In their recent arc of Thanos, Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw took readers to a possible and very dystopian far future, where the title character had wiped out almost all life in the universe. One of the biggest surprises of this reality was that one of the Marvel Universe's most violent and mortal beings, Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, was still alive. It turns out, Castle's nigh-superhuman tenacity led him to pledge his soul to three very different and powerful devils: Mephisto, who transformed him into Ghost Rider; Galactus, who added to Castle's power by transforming him into a Herald; and Thanos, who made the now cosmic Ghost Rider his servant.
The end of that story saw Castle finally perish, but in the recent Thanos Annual he was given a shot at redemption and forgiveness when Odin welcomed him to Valhalla. In the first issue of Cosmic Ghost Rider, on sale now, Cates and artist Dylan Burnett have begun chronicling how their thrice-damned future version of Frank Castle will make the most of that shot.
CBR spoke with Cates about getting the chance to spin more Cosmic Ghost Rider tales, the characters his protagonist will cross paths with, and what the future holds for this far future version of Frank Castle.
CBR: When we talked about your recent Thanos run, we discussed the origin of the Cosmic Ghost Rider character and how he started out as an idea that you would like to do if you found work at Marvel. Now we're well into your career as a Marvel writer, and you get a chance to fully flesh out and write that character as the protagonist of his own miniseries. How does it feel to get a chance to do that?
Donny Cates: It feels so weird, man. [Laughs] I'm looking at the proofs for issue #1 right now, and I feel so fortunate that I've been able to come into my favorite publishing house on the planet, bring all my weird friends, and kind of do whatever the hell I want. That might sound flippant, but you hear all these horror stories about how you're not going to be able to do the things you want to do there, and dealing with Editorial and big corporations. Knock on wood, but that's not been my experience at all!
Jordan D White was my editor on Thanos and is now my editor on Cosmic Ghost Rider. He's just down for fun stuff. It's so nice to be able to walk into the company and be like, “Hey, these are all the really weird things I want to do.” And then to have him go. “Yeah, all right!” It's almost like they give me my own rope to hang myself. [Laughs]
Essentially, Cosmic Ghost Rider is a creator-owned book that I'm doing at Marvel. It's a character who I created that's kind of a hodgepodge of other stuff. I created it with Geoff Shaw, one of my best friends. And now I'm doing the mini-series with Dylan Burnett, who I've worked with in the past and is also one of my really good friends. So this book is really me; more so than Venom, Thanos, or Doctor Strange. This is my book; me and my friends. [Laughs] So if it fails and everyone hates it there's no standing behind, “You just don't like that character.” This is people's first interactions with that character. Marvel has been very happy to let me take that flag into battle and see what happens.