Bradford pop star Zayn Malik is set to make his debut next month as... a comic book star.
One Direction’s Zayn, originally from East Bowling, is a huge comics fan and recently visited Marvel Studios in Los Angeles, where the entertainment giant makes the big-screen versions of heroes like Avengers Assemble, Captain America and Thor.
Ghost Rider is an old character from Marvel, dating back to the early 1970s. When stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze dies in a spectacular bike accident, he strikes a deal with the devil to come back to Earth and, in the form of the fiery-headed Ghost Rider, track down evil souls.
Ghost Rider was played in two movies by Nicolas Cage, but the new comic – All-New Ghost Rider – which is released on April 2 by Marvel is a reboot with a younger character named Robbie Reyes taking over the Ghost Rider mantle – and he is based on Zayn.
The series is written by Felipe Smith and illustrated by Tradd Moore. Marvel editor Mark Paniccia is reported to have sent the creative team a memo saying: “The guy from that boyband One Direction’s name is Zayn Malik. If you look him up on Google you can find a bunch of images of him. I was picturing Robbie as a beefier version of him. Physically strong, with a quiet, troubled expression, kind of boyish.”
Rather than ride a bike as in the earlier versions of Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes drives a souped-up car and is based on America’s West Coast.
Artist Moore described Robbie as “a teenager with a passion for cars and electronic music” who “absolutely loathes the violent, gang-ridden area he lives in”.
In a 2012 interview Zayn said: “I’m into comic books. I used to collect them when I was younger – it’s quite a geeky thing.”
He’s also known as a bit of a cartoonist himself, sparking rumours that his association with Marvel might go beyond having his face in a comic book... and actually drawing one in the future.