WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers #24 by Jason Aaron, Stefano Caselli, Luciano Vecchio, Jason Keith and VC's Cory Petit, on sale now.
Jason Aaron's Avengers run has certainly pushed Earth's Mightiest Heroes to their limit. In the latest arc, the Cosmic Ghost Rider (Frank Castle) has arrived at their base, the Avengers Mountain that's literally the body of a dead Celestial, possessing it and trying to kill the heroes.
However, while the Rider's pulling out all the stops, using his demonic powers in a way that makes the likes of Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch look like child's play, this version of Frank also unleashes a familiar yet innovative method of punishment which would make the 616-Punisher proud. This form of attack surprisingly involves Tony Stark's guns and it reminds us of the Rider's lethal history before he bonded with his Spirit of Vengeance.
When the Rider arrived in the last issue he possessed Stark's armors from a lab and used them to take on the likes of Captain America, Blade and Black Panther. So powerful has been his assault, even Captain Marvel, as well as a Thor/She-Hulk team-up, aren't fending off the Rider as they thought they could. With the entire Celestial answering to him also, the Rider's certainly one of the deadliest enemies Aaron's crafted, made all the more intriguing by his wisecracking.
As Carol Danvers begins to step up her game in Issue #24, frustrated at how they're being roughed up, Frank illustrates that before he was the Rider, he lived to kill any way possible and whips out a gun. It's no ordinary pistol, though, as it's one he secretly -- and speedily -- built up from Stark's armory, leaving Carol ticked over how Stark always leaves his tech lying around. It just goes to show the genius and inventiveness of the Rider, and also how he hasn't forgotten his roots. Once a Punisher, always a Punisher, and it proves to be quite a formidable weapon, using repulsor rays to pretty much bang up his opponents.
Coupling this gun with his cosmic racer, Frank's more than the Avengers bargained for and it's a testament to how quickly he improvizes, too. He was only in the lab for a few minutes -- cooking something like that up so fast is not something just anyone can do. Even Stark would be proud. Frank tries to pick the Avengers off one by one and they're clearly stunned how much they underestimated him and how quick he is on the draw.
Luckily, he comes around and they find middle-ground, realizing Johnny Blaze played them against each other, all so he could race Robbie Reyes as the King of Hell for his powers. For now, Frank's on their side and as the Rider fashions a trip to Hell, with all the demons and monsters there, we can't wait to see how he uses the gun -- and whatever else he conjured from the lab -- down there.
More so, it's enticing that after being part of the Dark Guardians of the Galaxy, he's now going to forge this alliance with the Avengers. The kicker is he's the gunman Cap and Panther know they don't want but desperately need at the moment to travel to the pits of Hell to recover Robbie.
Avengers #25 goes on sale Oct. 23.