PopCultHQ received an advance review copy of COSMIC GHOST RIDER (2018) #1 from Marvel Comics. Available July 4th, 2018, the creative team for this series features writing from Donny Cates, art from Dylan Burnett, colors by Antonio Fabela, and lettering from Clayton Cowles.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s review of…
COSMIC GHOST RIDER (2018) #1
Published: July 04, 2018
Rating: Rated T+
EXPLODING FROM THE PAGES OF THANOS! Frank Castle was the Punisher. A deal with the devil made him Ghost Rider. A deal with Galactus made him cosmic. A deal with Thanos made him…DEAD?!? Not to worry, he’s coming back, and he’s got a plan to make the universe a better place that’s going to lead him into an even CRAZIER adventure than he’s ever been in! Join hot new comic (and cosmic?) writer Donny Cates (THANOS, DOCTOR STRANGE) as he pushes his wildest creation past the breaking point!
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
Cosmic Ghost Rider #1
It’s been a fun weekend, I had the chance to read Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 and digest over a few days before writing about it for today. Cosmic Ghost Rider. Where do we begin? Coming off the heels of the Thanos Wins story arc in the current Thanos series, a future incarnation of Thanos who defeats everyone has a right hand enforcer, The Cosmic Ghost Rider. For a while, the identity of the Cosmic Ghost Rider was a mystery until it was revealed to be Frank Castle. Of course, Cosmic Ghost Rider meets his end by the end of the story, but his own story has just begun!
Frank’s long road traveled:
We all know the story: Frank Castle, decorative Marine, comes home to see his family slain in the middle of a drug deal gone wrong. He becomes the Punisher to wage war on the criminal underworld…but what you may not know…is he died. He went to Hell and he made a deal with Mephisto to become the new Spirit of Vengeance (he even got a suped-up motorcyle with guns!) and then he went insane as the Spirit of Vengeance. He was chosen to become the next Herald of Galactus, thus becoming Cosmic Ghost Rider and rebelling against Thanos only to become the enforcer of Thanos who eventually meets his end… but that’s just his beginning.
Donny Cates who wrote ‘Thanos Wins’ starts us off with Frank Castle in Vahalla. He won a spot there as Odin plucks Frank from his skewered timeline. It just so happens Frank. or as Odin calls him, “Francis,” isn’t ready to ‘retire.’ Just as you would imagine, the once-Punisher picks fights with Gods and breaks their noses. Frank is unhappy with eternal paradise fit for a warrior who met an end with honor much like how Cosmic Ghost Rider did.
Cates actual goes fairly deep into what makes Frank Castle tick, as he explains to Odin why he hates Vahalla so much…
“I never asked to be in your stupid Heaven, Odin. Never asked for a reward. When I’s doing what I did back on Earth…only way I ever made it right, was…was by tellin myself that my turn would come. My turn to be punished. Only… My turn never came, did it?”
This alone is utterly profound regarding Frank Castle. Donny Cates explains almost 40-plus years of the Punisher in one small statement. It really does make you think. Of course, Odin has to get rid of Castle, so he shows him that he saved everything. His cosmic bike, his weapons, and even his helmet. Odin bestows the powers of Ghost Rider and the Power Cosmic upon him once more. Odin also does his best to tone down the insanity effect all this power would have on Castle again so he doesn’t lose his mind. Odin informs Castle he can try his best to temper such effects, but all that power was never meant for a mortal mind.
So Cosmic Ghost Rider is back with his first new transformation, and the first place he wants Odin to send him is back to is back when everything went wrong. Here is where things get weird! Cosmic Ghost Rider vs. baby Thanos! Cosmic Ghost Rider asks the Time Travel Hitler a question. He finds that he simply can’t kill him a child. One, the Penance Stare doesn’t work on baby Thanos because according to Cosmic Ghost Rider he is still an innocent. Two, baby Thanos actualy puts up a fight, and three, that which makes him Frank Castle won’t kill an infant in cold blood. So he has another idea but we’re left hanging until the next issue.
Okay, so the art. Dylan Burnett isn’t quite the artist for me. Yet his Odin was fantastic in this issue and his long haired Frank Castle had facial experessions that matched his comments in the book. See, sometimes a would-be bad artist has to find his strides. Not that I feel Burnett is a bad artist, not at all. His art really does accompany Cates words in this series as opposed to… well, that’s just it, this is Dylan’s breakout work. He’s done some Marvel digital work and some independent books such as Weavers and some TMNT variant covers over at IDW. Cosmic Ghost Rider is the guy’s breakout into the big time! So perhaps in time his style will grow on me?
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
It’s interesting. I know Cosmic Ghost Rider gained popularity and became a thing during the whole Marvel Legacy ‘Thanos Wins’ story arc in the Thanos book. Some of those issues saw multiple printings galore. I was never a huge fan of future characters like this set in a definitive, or what is meant to be a definitive, future (for now). But there are some exceptions; I enjoy Spider-Man 2099, and Doom 2099 wasn’t bad back in the day. This isn’t half bad either. I can see where people actually thought Cosmic Ghost Rider may have been Deadpool back in the beginning of Thanos Wins. The Ghost Rider persona has almost zero Frank Castle/Punisher in him. However, he remains an interesting enough character for me to care enough to turn the page.
2.5 Out of 5 Stars
Why 2 1/2 stars? It’s simply not original. It’s a rehearsed Punisher idea that everyone eats up because there’s been almost 21 years, I mean the idea is old enough to drink! Back in 1998, Marvel Knights published a 4-issue Punisher mini-series called Purgatory. Till this day, it remains one of the lowest points in the Punisher’s career. It even saw a sequel where he teamed up with Wolverine. Anyway, in this story, ‘Purgatory,’ the Punisher at his lowest point apparently sticks a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger, killing himself after his apperance in Ka-Zar a few months earlier. The Punisher is sent to Hell and then resurrected by a rogue angel as a spirit of vengeance which people can call upon in their hour of need. He became an urban myth, a legend on the street frightening both the guilty and innocent. It was a terrible idea then and well… dare I say it seems terrible now, yet Cates somehow was able to dress it up and sell it to the public. Granted, it’s not the same deal yet, in a way, it rings similar.
It could be a simple coincidence, but I hope not. I hope Cates looked at Punisher: Purgatory and said, “I can do better.” I love when writers dig into the annals of Marvel continuity and find hooks. Sort of how Thanos Wins almost screams of Marvel The End. Don’t get me wrong, both ideas are so different they can stand on their own but at the core they are all the same. Far future, Thanos wins, the Punisher dies, and he is reborn as the Spirit of Vengeance.
Saving grace is Marvel or Cates really hedged their bets on this book by making it a five-issue miniseries. Usually by the solicitations of issues 5 and 6 the longevity of a new series is determined.
COSMIC GHOST RIDER #1 can be purchased on ComiXology and available
at your local comic shop and online retailers on Wednesday, July 4th!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Donny Cates
Letterer – Clayton Cowles
Publisher – Marvel Comics