Today, we follow Frank Castle on a trek amongst the stars in Cosmic Ghost Rider #1! Be forewarned: this main review contains SPOILERS. For more spoiler-lite fare, scroll on down the Rapid Rundown, where we’ve got blurbs of both I Am Iron Man #1 and Hallow’s Eve #1. 

Please be sure and let us know what you thought of this week’s fresh Marvel Comics, either here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat. Excelsior, True Believers!

Cosmic Ghost Rider #1

“Duel Identity”

Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Juan Cabal
Color Artist: Espen Grundetjern
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Main Cover: Valerio Giangiordano & Morry Hollowell

The main story in this week’s issue is a flashback wrapped in a flashforward (I think). While I’m a big fan of the Cosmic Corner of Marvel, I haven’t been following many of the storylines taking place out there very closely, and it seems like this issue is definitely building on some continuity of which I am unaware. 

The continuity I’m more familiar with are certain more “grounded” Ghost Rider and Punisher stories (and I mean “grounded” literally, as in “Earth-based,” because neither the adventures of Johnny Blaze et al. nor Frank Castle are all that grounded in the figurative sense). 

This isn’t to say some of the elements of the story in this issue weren’t familiar. In particular, I was reminded at times of the 2016 Punisher run, and a bit of the excellent 2008 movie Punisher: War Zone. And while Castle’s futuristic Ghost Rider doesn’t get too much play in this issue, the pages where he does are very arresting… especially the opening sequence, which sees Frank pursuing his quarry in all his unstoppable, flame-lit glory.

I was disappointed to see that the family who had been landed in hot water due to their unknowing association with the Cosmic Ghost Rider suffered some predictable but dire consequences in this issue. However, it’s currently unclear whether or not this assault took place during a sequence that was set in the future, and if that’s the case, whether or not Frank can save his friends from their terrible fate. 

Wondering about these questions has occupied me more than I expected since concluding my initial read-through of this story, and I grow more interested in the second issue the more I wonder.

“Cosmic Ghost Stories”

Writer: Phillips
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Color Artist: Arif Prianto
Letterer: Lanham

In the backup story, one of Frank’s former victims uses a magic charm to cast a spell that causes the Cosmic Ghost Rider to be haunted by his past. This gives the opportunity for loads of creepy visuals, like corpse versions of Frank’s late children and wife. Even more interesting to look at is a space-drifting swirl of decapitated corpses, including a few heavies like Thanos.

Ultimately, Frank is able to break this spell simply by crushing an amulet. While the plot is nothing revelatory, that’s fine: there’s plenty to enjoy in this short follow-up story, which helps the issue feel more complete than it might have if it had included only “Duel Identity.”

And shout-out to this story for mentioning Frank’s visit to Hell and a deal he made with Mephisto. Considering how important a deal with the devil was to the origins of Ghost Rider in Marvel Spotlight #5 by Stan Lee, Gary Friedrich, Mike Ploog, and Jon Costa, I appreciated that this Satanic shout-out got included.

Cosmic Conclusion

Cosmic Ghost Rider
Drunk in the gutter.

Overall, this was an interesting issue that sets up some intriguing questions about what’s in store for the Cosmic Ghost Rider. It also serves as an unexpected remix of two very familiar Marvel Comics characters, and one that demonstrates how the pair of superficially distinct protagonists actually blend quite well together.

Rapid Rundown!

  • I Am Iron Man #1
    • Writer Murewa Ayodele and artist Dotun Akande‘s new limited series is a celebration of Marvel’s Armored Avenger, Tony Stark aka Iron Man. Billed as a love letter to Iron Man spread out over different eras in Shell Heads publication history, Ayodele and Akande’s first issue is a taste of what’s to come in this mini-series as Tony fights a time-hopping bass player looking for a challenge in beating Iron Man. A slick-looking, fast-paced book that in the end spotlights what makes Tony who he is and what makes him a hero. A solid start to Iron Man’s 60th anniversary. — GC3
  • Hallow’s Eve #1
    • If you’ve been following Ben Reilly’s storyline, then you know that Janine Godbe, a.k.a. Hallows’ Eve, was recently released from Bedford Falls Correctional Facility to reunite with her beau. However, Janine was ignorant of the fact that her freedom cost Ben his. After some time as the corporate lap-spider of the Beyond Corporation, Ben starts stealing Beyond tech and joins forces with Marelyne Pryor, then ruler of Limbo. Maddie endows Janine with the badass magical ability to create masks with different powers and effects, including a werewolf mask, the item that kicks off the events of this issue. As a fan of Erica Schultz from her previous Marvel work (unfortunately, I haven’t read her creator-owned titles yet), the first issue is an excellent combo of feminine and furious. I look forward to seeing where this creative team, which also includes veteran Spider-Man creators Michael DowlingBrian Reber, and Joe Caramagna, will take Janine’s story moving forward. However, it would be very remiss of me not to mention how the issue begins with casual ableism. It’s not okay to use casually ableist language, and as a disabled reader it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. — ROK

Next week, it’s Wolverine all over again in X-23: Deadly Regenesis #1! 

Check out past entries in our Marvel Rundown archive.