"Cosmic Ghost Rider #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Dylan Burnett
Colored by Antonio Fabela
Lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on July 4th, 2018
See if you can follow me on this one. Frank Castle was the Punisher, waging a never-ending war on crime after his family was killed. Then he died and made a deal with the devil to become Ghost Rider, then became Galactus' herald, then rode around with Thanos for a bit until he died again. If that isn't the single greatest pitch for a story you've ever heard, get up and leave now. Yes, it sounds like something that might come out of a drunken night with nerds, but it's real and it's incredible.
Cosmic Ghost Rider picks up with Frank in Valhalla; essentially heaven. With all the bloodshed he's caused over the years, he doesn't feel that he deserves to rest in paradise, so he resists it left and right by starting fights with just about everyone. Odin takes notice and sends him back to the land of the living, whenever and wherever he wants.
The dialogue between Frank and Odin is rock solid and reveals so much about both characters. First off, there is no other situation where these two men would ever come into contact in the Marvel Universe. Once you get past that, you see how they're both weary warriors looking back on their lives to understand what they actually accomplished. Frank feels that he should have a lot more suffering to endure. Meanwhile, Odin plucked Frank out of whatever Hell he was destined for to give him a warrior's afterlife. It was a noble effort.
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This conversation happens in paradise with lush forests stretching out all around and a rainbow bridge extending out into the stars. It's absolutely beautiful. Artist Dylan Burnett contrasts the gristled look of a battered and elderly Frank Castle with this gorgeous landscape. Frank's shirt is worn and full of holes. His clothes are beat up. His face is unshaven. His hair is long and unkempt. He most definitely does not belong here.
Colorist Antonio Fabela completes the package making this a truly jaw-dropping landscape. When Odin catches up with Frank out in the woods, you see Valhalla stretched out in front of them in all its glory. The colors are vibrant and full of life, even though this is the Norse heaven we're talking about. At its center is Frank, sitting in his black-and-white clothes and sticking out like a sore thumb.
As cool as this elder Frank Castle looks, he pales in comparison to Cosmic Ghost Rider. This design is brilliant and so very awesome. A retro space helmet sits on his head to contain the flames of his skull face, which burn brightly with the anger of Hell itself. The Power Cosmic courses through his veins as he hops on his galactic motorcycle to go kick some ass.
I love the change in Frank's speech when he accepts the power again. Letterer Clayton Cowles goes from a standard word balloon to a dark one with red text. It matches up to the character perfectly, even coming in with a similar shade to his costume.
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Cosmic Ghost Rider is already an interesting enough story on its own. Then it goes on to look at one of the quintessential questions about time travel, although through the lens of the Marvel Universe. If you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby, would you do it? I was not expecting this, nor the outcome of the issue. Writer Donny Cates is on to something great with this book (and with a lot of his comics in general. The guy can write some amazing comics.).
I had no prior knowledge of Cosmic Ghost Rider before jumping into this issue. Now he's one of my favorite Marvel characters. The comic opens with a brief recap of his life up until this point, told in defining images and one word captions that instantly gets you up to speed. I most definitely have to go back and read Cates' run on Thanos where this character is introduced. That's what I can do in the time before the next issue arrives because I need some more Cosmic Ghost Rider right now.