SIEGE OF DARKNESS: Ghost Rider Universe Event (1993-1994): Darkhold series ends; Johnny Blaze dies

Time for a big event. After all, it’s been 30 days since the last one.

Okay, let’s get this over with.  I’ve been postponing it—dreading it—because these Ghost Rider extended universe stories are almost always really bad and really drawn out.  And this one is famously so.

But it’s time.

Seventeen issues–and that’s not counting the prequel Silver Sable tie-in and the epilogue comics, which are covered elsewhere but also under the Siege of Darkness Tag.

The event does kill a pretty major character and ends one ongoing title, so it is important. Even if the dude comes back to life fairly soon after.

There was even a trading card set devoted to it (above). These are the relevant issues for this post:

  • Darkhold #15-16
  • Doctor Strange #60-61
  • Ghost Rider #44-46
  • Marvel Comics Presents #143-146
  • Morbius #16-17
  • Nightstalkers #14-15
  • Spirits of Vengeance #17-18

It starts with Nightstalkers #14, which is a weird place to begin an event because it is probably the least known of the three books.  Start it in Ghost Rider, which is the best-selling of all these books, and then move to the crappy ones.  A rising tide lifts all boats, after all.

Anyway, as the story starts in Nightstalkers #14, it jumps immediately into action—a fight between Johnny Blaze and Blade.

This fight has nothing to do with the event.  Blaze is mad because of Blade’s actions during Midnight Massacre, where he killed/tried to kill several Midnight Sons.  Of course, this gets resolved quickly and we move on to what’s really going on: The team is assembling to investigate whether Lilith and her Lilin are really dead, after the events in Road To Vengeance.  (And, of course, they are not.)

So, already there are two events that are leading to this event.

The large cast breaks into teams. Well, that was easy. On to Ghost Rider #44.

Did I mention that these books all have “special” covers that are hard to see? Hm.

Danny Ketch’s team figures out that Lilith is still alive, and fight a bunch of Lilin. Also showing up: Zarathos, the demon who possessed Johnny Blaze to make him the Ghost Rider.

The two have been battling for control of Danny Ketch for a while across the Midnight Sons family of books.

Doc Strange is guiding the teams in the background, and he’s looking mighty buff.

His muscular body is just like everyone else in the 1990s, where the hard groundwork laid by great artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko deteriorates into “everybody looks the same, and they’re all on steroids.”

By the end of GR#44, we know that Zarathos and Lilith are competing for control of the medallion that Centurious used to contain Zarathos a long time ago–and they believe it will enable them to control the Danny Ketch version of Ghost Rider.

And now we move to Marvel Comics Presents #143. Because why not stick an 8-page story included in a 4-story anthology? It’s about getting all the money, people. It does add something to the overall story: The team becomes aware that one of the Midnight Sons is a traitor. The information comes from an overweight demon who Vengeance addresses insensitively…

On to Book of the Darkhold #15: Another one of the three teams fights Modred and some Lilin.  Really, nothing else matters here. Let’s keep moving.

In Morbius #16, we see a bunch of heroes hanging out at Dr. Strange’s house, where they argue and in-fight. 

Okay: The best of the lot is Doctor Strange. David Quinn begins his really good run as part of this event. That can’t have been easy.

In Dr. Strange #60, the Lilin attack the Sanctum Sanctorum while the heroes are still arguing from last issue. To protect his secrets, Strange blows up his own house.

But the heroes are OK.  Strange teleports them away.

During the fight, Sister Nil–one of the Lilin–kills Wong’s significant other, Imei Chang. That’s pretty major. Nil has the power to make people see visions of their past. She’ll be a minor character during Quinn’s Strange run.

As the Sanctum explodes, Strange teleports the heroes into the middle of a fight for Spirits of Vengeance #17.

In the last few pages, the Medallion is destroyed, Lilith and her Lilin are exiled to another dimension, seemingly leaving Zarathos without allies and without a purpose (he really wanted that medallion!).  But by the last page, the Lilin are replaced by a brand new set of demons called “The Fallen.”  (We also meet “The Blood,” who are a group of demons dedicated to fighting The Fallen and who work with Caretaker.).

With the medallion destroyed, you’d think the event would end. But….No. It’s one of many “false endings” in this event.  I suppose this “fake out” was supposed to be a twist or build suspense, but it just reminds the reader that this event goes on for far too long.  There might have been enough “meat” in it for 8 issues.  But 18 is simply ridiculous.

Besides the big fight: Lilith and Zarathos have sex. Finally! It’s been like Sam and Diane!

I notice that many demons in the early ’90s are females who fuck people.

On to Nightstalkers #15 where…I’ll be honest, nothing happens. Ditto Ghost Rider #45. These issues introduce and “develop” members of The Blood/The Fallen, but both groups will disappear after this event. It’s just a bunch of fights against the Fallen, who are recruiting vampires to support Zarathos.

The teams disperse and seek out members of the Fallen.

This is as good a place as any to cover the Marvel Comics Presents tie-ins.

In issues #143-144, Ketch and friends continue to fight Zarathos and the LIlin.  Werewolf by Night helps some trick-or-treaters who get possessed and, in a rather gruesome scene, eat a woman.

Note that they’re dressed to loosely look like Jonah Hex, Flash, Superman, and Swamp Thing.

Scarlet Witch and Wasp fight some cyber monsters and possessed fashion demons because, of course, they’re chicks.  It’s drawn by Charlie “Walking Dead” Adlard and it’s covered separately, here, because it’s not clearly a tie-in to the event.

We also get a one-shot, 8-page check in with Devil Slayer, who we haven’t seen in a bit.  Apparently he’s become an alcoholic and the demonic Lilin literally come out of his bottles  Demon in a bottle.  Get it?  Ugh. 

On to #145-146.  The character Caretaker, who has been a deus ex machina for Ghost Rider since the Danny Ketch reboot, is killed.  Odd for this to happen in an anthology issue, but it’s about time.

Meanwhile, Victoria Montesi is suicidal because she’s pregnant with a demon.  This may seem important, but just wait until you read Darkhold #16, where we find the single best thing to come out of Siege of Darkness: Darkhold ends!

But it ends with a cliffhanger:

Yeah, their story will continue in the Midnight Sons comic—but hey, one down is a good thing!

Anyway, Victoria has angst over her demon pregnancy.

Note that the above page ties a bunch of short Marvel Comics Presents stories into the Siege event–stories that weren’t clearly linked based on their content. I guess another positive thing is having several Siege of Darkness stories in each issue of Marvel Comics Presents. I haven’t seen them use an anthology like this before–to tell, in a single issue, multiple stories that show aspects of an event from the points of view of various characters. For example, Morbius fights off the influence of his Lilin-possessor that turns him into Bloodthirst.  Blade hunts him down, and that story is told in the crossover issues of Marvel Comics Presents.

Another of the stories in Marvel Comics Presents #146 focused on Salome. Nightmare is in it, too, but his appearance doesn’t really matter. Salome is an emotional vampire who can seduce people using their own dark sides.

She’s going to be important in David Quinn’s Doctor Strange run.

And speaking of Victoria Montesi being pregnant, there’s this really weird sequence between her and Dr. Strange.

It looks like soft porn.  And it ends with a mystical abortion.

How odd.

As the story continues, it’s largely the same thing we saw from the Zarathos/Lilith team up, only now Z’s with the Fallen instead of Lilith.  And Devil Slayer joins the main action, out of his story in MCP.  He’s a character I’ve always liked, in spite of the fact that he’s rarely used to good effect, so for me this is a positive.

Salome also gets involved.

Actually, it’s because she’s part of a larger story being cooked by writer David Quinn. Again, his run on Strange will be good.

The final battle finally begins and, in the penultimate chapter of this story, Danny Ketch is killed.

Yes, that is actually something that matters.  It almost makes the final issue of this saga irrelevant.  (And why did Ghost Rider die in Spirits of Vengeance, not his own book?)

Anyway, in the very end, Zarathos is defeated and the fallen are routed (did you expect any different?).  But there are quite a few “important” outcomes.  Of course, they’re later undone.  But for now, the status quo is changed.

First, Vengeance takes over the lead role in the Ghost Rider comic for a while.  Issue #46 is an epilogue to the event that sets up this new vision for the book.

Second, Dr. Strange is homeless and hiding in a pocket dimension from Salome, who now dominates Earth’s magical aspects.

Also, Lilith is revealed as still alive.  After all that, there was no real conclusion for her.

Finally, Doctor Strange’s personality is split in two.

Masked Strange appears in the last few issues of this event, but we’ll learn later that his “other side” is also loose in the world, and the two must be reunited.

And, at last, that’s it.

Overall grade is a D+.  I’ve said above that David Quinn’s Doctor Strange run is pretty good–well above average. It’s sad that he had to build his first issues into this story. This is just a ridiculously long event with tons of filler and, at bottom, there isn’t really much of a compelling story here.

Darkhold: Chris Cooper and Rurik Tyler
Ghost Rider: Howard Mackie, Ron Garney
Marvel Comics Presents: Darkhold: Chris Cooper, Reggie Jones.  Devil Slayer: Jonathan Babcock, Darren Auck.  Dr. Strange:David Quinn, Geof Isherwood
Ghost Rider: Chris Cooper, Reggie Jones.  Morbius: Gregory Wright, M.C. Wyman. Nightstalkers: Steven Grant, Lawrence Brown.  Scarlet Witch/Wasp: Cefn Ridout, Charles Adlard.  Werewolf: Len Kaminski, James Fry.
Morbius: Gregory Wright and Isaac Cordova
Nightstalkers: Steven Grant and Andrew Wildman.

1 thought on “SIEGE OF DARKNESS: Ghost Rider Universe Event (1993-1994): Darkhold series ends; Johnny Blaze dies”

  1. Whatever that was that went down between Strange and Victoria Montesi in re the demon abortion is the weirdest thing I have ever seen in a funnybook. It’s weird, it’s borderline-disturbing, and it did not belong in a mainstream American comic-book. I know Marvel considers itself the trail-blazer in the field of comics, but this type of material is why we need the Comics Code Authority: Sometimes, just sometimes, the Big Two need to be regulated. Speaking of Strange, his new “buff” look is totally contrary to who he is. Dr. Strange is a sorcerer who spends his time learning spells, studying the arcane arts, and gazing into his crystal ball. He is NOT an athlete of ANY sort. There is no doubt in my mind that Trusty Manservant Wong hasn’t given Doc some extensive ( and necessary ) instruction into some basic Kung Fu/self-defense, in case he ever finds himself in a situation or environment where his sorcery won’t function, but even that wouldn’t explain the Captain America-buff physique that he’s rocking in this storyarc. Dr. Strange is a gaunt man, as per his original design by Steve Ditko. It’s who he is, like Fred J. Dukes is obese. It’s who he is. As for the Early Nineties trend of female demons ( demonesses ) running around getting impregnated…….. well……that’s not an “Early Nineties” thing, at all! Demonesses are ALWAYS trying to get knocked up, because they’re demonesses, and that’s what demonesses DO! It’s how they replenish their stock, just like any OTHER species!! Sister Nil may be a demoness, but at least she’s a durn CUTE one!! I could almost- ALMOST- be willing to “help the ol’ girl out”, knowhutimean-???!!! And, lastly, as to Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch’s “passings”, well……. I’m sure they got better. Don’t ALL “dead” funnybook characters-??!! Sheesh. Oh, a final note on Dr. Strange’s look: If Marvel wants their Sorcerer Supreme to be more physically imposing, why not let him go back to that cool look he rocked in the Late Sixties, with the full-face cowl, and the gauntlets and superhero-trunks??? Sure, it was just an illusion-spell- Doc was actually just as skinny as ever, under that illusion- but it was very impressive, and necessary, considering Doc’s line of work. ( think Batman/striking fear into the hearts of evildoers, etc. ) I thought it was cool. Interesting how the readership of the time voted it out. Oh well. No accounting for taste!


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