Blaze #4

Issue Date: 
November 1994
Story Title: 
Apache Autumn: part 1

Larry Hama (writer), Henry Martinez (pencils), Bud Larosa (inks), John Kalisz (colors), Bill Oakley (letters), Bobbie Chase (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Johnny has been defeated by a huge, white-furred creature and lies unconscious on the ground. He suddenly sees a hallucinations. They include his adversary, Icebox Bob, who taunts him and has Johnny see a Wendigo creature taking off with his missing children, Craig and Emma. However, Bob, posing as the sun in Johnny’s hallucinations, claims that the kids were actually kidnapped by someone named Ratcheeb. Johnny gets to fight this being, but doesn’t really recognize him but does seem to know about him. Johnny gets back to normal, but finds himself being surrounded by Wyatt Wingfoot and Warpath! They at first suspect Johnny to be trespassing their tribal grounds, but later suspect that he might be of some help in their case. Warpath has also seen a hallucination of himself taking off with a kid whom Wyatt is investigating, because that kid’s parents had been brutally murdered and he is the sole survivor of it. Johnny believes that someone else can help them with this case as well. He tries to convince Clara to help them out, but she doesn’t control her powers anymore and fails they are starting to corrupt her very soul. However, Wyatt knows a way to use the powers without endangering Clara. They got to his temporary home, and use a basket and jar his grandmother gave him to find out more. Johnny freaks out when he sees his enemies and missing kids, and the plan fails. Wyatt gets contacted by the local police, who are trying to rescue hostages from a mystical werewolf. Johnny, Warpath and Wyatt rush to the place. While Wyatt talks to the defending officers, Warpath and Johnny rush into action. They find the hostages dead and the werewolf manages to escape. Johnny and Warpath follow it, and discover that the creature is powering up so that he can permanently stay on Earth!

Full Summary: 

Johnny lies defeated on the ground, and all kinds of snakes are crawling on him. Johnny recalls that he came to this godforsaken place in search of his children. He vows that he can never forget about that, even if the sun is in his face like a Bessemer furnace. Even if all the lizards, snakes, armadillos and now spiders keep crowding his face. Even if something big, hairy and ugly is coming his way and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop, he vows he can never forget about his kids.

A big, giant and white foot steps on Johnny’s stomach. It’s the Wendigo! And… he has Craig and Emma with him? Johnny is confused, especially when he notices the Wendigo wandering off, holding hands with his kids. He desperately calls out to them, but they don’t seem to hear him. Johnny gathers his strength and gets back up again, and throws all the animals off of him. He stares in the sky, and suddenly, the sun starts speaking to him?!

The sun mocks Johnny, wondering how he is going to save his kids. He wonders if he’s going to save them like he saved Holden Blevins. Johnny jokes this is great: now the sun is talking to him with the voice of Icebox Bob! He encourages himself to get a grip, and not to lose track of the reason why he came there. He tries to remember that none of what he is seeing is real. The sun gets an evil look on its face, correcting Johnny that everything is real around here. Even the plants turn evil and are ready to eat him! The sun claims that everything is real enough to stop Johnny’s clock. It states that Icebox Bob is real. And that Holden Blevins was real as well. The plants mock that Johnny was wrong.

Johnny angrily screams at Icebox Bob that he’s dead, and he won’t be distracted from what he has to do. He won’t be stopped from saving his own kids. While driving on his flamed bike, Johnny shouts that he saw what Blevins did to Bob. The sun claims that he isn’t a bother to Johnny anymore. The sun claims that it’s now just a shadow of his former self, but states that there are other people hereabouts he believes Johnny would best be fretting about. Like the Ratcheeb, for example. A giant arm, belonging to Ratcheeb, grabs Johnny and starts crushing him.

The sun claims that Ratcheeb is the one who kidnapped Johnny’s children. Johnny doesn’t even know who that is. The sun sarcastically smiles that Johnny will soon find that out. An evil, black-tanned body materializes. With an evil voice, Ratcheeb is glad to finally meet Blaze. Johnny believes that the voice he hears sounds familiar, but he can’t place the face. Ratcheeb realizes Johnny doesn’t recognize him in his current form. But, he taunts Johnny that he doesn’t have to worry, as he’ll find out soon enough. Johnny uses his strength to release himself, and starts shooting.

Ratcheeb drops him. Johnny jokes that he would rather never meet the guy, joking he’ll forgo the pleasure. But, he adds, Ratcheeb can go right ahead and have himself a whole face of Hellfire! Johnny starts shooting at him again. But on that moment, he gets knocked down. A voice explains that Johnny is trespassing on Tribal property. He claims that this is a federal trap. Johnny apologizes for it, promising to be on his way the very next minute. The voice grabs Johnny by his clothes, defending that isn’t good enough and wants him gone this instant. And he’ll also promises to march Johnny down to the Tribal police or the Arizona State troopers. Johnny turns back to normal and sees that he’s being grabbed by a strong man with the name of… Warpath?!

Wyatt Wingfoot tries to calm James down, thinking that perhaps Johnny has a good reason for being in Spirit Kiva. James believes that Wyatt has gone soft on their people, believing that Johnny was more than likely poaching artifacts, or maybe he is even the person they are looking for. Johnny defends that he was called to this place. He sat down there in the dark and had himself a vision. Warpath doesn’t buy that, but does want to know what kinds of visions Johnny saw.

Johnny explains he saw the killer with the ice pick, he saw the thing with no face that lurks in the darkness and he saw the Wendigo walking across the desert leading his two missing kids. James tells Wyatt that, apparently, Blaze saw it too. Wyatt tells James to put Johnny down. Wyatt believes they have to talk, but first, he has something he thinks Johnny should see. Johnny’s got the feeling this isn’t going to be a party.

Warpath and Wyatt lead Johnny to a demolished room. Wyatt explains that the investigators of the crime left it pretty much the way they found it. It doesn’t even make the slightest of sense to bother of cleaning the place up. He adds that this place is just the latest in a series of grisly murders in this reservation. The local counsel asked Wyatt to come out there from Okalahoma to help keep the panic down. Johnny notices a lot of black stuff in the room. Wyatt states that’s blood and has been baking into the sun for a week now. Johnny picks up a broken Spider-Man figure, and fears the worst.

James adds that the tribal police found the parts of three kids in there, as well as two adults and a dog. Wyatt continues to say that the only problem is that Jimmy and Shirley Pinto had four kids. The five year-old, Jesse, disappeared without a trace. Warpath states that those facts add why he is here: he was catching a few winks back at his X-Force headquarters over at Camp Verde, when he started to have a spirit encounter. He saw the Wendigo, clear as everything. He was leading an Indian boy by the hand, and it was Jesse Pinto. James identified the boy later when seeing his family photo. The two of them walked right past James like he wasn’t there, and right out through the opposite wall of his bedroom!

Wyatt concludes that now they have both James and Johnny both seeing missing children. He wonders what that means. Johnny angrily states that he doesn’t know, but he does know someone who they can ask it to.

Later, at the Trading Post…

Johnny begs Clara for help, because this is really important and he believes that her mystic eyes might be able to help them. Clara panics and corrects Johnny that he doesn’t understand. Her powers are beginning to possess and change her and bend her on their own ways. And she knows that there is something hidden about those powers, something that may be horribly evil. Johnny defends that it’s for his kids he’s asking the help. It’s for Emma and Craig, and now also this Jesse boy. Wyatt understands Clara’s concerns, but he asks her what she is going to do if there is a way to access the Power of the Eye, which she possesses, without endangering herself. Clara admits to Johnny that she is afraid for her very soul.

Outside the bar, Princess Python is eavesdropping on the conversation, but gets busted. But Pyton doesn’t care about the guy and tells him to mind his own business.

Later, at home of Wyatt from the Tribal council…

Everyone goes to sit in a circle. Wyatt shows a basket, mentioning that it was given to him by his grandmother. He explains that it has powers that are far from beyond his comprehension, but he suspects that it is a focal point to channel mystic energies. Clara doesn’t understand how that’s going to help them use her powers. Wyatt would like to see what would happen if they’d place the jar with the Eyes inside the basket. Clara only hesitantly agrees to try it out.

They go for it. Wyatt places a green jar on his basket. Suddenly, the entire room is filled with light. The light is so intense that it makes the blazing Arizona sun seem pale and cold! Wyatt feels like his eyeballs are being seared. Warpath reminds him that it’s just the mists of the worldly illusion burning away and, suddenly, everyone finds themselves floating over a desert landscape! Warpath states that everything that they can see is open to interpretation.

Johnny recognizes that this desert is the same landscape he saw in the Sacred Kiva! And he also spots the Wendigo! Warpath notices that Wendigo is holding something strange. It looks like some sort of tongs. Ice tongs to be precise! Johnny gets furious as he knows who they belong to: Icebox Bob! Bob reveals himself, while sitting in a charged-up electrical chair. He admits that the tongs belong to him. And he wants them back, so he can use them to bang them on Johnny’s head. Johnny tries to attack Bob, but Wyatt tries to hold him back, reminding Johnny that all this is just an illusion.

He adds that all of this is just a glimpse into a different sort of reality. They have to sort out what they see and try to make it fit into their own world. Carla notices butterflies coming out of a portal and wants to know what they mean. Wyatt admits that the butterflies represent souls. But he doesn’t know what kinds of souls they are. He wonders if they are bright singing spirits soaring into the light, or are they something else altogether? The butterflies gather into one point, and transform into Ratcheeb! He proudly declares that the souls are tasty, but sarcastically jokes that he has a few souls left he’s saving for a special occasion. Namely the souls of Jesse, Craig and Emma. The devil-like creature starts to laugh and Johnny rushes to beat him up.

Warpath tackles him, and everything turns back to normal. He explains to Johnny that he’s supposed to learn from the spirit vision, and not go running amok against it. Johnny calms down and James lets him back up. But he doesn’t know if he can keep working with Johnny and Wyatt, since he’s a loner. The phone rings. Wyatt enters it, and is startled to hear there has been another murder, this time at the Trading Post. And the caller thinks that the murderer is still inside it?!

They rush to the Post. Johnny asks Wyatt if he knows the local top cop. Wyatt admits that he does, and explains that the officer’s name is Tyrell Manhunter. He believes that’s an appropriate name. They arrive at the Post and meet up with Manhunter and his other men. Johnny explains to Tyrell that his two companions have a special interest in this case and may have an inside track on what’s going on here. He adds that this is spirit world stuff.

Manhunter isn’t surprised to hear that. He adds that he’s got himself a situation here, and doesn’t want it to go haywire, but the council told him to corporate with Wyatt and his friends so that’s what Tyrell is going to do. He thinks they’ve got a “make” on the guy inside the building. They believe it’s Daryll Licht, who is a graduate student over the State University. He was doing a paper on the “dark side of shamanism in Native American cultures of the Southwest.” Manhunter shows a picture of Daryll, and adds that the boy has been staying at the motel on the highway, coming around asking questions. The police went over to see the Pinto family quite a bit because Shirley was a big-time medicine man. They searched Licht’s room and found a broken action figure of Magneto.

Johnny wanders off, wanting to have a word with Licht before the officers fire upon him and he won’t be able to anymore. Manhunter tries to hold him back, but Johnny ignores him. Tyrell agrees to let Johnny try it his way but warns him to be careful, as there are also three hostages to warn about. Warpath wished that Manhunter had said that earlier, and goes with Johnny. They enter the building, and it’s completely ruined. It looks like Daryll is out of control. James wants to know where the boy is though, but Johnny is more interested in finding the hostages.

Suddenly, black blood drips on Johnny’s shoulder. A corpse falls down from the ceiling, and Warpath notices the two other hostages dead as well. Johnny takes out his gun, immediately wanting to find Licht. A huge werewolf steps forward, declaring that Licht is no more as his spirit now walks on a higher plane! Johnny suspects that Licht must have summon up this creature, but the wolf attacks him. The wolf calls Johnny a fool, claiming that this is the reward of the Trickster, for all the scalps and tasty livers he gave him. The wolf claims that he has been remade and has been given the power of a herd of buffalo! He now has a voice of thunder and the heart of a rattlesnake.

The wolf rushes through the building and makes it outside, and the officers start shooting at it. But their bullets don’t do much good and the wolf keeps fighting his way through. Johnny understands what’s going on: Licht didn’t summon this thing; he made some sort of deal with a mystic entity, and in exchange got transformed into an escapee from an Apache nightmare! Light destroys all of the officers’ cars and runs away.

Johnny decides to follow him on his bike. He knows that Licht thinks he’s pretty tough now, but Johnny knows that the guy hasn’t messed with Hellfire before! Warpath wants to join Johnny, as he wants a piece of the action as well. That’s fine by Johnny, but James will have to keep up because he won’t slow down his ride for him. That’s no problem for James, who jokes that he might even beat the guy to Licht’s hideout because he can run really fast. Wyatt wants to go after the two, but Clara doesn’t think so, realizing that this is something Johnny and Warpath have to deal with themselves.

As they rush over the desert again, Warpath claims that he never heard of a story before where the trickster did anything like this. He doesn’t think this is the style of the trickster. Bats gather together over their heads, and Johnny hallucinates about Ratcheeb again, and panics. He quickly gets himself back together. He believes that any wielding entity can call himself the Trickster, or coyote, or Fin Fang Foom for that matter. He also believes that, whatever this thing is they have to deal with, Johnny believes that it duped Licht, posing as the mystic force that Licht wanted to believe in. He believes the creature is using Licht to gain a foothold on Earth, and it looks like it’s succeeding.

Warpath and Johnny stop in horror, as they can see the wolf using his powers to enlarge himself!

Characters Involved: 

Johnny Blaze


Wyatt Wingfoot

Clara Menniger

Princess Python

Daryll Licht

Tyrell Manhunter and his officers

throughout several hallucinations and flashbacks:

Johnny Blaze




Icebox Bob (talking as the sun)

Craig and Emma Blaze (Johnny’s children)

Jesse Pinto (missing child)

talking, devouring plants and several animals (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

This issue is to read before X-Force (1st series) #40.

Johnny’s confrontation with Holden Blevins and what Holden did to Icebox Bob can be found in Blaze #3.

More about the basket Wyatt received from his grandmother is delineated in the She-Hulk: Ceremony limited series.

Fin Fang Foom is the extra-terrestrial dragon-like creature that first appeared in Strange Tales (1st series) #89.

Issue Information: 
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