The Punisher Became Ghost Rider And Destroyed The Marvel Universe

By Douglas Helm | Updated

ghost rider
From the cover of Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 (Marvel Comics, 2018)

Giving the powers of Ghost Rider to the Punisher seems like an exceedingly bad idea — the guy is already brutal enough, so giving the Penance Stare to him would make him extra scary. That would make him insanely powerful enough, but then he also got the Power Cosmic from Galactus. As you might be able to imagine, this insane power set allowed Cosmic Frank Castle to get up to some pretty crazy antics, including almost destroying the Marvel Universe as we know it.

Before diving into the ways this crazy version of Frank Castle almost destroyed the Marvel Universe, let’s explain how the Punisher became this fearsome being in the first place.

Frank Castle Becomes Ghost Rider

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Frank Castle of Earth-TRN666 becomes Ghost Rider in Thanos #16 (Marvel Comics, 2018)

This character is actually a version of Frank Castle who is from another reality in the multiverse (Earth-TRN666). In this timeline, Thanos killed all life on Earth, and Frank Castle decided to make a deal with the devil (aka Mephisto) to exact revenge on Thanos for destroying his planet.

So, Mephisto gave Frank the powers of a Spirit of Vengeance in exchange for his soul, turning him into the Ghost Rider.

That explains how he got those powers, but how did the Punisher upgrade again with the Power Cosmic?

Ghost Rider Frank Becomes Cosmic Ghost Rider

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Frank Castle of Earth-TRN666 becomes a herald of Galactus in Thanos #16 (Marvel Comics, 2018)

Well, unfortunately for Frank, Thanos was already gone when he returned to Earth, causing Castle to wander the planet and gradually go insane over the years.

The Ghost Rider Frank would eventually get an opportunity in the form of the world-eating Galactus, who showed up on Earth badly injured and looking for a way to defeat Thanos, who was ravaging the rest of the galaxy. The Punisher agreed to be the World-Eater’s herald to track down Thanos and kill him, so Galactus granted him the Power Cosmic.

Thus, Frank became the Cosmic Ghost Rider.

Cosmic Ghost Rider Keeps Messing With Time

Cosmic Ghost Rider fights in World War II in
Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History #4 (Marvel Comics, 2019)

Interestingly, the Cosmic Ghost Rider ended up becoming a servant of Thanos instead (albeit reluctantly). He would also do some time-traveling and go back in time to kill a baby Thanos, only to take the child under his wing instead and try to raise him to be good. However, the Punisher didn’t have much luck with this and eventually gave up on this endeavor as well.

That brings us to Frank Castle’s other time-traveling jaunt when he almost destroyed the Marvel Universe. While you would expect this character to have the Punisher’s dour personality, he actually acts more like Deadpool due to his insanity and insane power levels. So, in the Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History miniseries, we see him going around to major events in Marvel History and completely messing with them — seemingly just for fun, but it’s eventually revealed that he’s trying to alter history to prevent his family from being killed.

Cosmic Ghost Rider obviously has a very convoluted way to bring back the Punisher’s family, but it fits the character once you get to know him. Anyway, the cosmically-powered Frank ends up joining the Fantastic Four, fights the Nazis with the Howling Commandos, completely retconned the events of The Clone Saga and One More Day storylines, fought Skrulls, became the host of the Phoenix Force, and much more. If you haven’t read the miniseries yet, it’s certainly worth diving into if you want to see all the ways that Frank can completely mess with the events of the main Marvel comics.

Of course, Cosmic Ghost Rider wasn’t able to get away with completely changing history forever, and Uatu the Watcher forced him to put everything back at gunpoint. As part of restoring the natural order, the Watcher also made it so the Punisher’s family would be killed again. Of course, this made Frank kill the Watcher out of revenge, but it sure is a wild ride to follow Cosmic Ghost Rider’s story from beginning to end.