Ghost Rider and John Blaze are still on the hunt for Lilith, but she has plans to unleash some of her children on them in an effort to wipe them out. As they hunt she uses Pilgrim’s ability to travel instantly in space to arrive on the door step of her child Skinner. Skinner has moved on in his life, he no longer hunts humans and monsters, and he wants nothing to do with what he thinks is a dead religion. Now he has a family; he has a wife and kids. There is a deeper familial obligation at work when Lilith shows up on his door step.
Lilith commands him to go and hunt Ghosty and Blaze. He eliminates his old family by killing them, and then the hunt is on. Skinner, as far as horror villains go, is pretty interesting. He has a kind of bone spur thing going that allows giant blades to come out of his arms (sort of like Wolverine’s claws), the flesh on his body is another matter though. The whole of his being is his bones, all of his flesh is gathered from the corpses of his victims, with his family being the last bits that he has placed on himself (and his only memento of them). So when John Blaze burns all of the flesh off of Skinner, though Skinner lives he is even more enraged than he was before. The last bits of his murdered family are gone.
Writer Howard Mackie paints a really bleak story here. One that is punctuated by two fathers. Blaze who is trying to save the world and thereby endangering his family, and Skinner who is torn between the Lilin and his new family. Blaze contemplates that maybe the risk that he is putting his family in makes him no different than Skinner. Something that Ghost Rider, in a rare moment of humanity, assures him he is not.
Artist Adam Kubert makes this story pop off of the page. The bones that sprout from Skinner look painful and raw. the rage on Blaze’s face when he realizes that Skinner murdered his own family is palpable. This cover also happens to be one of my favorite Spirits of Vengeance covers. I remember the first time I saw it at the newsstand that I was actually horrified that maybe Ghost Rider and Blaze were defeated in a battle with this new and bulky foe. I really dig the whited out cover look too.