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What Happened to the Metal Mask Johnny Blaze Had to Wear?

This is "Never Gonna Be the Same Again," a feature where I look at how bold, seemingly "permanent" changes were ultimately reversed. This is not a criticism, mind you, as obviously things are always going to eventually return to "normal." That's just how superhero comic books work. It's just fun to see how some of these rather major changes are reversed. This is differentiated from "Abandoned Love," which is when a new writer comes in and drops the plot of the previous writer. Here, we're talking about the writer who came up with the idea being the same one who resolved the change. This is also differentiated from "Death is Not the End," which is about how "dead" characters came back to life, since this is about stuff other than death.

Today, we look at how Johnny Blaze got over having to wear a special armored mask to cover up his scarred face!

Everything started about a year into the rebooted Ghost Rider series (launched by Howard Mackie and Javier Saltares, but the series really took off when Mark Texeira took over as the artist on the title) when we saw a mysterious stranger looking to hunt down the new Ghost Rider.

Well, we eventually learned that that stranger was Johnny Blaze, the previous Ghost Rider, who was trying to stop the new Ghost Rider from haunting another soul. Johnny Blaze could now shoot hellfire through a shotgun. He looked pretty darn cool...

Eventually, he realized that the new Ghost Rider was different from the demon that had possessed him back in his Ghost Rider days and so the two became friendly and even sort of worked as crimefighting partners together. This eventually led to a spin-off series called Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance, with Mackie remaining the writer on the series and Adam Kubert doing the artwork....

Okay, fast forward a year or so (which, for the Marvel horror titles of the early 1990s, typically meant, oh, seven or so crossovers later), Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance had a crossover that involved learning the identity of the NEW Ghost Rider-like being known only as Vengeance.

Anyhow, in Spirits of Vengeance #14 (by Mackie, Mike Manley and Tom Palmer), Blaze was attacked and sliced up really good...

He was then taken away by the bad guys before Ghost Rider could save him...

In Ghost Rider #42 (by Mackie, Ron Garney and Chris Ivy), Johnny is being tortured as the hellfire within him burns him constantly...

Ghost Rider eventually rescues him...

In Spirits of Vengeance #15, Johnny is put into a special machine to heal....

But when the bad guys show up, Johnny can't spend his time healing, he has to get into action....

So Johnny now just wears special armor to protect all the magically scarred parts of his body, including a special metal mask to cover up his scarred face...

Eventually, the series came to an end with Spirits of Vengeance #23 (art by Henry Martinez and Bud LaRosa), as Mackie was finished with the series. Blaze decides to restart the traveling carnival that he had spent time in back in his stunt driving days...

Larry Hama took over as the book was relaunched as simply Blaze.

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