Writer Donny Cates made big waves as the writer of an acclaimed run on Thanos - and now, he's taking his fan-favorite Thanos supporting character Cosmic Ghost Rider out on his own to ride the spaceways.
(If you recall, Cosmic Ghost Rider is Frank Castle from the future who has become Ghost Rider. Crazy, huh?)
Alongside artist Dylan Burnett, Cates will take Cosmic Ghost Rider into the stars, and possibly into the timestream as well. With glimpses of what Cates calls "crazy @#$%" including space sharks, Galactus, and a Juggernaut-ified version version of Howard the Duck already seen in solicitations, Cosmic Ghost Rider promises to be a wild ride.
Newsarama spoke with Cates ahead of Cosmic Ghost Rider #1's July 4 release to find out just how far he's planning to take his unlikely anti-hero.
Newsarama: Cosmic Ghost Rider was the breakout character of your Thanos run. Did you see solo potential for him when you and Geoff Shaw were creating him?
Donny Cates: Yeah, I mean, as much as any writer does, I suppose? I think every time you introduce a new character into the Marvel pantheon you quietly hope that it will become some kind of hot new thing, but honestly, I don’t think any of us were prepared for him to take off the way he did. It’s been so much fun watching my sweet, insane, little baby boy grow into this fun new toy that everyone enjoys so much! It’s really surreal!
Nrama: Was his secret identity baked in from the start?
Cates: This is the question I’m asked the most about him. And yes, he was always supposed to be Frank Castle. The idea for the character began life as a fun idea for a cool drawing if I’m being honest. I thought that Ghost Rider would look cool in space. That’s really all. And then I started thinking who it could be, and the idea of Frank Castle came to mind because really... who likes vengeance more than Frank?
And then, when I had the opportunity to write Thanos, I knew I needed a character to come and drag him into the future and I thought of this silly idea I had for a Cosmic Ghost Rider and the idea really fit aesthetically in a way that I loved.
And I quite like the idea that Thanos' “Thanos Wins” arc is so dark that Frank Castle is the comedic relief!
Nrama Now that Cosmic Ghost Rider is out on his own, what’s he getting up to in this series?
Cates: Well, without giving too much away, Frank is on a quest for redemption. He’s in a better place mentally, and the enormity of his deeds working for Thanos have begun to weigh on him very heavily. He sold out, you know? He lost his mind and he sold his soul to one of the worst devils in the universe. That’s not something I’m going to just ignore. That’s not something I did lightly and it lends itself to some really cool stories.
Nrama: We’ve read mentions of space sharks, Galactus, and more in the solicits for this series. How much leeway have you got when it comes to what happens in this future world?
Cates: You’re doing something that I see a lot of people do online, which is assume where this story takes place. Whoever said it took place in the future?
That being said, look…there’s a reason we’re all being very cagey about what this book’s plot is about. It’s a big deal, and I’m trying like hell to preserve the big hook and twist of the series. But rest assured…if you dig my Thanos run, this is very much a spiritual sequel. With all the lunacy and brutality that goes along with it.
Nrama: You’re working with artist Dylan Burnett on Cosmic Ghost Rider. How’s he handling all the wild stuff you’re throwing at him?
Cates: Dylan is absolutely unreal. I’ve never seen an artist so confident in his first big two series like this before. Dylan and I have done two books before this (Interceptor, Reactor) and he’s always been incredible. But man, the things he’s doing on Cosmic Ghost Rider are just next level. There’s seemingly nothing I can throw at him that he isn’t able to crush. He’s really the perfect successor to Geoff on this. You guys are going to be blown away.
Nrama: What’s your favorite thing he’s drawn for Cosmic Ghost Rider so far?
Cates: Oh, hands down the big fight scene of #3. I’ve never asked more from an artist and I’ve never been more impressed with the outcome. It’s Cosmic Ghost Rider versus just…hundreds of opponents, and it’s the craziest s--- you’ve ever seen. It’s maybe my favorite sequence in any of my books.
Nrama OK, we have to ask you about the future Guardians seen on the cover for #3. What can you tell us about this team? We’re specifically hoping you can explain more about the Juggerduck.
Cates: Oh, that. Yeah, it’s Howard the Duck with the Gem of Cytorrak. Is that somehow confusing? [laughs]
Obviously I can’t say much about all of that. But man, I think my favorite comics are always the ones where you can tell that everyone is having fun. If you’re like me, then you will love this book. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a comic.
Nrama: On that note, can you tease us about any other familiar faces or cameos that might pop up? Who have you got your eye on bringing into this timeline you’ve created?
Cates: Oh man. Hell yeah. This book is like a Where’s Waldo of Marvel Easter eggs and cameos. When it’s all said and done it’s going to need its own insane Wikipedia page.
Nrama: Is there a chance we’ll continue to see this corner of the Marvel Universe once this series is concluded?
Cates: I’ll say this: as long as I’m at Marvel, Cosmic Ghost Rider will always have a place. I have very long, very cool plans for him. Like him or not, he’s not going anywhere!
Nrama: Bottom line, what can you tell readers about what they’ll find when they pick up Cosmic Ghost Rider #1?
Cates: Just…so, so, so much crazy @#$%!