This story had me referencing the Marvel Wikia entry for one Miracle Man - the antagonist of this tale.
Get this. Powers: None(!). Abilities: Miracle Man is a master hypnotist.
Well! I'm dumbfounded! In this tale Miracle Man does the following things:
He creates a star in the sky.
He compels supernatural beings (American Indian spirits) to become the Three Wise Men of Christian lore.
He changes an Indian Reservation to the Biblical Bethlehem.
He fires bolts from his hands
He makes people do things.
That's Wyatt Wingfoot acting like a resident of ancient Bethlehem
And most baffling of all, he actually causes the creation of a real child.
I can't explain it. The closest thing I find to an explanation is from Benjamin J. Grimm.
Okay, Thing, whatever you say. What the Marvel historian in me finds noteworthy is that this is the second appearance of Miracle Man since he first showed up in the now classic Fantastic Four 3.
This tale is also a nostalgic trip for fans of the Ghost Rider. He is very different here from his portrayal in later works like, say, World War Hulk. In that story the Ghost Rider was truly supernatural. So powerful that even the rampaging Hulk could not defeat him. Here, the Johnny Blaze persona is fully in control resulting in a very compassionate and heroic Ghost Rider.
The Ghost Rider is inspired by Evel Knievel. And Ben knows him like that - so to the Thing, everything about Ghost Rider relates to showmanship. And you know what? Johnny goes along with it. In a rather amusing panel he explains to Ben about his "skull helmet".
Still hiding his very real supernatural roots, Johnny subtly tells Ben that he cannot be harmed by fire.
It's a kinder, gentler Ghost Rider and, quite frankly, it's great to have an issue that pretty much shows him in a way that we will perhaps never see again.
I did mention that this is a Christmas Eve story right? Well, here's a great snapshot of Christmas Eve in the Baxter Building.
This is how it once was. Medusa was not on the Moon - the severe, and slightly hostile, consort of the equally serious Black Bolt. There was a time when she was not feeling threatened by the humans, at ease enough to give Johnny a kiss under the mistletoe. Namorita is here too, one of the family. And Wundarr, the big little kid just enjoying Christmas and playing with the young Franklin. Bygone days. Captured forever in this snapshot.