescience if not with ghost riderthen with moon knight.


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Ghost Rider deals with the devil traditionally

The many versions of ghost rider put the exact nature of the Faustian bargain into some kind of flow. Johnny Blaze definitely sold his soul to Satan in the most famous version of the tale, while revisions had him sold to Mephisto. Robbie Reyes didn’t sell his soul so much as he simply agreed to be a revenge engine. Either way, the many versions of Ghost Rider have all made deals with demons and then gained the power to do great things. They also had to do evil things to keep them alive.

While a more traditional version of the pact with the devil, ghost rider appeals to students in a major way that many stories don’t: representation. Johnny Blaze is a white man, but Robbie is a person of color in a bad neighborhood with a brother with special needs. Alejandra Jones has the same abilities as her male companions and rides on as many hellish vehicles. With a more direct representation of the Faustian market and abundant representation, ghost rider offers a brilliant introduction to classic conflict while offering a variety of character motivations to choose from.


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Once students understand the general concept of the Faustian bargain, there are other iterations of the “deal with the devil” to consider. One of the best known is in moon knight comics. Marc Spector makes a deal not with the devil, but with the flawed and sometimes malevolent moon god, Khonshu. Upon death, Marc agrees to serve the god as his “fist”, much like Ghost Rider and Mephisto. However, this comes at the cost of his independence, his sanity and, to a large extent, his faith.


As seen in a 2021 series moon knight by Jed Mackay, Rachelle Rosenberg and Alessandro Cappuccio, Marc didn’t necessarily give his soul to Khonshu, but he renounced his Jewish faith. The son of a rabbi, Marc renounced his family’s peaceful faith to become a mercenary, then locked it away by becoming the fist (and, to a large extent, the religious leader) of Khonshu. Within this framework, students can use their understanding of moon knight The Disney+ series and their knowledge of what can define a “soul” to understand how the motifs translate into literature. It also helps students understand what motivates a character to keep going and why they chose to get a good deal in the first place.


By approaching the Faustian bargain from multiple angles, students can understand the character’s motivational concepts through the use of a literary trope. By using comics, students have more stimuli to stay engaged and greater prior knowledge so they can claim agency in lessons. With film or television adaptations of the two heroes, multimedia units are also possible. In total, the stories offered to the students are as well told through Faust as through comic strips.


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