Quasar (Growing up with the protector of the universe)

By Phil Perich for 'Nuff Said Podcast

October 1989. I remember it well.  I was a shy, quiet, small boy of 11.  Although the character of Quasar had been around for awhile already, appearing in the pages of such comics as Captain America, Defenders, Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-in-One, Quasar #1 was the first encounter I had with the hero.  

It was almost an accident that I discovered this series.  I had seen an ad in a few other marvel books about how Wendell Vaughn by chance had become protector of the universe.  I also went to one of the local newsstands (I had not discovered the direct market shops yet) and since there were no new issues of the few Marvel books I read at the time (Spider-man, Hulk, Fantastic Four), I paid the $1 for the first issue of Quasar.  I was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered.  The great writer Mark Gruenwald (God rest his soul) had written Quasar in the same style as he wrote his Captain America run, making the hero of the book seem very real and human.  The first issue flashed back to Quasar’s origin receiving the Quantum Bands that gave him his powers.  Wendell Vaughn had been a SHIELD rookie agent that had put on the bands to keep them out of the hands of the terrorist organization known as AIM.  The issue also revealed Wendell’s feelings of inadequacy when it came to his place in SHIELD, his place in the world, and seeking the approval of his scientist father.  The 11year old I was with my low self esteem immediately identified with the character.  As I said before, Mark Gruenwald’s writing made it seem as if Quasar was a real person, like a friend who understood me.  By the second issue, I was cheering Quasar on as he traveled to Uranus to discover the origins of his Quantum Bands, meet the cosmic entity Eon who unlocked the full potential of the bands, and defeat the evil Deathurge. 

My new friend made me think outside the box as he encountered different alien life forms as he searched for the big threat to all life on Earth that was coming from space.  But the really mind bending happenings began in Quasar #18 when an old woman named Origin retroactively changed Quasar’s costume throughout time so the new one is the one he had always worn.  Why?  So when Quasar faced Maelstrom, the “big threat” from space, Quasar was now a walking reality inversion, a bigger anomaly than Maelstrom himself.  Issue #37 saw Quasar discover the dimension of manifestations. The place where the cosmic beings such as Infinity, Eternity, the Living Tribunal, and even Death herself went to get “physical” bodies.  Quasar’s continued to succeed at his superhero “career” and my friend was there every month.  He even went toe to toe in a battle with the Silver Surfer in Issue #50.  For a cosmic hero, what better way to get “street cred”?  

It seemed like my hero was on top of the world.  He had even wielded the Starbrand from Marvel’s New Universe line for a  few months.  Then I picked it up one day.  Issue #60.  The Final issue.

Not only was this the final issue, but Quasar was forced to fake his death and leave Earth to protect his family.  What had they done to my hero? Cancellation? How could this book not be bringing in millions of people?  Quasar would go on to appear in other books, but the glory days were over.  I had even heard years later that Quasar had been killed and replaced.  It was like hearing that great friend you had in high school that you hadn’t talk to since had died.  But Quasar would return not to much later, in the pages of the last Richard Rider Nova series as an energy being.

In closing, I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but with the new Secret Wars storyline from Marvel in May 2015, everything is being swept off the table and anything will be possible.  So to the powers that be at Marvel: PLEASE GIVE MY FRIEND HIS JOB BACK!!!!  Thank you Quasar (and Mark Gruenwald), for showing me what an ordinary man can do if he just believes in himself.

Any other Quasar fans out there? You can email me at Nightwingpdp@gmail.com