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Lincoln Slade (Earth-616)

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Lincoln Slade was born in the 1800s in Ohio, where he was raised with his older brother Carter. Unknown to him, when his brother Carter rode west to become a schoolteacher after the Civil War, he was nearly killed, saved by the Indian medicine man Flaming Star, and become the first Ghost Rider, later known variously as Night Rider and Phantom Rider.

Lincoln meanwhile became a Federal Marshal and his territory came to include the town of Bison Bend, in Montana. Arriving there one day to investigate a rash of local disappearances he was astonished to find his brother Carter, whose life he saved from a band of local criminals. Going into town with his brother, Lincoln discovered the only men not taken from the town were Carter - because Lincoln had just saved him - and the local reverend, Reverend Reaper. Lincoln felt the Reverend would be the next logical target of the kidnappers and so watched the religious man's home into the night. Finally, the reverend was taken as expected, but as Lincoln followed the trail he discovered the reverend was actually the head of the gang.

As he began fighting the criminals his brother Carter showed up in his guise as the Ghost/Night/Phantom Rider. The pair freed the residents of Bison Bend and then eliminated the Reverend Reaper's gang. To save himself Reaper shot out a crossbeam holding the ceiling of his cave hideout, causing tons of earth and rock to tumble towards Lincoln. Carter, as the Phantom Rider, leapt forward and knocked Lincoln clear of the landslide but was himself buried beneath it. When Lincoln heard a voice calling from the rubble he recognized it as Carter's voice, and pulled his brother free from the earth and rock. Pulling off his mask, he confirmed the Ghost/Night/Phantom Rider was really his brother and told him to wait while he fetched a doctor, but Carter told him it was too late and soon after died.[1]

Jamie Jacobs & Lincoln Slade (Earth-616)

Lincoln stripped the costume from Carter's body and brought him back to town, where he was buried. The local sheriff joined Lincoln in praising Carter, ironically since Sheriff Brooks hated the Phantom Rider, Carter's alter-ego. Suddenly, the Phantom Rider showed up at the funeral, causing great alarm for Lincoln, who suddenly began to wonder if his brother really had been a spirit. Chasing the Rider down he discovered it to be Carter's ward, the boy Jamie Jacobs. Jamie told him someone had to carry on Carter's work, that he couldn't die a wanted man, and that someone had to clear the Rider's name. Lincoln told Jamie he was a fool, that the Rider was dead and to let him rest in peace. Lincoln left town, but on his way out he heard gunfire and rode to see what was going on. He found a stagecoach under attack from would-be robbers, and prepared to join the fight when Jamie rode in, dressed as the Phantom Rider. The two managed to kill the robbers but just as Lincoln felled the final owlhoot, Jamie was struck and killed by a bullet from the robber's gun. Lincoln rushed to Jamie's side, where Jamie told Lincoln he would have to be the new Phantom Rider after all. Lincoln stripped Jamie's body of the outfit, just as he had Carter's, so it would appear Jamie had died in the stagecoach attack.[1]

As he rode away Lincoln decided he couldn't let his brother die thought-of as a villain, even if only under the alter-ego of the Phantom Rider. Lincoln then prepared to become the new Phantom Rider, finding Carter's horse Banshee where Jamie had ridden him into the fight, and rode off to fight injustice.

Lincoln Slade (Earth-616) 002

Phantom Rider (Lincoln Slade)

One of Lincoln's most memorable adventures came when the time-traveling villain Kang landed in the Old West, taking over the Two-Gun Kid's town of Tombstone. Kang had been followed by the Avenger Hawkeye, who, together with Two-Gun, had rounded up a "who's-who" of Western crimefighters to thwart Kang, including Lincoln Slade as the Phantom Rider, the Ringo Kid, the Rawhide Kid and Kid Colt. The group fought Kang's men until the Avengers Thor and Moondragon tracked Hawkeye down. From there, the Avengers and Two-Gun defeated Kang.[2]

Later, however, Lincoln, who had been married with a son, began to grow lonely, as he had forsaken them to become the Phantom Rider. Unlike Carter, who had been chosen by the Great Spirit to become He Who Rides The Night Winds, and his great-great-grandson (and Carter's great-great-nephew) Hamilton, as yet to be born, who would also be chosen by the Spirits to be the modern-day Phantom Rider, Lincoln had not been so chosen. And as Carter's spirit would later tell him, "He whom the Gods would destroy they would first drive mad."[3]

Thus it was that, when the West Coast Avengers were sent back in time to the Old West, and encountered the Phantom Rider, Two-Gun Kid and Rawhide Kid joined together to fight a large criminal outfit headed by the evil Iron Mask. The Phantom Rider came to believe Hawkeye's wife Mockingbird was a goddess and since he was one with the spirits, that she should be his. After they had vanquished the gang the WCA decided to try going back to the time of Kang's reformed self, the Pharaoh Rama-Tut, in order to try and get themselves home. Just before leaving, the Rider kidnapped Mockingbird and rode away. The WCA ended up further back in time while Mockingbird was given an Indian love potion and temporarily forgot her old life and fell in love with the Phantom Rider, to whom he revealed his secret identity. However, Two-Gun and Rawhide were on his trail, determined to recover Hawkeye's wife. They found the two but Mockingbird, under the influence of the potion, fought them alongside Lincoln and she and the Rider escaped.[4]

However, as time passed Mockingbird began to slowly fall out of the influence of the potion, and when Two-Gun showed up in a makeshift Hawkeye outfit to jog her memory she finally broke from Lincoln's influence. She implied that Lincoln had raped her - having had intercourse while she was drugged - and rode off to kill Lincoln. Two-Gun and Rawhide were alarmed, knowing the good the Rider had once done and did not wish to kill him, only to bring him to justice. Mockingbird told them the fight was hers alone and Two-Gun reluctantly held Rawhide back from following her. Mockingbird confronted the Phantom Rider on a mountain peak he held sacred and, in the fight that followed, Lincoln fell from a cliff. He managed to grip the edge of the cliff with his fingers, but in the slickness of the rain that was falling he was losing his grip. Mockingbird stood and watched him fall. Eventually Hawkeye returned to bring her back to the present with the rest of the WCA, as the local Indians buried Lincoln in a cave tomb.[5]

One hundred years later, Lincoln's great-great-grandson Hamilton found the tomb, and Lincoln's spirit possessed him, turning him into a modern-day Phantom Rider. While controlling Hamilton's body Lincoln founded the on-and-off superhero team the Rangers while also fighting evil wherever he found it. However, when his spirit, still crazed and insane, discovered Mockingbird lived in this time he began harassing her in revenge for allowing him to die. He caused for Hawkeye to discover what had happened, leading to a breach between the two of them.[6]

Tracking down Hamilton Slade, Mockingbird convinced him to allow the demonologist Daimon Hellstorm to exorcise the spirit of Lincoln Slade from him. However, the spirits of both Slade brothers emerged from Hamilton's body, as Carter's spirit had been trying to free Hamilton from Lincoln's possession and stop him from harassing Mockingbird. In the struggle that followed, Carter's spirit subdued Lincoln's and was prepared to accept banishment alongside his insane brother.[7]

Carter Slade (Earth-616) and Lincoln Slade (Earth-616) from West Coast Avengers Vol 2 41 001

Carter Slade's spirit subdues that of Lincoln Slade.

However, Hamilton recognized Carter was a force for good and did not deserve to be banished. Willing Carter's spirit into himself at the exact moment of banishment, Hamilton once again became the modern-day Phantom Rider, only this time with the guidance and powers of his benevolent great-great-uncle Carter.[7]

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