Spirits of Vengeance #3
Issue(s): Spirits of Vengeance #3
Not only that, but we learn that Lilith is deliberately using Nakota as bait.
That seems like important information that readers of the Midnight Sons storyline might want to know. Although i have to admit that when Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze catch up with Nakota in Nightstalkers, not much comes of it. Then again, none of Lilith's plans really seem to work out.
This issue is relevant to the Midnight Sons story even beyond the Nakota chase. You may have noticed that in the second scan above, it's just Ghost Rider chasing her. That's because once again this book has contrived to separate Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze, to focus on Johnny. This time it's because Johhny has to eat. So Ghost Rider continues the chase while Blaze goes to a diner.
Meanwhile, Lilith, with Blackout and Pilgrim, goes to recruit another Lilin. This one is called Skinner, and he must be important because they made a toy of him. Skinner is said to be a hunter of humans and mutants, and the "fiercest" of the Lilin. But he's now settled down with a human woman, and they have a young child. When Pilgrim goes to recruit him, Skinner chases him away, saying, "The legend means nothing to me" in response to hearing that Lilith has returned. But when his chase leads him past Lilith, he immediately stops and pledges loyalty to her. Blackout wonders if they should take his family as hostages to ensure his loyalty, but Skinner instead goes into his house and kills his family.
Skinner is then sent after Johnny Blaze, since it was Blaze that shot Lilith and injured her arm in Darkhold #1. So Skinner attacks Blaze while he's at the diner.
Skinner threatens to kill people in the diner if Blaze doesn't comply with his wishes. But he doesn't want Blaze to just surrender. He wants to hunt him. So he gives Blaze a head start, with a condition that he can't use his mystical motorcycle to flee. Blaze agrees, and flees on foot until he can steal a regular motorcycle from a biker at a nearby bar. Blaze doesn't really try to escape so much as get to a non-civilized area and prepare for battle.
When Skinner arrives, Blaze blasts him with his mystic shotgun, and it blows off all Skinner's skin. Before he seemingly dies, he explains that he had no choice but to obey Lilith, and he killed his family to prevent Lilith from using his son, who would be a half-breed Lilin like Blackout. Before Blaze shoots him, he even says that Lilith will pay for what Skinner has had to do.
But it turns out that Skinner is really just an animated skeleton that wears the flesh of his victims, so he's not really dead.
At this point Ghost Rider returns, since Nakota has been teleported to Boston. Ghost Rider slams Skinner into a tree and Blaze seemingly finishes him off with his shotgun. They then leave for Boston.
After they leave we see that Skinner is still alive.
Howard Mackie makes a vague attempt at character development for Johnny Blaze, having Blaze compare Skinner's treatment of his family to the fact that Blaze has temporarily abandoned his to deal with Lilith. There isn't much too it, though. There isn't much to any of this, which is fine as part of a crossover. The main thing that we learn is about the relationship between Lilith and her Lilin. Which makes it all the more odd that this isn't even technically part of the crossover.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues from Darkhold #1. Ghost Rider and Blaze will be in Boston for Nightstalkers #1.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlackout (Demon), Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Lilith (Demon Mother), Nakota, Noble Kale, Pilgrim, Skinner
Mackie has said that Skinner was his favorite villain from his run on Ghost Rider. It's easy to see why. Monsters are always the scariest when they resemble real human criminals. Skinner is the family annihilator, blaming everyone but himself for murders that he was "forced" to commit, telling anyone who will listen this his crime was an act of mercy. And underneath it all, he's just a monster. It's a pity he wasn't used more by someone like Warren Ellis.
Posted by: Michael | March 5, 2016 2:39 PM
@Michael... Good analysis of Skinner.
Thinking about it, Skinner reminds me of Venom in the first few stories that David Michelinie wrote with him. Every chance he got, Venom would tell anyone within earshot that none of what he was doing was his fault, and everything would have been fine if only Spider-Man hadn't captured the real Sin-Eater and unwittingly exposed Eddie Brock as an incompetent reporter, resulting in him getting fired. So, really, Spider-Man is the one to blame for Venom murdering all of those innocent people, because they all kept getting in the way of him gaining the vengeance he so rightly deserves, and if only Spider-Man would just let himself be killed by Venom, no one else would have to suffer. (Cue me as a reader playing the world's smallest violin.)
The problem with Venom, of course, is that he became so incredibly popular that even though he was quite obviously an insane, delusional murderer, Marvel eventually put a great deal of effort into making him into an anti-hero. At least Howard Mackie never fell into that trap. Whenever he brought back Skinner and had him start reciting his sob story, Ghost Rider or Blaze or someone else would refuse to fall for his act and would call him out on his BS.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 5, 2016 4:07 PM
Well, this issue seems to suggest that the Lilin really have no choice but to obey Lilith. Note that Skinner's behaviour in that matter is similar to Creed's. So, maybe, from his point of view, he really had no choice...
I don't know. Personally, I think that Skinner is a surprisingly interesting villain among Mackie's usually awful creations.
Posted by: Piotr W | March 5, 2016 4:08 PM
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