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Who is Cosmic Ghost Rider? Meet the Punisher’s strangest variant

Meet Cosmic Ghost Rider, a version of the Punisher with the powers of Ghost Rider and Silver Surfer

Cropped illustration featuring the cosmic ghost rider
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Cosmic Ghost Rider is one of the wildest characters you’ll ever encounter in the Marvel Universe, and that’s saying a lot! Imagine what would happen if the Punisher was given the powers of Ghost Rider. Then imagine him also receiving the Silver Surfer’s powers. If you’re still with us, picture this Cosmic Ghost Rider traveling through time with an Infinity Stone, and raising a baby version of Thanos.

Like we said, this character is wild.

Cosmic Ghost Rider is back in the spotlight, thanks to a new mini-series from Stephanie Phillips and Juann Cabal. After that crazy introductory paragraph, you’re probably curious to learn more about this wacky version of Frank Castle. So with that in mind, let’s break down everything you need to know about Cosmic Ghost Rider!

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 (2023)!

Who is Cosmic Ghost Rider?

Frank Castle becomes Herald of Galactus
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Cosmic Ghost Rider is a version of Frank Castle who comes from another reality within the Marvel multiverse. In his timeline, Thanos destroyed all life on Earth. Frank Castle wound up in Hell, where he made a bargain with the demon Mephisto. Frank felt his work wasn’t done, and he wanted to return to Earth to get revenge on Thanos, so Frank sold his soul and became a Spirit of Vengeance, roaming the Earth as a Ghost Rider.

Unfortunately, Thanos had already left Earth. Thus Frank was left to spend the next few millenniums wandering the empty planet, slowly going insane. One day, the planet devouring being known as Galactus came to Earth, searching for someone to help him combat Thanos. Frank saw this as his opportunity finally get his revenge, and offered to become Galactus’ herald. Galactus then gave Frank the Power Cosmic, turning him into a Cosmic Ghost Rider.

Cosmic Ghost Rider has had an eventful career. After the death of Galactus, Frank reluctantly spent some time as a servant of Thanos. And after some fun with time-travel, Frank wound up in the mainstream Marvel Universe. At one point he used the Time Stone to go back to the birth of Thanos, hoping to kill the villain before he grew up to become a genocidal maniac. Instead he ended up taking the baby Thanos under his wing, reasoning that he could change the future villain’s destiny. But that didn't work out, and Frank eventually parted ways with the child after realizing he couldn’t change the course of history.

What are Cosmic Ghost Rider’s powers?

Cosmic Ghost Rider unleashed
Image credit: Marvel Comics

This version of Frank Castle has the powers that come with being a Spirit of Vengeance, and the Power Cosmic. This pretty much makes him a walking cocktail of power. For starters, his status as a Spirit of Vengeance gives him a host of demonic abilities. Frank can possess various objects, turning them into deadly weapons. He can summon a mystical chain (made from the bones of the demon Cyttorak) which can be manipulated in size and texture.

Frank also has the ability to give the Penance Stare, one of the deadliest attacks a Spirit of Vengeance can inflict. The Penance Stare can incapacitate its target, causing them to feel the pain of everyone they’ve ever harmed. This pain can be intense, and some have compared it to spending an eternity in Hell. Speaking of Hell, Frank also has the power to project hellfire.

This version of Punisher already sounds like one of the most dangerous beings in existence, so imagine how deadly he became after the Power Cosmic leveled him up. Thanks to the Power Cosmic, Frank can conjure powerful energy blasts. He can also journey through the cosmos at high speeds. Adding to all this, Cosmic Ghost Rider has enhanced telekinesis, which he can use to break apart and remake any object, regardless of size.

The Power Cosmic has increased Frank’s strength a thousandfold, and boosted many of his other powers. Cosmic Ghost Rider can also time travel, but only when he’s in possession of his shattered Time Stone. But don’t forget-- Cosmic Ghost Rider is also Frank Castle. Like the main continuity version of Punisher, Cosmic Ghost Rider is a master tactician, and a weapons expert. To sum it up, this is a version of the Punisher who is a Spirit of Vengeance infused with the Power Cosmic, and he could time travel. If he’s hunting you, chances are you’re already dead.

What is Cosmic Ghost Rider up to now?

Cosmic Ghost Rider tries to retire
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 (2023) opens with Frank trying to leave his past behind, traveling through space, performing random odd jobs. He never stays in one place for too long, and mostly keeps to himself. In this series, Frank prefers to appear in his human form, since it’s hard to blend in when your head is a flaming skull.

Frank’s days are peaceful, but his nights are filled with violent dreams. When he sleeps, Frank seems to be having vivid dreams about hunting down sinners. Are these flashbacks, prophecies, or something more?

One day a mercenary named Kral Dravitt shows up, demanding that Frank pay for his sins against the Sakaarans, one of Marvel’s alien races. Frank is unsure what Kral is talking about. This could be something he did while he was serving Galactus or Thanos. During the confrontation with Kral, Frank wakes up in his bed. Was the Kral encounter a dream manifested by his guilty conscience? Or is it a sign of things to come? Frank’s dreams seem to be a big part of the story this mini-series is telling, and it looks like future issues will explore this thread more.

Has Cosmic Ghost Rider shown up in other Marvel media projects?

Cosmic Ghost Rider in Marvel: Contest of Champions
Image credit: Kabam

In 2020 Cosmic Ghost Rider was added as a playable character in the mobile fighting game Marvel: Contest of Champions. His signature move is Cosmic Vengeance, which is so powerful that the enemy continues to be weakened, even after the effect is removed.

Cosmic Ghost Rider also appears in Marvel: Future Fight, another mobile fighting game. This version of Cosmic Ghost Rider appears as an alternate skin for Punisher. However, donning the Cosmic Ghost Rider skin gives the player extra abilities that Punisher doesn’t have. So far these have been the only sightings of Cosmic Ghost Rider in other media, but we’ll be keeping our eyes open. The character has deadly powers, a wicked origin, and an awesome design, so we wouldn’t be surprised to find him in more Marvel media projects.

Where can I learn more about Cosmic Ghost Rider?

Cosmic Ghost Rider on the hunt
Image credit: Marvel Comics

This article should bring you up to speed on Cosmic Ghost Rider, but if you want to see his origin for yourself, then check out Thanos #16 (2018). Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History is a fun six issue mini-series that finds Frank causing havoc at some of the most pivotal turning points in the history of the Marvel Universe. Many of Frank’s early adventures have also been collected in the Cosmic Ghost Rider Omnibus.

For more on Cosmic Ghost Rider, and other Frank Castle variants, keep your eyes peeled here to Popverse as we continue to explore the Marvel Universe with guides, breakdowns, videos, and more!


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About the Author
Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Contributing writer

Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.
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