HISTORY / IMPORTANT EVENTS
For a long time, the Shi’ar Empire was the largest and most powerful in the known universe, but they it took them many centuries to rise to power. Throughout their ascendancy, the Shi’ar were guided from the shadows by the mysterious Fraternity of Raptors.
The earliest known battle with another race dates back 1200 years. The Shi’ar Empire was still young and they encountered the Mephistoids, a race of white-furred felines with enhanced agility and who were a military rival. At first they were evenly matched, but slowly the Mephistoids were winning the war, as the males of their race emit certain mind-controlling pheromones. After almost the whole Shi’ar fleet was devastated, a few Shi’ar had crash-landed on a small world that had earlier been colonized by the Mephistoids. The group’s highest-ranking officer was named T’Kyll Alabar, and he led his people to the nearest building. Prepared to fight their last battle, the Shi’ar soldiers were surprised to be greeted by female Mephistois belonging to a peace-loving abbey. They welcomed the Shi’ar and nursed them back to health. During this time, T’Kyll learned that the females too emitted the pheromone, but only while breeding.
A cruel plan formed in Alabar’s head. At night, he killed all the Mephistoid women in the abbey and extracted their genetic material to distil the pheromone, which he then used to inspire his scattered people again. The Shi’ar fanatically followed Alabar and fought ruthlessly as never before until the Mephistoids were defeated and their colonies occupied by the Shi’ar. The Mephistoids, especially the males, were strictly quarantined to their native planet, as the Shi’ar feared their phermones. As after any war, history books are written by the victorious party. Shi’ar legends and history praised T’Kyll Alabar as their greatest hero for inspiring his fellow soldiers in the time of their greatest despair, while ignoring the slaughtering of innocents. The Mephistoids, on the other hand, are perceived as barbaric, cruel people, but in fact they are not any worse than the Shi’ar themselves. [Avengers (1st series) #378-379]
One thousand years ago, the Shi’ar discovered the mysterious M’Kraan Crystal on a distant world. A race of aliens who worshipped the crystal, taking its name for themselves, had set up a colony around the crystal thirteen thousand years before. Believing the M’Kraan Crystal to be their birthright, the Shi’ar forcefully expelled the M’Kraan from their home and took the world for themselves. [X-Men: Emperor Vulcan #2]
Approximately 400 years ago, the first known host of the Pheonix arose, a Shi’ar named Rook’shir. He cut a bloody swath across the galaxy until the newly formed Imperial Guard took him down. The Imperial Guard was actually formed as a response the Rook’shir threat. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #429]
Back to more recent history, it was ca. 20 years in the past when Shi’ar troops discovered Earth. Because of the planets strategic importance (set between the bigger empires of Skrulls, Kree and Shi’ar), then Emperor D’Ken placed an agent named Davan Shakari on the planet to spy on humanity’s development. Whne D’Ken also ordered zoological specimen to be taken, Christopher and Katherine Anne Summers (parents of Cyclops and Havok) were kidnapped while returning from a holiday trip to Alaska. While D’Ken took great interest in the pregnant female, he callously sent her husband to the mines. Despite this defacto death sentence, Christopher Summers later escaped and attempted to kill the Shi’ar emperor. To punish Summers, D’Ken killed his wife right in front of him and ripped her unborn baby from the womb. Thanks to advanced Shi’ar technology, baby survived this traumatic “birth” and was placed in an artificial growth chamber. Years later, he would grow up to become the X-Man Vulcan. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #156, X-Men: Deadly Genesis #6]
The cruel Emperor continued his forceful reign for many years until his hunger for power grew too great. After hearing rumors about an ancient power source called the M’Kraan Crystal, D’Ken knew he must possess it. His plan, however, was opposed by his younger sister, Lilandra, who was currently serving as a Grand Admiral and believed the mission too dangerous. Not to be denied, D`Ken framed Lilandra for treason and condemned her to death. When Lilandra escaped and made her way to Charles Xavier on Earth, D`Ken contacted Shakari, one of the empire`s agents on Earth. Posing as Eric the Red, Shakari kidnapped Lilandra and took her back into space, only to be followed by the X-Men. They emerged right in front of the huge M’Kraan Crystal and, in a last minute rescue, they not only saved the princess from certain death but also dealt with the threat from within crystal’s energy sphere. More than simply thwarted, D’Ken was left catatonic and insane after an encounter to the M’Kraan’s nightmare field and although she was considered a rebel the crown eventually passed to Lilandra. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #107-109, 118]
Shortly into her reign, Lilandra was kidnapped during a meeting of the Shi`ar great council. Lilandra`s older sister Deathbird, long ago banned from the empire for her crimes, had allied with Lord Samédàr of Lilandra`s staff and the alien Brood to reclaim the Shi`ar throne. Even though the X-Men saved Lilandra from her captors, it was a pyrrhic victory. Deathbird managed to subdue Lilandra and the X-Men with a stun-bomb and thereafter delivered them all to the Brood. The way to Chandilar, the throneworld of the Shi`ar Empire, was now open to her. Even though Lilandra did not die on the Brood world, she was kept busy long enough until Deathbird had successfully usurped the throne. As new empress, even the Imperial Guard were loyal to her, although some - like the Guard`s Praetor Gladiator - were not without their doubts. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #155-157, 161, 166]
Lilandra joined the Starjammers to rebel against Deathbird’s illegitimate rule of the empire but it was only much later, and under unexpected circumstances, that she managed to reclaim the throne. A group of Warskrulls, using power-mimicking devices, replaced the Starjammers, including Xavier. After the faux Starjammers and the X-Men, who had been teleported to Chandilar by Lila Cheney, defeated Deathbird and her Imperial Guard, Lilandra was put back on the throne. The Warskrulls used the faux Xavier to keep the Shi`ar empress under mental control. After the ruse was discovered and all the Warskrull impostors were exposed, Lilandra settled matters with Deathbird, discovering her sister did not want the throne anymore. During her time as ruling Shi`ar empress, Deathbird had come to hate the responsibilities of maintaining the needs of the Empire. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #274-277]
During the crisis known as Operation: Galactic Storm, the Shi`ar Empire went to war with the Kree Empire. Surprisingly, Deathbird offered her assistance in this time of need. While Deathbird assassinated the Kree leaders, Lilandra ordered her scientists to create a Nega-Bomb based upon the Kree Omni-Wave Projector.
The Avengers convinced Lilandra to change her mind but it was too late, as the bomb had been hijacked by Skrulls, who were really the driving force for the war, as they had infiltrated the high councils of both empires. The blast killed 90% of the Kree population, a guilt which would lay heavily on Lilandra`s mind for long after. Nevertheless, as the victorious party, she had to absorb the remnants of the Kree space into the Shi’ar Empire. Lilandra then appointed Deathbird as her viceroy and ruler of Hala, the Kree homeworld, to reward her for her assistance and keep an eye on her. [Operation: Galactic Storm Crossover]
On the eve of the official ceremony incorporating the Kree into the Empire, Lilandra had Xavier and some of the X-Men teleported to Hala, the Kree homeworld to attend. This was a lucky decision, as the X-Men soon uncovered a rebellion that would have activated a sun-killer bomb. Although the dissident`s leader helped them to defuse the weapon, Lilandra was still forced to arrest him, and the tension between legality and morality drove a wedge between her and Charles Xavier. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #5]
Despite now being the largest empire in the known universe, the Shi’ar Empire nearly perished on numerous occasions after this. In the first instance, a race of violent atheists called the Uncreated attacked, attempting to destroy every race that practiced any worshipping religion. Thanks to their superior weapons and their ruthlessness, the Uncreated would have fulfilled their crusade, but the tricky Starjammers were able to drive them off, by creating a holographic image of the Uncreated’s own god and creator, whom they had believed slain. [Starjammers #1-4]
The techno-organic Phalanx posed an even deadlier threat. Some of them had made their way to the throneworld Chandilar and tried to infect the Shi’ar breeding chamber, where all their eggs were nurtured, with their techno-organic virus. Had they succeeded, the entire next generation of Shi’ar would have been part of the Phalanx collective. Again, Lilandra had to rely on outside help. This time it was the scientific genius of Hank McCoy, who developed a device based on Professor X’s Cerebro that was able to emit a certain frequency to separate the organic from the technological parts of their opponents. Ultimately, the Phalanx dissolved, earning the X-Men again a ceremony of celebration from the grateful Shi’ar. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #342-345]
When the Galactic Council determined that Earth was becoming too involved with the affairs of the universe, a plan was proposed by a new member species called the Ru’ul: convert Earth into a penal colony for alien criminal, while simultaneously trapping both prisoners and Earthlings within. It was thought that this would keep Earth occupied and unable to bother the other races in the universe anymore. In truth, the whole plan was a plot by the Kree, disguised as the Ru’ul, who used the conflict with Earth as a smokescreen to retake a great deal of their former empire, re-establishing the Kree as a separate power from the Shi'ar. The heroes of Earth resisted the plan’s implementation and ultimately the Galactic Council rescinded their decision. [Maximum Security Crossover]
Shi’ar culture had long held the myth of the mummadrai, supposedly an “anti-self” which each individual must confront before being born. For Charles Xavier, his mummadrai was his twin sister, Cassandra Nova, who telepathically survived her confrontation with her brother in their mother’s womb but unexpectedly returned years later and possessed her sibling. Controlling her brother’s body, Cassandra requested passage to the Shi’ar homeworld, at which point she proceeded to wreak havoc on the Empire. Using her powerful telepathic abilities, Nova dominated Empress Lilandra’s mind and ordered her to launch attacks upon her own people. Devastating the empire, the mummadrai also sent the Imperial Guard to Earth to kill the X-Men. In the end, Nova was defeated by the X-Men but the damage had been done. The empire had been crippled and Lilandra was psychologically scarred. [New X-Men (1st series) #117, 125]
Whilst Lilandra was technically still in charge, her emotionally fragile state provided an opportunity for a secret order within the empire, which included Councilor Araki, to take advantage. One of their actions was the send the Shi’ar Death Commandos to eliminate the entire Grey family line, in the hopes that would prevent future Phoenix hosts from arising. The attack was horrifically effective and the commandos succeeded in killing everyone but Rachel Grey. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #466-468]
Soon after, the former X-Man Vulcan attacked the Shi’ar on a mission of revenge. Though he caused serious damage to their stargate system, he was promptly captured by the Imperial Guard. The secret order manipulated events so that Vulcan would meet the imprisoned Deathbird and the pair would escape together. In turn, Vulcan aided Deathbird and the secret order by awakening former emperor D’Ken from his catatonic state. D’Ken reclaimed his throne and, thankful for his revival, agreed to marry Vulcan to Deathbird at a grand ceremony held before the M’Kraan Crystal. After being married, however, Vulcan betrayed D’Ken, killing the monarch and claiming the Shi’ar throne for himself. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #475-486]
Vulcan led the Shi’ar into a period of aggressive expansion, whilst combating a rebellion lead by Lilandra. The civil war between Vulcan’s and Lilandra’s forces continued to escalate but, during a pitched battle in orbit over Feather’s Edge, the mysterious Scy’ar Tal attacked. The threat faced by the Scy’ar Tal forced an alliance between Vulcan’s forces and the rebels. As it turned out, the Scy’ar Tal was the race the Shi’ar had expelled from the M’Kraan world a thousand years before. Together with the Starjammers, Vulcan and the Imperial Guard managed to kill him and seize control of the alien’s super weapon Finality. True to his nature, Vulcan ordered a betrayal of the Starjammers, capturing several of the pirates. [X-Men: Emperor Vulcan #1-5]
Afterward, Emperor Vulcan continued his campaign of aggressive expansion, conquering the Z’Nox, amongst other worlds. The aggressive activity brought the attention of the Galactic Council, who sent an envoy to question the Shi’ar emperor. Vulcan, however, killed the envoy in a rage. During a battle shortly after with the Starjammers, who were escaping their prison, Deathbird was gravely wounded and placed in a comatose state. [X-Men: Kingbreaker #1-4]
Vulcan’s aggressive expansion led to another war with the Kree, who were now under the rule of the Inhumans. Vulcan, wishing to launch a decapitating attack against the Inhumans, sent the Imperial Guard to attack the wedding of Crystal Amequilan and Ronan the Accuser. Whilst they failed to kill any of the royal family, they were successful in capturing Lilandra, who was in attendance at the wedding.
Vulcan planned to execute Lilandra but was betrayed by Gladiator, who freed the woman and joined with the Starjammers. Unfortunately, as the group travelled to Chandilar so Lilandra could reclaim her throne, she was assassinated by a member of the Fraternity of Raptors. In a rage, Gladiator killed Chancellor Araki and the Secret Order.
Meanwhile, tensions escalated between the Shi’ar and the Kree. The Inhumans planned to launch a Terrigen bomb, which would mutate nearly everyone in the universe, making them all Inhuman. Vulcan personally fought the Inhuman king Blackbolt at the site of the Terrigen bomb. The resulting explosion presumably killed them both and ripped a hole in space-time known as the Fault.
With the emperor seemingly dead and Lilandra killed, Admiral Ka’arduum made the executive decision to surrender to the Kree. The Shi’ar Empire was absorbed into the Kree Empire and the Inhuman royal family named Gladiator as the new Majestor of the Sh’iar [War of Kings Crossover]
The Fault in space-time created by the Terrigen Bomb’s detonation prompted immediate attention and so Gladiator sent a contingent of Imperial Guardsmen with the Starjammers into the Fault to investigate. Soon after, Gladiator had to take the rest of the Imperial Guard into the Fault to rescue them from the horrors within that were amassing through from the Cancerverse beyond to invade the universe. The group managed to fight their way free and escape the Fault so that the Majestor could warn the Galactic Council of the impending threat. [Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1-6]
When he forces of the Cancerverse burst through into the universe soon thereafter, they were met by the combined forces of the Kree, Shi’ar and other races in the Galactic Council. While the Shi’ar and their allies held the Cancerverse forces at bay, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova managed to shut down the invasion and seal the Fault from the other side. [The Thanos Imperative Crossover]
[Note: While it was never stated that the Shi’ar separated from their Kree rulers, after this point their role as part of the Kree is not referenced again and the Shi’ar appear to act independently. This seemed to coincide with the Inhuman’s surrendering their leadership of the Kree]
When the Phoenix returned and headed to Earth, the Shi’ar sent the Death commandoes to kill its likely host: Hope Summers. Despite their previous success, they failed this time around. Later, Gladiator came to Earth to save his son and was soundly beaten by the hosts of the Phoenix, who turned out to be five individuals, rather than Hope. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #9-15]
Gladiator was later approached by J-Son of Spartax to form a Council of Galactic Empires. Together with the Supreme Intelligence of the Kree, Freya of Asgard, the queen of the Brood, Annihilus of the Negative Zone and Y-Gaar of the Badoon, the group would meet in secret to make decisions regarding the running of the universe. [Guardians of the Galaxy (3rd series) #1-3]
Soon after defeating the threat of the Cancerverse the Shi’ar Empire came under threat by the ancient and powerful Builders. The Shi’ar and the rest of the Galactic Council was forced to convene to coordinate the response, as the aliens cut a bloody swath through various empires. Their forces took hit after hit against the seemingly undefeatable Builders. However with the aid of the Avengers they managed to turn the tide and defeat the seemingly unstoppable threat. [Infinity Crossover]
It was not much later that Mentor of the Imperial Guard deduced that the multiverse was on the verge of collapse and that Earth was the epicenter. Despite the massive debt they owed the Earth, the Shi’ar and the rest of the Galactic Council recognized that they had no choice but to destroy the planet. The combined forces of the Shi’ar, Brood, Spartax, Kree and Negative Zone assembled at the Earth. The Earth’s defenders retaliated by launching two simultaneous attacks: a massive blast of geothermal energy from Earth and an attack with one of the worldkiller ships captured form the Builders, both of which failed. Ever resourceful, though, the heroes of Earth launched a third surprise attack; a huge blast of solar energy from the sun, focused through a Dyson sphere created by Tony Stark. The blast incinerated the entire Galactic Council fleet. Failing in their mission, the Shi’ar and their allies could do nothing but watch as soon after reality collapsed. [Avengers (5th series) #41-44]
Fortunately, due to the actions of some humans, reality was restored. In this newly formed Prime universe, the Shi’ar Empire seemingly exists as it did before the collapse of reality, with Gladiator still as its Emperor.