Quasar #11

Issue Date: 
June 1990
Story Title: 
By the Time I get to Phoenix

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Mike Manley (penciler), Fred Fredericks (inker), Janice Chiang (letterer), Paul Becton (colorist), Howard Mackie (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Quasar is searching the ocean for some strange aliens when he intercepts someone running across the water, and takes him down. Quasar takes the mysterious speedster to the Avengers West Coast Compound, where Wonder Man identifies him as Makkari, an Eternal. Meanwhile, Excalibur are enjoying a night in by the fire, while an enemy of Captain Britain watches them - then possesses Phoenix. Quasar returns to his office, where HD Steckley convinces him to hire her, much to his colleagues surprise. Quasar consults with Eon, and examining potential extra-terrestrial threats, they comes across the Phoenix Force. Quasar flies off to investigate, while the mysterious possessor of the Phoenix is revealed to be Modred, who uses Phoenix to free him from the realm were he was trapped. Quasar arrives and begins battling the mind-controlled Phoenix, before Modred traps Quasar and departs with Phoenix, on a mission to free Chthon. Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler and Widget arrive on scene and free Quasar, before teaming up with him in an attempt to stop Modred and free Phoenix. Their combined efforts eventually free Phoenix, and send Modred through Widget’s portal. Quasar returns Excalibur home, and after his confidence was shaken when he was trapped by Modred, he decides that Eon made a bad choice in selecting him to Protector of the Universe.

Full Summary: 

Way below the Pacific Ocean, the cosmic super hero Wendell “Quasar” Vaughn moves swiftly through the water, thinking that whatever the slippery little devils are, they are not going to escape him now. ‘What the - where’d -?’ Wendell wonders, realizing that his prey has split up all of a sudden and left him in the froth. ‘After several hours of underwater bug hunting - I finally get a sighting, and then pffft!’ Wendell tells himself, deciding that whatever those aquatic aliens are, they are unbelievably fast, and he could not match their speed unless he wanted to cause a lot of environmental damage.

Wendell wonders if the Sub-Mariner knows anything about them, before deciding that he has had his fill of the ocean for the day. ‘I think I’ll let this little round of “tag the extraterrestrial” go to them’ Wendell jokes as he swims upwards, then bursts out of the ocean, taking flight, deciding that so long as those “Aquoids” stay under the sea, they cannot be a threat to the universe that his cosmic mentor appointed him to protect everybody from. ‘I don’t think’ he adds, when suddenly, there is a roaring noise. ‘Hey - what’s that roaring sound?’ Wendell wonders, deciding that it is weird how claustrophobic the ocean feels to him. ‘Give me the empty expanse of outer space to soar through any day!’ Wendell decides, unaware that a massive wave approaches him from behind - then washes over him, sending him crashing back into the ocean.

Moments later, Wendell’s head bobs up above the water, telling himself that the roaring sound was the tidal wave, but that he is not so sure it was caused by the tides. Wendell flies up out of the water and checks that another wave isn’t coming, before he goes higher to get a better vantage point. ‘Well, I’ll be double-dipped In dark matter!’ Quasar exclaims as she sees something on the horizon, across the water, kicking up one heck of a wake. Wendell soars across the ocean, thinking that he may have been a wash-out at following things underwater, ‘But so help me, I’m not going to let something up here get the best of me!’

Quasar begins to scan the approaching object with his quantum-bands to see if he can determine the power source of its locomotion. ‘Holy--! There are tachyons coming from whatever it is!’ Wendell realizes, before deciding that the object is not going anywhere near light seed, but it is going about as fast as something can go without reaching escape velocity. Wendell tells himself that anything going that fast cannot be up to any good, and that when it reaches land the sonic booms alone are going to be devastating. He knows he has to find a way to stop it, and wonders if he can match its speed, however tachyons are outside the electromagnetic spectrum, so he cannot tap them.

Wendell tries to catch up to the mysterious speeding object, but try as he might, the gap between them keeps increasing. Left with one other option, he unleashes a beam of quantum energy at light speed towards his quarry, and have the energy turn into something with a lot of drag air - his energy slams into the speedster, and transforms into a parachute, knocking the speedster back, to which Wendell is thankful the speeding object is running in a relatively straight line, once he allowed for the Earth’s curvature. Moments later, Wendell arrives at where the speedster is floating face down in the ocean.

Quasar sees that the speeding object is actually a man, and remarks that his golden parachute worked a little too well by the looks of things. Knowing it took him about a minute to get here, he hopes the man has not drowned in that time, as he just wanted to slow him down, not kill him. Wendell uses his quantum powers to create two massive hands, which fish the red-costumed man out of the ocean. ‘Hey, mister -?’ Quasar calls out, before seeing that although unconscious, he is still breathing. Quasar takes flight, pulling the mysterious speedster behind him on a quantum disc, thankful that he is still alive, though he keeps drifting in and out of consciousness. Wendell does not recognize the speedster but assumes, given his outfit and phenomenal speed, that he is superhuman, which means an ordinary hospital will not be able to do much for him. Wendell decides that as the Avengers West Coast Compound is closer than the East, he will fly there, and arrange for Dr Kincaid to meet him there.

Meanwhile, ten time zones away, in the lighthouse headquarters of the British team known as Excalibur. A powerful storm rages outside - lightning flashes and rain pours down hard. ‘Thanks, Meggan - a little coffee is just the thing to take a bit of the nip out of the night!’ Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner remarks as Meggan brings a tray of hot drinks over to the couch, where most of the team sits by the warm fire. Brian Braddock a.k.a. Captain Britain remarks that after their interdimensional jaunts, a simple night of relaxation is a godsend, unaware that a mysterious entity is watching them.
‘What is this?’ My hated enemy Captain Britain has companions as superhumanly gifted as he? Since when?’ the entity thinks to himself as he observes Excalibur. Standing by the window, watching the storm rage, is Rachel “Phoenix” Summers, and Kurt asks her to come and join them. But with a sad face, and hugging herself as she watches the storm, Rachel does not respond. Meggan tells Kurt to leave Rachel be, as she is obviously not in a celebratory mood.

The mysterious entity, begins to examine each member of Excalibur, beginning with Captain Britain, the entity thinks Brian has changed since they last fought, and has now become impervious to his magicks. He moves on to Nightcrawler, supposing that he could seize him, except that his teleportation powers are too limited. Examining Meggan, the entity discovers that she is a shape-shifter, and a possibility for him to possess, before examining Rachel. The entity is overjoyed to learn that she is perfect for him. ‘By the Darkhold, yes!’ he exclaims. ‘She possesses incalculable power - of a nature my magicks cannot begin to fathom!’ He takes over Rachel’s body, causing her to throw her arms in the air and manifest her energy signature, surprising her teammates. ‘Rachel?’ Brian calls out. ‘Mein Gott - was -?’ Kurt begins, throwing his hot drink into the air. The entity decides that Rachel will be the perfect instrument to free him from his other-dimensional prison and enable him to wreak vengeance upon his enemies. ‘Let me now become the Phoenix!’

Meanwhile, Palos Verdes, the home of the mighty Avengers West Coast, two of whom have come out to meet Quasar as he arrives with his companion. Simon “Wonder Man” Williams and John “USAgent” Walker approach Quasar, who greets Wonder Man, ‘You got my message?’ Wendell asks. ‘Yes…something about a man injured running in the ocean’ Simon replies. ‘Something like that’ Wendell remarks as the three handsome men make their way into one of the labs, with Quasar encasing his mysterious speedster in a quantum capsule. Wonder Man suddenly announces that he recognizes the outfit, ‘I think he’s one of those “Eternals” we ran into a while back…Makkari, his name was’.
Once in the lab, Wendell asks the others if they have everything under control then he will be off. ‘Call me the minute he wakes up, okay?’ he asks. USAgent frowns, before Wendell leaves, taking to the skies, he tells himself that he hated to be so brusque, but he has to make an appearance at the office some time today.

One hour later, in New York, Wendell has changed into a gray suit, and enters the office, where three people are waiting for him: ‘Mr Vaughn, thank goodness you’re here!’ Kayla Ballantine exclaims. Wendell addresses Kayla and Ben and tells them that he is sorry he is late, while wondering who the other person is standing with them. ‘Mr Wendell Vaughn, I presume?’ the unknown woman asks as Wendell approaches them. ‘Yes, Ms -?’ Wendell replies, ‘HD Steckley’ the woman replies, before declaring that she will get to the point, explaining that she is an engineer with an extensive background in systems technology and design. ‘I wish to join your firm’ she proclaims. ‘What?’ Wendell asks, surprised, before telling Ms Steckley that they do not have any openings right now, as they are a new business just starting out.

Wendell continues, explaining that their workload is such that they do not exactly need another designer in order to handle it. ‘In fact, we haven’t even found our second client, yet!’ Wendell reminds himself, before telling Ms Steckley that he is surprised she has even heard of Vaughn Security Systems, and asks why she wants to work here. HD replies that she sees the potential here for Wendell’s firm to become one of the giants in the industry. ‘Let me make you a proposition, Mr Vaughn. If I acquire five new clients for you by this time next week, do you agree to hire me?’ HD offers. ‘Uh…sure’ Wendell replies. ‘Very good, sir. I’ll see you in a week. Please feel free to examine my resume and call my various references’ the stern woman remarks, before bidding goodbye to everyone as she leaves the office.

‘Why are you both looking at me like I’m out of my mind?’ Wendell asks Kayla and Ben, reminding them that they have been canvassing Manhattan for clients for months now. ‘No way will she be able to drum up that much business in a week’ Wendell exclaims, before Kayla hands Wendell HD’s resume. ‘Thanks. I’ll, uh, be in my office’ Wendell replies as he closes the door to his office. Wendell realizes that he has not checked in on Eon in his little pocket dimension behind the bookcase for a while. ‘Don’t want my mentor to think I’m as flaky as my office mates do’ Wendell decides, using a quantum beam to move the bookcase, revealing the interstellar space behind it. ‘I acknowledge your imminence, my protector’ Eon exclaims. ‘Likewise’ Wendell replies, before asking Eon ‘How’s it going?’ and whether they are any closer to eliminating all the potential “menaces from outer space” that Eon says is going to hit Earth.

‘If you would like, I could recreate my mento-projection of your world’ Eon offers. ‘Why not? Haven’t looked at the big picture in a while’ Wendell replies, as a recreation of planet Earth appears before him. Eon explains that the points of light are extraterrestrials whose identities have not yet been ascertained. ‘Man, seems like no matter how many I tag - there are always more to -’ Wendell remarks, before seeing a large fiery bird appear over the Europe, and asks what it is. Eon explains that it is the Phoenix Force, an extraterrestrial energy-entity that takes mortal host-forms, however there appears to be something amiss with it. ‘All right! This may be it - the big one we’ve been waiting for!’ Wendell exclaims, removing his glasses, he declares that he is out of here.

And so, after giving his employees yet another somewhat unlikely reason for his absence, Wendell changes into his red, blue and yellow costume, then flies out a window, telling himself that he is not sure he is up for the ultimate battle he has been groomed for, but he would like to have it behind him, as the anticipation is really starting to get to him.

Meanwhile, somewhere north of London. The possessed Rachel Summers soars over a paddock filled with sheep. Get - I won’t - out - I’m in! - of - you’re mine - my - I rule! - mind!!! Rachel and the entity argue with each other. The entity tells Rachel that her resistance was admirable, as it was futile. ‘You are my obedient servant henceforth’ he tells her. Controlling Rachel’s every action, the entity uses the inexplicable energies at her command, bidding her to rend the curtains of space separating this world from Otherworld. That action creates a focal point where the fabric is stripped threadbare, a point where the mysterious entity might train the occult energies at his command from here on the other side. ‘And together we shall poke a tiny hole between our realms of reality!’

A figure begins to emerge from Otherworld, shouting ‘Yes! Yes! We are doing it, dear lady! Mere gauze now separates us! More energy - unleash more energy! I am almost there!’ he shouts, before his form emerges through the tear in the fabric of reality: ‘At last I am back! Let the world beware - Modred the Mystic walks the world once more!’ the sorcerer booms. Standing in the field, energies swirl around the white-haired magician, who exclaims ‘Ah, to feel the fertile soil of my native land beneath my feet again! It has been too long - far too long!’. Modred boasts that Merlin will pay for banishing him, a son of England.

Modred turns to Rachel and tells her that they must close the hole that they made, and tells her to relax her raging energies. ‘Staunch the flow of power!’ he exclaims. With the hole sealed, Modred boasts that they shall take to the skies. ‘Let me lead you, my bird of flame, to where our esoteric energies need next be put to use!’ Modred exclaims, when, suddenly, ‘Hold it right there, you two!’ Quasar exclaims as he arrives on scene, introducing himself, he announces that he is here to see what all the fireworks are about. Wendell supposes that the lady in red must be Phoenix, but wonders ‘Who the heck’s that joker with the green cape?’

Modred orders Rachel to incinerate the interloper. ‘Yes, Lord Modred’ the mind-controlled Rachel exclaims as she casts forth a burst of energy, which the surprised Wendell manages to block at the last moment with a quantum shield, though he tells himself that he didn’t expect an assault this forceful. His quantum shield redirects the attack, but he is not sure how much longer his shield can hold out, as once he creates something with his quantum power, it is difficult to make it stronger, especially when it is taking abuse like this. ‘Wait a minute, ma’am - you may not have heard of me, but I’m one of the good guys!’ Quasar exclaims, telling Phoenix that she messes with him at the risk of making him think she is one of the bad guys.

Wendell tells himself to get his quantum bands working on spectral-analyzing Phoenix’s specific energy so that he can tap into her power and feed it right back at her. ‘Okay, Miss - I gave you fair warning to cool it…now I’m gonna have to go on the offensive!’ Wendell exclaims, casting quantum beams at Rachel, who’s mind-controlled response is ‘My master says you must die!’ ‘”Master”? Come on! Slavery went out in the mineteenth century!’ Wendell replies, before realizing that the amount of power Phoenix is exerting his phenomenal. The spectacular display of energies lights up the darkened sky, while Wendell and Rachel throw their powers about, Wendell thinks that whatever the Phoenix Entity is that Rachel is deriving her power from, it has the raw power of a star. ‘Try as I might, I’ve been unable to far to place all of her energy under control of my quantum bands!’ Wendell tells himself that it is a good thing he has got most it, though he thinks that the energy Phoenix is channeling is enough to obliterate the British Isles.

‘What deviltry is this? My minion seems to be unable to beat the flying interloper!’ Modred exclaims, deciding that he must lend his dark magicks to the task, as they have no time to waste in pointless battles. He conjures the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak, and traps Quasar in them, restraining his legs and arms, and covering his eyes. ‘What? Something’s got me!’ Wendell gasps, unable to see or move a muscle, he wonders what happened. ‘The youth is bound by my irresistible magicks!’ Modred boasts. ‘Magic? Did he say magic?’ Wendell wonders, when suddenly, Phoenix flies overheard, ‘Milord?’ she asks, while Modred orders her to quell her energies, as they need not expend any more on him, for the Crimson Bands will undo him soon enough.

Modred takes Rachel, and they fly skyward, with Modred telling Rachel that they must leave, and that with her help he is going to free his demon master, Chthon, and then they shall wage war upon Merlin and pitiful defenders. Wendell realizes that Modred and Phoenix are leaving him here bound like a pig on a spit. He tells himself that this the Crimson Bands are another thing lying outside the electromagnetic spectrum that his quantum bands have absolutely no control over. ‘I hate this’ he tells himself, before calling out to Eon, asking him what he knows about true magic. ‘I need to know quickly!’ Wendell exclaims. Eon replies that he will look into it and get back to him.

‘Great. By that time these rings will have constricted me to death’ Wendell tells himself as he struggles in the ever-tightening bands. Wendell tells himself that he must do something, before remember reading in freshman lit about how iron is supposed to interfere with magic in some way. He tells himself that if he could find something iron somewhere, like a fence or farming implement, before he releases a quantum anchor which ties him down to the ground for stability.

At that moment though, Captain Britain, Nightcrawler, Meggan and their companion Widget arrive on scene. Wendell tells himself that he has now got to create a big electromagnet that will - ‘Hey! What’s that whoosing sound?’ he wonders as he senses Excalibur’s arrival. ‘Captain - look!’ Nightcrawler exclaims when they see Quasar in trouble. Brian remarks that they are some sort of bands of Eldritch force. ‘Let me test my mystic might against them!’ he exclaims as he begins to break the Crimson Bands that imprison the cosmic hero. ‘Who the -?’ Wendell wonders, when suddenly, he is free.

‘Who are you, mister - and what happened to you?’ Brian asks, before Quasar introduces himself, explaining that he had a run-in with a magician calling himself Modred, and his servant, the Phoenix. ‘Servant?’ Meggan asks. ‘Modred?’ Captain Britain exclaims, before Nightcrawler explains that they are friends of Phoenix, and he introduces them all, explaining that the magician he mentioned must have Phoenix in his thrall. ‘

After a terse discussion, the young super hero agrees to collaborate with England’s pre-eminent super-team, and drags them behind him in a quantum balloon as he soars across the night sky. He tells himself that he thinks he can trust them, after all, they did save his life. Wendell knows he has heard of Captain Britain, he is supposed to be the UK’s answer to Captain America, and he remembers that Nightcrawler used to be one of the X-Men. ‘Wish I’d’ve managed to break out of Modred’s magic on my own, though!’ Wendell tells himself.

‘Unglaublich!’ Nightcrawler exclaims in the quantum balloon, while Captain Britain remarks that the American was not exaggerating when he said he could transport them faster than they could go themselves. Meggan alerts Brian to the fact that they are crossing the English Channel, to which Brian replies that he knows, ‘And once the two of us are outside the mystical sphere of our native land, out powers diminish!’ he exclaims, telling Meggan that it is a risk they will have to take to rescue Rachel. ‘Quasar? I have that information you requested’ But Quasar replies ‘Not now!’ and Meggan exclaims that she thinks she sees Rachel, before telling Brian that she remembers him mentioning Modred to her. ‘He’s an enemy of Merlin’s, isn’t he?’ she asks.

‘That’s right’ Nightcrawler exclaims, while Captain Britain declares that Modred is going to whish he had never found his way back into this dimension. Quasar pursues Modred and the mind-controlled Phoenix, ‘They haven’t seen us yet! Okay, Modred, it’s payback time!’ Wendell tells himself. ‘Let’s see if you have as much trouble getting out of own bonds as I had yours!’ he thinks as he unleashes quantum bonds upon Modred, ‘What - mmppph!’ Modred mumbles as the bonds wrap around his mouth, arms and legs. ‘Master?’ Rachel calls out. ‘Uh-oh! This is gonna be tricky!’ Wendell thinks to himself as he maintains the capsule around Excalibur, while keeping Modred in the bonds, when Rachel blasts him with her power, which Wendell sends into the ocean via a quantum funnel which he whips up.

‘Three quantum-feats at the same time!’ Wendell thinks to himself, straining under the pressure, he cannot keep all of the quantum constructs clearly visualized, so something has to give - he chooses the capsule around Excalibur, so the three heroes drop into the ocean with a splash, while Widget hovers over them. Wendell thinks to himself that Phoenix is really turning up the heat, and he is pouring so much effort into absorbing all of her energy and trying to dissipate it, that he thinks his bonds around Modred are weakening. Suddenly, ‘I’m free!’ Modred boasts, bursting through the weakened quantum bonds. ‘You insipid fool. You dare assault the dark disciple of an Elder God? You’ll pay for such effrontery!’ Modred booms.

Quasar knows that he has to think of something, and quickly, which he does, suddenly turning the out-pipe of the quantum funnel to redirect Rachel’s’ power onto. The hard energy is converted to concussive force, and Modred is engulfed with the power. ’Phoenix - stop! Stop your bombardment!’ he booms. Rachel’s attack stops, and Quasar traps Modred in a quantum bubble, while down in the water, Nightcrawler takes hold of Widget, telling him that it is their move now, before teleporting the two of them into the bubble. Kurt punches Modred, and tells Widget to open his interdimensional gateway. Widget begins to, while Kurt pushes Modred into the portal. ‘Hey - what’s going on?’ Wendell wonders from outside the quantum bubble.

‘You did it!’ Nightcrawler calls out as he falls to the water, once the quantum bubble disappears, and Modred has fallen through Widget’s portal. Wendell creates a quantum raft for Excalibur, and as they all gather on it, with Rachel, he asks them if someone would mind telling him what happened. Brian explains that Widget opened a portal to some far distant dimension and Nightcrawler pushed him through it. ‘With any luck, we won’t be hearing from Modred for quite some time!’. ‘Oh’ Wendell replies, while Meggan asks ‘Rachel…?’. Wendell drops down onto the raft and asks how the Phoenix is doing. Brian points out that Modred’s mental domination appears to have faded as soon as he vanished.

‘What happened? What am I doing out here?’ Rachel asks. ‘We decided a little trip across the English Channel in a raft might be just the thing to cheer you up!’ Nightcrawler exclaims. Wendell looks at Excalibur and supposes that Rachel is back to normal - whatever normal means for a woman coexisting with an ancient energy being. ‘Guess she’s not the big threat I’ve been waiting for’ he tells himself.

And so, after escorting Excalibur home, Quasar streaks away from their lighthouse, while Eon asks him if he would like the information he asked for. ‘No, Eon. Just forget it!’ Wendell replies, while wondering what his problem is. ‘Even though the good guys won, I feel lousy’ Wendell tells himself. ‘No wonder - yet another facet of my ineffectualness has been revealed to me’ Wendell tells himself. ‘Some two-bit magician nearly aced me - the high and mighty Protector of the Universe’. Wendell creates a large quantum display of his face and tells himself that he is a joke. ‘If this had been the big threat, the whole world would be pushing up the daises right now thanks to me!’ he exclaims. ‘Let’s face it. Eon made a bad choice picking an airhead like me to be his champion. It’s only a matter of time before I fall apart completely - and there won’t be a soul around to pick up the pieces!’ Wendell tells himself as he flies through the quantum image of his face, shattering it….

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III (all Excalibur)



USAgent & Wonder Man (both Avengers West Coast)


Kayla Ballantine


HD Steckley


Modred the Mystic

Story Notes: 

This issue takes place between Excalibur (1st series) #25 and #27, after the “Cross-Time Caper” storyline.

Wonder Man met the Eternals in Eternals (2nd series) #12.

Modred was banished by Merlin in Captain America (1st series) #306.

Modred returns in Darkhold #1.

Issue Information: 
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