Quasar is a Marvel Comics superhero created by Don Glut, Roy Thomas and John Buscema. Making his debut in Captain America #217 (January, 1978), Wendell Elvis Vaughn wields the Quantum Bands: powerful wristbands that tap into the unlimited power of the Quantum Zone. Originally naming himself Marvel Boy after the Silver Age hero who owned a similar pair of wristbands, Quasar gradually carves out his own identity as one of Marvel's most powerful cosmic heroes.
Declared unfit for field work, for not having a "killer instinct", after graduating from S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, Vaughn was offered a job at a Stark International research facility where his father, Dr. Gilbert Vaughn, was experimenting with the Quantum Bands, two alien wristbands of great power left behind after the death of Crusader, the original Marvel Boy's evil duplicate. After an attack by A.I.M. forces Vaughn to use the Bands in self defense, the second Marvel Boy is born. Now a charter member of the newly-created S.H.I.E.L.D. Super-Agents, Vaughn later changes his name to Quasar after his father speculates that the Quantum Bands get their power from actual quasars: Quasi-Stellar objects.
As Quasar, Vaughn learned the true origins of the Quantum Bands from the Cosmic Entity Eon. The Bands were to be used by the Eon's champion, the Protector of the Universe, a title once held by Captain Mar-Vell. The Protector's role was to keep Eon alive, as assassins would attempt to kill him to attain Cosmic Awareness. Accepting the title, Vaughn leaves Earth for a time until a rift develops between himself and Eon. Discovering that his father has been dead for some time, Quasar quits his job as Protector after learning that Eon had been impersonating Dr. Vaughn out of self-preservation. Eon believed that a Cosmic Assassin killed the doctor to weaken Vaughn's mental stability enough to make a move. The assassin, Maelstrom, reveals himself to Vaughn on Earth. Vaughn's powers could not touch Maelstrom, so the assassin cut off Quasar's forearms and took the Quantum Bands for himself. Dying, Vaughn encounters the spirits of Captain Mar-Vell and his father, who convince Quasar not to give up. Vaughn dies, stabbed through the heart by his own personal death avatar, Kid Reaper. Reappearing as an energy being in the Eonverse, Quasar kills Eon to prevent Maelstrom from acquiring the Cosmic Awareness, and in a cosmic battle for the fate of the universe, is able to trick Maelstrom, causing his death.
When Galactic Conqueror Annihilus threatens the galaxy in the Annihilation miniseries, Quasar is among the heroes assembled to stop him. Overpowering the heroes, Annihilus kills Quasar, taking the Quantum Bands and Vaughn's energy for himself. Later, Phyla-Vell would join the fight against Annihilus, leading to his defeat by forcing the Quantum Bands to abandon the villain at a key moment.
Vaughn would later be resurrected as a quantum energy being for a brief period of time within the pages of Nova before he was restored to flesh and blood on a journey to another universe. After the events of The Thanos Imperative, he would go on to join a short-lived group of other cosmic heroes call 'Annihilators'.
Phyla-Vell first appeared in Captain Marvel vol. 6 #16 (December, 2003), created by Peter David and Paul Azaceta. She is a daughter of Captain Mar-Vell and Elysius. She acquired the Quantum Bands at the end of Annihilation, and became the new Quasar in Annihilation: Conquest Prologue #1 (August, 2007).
Now in possession of the Quantum Bands, Phyla-Vell uses her new powers to help the people who survived the 'Annihilation Wave'. Later, Phyla hones her skill with the Quantum Bands during Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar series, eventually defeating the evil android Super-Adaptoid and taking up Quasar's mantle for the first time. After Conquest, Quasar joins the new Guardians of the Galaxy.
Phyla-Vell's time as Quasar is short lived, coming to an end after losing the Quantum Bands to the resurrected Maelstrom. Forced to make a deal to save Moondragon, her lover, Phyla agrees to become the new avatar of Oblivion, one of the two aspects of Death; meanwhile, Wendell came back from the dead and reclaimed the Bands from Maelstrom, by cutting them off his hands in a very familiar manner. Phyla was later killed during the resurrection of Thanos.
- The Infinity Gauntlet
- The Infinity War
- Operation Galactic Storm
- Maximum Security
- Annihilation: Conquest
- Secret Invasion
Tropes seen in these series include:
- Alternate Company Equivalent: Quasar is Marvel's version of DC's Green Lantern (though this was a retcon- the original Marvel Boy was based on the Silver Age Superboy and Wendell had the same powers at first.)
- This is made even more obvious in the 2000's cosmic storylines where he becomes a very close ally of the Nova Corps, Marvel's other major Green Lantern equivalent.
- Arch-Enemy / Big Bad: Maelstrom
- Back from the Dead: Depending on how exactly you define "death," Wendell has returned from it either two or three times. Phyla also returned from the dead as Martyr as part of her deal to save Moondragon.
- Bald Women: Moondragon, Phyla's lover. Moondragon also showed interest in Vaughn while he was Protector of the Universe.
- Barrier Warrior: At his most powerful moments, Quasar can create "Q-Fields" strong enough to withstand the combined strength of the Hulk, Hercules, Thor, She-Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and half a dozen X-Men.
- Bigger Bad: Oblivion is Maelstrom's backer and, one way or another, is involved with most of the major villains the Quasars have found themselves fighting; but Wendell has only fought him once, briefly, and Phyla never.
- Chest Insignia
- Clingy MacGuffin: The Quantum Bands.
- Empathic Weapon: The Quantum Bands. The Bands willingly choose Phyla over Annihilus during Annihilation. Later, the Bands would return to Wendell after Maelstrom is defeated.
- Energy Absorption: Like his predecessor, Marvel Boy, Quasar could only absorb light, and, later, the entire electromagnetic spectrum. After his encounter with Eon, Quasar learned that the Quantum Bands could absorb almost all forms of energy, including the Silver Surfer's Power Cosmic. Only magic and Darkforce energy cannot be manipulated by the Quantum Bands.
- Flight: His peak speed is somewhere around the speed-of-light. That's not even taking into account the fact that he can effectively teleport across astronomical distances.
- Green Lantern Ring: Quasar uses the Quantum Bands in a similar manner as the Trope Namer, though some Green Lantern abilities are beyond their reach.
- Hand Blast: Quasar can project energy beams from the Quantum Bands with incredible power. In Quasar #26, Quasar blasted Thanos with the equivalent of 100 megatons.
- Hard Light
- Hyper-Awareness: The Cosmic Awareness
- Hyperspace: Quasar uses Quantum Jumps to travel interstellar distances.
- Kryptonite Factor: The Quantum Bands are ineffective against magic.
- Of course, most magic users are helpless against the Quantum-Bands as shown when Phoenix teamed-up with Modred against Quasar and Excalibur in Quasar #11. So it evens out.
- Legacy Character: Wendell started his career as the second Marvel Boy. Phyla takes up Quasar's mantle after the events of Annihilation. In the past, Phyla was the fourth Captain Mar-Vell. Richard Rider also briefly served as the third Quasar after being stripped of the Nova Force.
- Nigh Invulnerable
- Shaping Your Attacks: Both Quasars can create quantum constructs of yellow energy. Vaughn prefers nunchaku for close encounters, while Phyla is rarely seen without her Quantum Sword.
- Superheroes Wear Capes
- Superheroes Wear Tights
- Supernatural Fear Inducer: Phobius, one of Maelstrom's minions, also has psychic fear powers.
Quasar I (Wendell Vaughn):
- Chekhov's Gunman: Mark Gruenwald created Maelstrom in 1980 for the specific purpose of eventually becoming Quasar's Arch-Enemy when he got his own series...which didn't happen until 1989.
- Chick Magnet / Even the Guys Want Him
- Domed Hometown: Vaughn finds the ruins of a domed city on Uranus, revealed to be the same city where the original Marvel Boy grew up.
- Energy Beings: During Secret Invasion, Vaughn returns from the dead as an energy being similar to the constructs created by the Quantum Bands.
- The Everyman
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Possibly an Author Avatar as well. Eventually became more agnostic/Deist."Maybe I'm not the atheist I thought I was. Maybe I just haven't found the God that's right for me."
- Flying Firepower: Possesses the Quantum Bands, which allow him to fly at lightspeeds and fire quantum energy.
- Human Popsicle: Vaughn entered a form of suspended animation for his trip from Earth to Uranus.
- Instant Expert: Averted. Vaughn doesn't become truly proficient with the Quantum Bands until his encounter with Eon.
- Played straight with his new moveset when he was made of quantum energy.
- Look What I Can Do Now!: After taking a four year journey to Uranus, where Eon opened his mind to the full potential of the Quantum Bands, Quasar uses a Quantum Jump to return to Earth. Total return time: 15 seconds.
- Meaningful Name: Wendell means 'Wanderer' and given to the fact that at the end of his solo series, his name fits as he was on a forced exile to Space from Earth.
- The Mentor: Serves as this to Richard Rider when he became the third Quasar.
- Mistaken Identity: Meeting for the first time at the Project: PEGASUS facility, the Thing attacks Quasar after mistaking him for Crusader, Marvel Boy's evil duplicate. Eventually the two become good friends.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Wendell Elvis Vaughn
- Nice Guy: Vaughn is the kind of guy who calls everyone "sir" or "ma'am", even his enemies on occasion.
- No-Sell: Mental attacks won't work on Wendell, period. His mind can be read, but not affected.
- Only Mostly Dead: How he survived his most recent demise. He tried to teleport away, and only some of him made it out.
- Only Sane Man: Wendell hates the seemingly obligatory hero-vs.-hero fights, and if caught in or near one will do everything in his power to defuse it; talk his way out of it, put up a barrier between the fighting parties...
- Pretty Boy: Depending on the artist, the most prominent example is when Greg Capullo draws him in several issues of the solo series. In one issue, he was even called 'Pretty Boy' by a villain.
- Shout-Out / Take That!: Possibly at Green Lantern with William Wesley, a cocky test pilot with Heroic Willpower who explodes after an experiment with the Quantum Bands goes wrong.
- Technical Pacifist: Because he wields great power, Vaughn follows a standard operation procedure to avoid killing his enemies. He Contains the threat with a Q-Field, Drains him or her of energy (if applicable), then Attacks with various quantum constructs as necessary.
- Time to Unlock More True Potential: Vaughn's encounter with Eon opened his mind to the full potential of the Quantum Bands.
- Teleporters and Transporters
- Transformation Trinket: His Quantum Bands
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Available only in energy being form. In Nova #18, Quasar took on the form of the Hulk to battle a genetically augmented Skrull.
- The Worf Effect: Killed at the mid-way point of Annihilation to show how dangerous Annihilus was. He got better eventually.
Quasar II (Phyla-Vell):
- Affirmative Action Legacy: Phyla-Vell is a lesbian.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Phyla-Vell is normally a nice, cheerful and amiable sort. Just don't hurt or manipulate Moondragon, because she will try and smash your head in.
- Cool Sword: The Quantum Sword, one of Phyla's favorite constructs.
- The Corruption: Phyla learned that Annihilus corrupted the Quantum Bands during Annihilation: Conquest. She was nearly consumed with evil after defeating the Super-Adaptoid, but Wendell Vaughn's spirit returned in time to purge the darkness from the Quantum Bands.
- Deal with the Devil: Makes a deal with Oblivion to become its Avatar in order to resurrect Moondragon.
- Discard and Draw: Phyla is a natural Flying Brick whose other abilities have varied over the years. Initially she possessed the Nega-Bands which allowed her to absorb energy a limited form of cosmic awareness. Both of these vanished after she acquired the Quantum Bands. Then the Quantum Bands were drained in Annihilation: Conquest leaving her with only her strength, flight and her Quantum Sword. After her death she was resurrected as avatar of the cosmic entity Oblivion with powers that were never truly defined before she was killed again by Thanos.
- I Have Many Names: Captain Marvel, Quasar, Martyr
- Killed Off for Real: At the very end of the second volume of Guardians of the Galaxy.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Phyla's approach to using the Quantum Bands was very different from Wendell's. While Wendell tended to be versatile and creative with his constructs, Phyla's use was mostly limited to energy blasts and forming swords. This was a reflection of their backgrounds and personalities; Wendell was S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy graduate who was deemed unfit for field work due to his refusal to use lethal force and he followed a standard operating procedure of "contain, drain and attack". Phyla by contrast was a trained Kree soldier who had no problems with lethal force but lacked Wendell's versatility.
- Male Might, Female Finesse: Inverted. See Linear Warriors Quadriatic Wizards above.
- More Deadly Than the Male: Wendell had a rule against killing. Phyla has no such rule.
- Most Common Superpower
- Super Strength: Phyla-Vell, thanks to her half Kree/Eternal biological makeup.