Fans of Cosmic Ghost Rider were in for a surprise when the third issue of the miniseries dropped earlier this month. The story left off with the introduction of the Cosmic Punisher -- who was none other than the Mad Titan, Thanos. The Cosmic Punisher is just the latest development in Marvel's ever-expanding cosmic universe. And it isn't just Marvel who's been concentrating on opening up the cosmic landscape. In recent years, DC has also been following the trend, focusing on developing their own cosmic sub-universe, notably within the pages of Sideways. With all of the expansion occurring within the cosmic realm, we've gotten to see a plethora of cosmic versions of our favorite characters. The debut of the Cosmic Punisher has inspired us to take a look at 20 of our favorite cosmic versions of superheroes.
Alternate realities, future timelines, and various cosmic forces have paved the way for cosmic versions of superheroes that would've otherwise been left to fan fiction. Both DC and Marvel have increasingly explored their respective multiverses in the past decade, embracing the countless captivating and sometimes wacky possibilities that stem from alternative universes. Just in the past year, Marvel has introduced the Cosmic Ghost Rider and Juggerduck (yes, a cosmic combination between Juggernaut and Howard the Duck). Before that, DC gave us "Darkseid War", which explored the possibility of the Justice League becoming New Gods. Then there are all of Marvel's heroes to be possessed by the Phoenix since Avengers vs. X-Men. Here are twenty cosmic versions of superheroes ranked by power.
20 ROBIN THE TOY WONDER
Young Justice: One Million saw the debut of a Robin unlike any other. Hailing from the 853rd Century, this Robin is the A.I. sidekick of a future Batman. By that time, superheroes have expanded across the cosmos, protecting various planets and solar systems. Robin "the toy wonder" acts as his Batman's conscience, there as a safeguard to prevent Batman from straying too far.
He's also a member of Young Justice Legion T along with the future Impulse and Superboy. He was last seen in Superman/Batman (Vol. 1) #80 when he and his allies were battling the time-traveling villain Epoch.
19 SABRETOOTH (EXILES)
The Sabretooth from the Age of Apocalypse reality ended leading a vastly different life than that of his 616 counterpart. Aside from being primarily a hero, the AoA Sabretooth operated on cosmic level following the defeat of Apocalypse. Sabretooth joined the Exiles, a team of mutants plucked from a variety of realities, aimed at protecting the multiverse.
As a member of the Exiles, and later a leader, Sabretooth went up against multiversal threats such as Hyperion, Holocaust, and Hydra. Sabretooth's adventures came to an end in Astonishing X-Men (Vol. 3) #6o when his son Graydon Creed came calling for final revenge.
18 STAR-LORD (KITTY PRYDE)
In the past decade, several typically Earth-bound heroes have had stints with the Guardians of the Galaxy. One of these heroes was the X-Men's Kitty Pryde. Shortly after falling in love with and becoming engaged to Peter Quill, Pryde became a regular member of the Guardians. When Quill left the Guardians to become the king of the Spartax Empire, Pryde adopted the identity of Star-Lord.
While the cosmic version of Kitty Pryde may have not necessarily been a more powerful one, she learned a lot from her adventures with the Guardians, making her a more experienced and formidable hero when she returned to the X-Men.
17 IRON MAN (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY)
Iron Man may be best known as an Avenger, but Tony Stark shared some adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy a few years back. Stark joined the team of galactic heroes in Avengers Assemble (Vol. 2) #8 after the Guardians teamed up with the Avengers to take on Thanos.
For his new duties outside of Earth's atmosphere, Stark adopted a new set of armor: Iron Man Armor Model 45. Along with the new look came several new capabilities that facilitated space travel. Namely, Iron Man could now travel at warp speeds, allowing him to zip from planet to planet.
16 GLADIATOR HULK
The Hulk went through a huge status quo shift during the mid-2000s. Deciding that the Hulk and his endless rampages were no longer tolerable, the group of superheroes known as the Illuminati rocketed Hulk into outer-space. Hulk landed on Sakaar, and thus began "Planet Hulk". Hulk did what he had to do to survive and thrive on Sakaar, transforming into a gladiator and a champion of the people.
After defeating the planet's tyrant and falling in love, it looked as if Hulk would finally find peace on Sakaar. It wasn't to be though as Hulk's beloved died, motivating him to return to Earth and exact revenge on the Illuminati.
15 THE RIDER
The cosmic version of Ghost Rider hails from an alternate reality where Frank Castle died made a deal with Mephisto. Marvel's devil transformed Castle into the Rider, allowing him to return to the land of the living and hunt down Thanos. Like the Earth-bound Ghost Rider, the Rider possesses the ability to manipulate hellfire.
What distinguishes him though is that the Rider has been chosen to be a Herald of Galactus, and has received requisite cosmic enhancements for that responsibility. Imbued with the Power Cosmic, the Rider has become a threat to any hero or villain that gets in his way.
14 COSMIC VENOM
After building a relationship with the Avengers, Flash Thompson was sent by the team to join the Guardians of the Galaxy. With the Guardians, Flash's Venom took on an all-new look and traded in his relatively low-tech weaponry for some advanced alien weaponry. During this time, Flash met with the Agents of the Cosmos -- a squad of heroic symbiotes committed to protecting the universe.
Flash and the Agents of the Cosmos waged war on a space-pirate known as Mercurio, leading to Mercurio temporarily stealing the Venom symbiote from Flash. After Mercurio was defeated and Flash regained his symbiote, Flash returned to Earth to resume his duties as Agent Venom.
13 QUENTIN QUIRE (PHOENIX)
The X-Men's rebellious young Omega Level telepath recently spent time outside of Earth as an avatar of the Phoenix. While taking a vacation on the living island of Krakoa, Quentin was contacted by Thor who needed his help combating the Phoenix Force. Quentin joined the adventure, engaging with the Phoenix, and ultimately, coming away with a fragment of the Phoenix.
Thus empowered, the Shi'ar Empire looked to him as one of their new gods. Adoring the worship, Quentin opted to stick around in the Shi'ar Empire for a while. Only recently did Quentin become bored with praise from alien people, propelling him to return to Earth and join the revived West Coast Avengers.
12 WONDER WOMAN (ONE MILLION)
The Wonder Woman of the 823rd century was a marble statue given life and assigned to protect the planet Venus, the new home of the Amazons. Having made her debut in JLA (Vol. 1) #23, this future Wonder Woman is a member of Justice League Alpha, the team of heroes committed to protecting the solar system from cosmic-level threats.
Like her predecessor, Wonder Woman possesses the Lasso of Truth and has access to an invisible vehicle. Her advantage over the original Wonder Woman is that the 823rd century Wonder Woman has telepathic abilities and advanced physiology, as do most of the inhabitants of her time.
11 COSMIC PUNISHER
Fans recently got their first glimpse at a character they never knew they wanted -- a cosmic Punisher. Specifically, a version of Thanos decked out in classic Punisher gear, ready to hunt down cosmic level threats. In Cosmic Ghost Rider (Vol. 1) #3, Cable reveals that the baby Thanos that the Rider is raising ends up becoming the Punisher.
Cable also suggests that this Cosmic Punisher is way worse than whatever future version of Thanos that the Rider thought he was saving the baby from becoming. Cosmic Punisher is enough for Cable to spend years trying and failing to take down the Rider.
10 NICK FURY (THE UNSEEN)
Original Sin (Vol. 1) signaled a huge turning point for Nick Fury. In the decades preceding the event, Fury seemed to be little more than a world-class intelligence agent. Nobody would've expected Fury to be mingling with serious cosmic affairs. However, Original Sin (Vol. 1) kicked off with Fury eliminating Uatu the Watcher in order to steal the Watcher's eye and solve a crime.
Fury's drastic measure came back to bite him. The Watchers punished fury by transforming him into the Unseen -- an immortal chained down and forced to observe Earth but never act. Yet, even with these restrictions, Fury has recently found a way to protect the universe from an entity known as the Time-Eater.
9 X-23 (CAPTAIN UNIVERSE)
During the mid-2000s, Captain Universe lost control of the Uni-Power, leading it to be transferred to several of Earth's heroes. The third superhero to find themselves bestowed with the awe-inspiring cosmic power was Wolverine's clone, X-23. In Captain Universe: X-23 (Vol. 1) #1, Laura Kinney became possessed by the Uni-Power, leaving her with an abundance of incredible powers, including cosmic consciousness and energy manipulation.
With A.I.M. hot on the trail of the Uni-Power, X-23 had to quickly acclimate to her new powerset. With the help of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Scorpion, X-23 was able to defeat A.I.M. Following the battle, the Uni-Power made its way to the Invisible Woman.
8 BATMAN (GOD OF KNOWLEDGE)
Metron, the God of Knowledge, approached the Justice League during "Darkseid War" to warn them of the impending threat of the Anti-Monitor. Not trusting Metron, the league removed Metron from his all-knowing chair and replaced him with Batman. Aboard Metron's chair, the already hyper-intelligent Batman gained insight into the secrets of the universe, thus becoming the God of Knowledge.
Batman returned to Gotham still aboard the Metron Chair and used his newfound knowledge to take out would-be criminals. Batman even hunted down Joe Chill -- the man responsible for his parents' passing -- and finally exacted revenge. Fortunately, Batman would lose the powers by the event's conclusion, allowing him to return to his old self.
Before Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel and after she'd been Ms. Marvel for a while, she was transformed into the cosmically-empowered Binary. The Brood abducted Danvers in Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #163 and conducted experiments on her that resulted in the release of her then untapped potential. Along with the tremendous power boost and change in appearance, Danvers almost completely lost her old personality when Binary manifested.
Binary left Earth and sought out adventures in the cosmos along with the Starjammers. Her stint as Binary concluded after she sacrificed her abilities in order to preserve the sun. However, as Captain Marvel, Danvers has recently tapped back into some of her old Binary powers.
6 DAREDEVIL (CAPTAIN UNIVERSE)
Daredevil received the powers of Captain Universe in the pages of Captain Universe: Daredevil - Man Without Fear (Vol. 1) #1. Having gained sight and a tremendous power boost, Daredevil took on A.I.M. Given Matt Murdock's acute sensitivity, the Uni-Power proved to be just as much of a challenge for him as for his foes.
The devil of Hell's Kitchen had to try to get a handle on a spectrum of incredible abilities far beyond anything he'd previously experienced. As a result, Murdock may have not been as tough as some of the other wielders of the Uni-Power -- but he was Captain Universe, nonetheless.
Cosmic Spider-Man debuted during the late '80s when Peter Parker temporarily embodied the Uni-Power. With the power of Captain Universe, Spider-Man went on to stomp some of Marvel's heaviest hitters. In Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #328, Spider-Man clashed with the Gray Hulk, who'd been hired by Sebastion Shaw to subdue Spider-Man.
The Hulk didn't stand a chance -- a single punch from the Cosmic-Spider sent the monster into space. In Spider-Man's final bout before he'd lose the Uni-Power he went up against the Tri-Sentinel. The Tri-Sentinel proved to be the greatest threat to the Cosmic-Spider, though Peter still managed to squeak out the win.
4 PHOENIX FIVE
Avengers vs. X-Men (Vol. 1) was kicked off with the Avengers learning that the Phoenix Force was headed straight for Earth. Sure enough, the Phoenix arrived and separated itself into five hosts: Cyclops, Magik, Colossus, Emma Frost, and Namor. The Phoenix Five were practically invincible when working together, tossing aside some of the toughest heroes in the Marvel Universe as if they were nothing.
Ultimately, Cyclops absorbed the Phoenix fragments from the others, transforming him into the Dark Phoenix. As the Dark Phoenix, Cyclops wasted any hero that stepped into his line of sight. Earth would've likely been devoured had it not been for the combined efforts of Hope Summers and Scarlet Witch.
3 LEX LUTHOR (GOD OF APOKOLIPS)
During Justice League's "Darkseid War", in which the members of the League are transformed into various deities, Lex Luthor becomes the God of Apokolips. In other words, Luthor was transformed into the new Darkseid. Initially, Luthor was nearly floored by his new powers. Ardora of the Forgotten People taught him how to manage the power, allowing him to survive and take control of his army of Parademons.
Surprisingly, Luthor wasn't corrupted by the power and used to help the rest of the league against Mobius -- the Anti-Monitor. By the end of the event, Luthor had lost his power but decided to stay and help out the people of Apokolips anyway.
2 FLASH (GOD OF DEATH)
During "Darkseid War", Flash was bestowed with the power of the God of Death, so that the Anti-Monitor could use him to eliminate Darkseid. The Anti-Monitor's move worked and Flash ran right through Darkseid, laying waste to the God of Apokolips. Flash struggled with the entity of the Black Racer, which compelled him to race around and act as a Grim Reaper figure.
Soon he realized that he was being sent to take the life of Iris West. After an intense internal struggle, Flash managed to totally refuse the urge. In exchange, he had to accept the power of the Black Racer, preferring to control it rather than it controlling him.
1 BLUE HULK
What happens when the Hulk combines his might with the Uni-Power? That question was explored in Captain Universe: Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #1 when Bruce Banner temporarily became Captain Universe. The improbable event is incited by Captain Universe who, struggling with amnesia, approaches Banner for help finding the scientist that can help Captain Universe with his problem.
The Uni-Power is transferred to Banner, thus laying the groundwork for the emergence of the astonishingly powerful Blue Hulk. Hulk runs into trouble when A.I.M. interferes, planning to appropriate the Uni-Power for their own agenda. Of course, A.I.M. stands no chance against Hulk and are quickly done away with.