The Small Lebowski:
Blaze: Legacy of Blood #1-4
Issue(s): Blaze: Legacy of Blood #1, Blaze: Legacy of Blood #2, Blaze: Legacy of Blood #3, Blaze: Legacy of Blood #4
This story is built along a reveal that Johnny Blaze's wife, Roxanne (nee Simpson) has secretly been conspiring with a member of the Blood (a special kind of Blood called, god help me, "a Hidden") named Regent for almost as long as we've known her, and Regent has been manipulating Johnny Blaze for even longer. We've never seen Regent before this miniseries, and we'll never see him again because he's killed in this story.
The reveal is dripped out at the usual Howard Mackie pace (and thank god he only had four issues to work with here), so there isn't much of a plot along the way. The only real drama is around Roxanne's motivations; Johnny initially assumes that Roxanne's intentions were evil but it eventually comes out that she was working with Regent in a misguided attempt to help him.
So we don't even get a good story out of this retcon in the short term, and of course it's at the expense of adding an unnecessary layer to every prior Roxanne appearance.
A couple of related things about this are striking to me. The first is that Mackie legitimately thought that all this Blood business was actually interesting to anyone, to the point where he'd retroactively insert them into Blaze's long history, and thought that the strength of the Blood concept was enough to merit the use of a character that we'd never seen before. In other words, if Mackie was revealing that Centurious or Mephisto had been manipulating Blaze all along, it will still suck, but i could at least understand it. But the Blood are a concept that felt like they were hastily added to the Ghost Rider mythos in Road to Vengeance, and to now suddenly have their roots going back to affect old stories seems nuts.
But the bigger thing is that this seems like it's Howard Mackie's only move. The past six months or so of Ghost Rider have been one retroactive reveal after another, with changes to the origins of Ghost Rider and Zarathos that made no effort to square thing with the information we already knew. Johnny Blaze had 80+ issues of backstory that could have been used as fodder for a solo series. But instead Mackie invents some new nonsense off the cuff.
One other development is an emphasis on the idea that Johnny Blaze can channel his hellfire through any weapon, not just his shotgun, and that develops into a reveal that Blaze is practically a Ghost Rider himself under his bionics.
In fact, Regents says:
Caretaker never allowed you to explore your true self. Only Mephisto, master manipulator and liar that he is, allowed you to get in contact with that which you should have been. Left to his machinations, we would have two Ghost Riders this day.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's deliberately vague so as to not spoil anything with the concurrently published Siege of Darkness crossover, but this is meant to take place after Siege. Seer says that she's not responsible for "the stuff that happened to you -- and Dan" and Blaze tells her to "go get the one that's still alive to do your dirty work", by which he means Vengeance. And there are also references to the Fallen.
So this takes place after Siege but before Danny Ketch returns.
George and Marianne Waters are just the people that was watching over the Blaze family while Blaze has been running around with Ghost Rider since the beginning of the Spirits of Vengeance series. That's them in the top scan. They were actually working for Regent too.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showClara Menninger, Craig Blaze, Emma Blaze, George Waters, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Kodiak, Marianne Waters, Roxanne Simpson, Seer, Wolff
Mackie!!! *shakes fist*
Posted by: Piotr W | March 30, 2017 4:12 PM
The way you describe how the Blood is inserted seems to be how most recent comics writers operate. They come up with a concept/new character and in order to add weight to it, insert it into the backstory of an existing character. Constantly dredging up past connections. Mackie was really ahead of his time or a vanguard, depending on your point of view.
Posted by: Wanyas the Self-Proclaimed | March 30, 2017 5:57 PM
Posted by: Morgan Wick | March 30, 2017 6:04 PM
It never made sense to me why Regent or Roxanne thought that he lived up to his part of the deal to cure Johnny- Johnny was cured when one of Centurious's schemes went wrong.
Posted by: Michael | March 30, 2017 7:57 PM
Under the mask of Howard Rourke you can see the face of Bill Sienkiewicz. Ciao from Milan, Italy.
Posted by: CREPASCOLO | March 31, 2017 9:02 AM
So glad I never read this miniseries. I very rarely am able to tolerate "everything you know if a lie" retcons.
Agreed with fnord that the Blood were boring as hell. Caretaker drove me nuts with his habit of dropping tantalizing hints about without ever providing any concrete facts, so I was completely underwhelmed to find out there was a whole secret society of people just like him.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 31, 2017 1:04 PM
Crepascolo beat me to it. I know Sienkiewicz's work, even under the weight of a Mackie script.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | April 2, 2017 3:07 AM
We talked a bit about Howard Rourke/Bill Sienkiewicz in the comments of Namor #39. Both the UHBMCC and the GCD credit Rourke with these issues and the Namor issue. I don't want to update my credits without some kind of confirmation. I mean, Rourke could just be someone who was heavily influenced by Sienkiewicz.
Sienkiewicz was actively doing work for Marvel at this time (e.g. the cover of X-Men Unlimited #3). Anyone know why he'd use a pseudonym for a couple of random inking assignments? Walter Lawson noted the similarity to the name Howard Roark, the Ayn Rand character who refused to compromise his artistic vision, so maybe that's part of the answer.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 3, 2017 8:45 AM
In Italy Blaze: Legacy of Blood #1-4 was published in a black and white tradepaperback and notes about the real mccoy under the pseudonym. It was before Internet for the masses, so I couldn't check the data, but in that days i was sure that Howard was Bill. Maybe Howard Rourke was a team, like the pseudonym "Tex" for Mark Texeira and Kevin Kobasic and Jimmi Palmioti and Steve Debiasi etc Ciao from Milan
Posted by: CREPASCOLO | April 4, 2017 10:49 AM
Thanks CREPASCOLO. Interesting point that it might be a studio/team alias. I think i'll leave the credit as Howard Rourke with a note to see the discussion in the comments.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 4, 2017 1:46 PM
fnord, I asked Bill Sienkiewicz about "Howard Rourke" on Facebook, and he confirmed that it was him. Here is his exact response...
"Yes. I was Howard Rourke. I'm not a Randian by any stretch, but at the time, I needed to use a nom de guerre to avoid a conflict with another client."
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 5, 2017 8:53 AM
Thanks for doing that, Ben. I've updated the credits.
The conflict possibly happened very quickly. I noticed when i was updating the credits for Namor #39 that Sienkiewicz was credited by name on issue #38.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 5, 2017 9:35 AM
Thank you Ben. I remember that even Gene The Dean Colan signed as Adam Austin when at work on Namor.
Posted by: CREPASCOLO | April 7, 2017 6:22 AM
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