Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History #1

Writers: Paul Scheer, Nick Giovannetti
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval
Inker: Victor Nava
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Darren Shan
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Review by Cameron Kieffer

Cosmic Ghost Rider is one of those characters that is just entrenched in the absurdity that the comicbook medium has to offer. His origin has layers upon layers of crazy ideas that most characters take years, even decades, to attain. And unlike many of those characters, CGR’s backstory isn’t just baggage; it is a blanket of insanity that he wears proudly, and it truly adds to the enjoyment of the character. If you haven’t yet experienced the latest herald of Galactus — who just so happens to also be a time-displaced Spirit of Vengeance (you heard me right) — then it’s time to rectify that.

After a brief yet informative recap, we’re treated to a fun flashback page, cleverly rendered by artist Gerardo Sandoval, that provides a deeper look into our hero’s origins.  From there, writers Paul Scheer and Nick Gionvannetti waste no time in placing Frank — did I mention CGR is none other than Frank Castle, aka the Punisher? — in a particularly awkward situation: he’s stuck in the past, standing at the doorstep of his home…the day before his family is famously killed.  After introducing himself as an estranged uncle to his younger counterpart, the elder Frank decides to spend some time with his young son, regaling him with some of his past adventures and leading to some truly madcap, insane retellings of a few of Marvel’s greatest hits.

The writing is all over the place, and I mean that in the best way possible.  Frank recounts his personal history by establishing some of Marvel’s most stoic heroes as utter goofballs, especially Silver Surfer.  The hilarious dialogue seems reminiscent of films like The LEGO Batman Movie where normally serious characters are depicted way, way against type.  Scheer and Gionvannetti are far less concerned with portraying the characters as we know them, choosing instead to focus on Frank’s own madness and the offbeat way he remembers things.  Scheer’s work on The League and Funny or Die… as both a writer and actor have already cemented him a true comic genius, and his talents are on full display here.

By contrast, Sandoval’s art is pretty straight forward, though he does play around with his own style quite a bit, particularly in capturing a more classic style during the flashbacks.  He has a great handle on the characters, especially in depicting Frank in his full cosmic badness.  His version of Galactus is also a sight to behold.  Victor Nava on inks and Antonio Fabela round out the art team, doing exquisite work throughout the issue, able to alter their respective styles where appropriate.  The muted colors during the flashbacks give the book a grainy look, while Nava’s inks makes every panel pop.

My only problem with this issue occurs early on when Frank’s wife goes to pick up their daughter, leaving their young son in the care of a complete stranger.  It’s a minor quibble, but it seems like an odd choice, considering most parents probably wouldn’t leave their kid with a complete stranger who claims to be an “uncle.”  But maybe a little bit of madness runs in the family on both sides?  Regardless, I’m more than willing to forgive this as the rest of the issue is just great, and I’m excited to see what happens next!

The Verdict: Buy it!

A surprisingly accessible read, this issue is a great introduction to one of Marvel’s weirdest and wildest new characters.  You don’t need to know anything about him going in but be prepared to want to dive more into his history once you’re done.  A fun story paired with some spectacular art makes this a must for your pull-list this week.

Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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