*** Hulk smashes Laurie Thompson’s puny horn ***
*** Hulk throws confetti made of Superman’s cape ***
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Monday, we’ll announce the lucky winner! (DC fans need not apply ;))
No doubt you’ve heard of Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. Thanks to recent blockbusters, you undoubtedly know about Iron Man, Thor, Captain America. Everyone knows the Hulk. You might even know of Daredevil, courtesy of Ben Affleck (if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t). What about Ghost Rider? Nic Cage fans know about Ghost Rider, a.k.a., Johnny Blaze, justice dealer repped by a flaming skull, who also happens to be the namesake for the character in Laurie Boyle Crompton’s fantastic debut, BLAZE.
Ok, so you might know basic comic-book stuff. But do you know the first comic that Iron Man appeared in? Blaze does (Tales of Suspense #39; note: a mint copy recently sold for $375,000). Do you know which of the above characters are Marvel and which are DC? Hint: if you’re a Marvel girl, like Blaze, you know the Avengers would kick Justice League’s ass, though Kryptonite might be required.Do you know about Numacet, a pink-haired goddess who appears in a single issue early on in the Ghost Rider series? If Blaze didn’t, LBC’s wonderful cover would look a little less striking.
Blazing brighter, did you know there’s a Marvel character named Suicide? Evidently his wife wanted a divorce, which drove him toward suicide, but unable to muster the courage, he made a deal with the devil to give him that courage. Catch was, Suicide could only die at the hands of Johnny Blaze (Ghost Rider), because the devil desired Johnny’s spirit. I’m not quite sure of all the logistics, but ultimately, Suicide doesn’t die. According to Marvel, his whereabouts are unknown.
In many ways, BLAZE is not a story about comic-books. It is a story about a girl taking care of her younger brother while her mother struggles to make ends meet, a girl pining after her estranged father who followed his dreams of acting to New York, a girl yearning after a boy only to have it blow up in her face and ruin her high-school existence.
But in many ways, BLAZE is a comic-book story. Blaze’s vast knowledge of the Marvel universe (and alternate universes) helps her cope with her younger brother and his cretin friends, helps her find the strength to carry her mother through difficult times, helps her shield herself from the cruelty of rumor and gossip. And, ultimately, her comic-book expertise helps her find her inner Blazing Goddess.
Truth be told, I was never a comic book person. I always thought the people who read them were kind of silly. 15-year-olds? Adults? Seriously? This book, particularly the little details that so brought it to life, helped me understand and appreciate that vibrant world in a way no fanboy discussion ever could.
Thank you, Laurie.
PS – Blaze would never have come about if not for Daredevil. You see, the Marvel guys were trying to decide a villain to fight Daredevil and didn’t have anything interesting. Somebody suggested a motorcycle hellion, but they decided he was far too interesting a character to be playing second fiddle, so they made Johnny Blaze a little nicer (emphasis on little) and gave him his own series.