Cosmic Ghost Rider: How the Punisher Became Marvel's Dark Guardian

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Since debuting last year in Thanos #13,  by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, the Cosmic Ghost Rider has quickly become one of the most powerful and noteworthy heroes in the entire Marvel multiverse. Even though he hasn't been around for long, he's been a hero, a villain, a vigilante and a monster. Currently, he's a reluctant Guardian of the Galaxy and trying to prevent the resurrection of one of his greatest enemies and former ally: Thanos.

Now, CBR is taking a look back at the origins, the history and the current role of the Cosmic Ghost Rider.

RELATED: Cosmic Ghost Rider Delivered the Best Version of Frank Castle

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Punisher Transforms into Cosmic Ghost Rider

The Cosmic Ghost Rider is really Frank Castle, formerly known as the Punisher. In a dark future where Thanos wiped out all of Earth's superheroes, Punisher was among the casualties. In his dying moments, he thought about how he'd do anything get a chance at revenge. After being given an offer by Mephisto, Castle agreed to give up his soul to become the newest incarnation of the Ghost Rider.

RELATED: Frank Castle Has Taught Thanos the Worst Lesson Ever

However, the Earth he was returned to was long dead. After centuries of being alone, he cracked mentally. When Galactus came to the ruins of Earth looking for Reed Richards for help. He only found Frank. Frank offered his help to Galactus to go to war against Thanos. The Mad Titan had wiped out most life in the cosmos by this point in the future. Subsequently, Castle became a Herald of Galactus and a cosmic hero alongside Galactus. But their great and final charge against Thanos was short-lived. Galactus was casually murdered by Thanos. But intrigued by the seemingly unkillable Castle, he offered the Ghost Rider a spot by his side. So he became the Rider, the Black Right Hand of The Mad King Thanos.


Cosmic Ghost Rider eventually brought the modern incarnation of Thanos to the far future, where he's offered a partnership by a future version of himself. By this point in time, there are only four living beings in all of the universe: Thanos, Cosmic Ghost Rider, a savage Hulk who's considered Thanos' dog and The Fallen. The Fallen is revealed to be a version of the Silver Surfer who's not only taken command of the Annihilation Wave but proven worthy of Mjolnir. Cosmic Ghost Rider fights alongside the two Thanos, but is destroyed by the Fallen. Eventually, this timeline ceased to be when Thanos was returned to the past and chose a different path.

RELATED: Cosmic Ghost Rider #5 Is a Fitting End to An Insane Miniseries

For his life as a warrior, Castle's soul was taken into Valhalla by Odin. The Asgardian All-Father tried to give Castle some semblance of peace, but Castile was still uneasy. He believed firmly in the concept of punishment of the wicked, but he'd never received his punishment for the actions he did by Thanos' side. He literally sold his soul to the devil, and got no comeuppance, even in the afterlife. Exhausted by the man and his drive, Odin returned Castle's powers back to him, restored him to life and let him loose into the main Marvel Universe.


Dark Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Ghost Rider

Cosmic Ghost Rider's initial plan was to find Thanos when he was an infant to kill him before he ever committed any of the sins he would in his adulthood. But when he realized this version of Thanos was innocent, he decided instead to try and make raise Thanos to become a better presence for the galaxy. Despite the best efforts of various superhero teams led by Cable, Cosmic Ghost Rider eventually raised Thanos to become a Punisher, like he had once been. This led to a utopia built on the grief of countless souls, which the Cosmic Ghost Rider could not allow. He killed the alternate Thanos and returned the infant version of the Titan to his proper place in time.

The Cosmic Ghost Rider is now roaming the galaxy with the Dark Guardians, searching for a way to keep the adult Thanos from coming back to life. He's even become one of the Guardians of the Galaxy, although he isn't above switching teams if it means killing the people he thinks need to die. He's still very much the Punisher at his core, but his powers, experiences, and madness have made him much loopier. While the Marvel Universe is full of heroes from other timelines, Cosmic Ghost Rider is an especially compelling take on the concept of a future incarnation of a popular hero arriving in the present.

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