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12 Quasar Facts That Will Bring Marvel Comics Fans Up To Date At Quantum Speed

The character of Quasar is a testament to how a fairly obscure Golden Age character can cause ripples through the decades and emerge as something completely different. The only constant has been the energy bracelets referred to as Quantum Bands, passed from user to user. It all started with a 1950s character named Bob Grayson, alias Marvel Boy. He was associated with a civilization living on Uranus, later retconned to being Eternals colonizing that planet. An Eternal named Thelius was transformed to think he was Grayson, returned to Earth, and went insane.

The bands next went to SHIELD agent Wendell Vaughn, who was the first to take up the name of Quasar. This cerebral superhero became Eon's new Protector of the Universe, joined the Avengers, and went on a number of incredible adventures before he died for the first time. The bands then passed to Phyla-Vell, daughter of Captain Mar-Vell, until she becomes the Avatar of Oblivion. Wendell, his spiritual energy fused with the bands, is reborn in energy form and briefly gives the Quantum Bands to his friend Nova to save his life. Finally, Vaughn assists a SHIELD agent named Avril Kincaid wield the Quantum Bands in becoming a new Quasar.

Though no Quasar has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet, it would make sense for the Quantum Band-gifted superhero to make his first appearance in the upcoming "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." The closest we think we'll get is William Jackson Harper's new character, named Quaz — short for Quasar? Or just an absurd coincidence? Only time will tell.

Bob Grayson and the Uranian Eternals

Bob Grayson is the son of a German scientist named Matthew Grayson who wants to flee the Nazi regime but is forced to work for them. After the Nazis kill his Jewish wife, Mathew is able to contact alien life on the planet Uranus. They help him build a rocket to escape, and Matthew takes his infant son Bob with him. Bob is raised as one of the Uranians' own, and his father helps him develop Bob's telepathy and scientific acumen. The Uranians send Bob to Earth as a superhero, looking to him as a kind of goodwill ambassador that will precede their coming to Earth as saviors.

The only problem is that Bob arrives in the 1950s, when superheroes start to fade away and many are suspected of being communists. Bob defeats a terrorist named Man o' War who uses his technology against the US Navy, but the Navy and FBI are both suspicious of him. He escapes their grasps and fights crime as the Uranian, until a comic book writer convinces him to call himself Marvel Boy and later writes fake adventures about him.

Marvel Boy eventually joins forces with FBI agent Jimmy Woo and teams with Venus, Gorilla-Man, and the Human Robot. He's called back to Uranus when he gets a distress signal, where he learns that much about his life is a lie.

Thelius: the crusading retcon

The Fantastic Four one day have to deal with the seeming return of Bob Grayson, now calling himself the Crusader. Suddenly bloodthirsty and vengeance-oriented, the Crusader kills someone he deems to be a criminal and nearly kills the Human Torch because he gets in his way. It turns out the man was a banker, and his wife sees a resemblance between the Crusader and a scientist named Horace Grayson. The Crusader starts destroying the banker's actual banks, and when the Human Torch catches up to him, he tells him that he knows he's the son of Horace Grayson.

The Crusader admits to it and talks about coming back to Earth to get a bank loan to bring supplies back to Uranus, only to find everyone there dead. He hitches a ride on a comet and comes back to Earth to get revenge. Fighting the Fantastic Four, he overloads his Quantum Bands and explodes, leaving more questions than answers. 

Turns out this wasn't Bob Grayson at all. It was a Uranian Eternal named Thelius, who was being fed Bob Grayson's memories to make him a perfect servant of the Uranian Eternals. These Eternals were criminals exiled from Earth and kept prisoner by the Uranian hive-mind. When the Uranian Eternals try to escape and are killed by native Uranians, Thelius is awakened from his tank prematurely. He immediately goes insane, and that's when he meets his final fate on Earth, tragically never knowing his true identity.

The big boy scout: Wendell Vaughn

In an age of superheroes with tortured pasts, hair-trigger tempers, and an indomitable fighting spirit comes Wendell Elvis Vaughn, the hero who eventually calls himself Quasar. When he is forced to put on the Quantum Bands for the first time as part of an assignment as a SHIELD agent, the only reason he survives the ensuing energy build-up is that he doesn't fight it. He just goes with the flow of the energy, and it subsides before it can hurt him. The two previous people who wore the bands disintegrated because they tried to fight the energy wave.

Wendell is a dedicated and conscientious hero. He throws himself into protecting Eon from cosmic evil. He's also reasonable, preferring to reason with the Human Torch when the Torch attacks him, thinking he's the Crusader. He's respectful to everyone, calling Captain America "sir" and treating his first employee, secretary Kayla Ballantine, with respect. He just has a certain level-headedness that makes him ideal to deal with the wackiest of situations. Be it traveling to the Stranger's world, convincing the Watchers to undo their cosmic suicide through reason, dying and coming back to life multiple times, and sacrificing himself when he's forced to absorb the body of the alien Ego, Wendell Vaughn is one of the kindest, most selfless heroes in the Marvel universe. He's the superhero version of a civil servant.

The magical baby: Phyla-Vell

Genis-Vell is the son of Captain Mar-Vell. His mother, Elysius, creates him using Titanian science, combining her essence with genetic material from Mar-Vell. She ages Genis-Vell up and he becomes a hero, trying to live up to his father. After his mother dies, when Genis gets Cosmic Awareness, it drives him insane, and he threatens to cause interstellar war.

Genis is confronted by various Titanians, including a young woman with his powers named Phyla, whom he knows is his sister. Only he doesn't have a sister. Genis doesn't remember that he already rewrote reality such that Elysius is alive. Elysius is so impressed that she repeats her "birthing" process, this time producing Phyla.

After knocking some sense into Genis, Phyla has her own adventures. She's one of the cosmic defenders fighting the Annihilation Wave. Earlier in the conflict, Annihilus kills Wendell Vaughn and takes the Quantum Bands. His fleet is destroyed by Galactus, but Annihilus survives, thanks to the Quantum Bands. Only Nova, Phyla, the Silver Surfer, Galactus, and Star-Lord are left to fight Annihilus.

Phyla makes a desperate play for the Quantum Bands, offering them a new user by touching them, and they fly off Annihilus' hands. Nova kills Annihilus, and Phyla becomes the new Quasar. She plays a huge role in defeating Ultron in another galaxy-spanning Annihilation event.

Eon and the Protectors of the Universe

The being who empowered the Protectors of the Universe was Eon, the child of Eternity. A representative of life, Eon's role was to choose a Protector of the Universe, imbue them with Cosmic Awareness, and give them the Quantum Bands as weapons. Once a protector is bound to the Quantum Bands, they remain connected to them forever. Wendell Vaughn discovers this when he's temporarily obliterated by the Ultimate Nullifier and sent to the White Room, where the spirits of all previous Protectors dwell. He meets Mokonris, Andwella, the Stygian Starbender and others, but no one can quite agree what the White Room actually is. 

Quasar is forced to kill Eon in order to prevent Maelstrom (Avatar of Oblivion) from achieving Cosmic Awareness. However, Eon gives birth to Epoch, who carries on Eon's role in determining the Protectors of the Universe. 

Not all Protectors get the Quantum Bands; Captain Mar-Vell was given the gift of Cosmic Awareness and received a different weapon: the powerful Nega-Bands. Not all wearers of the Quantum Bands are Protectors of the Universe, as evil beings such as Maelstrom and Annihilus have worn them. Even Phyla is never officially named a Protector.

Wendell Vaughn gets Kid Reaper

Quasar's main mission in working as Protector of the Universe for Eon is to protect the ancient being from a cosmic assassin. That assassin turns out to be Maelstrom, the Inhuman working for Oblivion, the sibling of Death and foe of Eternity and Infinity. Maelstrom had previously been soundly defeated by the Avengers and Eternals and sent into space.

Maelstrom works the long game, taking the powers of a cosmic being called Anomaly and sneaking past Quasar's defenses when he's away from Earth. He lures Quasar into a trap with the promise of a job for Vaughn Security and easily defeats him. He cuts off Quasar's hands in an effort to get at the Quantum Bands, but he can't use them until Quasar dies. However, the sadistic Maelstrom keeps Quasar alive until he determines how the bands work.

Oblivion's servant Deathurge comes by to taunt Quasar but refuses to kill him. Even when another lackey of Maelstrom whips Quasar to the point of death, Wendell's will to live is too great. That's why he summons the absurd Kid Reaper to help him. This is Wendell's own manifestation of what he thinks the Angel of Death should look like, and Kid Reaper makes an aside that "Just between you and me, bunk — I think you were readin' too many Harvey comics as a kid!" Kid Reaper serves his function and kills Quasar, although he's later resurrected, aided by Ghost Rider, and defeats Maelstrom.

Phylla and Moondragon: a love story

Phyla is asked by Genis to watch over Rick Jones' wife Marlo while he goes to the future. When he comes back, Moondragon explains her attraction to Marlo as being influenced by the Magus. While Rick and Marlo believe this, Phyla calls her out on it, but also admires her for doing it. Then Phyla invites Moondragon to explore space with her, and Moondragon happily accepts. A romance is born.

Moondragon is there to help Phyla when she becomes Quasar, especially when the Phalanx conquer the Kree empire and try to assimilate everything in it into their techno-organic brain. When Phyla hears a voice in her head telling her to seek out the savior of the Kree, Moondragon is there to help, even if she can't hear the voice. Along the way, Moondragon reveals certain uncomfortable truths about her past, like stalking Wendell Vaughn and insisting that he should be her mate. Even when Moondragon is forced to transform her body into the Dragon of the Moon, Phyla is by her side, and they ride off to fight the Phalanx. They fought the Phalanx together until its leader, Ultron, killed Moondragon. The savior of the Kree, Adam Warlock, eventually empowers Phyla with the souls of the Kree race, and she destroys Ultron once and for all. She still mourns the loss of the love of her life, however.

Wendell Vaughn finds the New Universe

Wendell was doing a favor for the Watcher, as the Living Laser got lost in his room and zipped in and out of several other realities, causing all sorts of havoc. Quasar catches up with him but eats a huge blast from an alternate version of Maelstrom while trying to quantum jump, and he gets blown out of the known multiverses. The Watcher simply has no idea where he is, much less if he's alive or not. The blast knocks Wendell out of the multiverse and into the omniverse: a space beyond the established multiverse.

This particular omniverse is that of the New Universe, the line-up of comics started by Marvel in the 1980s, totally unconnected to the established Marvel Universe. "Quasar" writer Mark Gruenwald wrote the New Universe series "D.P. 7," and some of those characters appear in this issue. 

Wendell realizes that the laws of physics are different in this universe and that he can't access the Quantum Zone for energy. His only hope is to seek out the rumored power of a being called the Star Brand. This nearly inexhaustible source of power is also transferable. Wendell tracks down the current bearer, an ex-Air Force pilot, and they talk for 17 hours until Wendell convinces him that he's trustworthy. The Star Brand gets him home, but it's far from the last time that the New Universe will leak into the Marvel Universe.

Bob Grayson returns to Earth

When Bob Grayson goes back to Uranus in the 1950s, he learns the horrible truth about the Uranian Eternals. They are outcasts sent to live on cold, distant Uranus as a penal colony. They manipulated him his whole life and inhibit his ability to fully understand their plans. While on Earth, they start experimenting on Thelius, transmitting all of Bob's memories to him via his headband. Thelius is given the true Quantum Bands (how they got their hands on them is unclear), and Bob is given a lesser pair of light-generating gems.

The criminal Uranian Eternals are held captive by the native Uranian hive-mind; the Earth Eternals made a deal where the Uranians absorbed Eternal waste, and they prevent them from leaving. The criminals think being invited back to Earth would be a loophole; the native Uranians don't speak legalese and proceed to destroy the colonists. This nearly kills a returning Bob, but the Uranians absorb him and make him one of their own.

When Jimmy Woo, his old boss at the FBI, is near death, Bob is contacted by Gorilla-Man and decides to come back to Earth in the modern age. His body and mind are changed during his tenure as a Uranian, but he can't resist a chance to create a younger clone of Woo and rejoin his former teammates. He helps Woo achieve his destiny of controlling the Atlas Foundation and once again has a purpose on Earth.

Wendell Vaughn has had a lot of jobs

Wendell Vaughn has had careers that would span a lifetime for many people. He attained the rank of lieutenant in the US Army and became a SHIELD agent upon his discharge. However, he wasn't recommended for field work because his profile said he lacked a "killer instinct." His assignment was to guard the Quantum Bands that came into SHIELD's possession. When a tech put them on, he couldn't handle the energies and exploded, much like the Crusader. AIM robots attacked seeking the bands, but Wendell put them on, and the bands accepted him as a user. 

Gaining control of them, Wendell is dubbed "Marvel Man" and becomes one of the new SHIELD Super-Agents, a program that collapses when half its membership proves to be made up of double-agents. He then takes a job as head of security at the alternative energy lab Project PEGASUS and immediately has to deal with a lot of threats, including the dimension-destroying Nth Man. He later quits after the Serpent Crown takes over his mind, blaming himself.

After this, Eon contacts him and officially makes him Protector of the Universe. Wendell takes a side job as a security consultant that allows him to monitor a potential alien threat. He is so comically absent from the job that he eventually hands it over to his assistant, Ken Tanaka. Wendell's final non-Quasar job is as proprietor of the museum at Pleasant Hill, one where Kobik erased his memories. 

Phyla becomes the Avatar of Oblivion

Phyla and Drax the Destroyer go off on a quest to resurrect Moondragon. Drax is Moondragon's father and wants to be able to spend more time with his daughter. When the trail leads to Mentor on Titan, he casually kills them both. This isn't a vindictive act. He does it because he senses that Moondragon is trapped in the realm of the cosmic entity Oblivion.

Drax and Phyla wake up and encounter Oblivion's former champion, the Inhuman Maelstrom. Maelstrom reveals that Oblivion baited them to come here and shows them the full, sinister form of the Dragon of the Moon. Maelstrom tells them the dragon devoured Moondragon and then wakes the dragon up to kill Phyla and Drax. Maelstrom is able to use the Quantum Bands, abandoned in death by Phyla, but he's surprised when Wendell Vaughn returns in energy form to oppose him. Everyone is even more surprised when Phyla blasts her way through the belly of the dragon with Moondragon and her uniform changes. Instead of a starburst, there's a skull.

To save Moondragon, Phyla becomes Oblivion's new Avatar. Now representing death and the void, her mission is to stop the Avatar of Life. She attempts to kill the Magus to do this, but the Magus apparently kills her first. This is a ploy that she works around, and in trying to destroy a cocoon she thinks holds the Magus, a reborn Thanos emerges and kills her. Poor Phyla sacrifices everything for love. 

Avril Kincaid steps up

SHIELD director Maria Hill cooks up the most demented way to punish supervillains ever. Using a young, sentient Cosmic Cube called Kobik, she alters the minds of dozens of supervillains and makes them part of a self-contained small town called Pleasant Hill. Naturally, things go wrong, and the villains regain their true forms. Baron Zemo plans to capture Kobik and use her to remake the world in her image

Unbeknownst to him, there's a SHIELD agent who poses as a daycare teacher for Kobik and knows that there's a powerful weapon of some kind in the museum. When she reaches the museum, she runs into its proprietor, who has also just recovered his memories. He voluntarily gives up this weapon because he's lost control of them and wants them out of his own hands. With everything breaking down, he reveals to Avril that he's Wendell Vaughn, and he gives her the Quantum Bands

Avril adapts well to them, and she plays a big role in defeating Zemo. Later, Kobik is influenced by the Red Skull to remake Captain America as evil, Avril is fooled into going into outer space as a planetary defense net keeps the cosmic heroes out. After being put into a coma after a Chitauri attack, she awakens and destroys the defense net, seemingly sacrificing herself. Vaughn later discovers her alive but trapped in a black hole, and they figure out a way to change places, each becoming Quasar for specific missions.