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Comic Book / Quasar

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Quasar is a 1989 comic book series published by Marvel Comics. Created by Don Glut, Roy Thomas, and John Buscema, the character debuted in Captain America #217 (January, 1978). Eleven years later, Quasar would be given his own series, written by Mark Gruenwald.

After being declared unfit for fieldwork, for not having a "killer instinct", after graduating from S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, Wendell 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 Marvel. 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 to protect the universe.

However, a rift would develops between Quasar and Eon, and after 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, manages to trick Maelstrom, causing his death.

Quasar later joined the The Avengers after helping them in the battle against Super-Nova.

Quasar provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • Another Dimension: Angler was radically transformed by being in Another Dimension, and though he returns from it, isn't quite suited to "normal" space and tends to be in two places at once. Not to mention crazy, deformed and speaking in weird symbols that look like broken glass.
  • Arch-Enemy: 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.
  • Badass Cape: Quasar, who is effectively Marvel's Green Lantern. His cape, it's full of stars...
  • 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, half a dozen X-Men, and even Wonder Woman.
  • Chest Insignia: Quasar has a star emblem emblazoned on his chest, specifically on his cape where it joins together.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The Quantum Bands that come with the job of Protector of the Marvel Universe, once put on, don't come off again until the death of their wearer. As a result, Quasar gets killed once precisely because the Big Bad of that story arc is after the bands and discovers that the bands can't even be removed from his wrists after cutting off his lower arms. (He does eventually get better.)
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Quasar derives his powers from his Quantum Bands. One of the characters, Turbo, is the successor to an obscure 1970s hero named Torpedo, who also got his powers from a high-tech suit.
  • Cosmic Entity:
    • Eon's daughter Epoch, who was delivered by Quasar.
    • Quasar once met Anthropomorpho, the living incarnation of the idea of having living incarnations of abstract concepts. Seriously.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Mark Gruenwald apparently loved his home state Wisconsin, as Quasar hailed from "America's Dairyland".
  • Domed Hometown: In one issue, Vaughn finds the ruins of a domed city on Uranus, revealed to be the same city where the original Marvel Boy grew up.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Quasar's first name is Wendell, and whilst he doesn't exactly hate it, he was apparently called Elvis (his middle name) in college.
  • 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.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Quasar wears the Quantum Bands which were created by Eon for the Protector of the Universe. Eon would routinely bestow the bands on each new agent she chose to act as Protector. Among other things, they enable him to quantum jump or create small apertures between the fabric of space/time in the actual world of matter and energy and the potential world of matter and energy that is the quantum zone. He can then travel through this trackless featureless zone and emerge at a different point in our physical space. His quantum-bands enable him to keep his bearings while in the zone and thus emerge where he wants to. He can cross countless light years in a single jump, if he so desires. Important note, however, he cannot quantum-jump in an atmosphere without ripping a huge hole in its ozone layer. Thus using it for teleportation on Earth is out of the question.
  • Flight: Quasar's 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.
  • Flying Firepower: The Quantum Bands allow Quasar to fly at light-speed and fire quantum energy.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: For years it had been assumed that Uatu The Watcher had been apparently talking directly to the readers for years—until one issue revealed that he was actually addressing a recording device, recording his impressions of events for the people of the universe that will come after this one. So technically, he was just filming his own Vlog.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: 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.
  • 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: The Quantum Bands have the power to create solid light constructs. According to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, they are actually made of air molecules that have been bound together with photons, although no explanation of how Quasar can create such constructs in outer space is given.
  • Hyper-Awareness: The Cosmic Awareness
  • Hyperspace: Quasar uses Quantum Jumps to travel interstellar distances.
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: The Quantum Bands. They do pretty much the same as the Green Lantern rings, only they're not technology, or run by willpower, and they come with the slight design flaw that kills anyone incapable of wielding them. And yet an Omnicidal Maniac like Annihilus was able to hang on to them for several months in-universe.
  • 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 took up Quasar's mantle after the events of Annihilation. In the past, Phyla was the fourth Captain Marvel. Richard Rider also briefly served as the third Quasar after being stripped of the Nova Force.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: Skeletron is the last survivor of an ancient race of robots called the Tugentine Techenium; he claimed that his race once tyrannized a huge chunk of Marvel space, but the organic races of that era united to destroy them.
  • Mister Seahorse: Issue #29 had a cover image with Quasar in costume clutching a pregnant belly in the same fashion as Demi Moore's cover of Vanity Fair (see Print Media below).
  • My Brain Is Big: One issue suggests that Watchers are capable of voluntary shapeshifting to an unknown extent when one tries to intimidate the eponymous hero by "assuming a more formidable aspect".
  • One-Shot Revisionism: According to Mark Gruenwald's explanation, all superheroes and villains in the franchise are the result of a cosmic being's influence. Consequently, "themed" beings are naturally drawn to each other.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Issue #17 is a Shout-Out to the enormous disparity bewteen The Flash and Comic Book/Quicksilver. A cosmic entity had gathered Earth's super-speedsters for a race from Earth to the Moon. At the last minute, all the contestants got blown past by an amnesiac man in a tattered red-and-yellow costume whose garbled name is given as 'Buried Alien'. It was, all in all, a rather sweet tribute to Barry - though Marvel being Marvel, they also snuck in a jab at DC's then new Post-Crisis continuity with 'Buried Alien' saying that he didn't really like what little he remembered of what was going on in his own world. (This was back when Barry Allen was still dead, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.)
  • Pretty Boy: In one issue, Quasar was called 'Pretty Boy' by a bad guy.
  • Primary-Color Champion: Quasar's usual costume as one of Marvel's cosmic heroes: blue and red costume, blond hair, and the signature yellow quantum bands and chest symbol.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Crossover: In issue #17, several characters with Super-Speed competed on a race to the moon, organized by the Runner, one of the Elders of the Universe. One such character was "Buried Alien", a speedster who suddenly appeared on the track in a flash of lightning, amnesiac but with the feeling he was no longer in his own universe. It's heavily implied that this is Barry Allen, having been thrown into the Marvel universe after his seeming sacrifice in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, albeit in a Captain Ersatz way. Regardless, fellow speedster Makkari brought him back to wherever he originally came from, and Buried Alien hasn't returned to Earth-616 since.
    Runner: Well, Buried, how does it feel to be the fastest man alive?
    Buried: It feels... right.
  • Star-Spangled Spandex: Eternity is a universe that has gained sapience. Quasar (who is the Champion of Eternity... Well, actually Infinity, but they're the same being or... something) tends to have this weird effect with his cloak.
  • Super-Power Meltdown: Wendell Vaughn got the Quantum Bands because the previous two users incinerated themselves by trying too hard to control them, while Vaughn's more laid back go-with-the-flow attitude allowed him to "calm them down", so to speak.
  • Superheroes in Space: Quasar, like Captain Mar-Vell before him, is the Protector of the Universe, and spends a great deal of time literally protecting the universe.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: Quasar wears one with a sparkling star pattern on the inside and big shoulder pads that join in the middle of his chest with a star emblem.
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: The Quantum Bands provide their chosen wielder with Imagination-Based Superpower.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Phobius, one of Maelstrom's minions, also has psychic fear powers.