Spirits of Vengeance #1
Issue(s): Spirits of Vengeance #1
Adam Kubert is Andy's older brother. This is his first real work at Marvel (he co-penciled or inked some issues of Conan with his brother, and he did a couple of pin-ups and covers prior to this), but he'd been working at DC and elsewhere since the mid-80s.
This book will be a joint Ghost Rider/Blaze book, but since Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider have already been hanging around together, that's not much of a distinction right now so this just feels like another issue of Ghost Rider. It begins with the two getting chased out of New York by the police. Blaze nearly gets shot, and, even though he's mainly played the voice of reason to Ghost Rider's exclusiveness, he turns around and shoots back at the cops, forgetting that he has a magic hellfire gun.
They manage to rescue all the cops and still get away. Blaze then says he's never going to use the shotgun again, but Ghost Rider uses his penance stare to share the vision that he and Danny Ketch had about Lilith (apparently he can do that?).
Blaze agrees to help, but he wants to go home to "regroup" first.
Meanwhile, the plot of this event really kicks off with the actual arrival of Lilith. A pair of scientists are in northern Greenland, "the land of the midnight sun", where they find the frozen remains of a giant leviathan. As they are examining it, a hand tears its way out.
Marvel already had a Lilith (Dracula's daughter), but this one has more in common with the character from Jewish myth in that she's the mother of demons (which in Marvel's version are called the Lilin). My trade has a mini-interview with Bobbie Chase and the writers of the books involved in Rise of the Midnight Sons, and it's said that they initially considered alternate spellings like Lylyth and Lii'l'th and the like. The nerd in me wishes they went with something like that to distinguish her from Dracula's daughter, but the rest of me hates names like that and is glad they stuck with something basic.
Both of the scientists are killed, and Lilith then uses the entrails of the leviathan to tell the future, and she learns that Blaze and Ghost Rider will be responsible for killing the Lilin. So like any good character faced with a prophecy they don't like, she sets about trying to prevent it while actually making it possible. She summons her first Lilin, a teleporter named Pilgrim.
They then go to another called Creed, who has a weird ability to teleport without his head, although the art doesn't exactly make it as clear as i'd like.
Creed seems less demonic than the others in terms of his attitude. He'll later say that he's only following Lilith out of familial obligation.
Lilith catches Blackout listening in on her conversation with Creed, but Blackout pledges loyalty to her. It's suggested that he's not a direct Lilin (i.e. not one of her children), but he is part of her lineage.
Meanwhile, Ghost Rider follows Blaze home to his traveling circus, the Quentin Carnival, which is currently in Rhode Island. We see that Red Fowler, from the original Ghost Rider series, is still with Blaze.
And we see Roxanne Simpson (now Blaze) and the kids, Craig and Emma.
And we see more of Clara Menninger, the clairvoyant that was seen previously in Ghost Rider #27.
Clara tells Blaze that he needs to seek out allies in the fight against Lilith (the casts of the other books that are being introduced with this Rise of the Midnight Sons event). Similar to when he wanted to give up his shotgun, Blaze rejects the idea of getting involved in the quest, saying that he's not a superhero.
Blaze then goes and visits the rest of the carnies that are part of his troupe.
Not all of these characters will get featured in this series. The guy in the blue with the glasses is Eli McIntyre, who is kind of a magical tinkerer, and he's relatively important. As is Wolff, a violent dwarf that will eventually turn out to be immortal (the MCP spell his name with two Fs, and i'm following that since it helps distinguish him from the Team America character, but in this issue, at least, it's spelled with one). Two other characters appearing here, George and Marianne Waters, merit a character listing at the MCP (and here), but only have a handful of appearances (Johnny Blaze's family is shipped off with them for safe keeping during this crisis, and basically throughout this series). None of the other characters seen in this issue get a tag, but other members of the Quentin Carnival with some significance will show up in later issues.
Anyway, Blaze might have stuck with the idea that he didn't want to get involved, but the Lilin show up to kidnap Craig.
So Blaze goes with Ghost Rider to get his kid back.
Creed's orders were to just kill one of Lilith's future opponents. Creed was willing to just kill Ghost Rider and leave Blaze alone, but Blaze doesn't agree with that.
Creed is actually happy with being killed.
Blackout has been powered up by Lilith, but he still doesn't seem to be a match for Ghost Rider (who, note, has found a justification for why it would be ok to kill Blackout now), and Pilgrim teleports him back to Lilith.
Lilith decides that they need to recruit more Lilin. And Blaze agrees to help Ghost Rider head back to New York to find the first of the allies that Clara saw (Clara has directed them to Martine Bancroft, who we know is Morbius' ex-fiancee). And at the end, Dr. Strange is hanging out with Clara like he was hanging out with Caretaker in the first chapter.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part two of Rise of the Midnight Sons. Part three is in Morbius #1. But Ghost Rider and Blaze actually appear in Ghost Rider #29 next.
Crossover: Rise of the Midnight Sons
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Rise of the Midnight Sons TPB
Inbound References (4): showBlackout (Demon), Clara Menninger, Craig Blaze, Dr. Strange, Eli McIntyre, Emma Blaze, George Waters, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Lilith (Demon Mother), Marianne Waters, Noble Kale, Pilgrim, Red Fowler, Roxanne Simpson, Wolff
Just wat da world kneeds, Howard Mackie running another title right down to da ground.
Posted by: JC | March 4, 2016 5:28 PM
With all these Midnight Sons titles spun off from Ghost Rider, Marvel was answering a question no one was asking: How much blood can you get from a turd?
Posted by: Robert | March 4, 2016 5:45 PM
Fnord, reading your summary of this issue, and looking at the scans of you posted, it actually took me until the very end to realize that, yes, I actually did buy this issue when it first came out. And, y'know, except for the bit where Lilith is discovered in Antarctica in the stomach of a giant prehistoric fish, I remember practically NOTHING about Spirits of Vengeance #1. It really made that little of an impression upon me.
The only other thing I can think of to say about this one is that a phrenologist would probably have a field day examining Lilith :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 5, 2016 12:40 AM
The scene with Lilith emerging from the leviathan is one of very few good things about this event...
Posted by: Piotr W | March 5, 2016 4:11 PM
The MCP (but not the OHOTMU) credits Lilith's first appearance as the final short backup feature in the April 1974 issue of ''Vampire Tales'' (issue #4). It is a single page recapping the mythological origin of Lilith as Adam's first wife, who craved equality with him but was denied it. Vindictive angels then killed her children and ousted her from paradise, at which point she began to devolve into a demon. I certainly get why this wouldn't count as a canonical appearance in terms of this project, but it's cool to imagine this being the same Lilith, because it makes her such a tragic figure... Here's the page from Vampire Tales #4 - http://readcomiconline.to/Comic/Vampire-Tales/Issue-4?id=92394#62
Posted by: Lyde1848 | April 9, 2018 3:12 PM
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