THANOS #16 / Writer: Donny Cates / Artist: Geoff Shaw/ Color Artist: Antonio Fabela/ Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles/ Publisher: Marvel Comics/ February 28, 2018
How nice of Donny Cates to allow Thanos to co-star in the Cosmic Ghost Rider’s series. Hmmm? Wait, oh this is Thanos #16. I knew that. I was just seeing if you were paying attention.
Let’s be real and say that Cosmic Ghost Rider is already the best new character of the year, which is funny because he’s not really a new character at all. He’s a weird concoction of Punisher spliced with Ghost Rider and with a dollop of Deadpool. Either way he’s won the hearts of comic fans worldwide ever since he’s showed up a few months back in Thanos #13—so much so that he’s already approved for a mini-series. This is also weird because this whole issue is his origin.
Never in my 30+ years of reading comics have I seen such a meteoric rise of a character. It seems only a few days ago people were guessing his identity, and now he’ll have his own mini. Thanks to this issue we find out how Frank Castle became the Spirit of Vengeance. Turns out the title of this arc, “Thanos Wins,” isn’t just a cool name. Thanos wins and destroys everyone on the planet. Everyone except one man….
Yea that’s right, Frank Castle. In his final moments he makes a deal with the devil (there’s Mephisto again) and becomes the new Ghost Rider to seek revenge on Thanos. Unfortunately, Thanos had already left the planet. So Frank traveled the world for a millennium, slowly losing his mind…until a certain Planet Eater shows up seeking aid. Galactus makes Frank a herald but falls in battle to Thanos, who takes an interest in Frank. He pledges his allegiance to Thanos and there you have it: one of the best origins in comics.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “I thought I was reading a Thanos review”? Well, yes. You are. However, this issue fills in a plot hole that needs to be revealed before we can go further with the story. And believe it or not, this story about death, destruction, revenge, depression, loneliness and madness also has one more thing that you would never think…humor.
When Frank first meets Galactus he’s already lost his mind and doesn’t believe anything he’s saying. If I have any small complaints about Thanos #16 it’s that I couldn’t help but get a Deadpool vibe from Cosmic Ghost Rider. While not Cates’ fault, it is an unavoidable comparison.
What else can I say about Donny Cates that hasn’t already been said? The man has a way of taking characters that you already care about and make them better. Instead of doing what any other writer might have done and made Frank more of a bloodthirsty murderer, he did the opposite and made him almost like a slapstick character. I’m almost afraid that people will prefer him over the actual Punisher.
All this praise and I haven’t even touched the art yet. Once again Geoff Shaw and Antonio Fabela turn in some of the best art in their careers. The draw Galactus & Thanos in such an imposing way that you can almost feel their presence. When it comes to drawing Galactus, you have to always make sure that even the reader feels small when seeing him, and Shaw and Fabela deliver on this statement. The purple shades collide beautifully with the orange, red and yellows of Ghost Rider.
I’m pretty sure that the world went wild when they found out Cosmic Ghost Rider was Frank. The actual thought of the Punisher flying around on a space motorcycle seemed absurd. But thanks to Shaw & Fabela not only am I now a believer but I also can’t remember when I hated the idea. I can’t recommend Thanos #16 more. It has it all, action, surprises (that last page reveal!), humor, and eye-popping art. I love it when a comic comes out and is so good that it makes me want to go back and start from the beginning of the run. You like Ghost Rider? Read it. You like Punisher? Read it. You like good comics? Read it. The Mad Titan abides.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 Superman Neck Snaps
You are now in the presence of The Mighty Hands of Khonshu aka The Fist of the NorCal aka Infinity Knuckles aka Vibranium Clippers aka Terrigen Haze aka Vishanti Slippers aka Latverian Lamborghini aka Adamantium Triceps aka The New Comic Book Daywalker aka Unstable Molecule aka Beats by Pym aka Foster Child of the Atom aka Triple XXX-Gene aka the Walking, Talking Red 100 Emoji. Stop putting pineapple on a pizza.