CLEM BARSTOW

Real Name: Clement "Clem" Barstow

Identity/Class: Human spirit (mystic nature);
    pre-modern and modern eras

Occupation: Vengeful spirit
   (when alive) diesel trucker

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Johnny Blaze, Frederick William Matthew "Mitch" Mitchell the Third

Enemies: All "bikers" (including Johnny Blaze when he was riding his motorcycle), Deever and his cycle bums (presumably all now deceased)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: Old Clem

Base of Operations: "Clem's Road" (a local name for an unspecified highway probably located in New Mexico)

First Appearance: Ghost Rider II#51 (December, 1980)

Powers/Abilities: As a living human being, Clem Barstow was not known to have possessed any powers but he did have some skill as a trucker.

   As a vengeful spirit, Clem Barstow can transport himself and his truck interdimensionally, back and forth between the mortal world and the as-yet-unidentified afterlife realm in which he otherwise resides. It hasn't been revealed if Clem can transport himself and his truck between dimensions at will or if Clem can only appear on Earth once each night.

   When in the real world, Clem and his truck appear to be composed of normal, solid matter but his truck has demonstrated some qualities which indicate that it is composed of something else (possibly solidified ectoplasm). However, despite the probably-unnatural nature of his current body, Clem has not exhibited any physical abilities beyond those possessed by his living self.

   Also, Clem seems to have an enhanced awareness of his surroundings, as demonstrated when he somehow knew where kidnappers were holding their victim. However, Clem claimed that it was just that he had been riding that road for so long that he'd "pretty much (gotten) an instinct for figurin' out what's goin' on and what isn't." As a result, the possibility that Clem has some supernatural access to information cannot be confirmed.

Limitations: Despite his abilities, Clem is apparently operating under certain restrictions which he cannot overcome, the main one being that he is not EVER allowed to leave his truck. It has not been revealed if this is a rule that was imposed upon him by some unidentified party (possibly whatever entity or force enables him to return to the mortal world) or if his rig is somehow the source of his ability to manifest on the earthly plane and he would be pulled back into the afterlife if he goes too far away from it. Whatever the reason, Clem is at least able to get out of the cab and walk around as long as he stays in close proximity to his rig.

   A second limitation is that Clem and his rig are only able to appear on Earth during the night. As soon as any sunlight touches Clem's truck, it and he instantly disappear, transported back to whatever afterlife realm Clem now inhabits. Also, any living people who are aboard the truck when it vanishes will find themselves doomed as well. In the case of six murderous bikers, Clem stated that he would see to it that they got to where they had to be going (presumably Hell).

Transportation: Clem drives what appears to be an old/antique diesel semi-trailer truck which has certain supernatural attributes that are not immediately apparent to a casual observer.

History:(Ghost Rider II#51 (fb) - BTS) <"Thirty years ago"> - Clement "Clem" Barstow was a trucker who drove a worn-out old diesel truck until he was clubbed to death by a gang of outlaw bikers on a certain highway.
   After Barstow was murdered, people living in the area began to notice that "nary a biker's rode down that road without he's met up with a grisly end." The old-timers began to claim that Clem was still riding in his old rig and helping out good people from time to time while killing any bikers who rode down "Clem's Road" and this became a story that the local old truckers liked to tell.

   At some point in time, the following message appeared, "painted" on the side of a cliff overlooking the highway:

TO ALL BIKERS -
STAY OFF MY ROAD • OR ELSE
         CLEMENT

(Ghost Rider II#51) - One night, stunt biker Johnny Blaze was roaring down a lonely stretch of blacktop on his motorcycle when an old diesel came speeding up behind him, sounded its horn and then, while passing, veered over and clipped him, sending him flying over the guardrail into a thousand-foot drop. Blaze saved himself by transforming into the Ghost Rider who formed a cycle of hellfire and rode it up the cliff. Seeking vengeance, the Ghost Rider tried to catch up to the murderous trucker, but he was gone. This puzzled the Satanic cyclist because "no vehicle conceived and fashioned by mortal men can have outraced the fire-spewing hell-machine of the Ghost Rider!" Ghost Rider then returned to the scene of the "accident" and transformed into Blaze who then saw the message painted on the side of the cliff.

 

   Several hours later, as Blaze regained consciousness (after having been knocked out during a failed attempt to prevent the kidnapping of a motorist, "Mitch" Mitchell) and found that the kidnappers (Deever and his gang) had set their victim's car on fire, an antique diesel pulled to a stop alongside. The driver called out that it looked like Blaze had a bad problem and suggested that he had better hop aboard. Blaze recognized the diesel as the one that had nearly killed him, but the driver didn't seem to recognize him so he accepted the offer and told the driver about the kidnapping. Once Blaze introduced himself, Clem Barstow did the same but then advised Blaze that he should forget about notifying the police because his friend would be dead long before they could ever get to where "those rotten cycle bums" were holding him.

 

 

 

 

   As the truck drove down the road, Blaze began to notice several weird things about the trip. The only music that Clem got on his truck radio were popular songs from 30 years earlier and half of the commercials that aired were for products that weren't even manufactured anymore. Even weirder was the fact that the diesel was speeding along an old broken-down road that had never been intended to accommodate diesels but was doing so without any bumps, and zooming through overpasses that were clearly too low for them to possibly get under. Before Blaze could react to the weirdness, Clem pulled the truck over and stopped. He then pointed out an old hunting lodge in the foothills as being where Blaze's friend was being held. Clem said that he would like nothing better than to help Blaze "nail them cycle punks" but that he wasn't "allowed to leave (his) truck! Not now, not ever!" Blaze said that that was okay and then he went up the hill, secretly changed into the Ghost Rider, defeated all six kidnappers and rescued Mitchell.

 

 

 

   A short while later, Blaze and Mitchell brought the kidnappers down to the truck, and Clem stood by the rear doors as the criminals got into the trailer. As Blaze asked him for a lift, Clem slammed the trailer doors shut and said that he was afraid that he couldn't do that, much as he might like to. Clem explained that the Sun would be coming up just about any second now and that that was the sign that he had to be moving on. Clem assured Blaze and Mitchell that they didn't have to worry about the kidnappers as he would "see to it they get where they gotta be goin'" and said so long to Johhny. As the old diesel truck pulled away, the first faint light of dawn struck the truck, causing it to glow radiantly orange, and then it almost instantaneously disappeared. The only traces left behind were an "earsplitting farewell blast of the raucous diesel horn" and the "piteous sound of six doomed men shrieking their souls away."

 

(Ghost Rider II#51 - BTS) - An hour later, riding on two of the kidnappers' motorcycles, Blaze and Mitchell arrived at a gas station where the attendant mentioned that they surely weren't from anywhere local. When they asked what he meant, he told them how nobody in those parts would have the nerve or stupidity to ride motorcycles down Clem's Road, especially at night. He went on to explain how a trucker named Clement Barstow had been clubbed to death by outlaw bikers on that highway 30 years ago and that ever since then every biker that had ridden down that road had met up with a grisly end. He then mentioned that the local old-timers claimed that Old Clem was still riding in his old worn-out rig, "helpin' out good folks every now and then, and sendin' bikers to an early doom!" As he turned to get the gasoline nozzle, the attendant stated that he thought it "was all just a load'a good old country bullroar" and was totally unaware that his story had left Blaze and Mitchell staring at each other, wide-eyed and slack-jawed in shock.

Comments: Created by Michael Fleisher and Don Perlin.

    This character reminds me of the World War I aviator known as the Phantom Eagle who, over the course of sixty years, was able to repeatedly manifest himself (and his biplane) in Earth's reality in order to gain vengeance on the man who murdered both he and his parents, Hermann von Reitberger.

    When Ghost Rider II#51 was first published in 1980, Clem's murder "some thirty years ago" would have been committed circa 1950. Of course, thanks to Marvel's sliding timescale, Clem may have been killed as recently at 1983! Or maybe his c. 1950 death has remained a fixed, non-topical date. Either way would work for me.
    Agreed. Since there's nothing that ties anyone involved to the modern era, or anyone from the modern era to Clem's time period, it could just as easily be from 1950 or so...
--Snood

    There are two things about this story that remain unanswered. One is how Clem was able to get far enough away from the scene of his attempted murder of Johnny Blaze that he couldn't be seen by the Ghost Rider when he drove back up the cliff to confront the trucker. It seems to me that either Clem's truck was somehow able to outrace Ghost Rider's "fire-spewing hell-machine" or else Clem and his rig could use some other means to disappear. Maybe Clem had the (unmentioned) ability to make himself and his rig invisible? Or maybe, after "killing" Blaze, Clem (and his rig) for some reason had to leave the earthly plane for a while? Only the Watcher knows.

The second unanswered question is more significant: How is Clem able to manifest himself and his rig on the mortal plane? As I see it, there are three possible explanations:

  1. Clem's powers come from Clem himself. The rage that Clem, as a vengeful spirit, feels over his murder provides him with the power he needs to cross over into the world of the living and kill any "cycle bums" he finds riding down "his" road, the road on which he was murdered. His rage also enables him to recreate his old rig for him to ride in. However, this theory does not explain why he is "not allowed" to leave his truck.
  2. Clem's power actually comes from his rig. Somehow, after Clem was murdered, his truck became charged with a magical energy which Clem's spirit can tap into and use to return himself to the earthly plane in a solid form. This theory could explain why Clem is not "allowed" to leave his truck: If Clem were ever to get too far away from his power source, then he might lose his connection to the earthly plane and possibly never be able to manifest on it again. This theory is interesting but there's no real evidence for it so it's only speculative "fanfic."
  3. Neither Clem nor his rig are the source of Clem's ability to manifest on the mortal plane. Instead, this power was bestowed upon Clem by some as-yet-unidentified entity or force for reasons of its own. As for whether this mysterious entity/force is benevolent or malign, one only has to consider that it has allowed Clem to send EVERY biker who rode down Clem's Road at night to meet up with a grisly end. Now, unless one is willing to embrace the idea that ALL motorcyclists are inherently evil, this means that (at least) some of the "bikers" Clem has sent to an early doom were in fact "good" people who just happened to like riding motorcycles. Since it doesn't seem likely that a "heavenly" power would condone/allow Clem to use its power to murder innocents, this would seem to suggest that some "demonic" force is empowering Clem, possibly as the result of some kind of "deal with the devil" made by the dying Clem. Of course, this is all still just speculation.

    There's an article/stub about Clem Barstow on the Ghost Rider Wiki which claims that "he isn't evil - just bad tempered." That sounds like a strange way to describe someone who kills every biker who drives down his road, doesn't it? At least the Phantom Eagle only killed the man who murdered him.

Profile by Donald Campbell.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Clement "Clem" Barstow has no known connections to


"The Diesel of Doom!"

A supernatural vehicle in which Clem Barstow rides along a stretch of highway known to the locals as "Clem's Road." Although it looks like an ordinary old diesel semi-trailer truck, this eighteen-wheeler possesses several magical attributes, including the ability to travel smoothly and swiftly over broken-down roads that were never intended to accommodate diesels and to pass through overpasses that were clearly built too low for it. The implication is that the truck isn't completely bound by the normal laws of physics that apply to other, non-supernatural, vehicles.

   Also, the only broadcasts that can be heard on the truck's radio all appear to be from thirty years ago, suggesting that, for the truck and those riding in it, time essentially stopped thirty years earlier, presumably at the moment when Clem was murdered.

   Perhaps the most important thing about Clem's truck is that it accompanies Clem when he travels between the mortal world and the afterlife dimension where he otherwise resides. Like Clem himself, the truck can only appear at night and is instantly transported away from the earthly plane as soon as it is struck by sunlight.

   People can ride in the truck safely during the night but any living person who is on the truck when dawn comes and the truck returns to the afterlife will be transported with it, effectively killing them. Where these doomed souls end up is unclear, but Clem once claimed that one particular group (of murderous bikers) would "get where they gotta be goin'." Presumably, he meant Hell.

   Although never stated outright, it was implied that the "antique rig" which Clem now drives may be identical to that "old wore-out rig" that he was riding when he was killed thirty years ago. If true, then it's either his original truck, somehow enhanced with supernatural capabilities, or it's a mystical duplicate of Clem's original rig. Either way, it seems unlikely that this truck (still) runs on diesel fuel.

Note: Just to be clear, Clem's truck was never actually referred to by any name in the story in Ghost Rider II#51. However, "The Diesel of Doom!" is actually the title of the story! I just used it for the name of this sub-profile because it sounded like an appropriate name for a truck driven by a murderous ghost.

--Ghost Rider II#51


images: (without ads)
Ghost Rider II#51, page 9, panel 1 (main image)
      page 16, panel 2 (Clem out of his truck)
      page 16, panels 5-8 (diesel disappears at dawn)
      page 9, panel 3 (Clem's truck)


Other Appearances: None


Last updated: 12/23/13

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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