Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 is a new series published by Marvel Comics, written by Stephanie Phillips, art by Juann Cabal, colors by Espen Grundetjern, and letters by Travis Lanham. There is a backup story titled “Cosmic Ghost Rider Stories,” written by Phillips, art by Jonas Scharf, colors by Arif Prianto, and letters by Lanham. After stints as the herald of Galactus and the right-hand man of Thanos, Frank Castle has hidden away at the edge of the universe, leaving the Cosmic Ghost Rider behind. But when people come looking for revenge, he may be forced to return.
A plot set in the far future, this relatively new corner of the Marvel Universe is being expanded slowly by Phillips. A brutal, murderous opening scene sets a grizzly tone that is kept throughout. It’s a teaser of what the series could have in store. But then the series slows, taking stock of the new location. This lower intensity is not kept for long though, with a showdown that is full of shocks and mysteries. The events are just as much a surprise for the characters as it is for those reading, generating the main inciting incident. As a setting, the opening story of Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 is rather grounded for a cosmic book. Even though it’s set on a distant planet, the location and plot could easily be found in a western.
In contrast, the second story is much bigger in its abstract concept, digging into both horror and cosmic. It’s a nightmarish tale that digs into multiple aspects of Castle’s history, from his time as the Punisher and as the Cosmic Ghost Rider. There is a transition into another disturbing yet fascinating mystery, hinting at just how much devastation and tragedy follows this character.
As a character, the Cosmic Ghost Rider is one of the most interesting of the recent crop. There is an old face among that flame, and Phillips taps into that familiar territory a lot in this issue. His gruff attitude and lack of mercy for criminals are iconic and eternal. But what has been altered is the dialogue. As Ghost Rider, Castle is much chattier. Not quite at a Deadpool level of chaos, but it is still full of bizarre wisecracks and glee at dealing death. Having both attitudes in the comic creates confusion that will be important for the story. It should be noted that the history of the Cosmic Ghost Rider is succinctly yet effectively summed up in the issue, so it is not entirely necessary to have full knowledge of the character before picking this new series up.
The art is fantastic in both stories but very different from one another. In the first is Cabal, with a clean, beautiful style. It is interesting that in the opening scene, where the Cosmic Ghost Rider first exhibits his power and capabilities, the comic has a much more alien feel. The beings have a great design and in the centre of it all is the incredible Ghost Rider look. Then, in the next part of the story, there is much more humanity. Frank is older but in human form, bearing a resemblance to Clint Eastwood in this guise. But the location is a slightly more sci-fi bar, with characters that are practically humanm bar a few adjustments. Whilst this adds relatability to the situation, some more variety in the designs would be fantastic.
In the second story, Scharf’s art style is fantastic for creating a horror aspect to this half of the comic. Thick line weights make already creepy panels even darker. Even the large-scale, cosmic aspects of the book have a disturbing twist to them. There is much more intensity to this part of the book, more expansive and extravagant. There are some pieces that show the immense grandiosity that the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe has to offer
The colors are terrific. In the first, the tones are very natural and clear. The iridescent light that comes from the flame is almost difficult to look into at times, imposing in its brightness. In the second story, the colors are more adventurous—the majesty of many of the scenes increased due to the otherworldly shades. The lettering is full of dynamic custom word balloons that superbly affect the delivery of the character voices.
Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 brilliantly brings us back to an obscure corner of the universe. This wholly unique character, existing out on his own, brings with him a hardcore take on the cosmos and dealing vengeance. Those flickers of potential are there from the start, especially in the backup story. What I would like is for the book to be even more adventurous in its journey and breaking boundaries, and there is significant evidence to suggest that it will.
Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 is available where comics are sold.
Cosmic Ghost Rider #1
Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 brilliantly brings us back to an obscure corner of the universe. This wholly unique character, existing out on his own, brings with him a hardcore take on the cosmos and dealing vengeance.
William is a screenwriter with a love of comics and movies. Once referred to Wuthering Heights as “the one with the Rabbits.”