The Blazing Skull

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #5 (March 1941).
Golden Age Appearances: Mystic Comics #5-9.
Modern Apperance: Avengers #97, Invaders v2 #2-4, Midnight Sons Unlimited #9, Marvels #1, Avengers Forever #1, 4 #1.
Dates Active: 1937-?

In 1937 Mark Todd, a newspaper reporter, went to China to cover the second Sino-Japanese War. While there something happened to him, and he encountered the "Skull Men," who taught him "much of their marvelous lore." No further information about his origin was given during the Golden Age, so the source of his powers were never shown. He used these powers, which included superstrength and an invulnerability to flame, to fight evil and the Axis powers.

In Avengers #97 he was conjured up from Rick Jones' brain to fight against the Skrulls, but was only a mental construct, rather than the real thing. In Invaders v2 he was shown fighting alongside the Invaders against the Battle Axis, and was made an honorary member of the Invaders. In Midnight Sons Unlimited #9 the Skull was shown as being active in 1945, when he fought alongside the Union Jack (II) and the Destroyer against the Iron Cross. That issue revealed that while covering Japan's war on China Todd had been caught in the open during a Japanese artillery barrage. Todd sought refuge in a nearby cave, only to find that it was the home of the "Skull Men," a group of figures with flaming skulls. The Skull Men told Todd that he'd been chosen by the "Forces of Destiny" to champion their beliefs (freedom, liberty, etc). In the modern day his niece, Voletta Todd, fought Ms. Marvel as "Ion." His name is being carried on by Skull the Slayer, who uses a power belt to fight evil as Blazing Skull (II).

The Blazing Skull originally had superstrength (but did not during the Invaders series or in the Midnight Sons issue), was invulnerable to flame, and, as usual, was good with his fists.

Note: There is a persistent myth that the Blazing Skull was an early Ghost Rider. The cover of Midnight Sons Unlimited #9 calls the Skull "Ghost Rider 1945," but the story contains nothing that links the Blazing Skull to the Spirits of Vengeance which fuel the Ghost Rider. In fact, the only possible link between the two appears in Mystic Comics #5, when the Blazing Skull, being whipped by an Adolph Hitler analogue, rants at pseudo-Hilter that his regime will be stopped by  "the millions of innocents you have killed!  Their ghosts---their memory will rise to those left behind, and they will crush you." This is, to my way of thinking, extremely slim evidence for any sort of link, but others disagree.

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