SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Thanos #16 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Antonio Fabela and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
It can be tough for newer characters to gain a following in the world of superhero comics, but that wasn't the case with Marvel Comics' Cosmic Ghost Rider. Introduced in Thanos #13, the Spirit of Galactic Vengeance immediately became a fan-favorite character, with much of his buzz the result of his chaotic attitude and mystery identity.
While we had our own theories on the Cosmic Ghost Rider's identity, he was finally revealed to be the former Punisher, Frank Castle. So, how did Frank go from being a gun-toting vigilante to the right hand of King Thanos? The answer to that question spans eons, and has all the makings of a science-fiction horror movie.
Three Deals With Three Devils
Seeing as Thanos is the star of this comic, it's not surprising to find Frank Castle's saga begins with the Mad Titan. Unfortunately for Earth's heroes, Thanos finally succeeds in defeating them, the Punisher included.
In Frank's final moments, he let out one final wish for the opportunity at vengeance upon Thanos into the universe. And with that, the first of our devils -- Mephisto -- answered the call, turning Frank Castle into the Ghost Rider.
The only problem with being a Spirit of Vengeance is you need victims to avenge, and there weren't many left after Thanos' reign of destruction. This left the Ghost Rider to lose his mind as he roamed the Earth, until Galactus paid a visit. He, too, was a victim of Thanos, and came searching for help from those who once got the best of the Devourer of Worlds. With those heroes all gone, the Ghost Rider was the only person left to offer his services.
The second deal was that Galactus make Frank his new herald, with the caveat that only once Thanos is defeated can Galactus eat Earth. And that is how the Ghost Rider became a Cosmic Ghost Rider.
However, Frank's sad, tragic tale doesn't end there. Together with Galactus, they mounted an attack against Thanos -- a fight which culminated in the Devourer's beheading.
After his endless string of conquests, the Cosmic Ghost Rider presented Thanos with the one person he couldn't kill, something that intrigued the Mad Titan. Seeing as how Frank also couldn't defeat Thanos, that left the two at a stalemate, allowing Thanos to make an offer Frank couldn't resist: Join him, and bear witness to more evils than he could ever punish. Frank's third, and final, deal with a devil was made, turning him into the Black Right Hand of King Thanos.
It's actually quite sad and not a little bit surprising to see the downfall of Frank Castle unfold in this manner. It's not a stretch to see him become one of the many hosts for the Ghost Rider, but getting involved with an interstellar being like Galactus should be out of his comfort zone. Then again, once you start making deals with Mephisto, all bets are off.
For fans eager to learn even more about Frank Castle's new alter ego, they have a Cosmic Ghost Rider miniseries this summer to look forward to. Hopefully, it will fill in the gaps on what Frank was up to during his time as a Ghost Rider and herald to Galactus. Of course, we also have to see what becomes of the Cosmic Ghost Rider as he teams with both Thanos' against the future God of Thunder in Thanos #17, which goes on sale March 21.