Cosmic Ghost Rider has proven to be one of Marvel’s most popular new characters, but his appeal goes beyond the cool factor of seeing Frank Castle become the future Spirit of Vengeance. By having the Punisher serve as an agent of Mephisto, a herald of Galactus, and the slave of Thanos, Donny Cates has made Cosmic Ghost Rider a bridge between Marvel’s street-level, magic, and cosmic planes of storytelling, allowing him to engage with a wide variety of themes and tones in his writing. Cosmic Ghost Rider is a five-issue miniseries written by Cates with art Dylan Burnett and colors by Antonio Fabela, putting the titular antihero in a paternal role as he tries to prevent a baby Thanos from realizing his universe-shattering potential.
Cosmic Ghost Rider has been a wild ride, but it comes to an end next week. This exclusive preview of Cosmic Ghost Rider #5 has Frank confronted with a choice: Does he join forces with the adult Punisher-Thanos he raised, or does he try to stop the new evil he’s created? These pages highlight how well Cates uses Frank Castle’s history to create internal moral conflict, and Frank’s answer to Thanos’ offer feels like the choice his entire millennia-spanning life has been leading to. Burnett and Fabela have done phenomenal work with madcap action in this series, but they’ve reinforced the story’s emotional core with expressive character acting and color palettes.
The opening splash of Thanos holding his infant self in front of a burning city contrasts the baby’s fear with the grim severity of the adult, and Fabela’s use of green in the panels of Frank separates him from the orange-to-purple gradient that dominates the Thanos-centric panels. This excerpt ends with Frank reaching his hand out to meet Thanos, but that’s probably so he can get closer, land a punch, and take the baby back. Even though this miniseries is ending, this future Frank’s story is far from over, and he’s slated to appear in Cates’ upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy series with his Thanos collaborator Geoff Shaw for anyone who wants to continue following the character.