WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Cosmic Ghost Rider #4 by Donny Cates, Dylan Burnett and Antonio Fabela, on sale now!
Countless memes and snarky demotivational posters have been made comparing the logic of The Punisher’s war on crime to that of other vigilante heroes like Batman. The latter’s mantra is often reduced to “if I kill a killer, the number of killers stays the same.” Castle doesn’t see it this way. Instead, he takes things further by putting the ledger of these proposed “killers” deep in the red, both in deficits and in blood.
But the problem with this is that, when a man becomes judge, jury and executioner, any notion of true justice (at least in terms of civility) goes out the window, which turns the man into the very thing he has set out to eradicate. Any sense of romantic heroism wilts away because there is an inherent hypocrisy to the ideology of Frank Castle.
The Punisher is often best framed as a force of nature in comics. In doing so, he can easily be stripped of humanity. A barrier between the harsh reality of his crusade and the mythological version of Frank Castle can easily be erected to protect readers from applying the antihero’s methods into practice. After all, it’s nothing short of tyrannical. Now don’t get us wrong, we love seeing Castle kick in doors and lay waste to waves of scumbags who have been established as such in acts of pulpy, bullet-riddled violence.
However, the collateral damage of the Punisher’s actions are rarely quantified on a macro level. The question of what would happen if Castle’s twisted dream of creating a world free of horrendous murder actually came true has never really been answered… until now. Cosmic Ghost Rider #4 gives readers a glimpse into this becoming a reality by implanting the ideology of Castle into the Mad Titan himself, Thanos.