Quasar #32

Issue Date: 
March 1992
Story Title: 
Operation Galactic Storm part 3, The Tomb of Mar-Vell

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Greg Capullo (penciler), Harry Candelario (inker), Joe Rosas (colorist), Janice Chiang (letterer), Kelly Corvese (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Quasar arrives at the space station Starcore, near Earth’s sun, which is in danger thanks to solar flares that the sun is giving off. He offers to tow the crew to safety, but they want to remain where they are. He gives them a special frequency so that they can contact him, should they need to. Quasar departs after receiving a request to go to the Tomb of Mar-Vell. En route, he checks in with his “ward” the cosmic entity, Epoch. Arriving at the small moon, Quasar meets up with Starfox, who was also nearby and sent to investigate rumors of tomb-raiders. Venturing into the tomb,s they locate Captain Atlas and Doctor Minerva, who were attempting to steal Mar-Vell’s Nega Bands. Quasar and Starfox remove the Kree from the tomb, only to be attacked by the entire compliment of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. Quasar throws a quantum field around himself, Starfox and their prisoners, but the Imperial Guard eventually break through it. Quasar releases Atlas and Minerva to assist he and Starfox in the battle, but Atlas does a runner, back into the tomb. Quasar, Starfox and Minerva find that their abilities have no effect on any of the Imperial Guard, although Starfox is blinded by Manta. They suspect something is not right, and eventually they find two members of the Imperial Guard who they can actually fight - Manta and Impulse, and easily take them down. Minerva then locates a third - Magique, who created illusions of the rest of the Imperial Guard. With Quasar still blinded, Minerva knocks out Starfox and returns to the tomb to assist Atlas. Quasar places Magique, Impulse and Manta into protective quantum balls, before making his way into the tomb, where he captures Minerva, but is too late to stop Atlas from putting on the Nega Bands. Meantime, at the Avengers West Coast Compound, Wonder Man is assigned to protect Rick Jones until they can ascertain whether the Kree and Shi’ar are still after him. Shortly, though, Atlas bangs the Nega Bands together in Mar-Vell’s tomb, and vanishes, leaving Rick in his place! On one of the myriad planets in the Kree Empire, a cyber-geneticist who had a falling out with the ruling Kree transforms himself into Korath the Pursuer. Meanwhile, Quasar’s friends Kayla Ballantine and Ken Tanaka are out and about in the city, when Kayla thinks she is being followed by a monster.

Full Summary: 

The alien Shi’ar have captured the psyche-magnetron, a Kree device of strategic value in their war against the Kree empire. That is, unless the cosmic Avenger Quasar can intercept them before they warp through the stargate near Earth’s sun.

The planet Earth is roughly 93 million miles from the sun. Right now, Earth’s own Protector of the Universe, Wendell “Quasar” Vaughn, is roughly two million miles away. ‘Blast! Missed it by that much!’ the young hero tells himself, before contacting the Avengers West Coast, announcing that he failed to intercept the starship, for when it warped into the hyperspace the sun flared up and obliterated the trial, so he wasn’t able to follow. Wendell announces via communicator that he is really sorry about that, and that unless they have a better plan, he will stick around here and see if he can determine if the solar activity was coincidental, or triggered by the hyperspace opening. ‘Quasar out’.

Suddenly, Wendell sees another flare coming right to him, although he cannot get through his energy aura, as his quantum-force is a lot stronger than the flame of a medium-sized yellow star. Quasar decides that this is not good, as the sun is acting like somebody dumped a load of firecrackers on it. He wishes he knew what was normal for this time of year, then he would know how concerned he ought to be. He suddenly remembers that there was a manned solar observatory outside Mercury’s orbit called Starcore. Wendell decides that if anybody knows records about the sun’s activity, Starcore will.

Quasar screens out the sun’s static, and makes a path for Starcore, arriving shortly. He uses his quantum bands to contact the space station, announcing himself as one of the Avengers, he requests permission to come aboard. Soon, ‘Hi, guy! Nice airlock. Take me to your leader!’ Quasar tells one of the Starcore scientists as he boards. ‘Uh…this way’ the Starcore scientist replies, while wondering how Quasar can get by without a space suit, not to mention how he can breathe.

Meeting with the Starcore scientists, Quasar tells them he was wondering if there had been any unexpected increase in solar activity lately. ‘Has there ever!’ one of them replies. ‘Eruptive prominences have -’ another begins, while a third announces ‘- 78 percent over this time -’, while someone else states ‘- disruption of eleven year cycle’, and someone else reports ‘- magnetic field lines seem to be -’, so Quasar has to stop them all from talking at once. An attractive woman introduces herself as Talia Kruma, she tells Quasar that she can call up any of the data he might require. Wendell replies that all he wants to know is whether Starcore thinks that if warping so close to the sun is harming it in some way. Talia’s tentative answer is that it is indeed disrupting normal activity of the sun’s corona. She remarks that she has not seen solar flare activity like this in the two years she has been here, but when you think that one major flare produces enough energy to supply New York City with power for 200 million years, they have been having several major flares a week.

Quasar tells the Starcore team that it sounds like they are in jeopardy every moment they remain here, and offers to give them a quick lift back to Earth. ‘No! We’re scientists. We have a job to do!’ one of the male scientists declares. Quasar offers to take their station to a safer orbit, however Talia explains that all of their experiments would have to be aborted or recalibrated. Quasar understands, and gives the scientists a special frequency to contact him if they get second thoughts.

Suddenly, Wendell’s communi-card rings, and he answers the call from the Avengers’ communications manager, Peggy Carter, reminding himself that there is an eight minute time lag in communications this far from Earth. Peggy’s message eventually reaches Quasar, informing the handsome hero that inactive Avenger Starfox reported that someone tripped the proximity alarms around Captain Marvel’s tomb, and that she told Starfox the Avengers would send someone if they could. ‘You’re our fastest Avenger. If you can spare the time -’. This intrigues Wendell, who reminds himself that Mar-Vell is his predecessor as Protector of the Universe, so of course he has the time.

Wendell turns back to Talia and the other Starcore scientists, announcing that something has come up, he reminds them to call him the moment they fear for their safety. ‘You’ll be surprised how fast I can get here’ he adds. ‘Will do’ Talia tells him as Quasar departs the Starcore, he tells himself that they are good people, but he feels weird about leaving them here, although it won’t take long for him to get back here, it will take a while for their message to reach him at the speed of light. As he shifts into quantum-jump, Wendell decides to talk to Captain America, betting that his persuasive power can convince them to be taken to a safer vantage point. As a brilliant light fills the cosmos, the Starcore scientists look on in awe. ‘You catch that?’ one of them exclaims. ‘What was it?’ another asks. ‘Did he enter warp space?’ someone else asks. ‘How come he didn’t affect the sun?’ one of the scientists ask. ‘What must it be like to be able to -’ another begins.

Quasar smiles as he soars along the quantum zone, the shortest distance between two astronomical points. It is relaxing in there, and a good place for him to think. Wendell tells himself that life has been a madhouse lately, so many things up in the air, when he realizes he has not checked in on his cosmic goddaughter in a while. He hopes she isn’t board, but supposes that she could not be, as the cosmic awareness she inherited from her father - or rather, mother, Eon, should keep Epoch entertained, just as it did him when he had it. Quasar contacts Epoch, ‘You there, little spudling?’ he calls out. ‘Yes, Quasar. Figuratively, anyway’ Epoch replies. ‘How you doing?’ Quasar asks her. ‘Compared to what?’ Epoch enquires. ‘Never mind’ Quasar replies, before asking Epoch to use her budding cosmic awareness to investigate the whereabouts of a lady he used to hang around with called Moondragon, as he wants to find out what connection she has with his new employee, HD Steckley. ‘You mean the woman that your other co-workers are not discussing?’ Epoch replies.

Indeed, at that moment on Earth, Ken Tanaka and Kalya Ballantine are walking side-by-side, as Ken asks Kalya if HD has her convinced that she is legit yet. ‘I don’t know. I guess’ Kayla replies. Ken asks his colleague if something is wrong, pointing out that she seems a bit out of it today. Kayla explains that she hasn’t been sleeping too well the last few nights.. Ken tells Kayla that he hopes she hasn’t been losing sleep over that flying blonde that’s been hanging around the boss. ‘Believe me, you’ve got it all over her’ Ken assures Kayla. ‘Aw, Ken - that’ so sweet of you to -’ Kayla begins, when someone walking nearby shouts ‘HEY!’, and spinning around, Kayla thinks she sees something. ‘Great. Now my imagination’s running away with me’ she mutters. Ken asks her what she means, to which Kayla replies that she thought she saw a monster, and remarks that she really needs to get more rest.

Meantime, deep space, specifically a tiny moon in orbit around the planet Saturn. ‘There it is. Mar-Vell’s tomb world. Been quite a few months since I last paid my respects’ Wendell realizes, hoping that this is all the visitor is doing. Dropping down to the moon’s surface, he sees a spaceship, and tells himself that gravity is nothing to speak of on a mass this small. Wendell begins banging on the door to the small craft, ‘Open up! Or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll bust your door down!’ he jokes, but gets no answer. Wendell decides that there is a number of ways in, and using his quantum power, creates a large spiked-shield, which he realizes he hasn’t used this before, and slams the door down with the force of the quantum spikes.

‘Hold your -!’ the Eternal called Starfox exclaims, before going over to Quasar, who has landed against the other side of the ship. ‘You all right?’ the inactive Avenger asks. ‘Uh…yeah. Didn’t recognize your ship. Hope I didn’t wreck anything’ Wendell replies. Starfox smiles and assures him that the repair units can handle it, before remarking that he didn’t expect him here so soon. ‘You are fast’ Starfox states, before they leave the ship and go down to the moon surface. Wendell asks where the tomb raiders are, and Starfox replies ‘In the tomb, I’d imagine’, explaining that he just got here himself, before informing Quasar that Starfox is just his formal name, and that he is called Eros.

Down below, inside the tomb, two figures stalk the darkness. ‘How many more deterrent devices, my love?’ a male voice calls out. ‘Two…possibly three more’ his female companion replies. The male pauses, and remarks that the custom of preserving the body of the dead in such a flagrant manner seems such a waste of resources. ‘It is the mind that matters, not its house of flesh’ he points out. ‘Yes, but were it not for this quaint Titanian custom, our mission would be in no way as simple as -’ she begins, before calling out to her partner, addressing him as Att-Las, she announces that she has had a seventh sense flash, and that there is trouble outside. ‘Then let’s -’ the male begins, before streams of energy tear through the tomb, and latch on to the intruders. ‘I can’t break free!’ the male declares as both are suddenly pulled upwards through the cavern, back to the surface of the moon.

‘Nice trick’ Starfox tells Quasar, who has captured the two intruders in quantum beams. ‘What have we here? Hey, I know these two!’ Wendell declares as he ties them together with his quantum energy. ‘Captain Atlas and Dr Minerva!’ Wendell declares as he looks at the two Kree soldiers. ‘That’s funny. I could’ve sworn the last time we met you promised you’d never venture into my solar system again’ Wendell remarks, while Starfox smiles at Dr Minerva, who smiles back at him. Captain Atlas exclaims that the conditions under which he made that agreement have changed. ‘The Kree are at war -’ he begins, but Quasar interrupts, remarking that is business as usual for the Kree. ‘Let me finish!’ Att-Las declares, announcing that they are at war with the Shi’ar for the first time in their race’s history.

‘The Shi’ar?’ Quasar repeats, before asking if there are Shi’ar in this solar system - when suddenly, he gets his answer, as the entire Imperial Guard appear almost from nowhere, and rush towards he, Starfox and the captive Kree. ‘Whoa!’ Wendell gasps. ‘Pama! The Imperial Guard!’ Dr Minerva declares in horror. ‘ATTACK!’ the Imperial Guard member called Manta orders as two-dozen of the Shi’ar’s most skilled warriors rush forward. Dr Minerva pleads to be freed. ‘we’ll be slaughtered like this!’ she exclaims. ‘These people are Shi’ar?’ Wendell asks. ‘YES!’ Minn-Erva exclaims urgently. Quasar tells her not to panic, that nobody will be slaughtered if he can help it, and releasing Att-Las and Minn-Erva from the quantum bonds, he throws a quantum dome over himself, Starfox and the Kree.

The Imperial Guard member called Impulse gets a report from Magique, that the “caped one” is wielding energy-weapons. Impulse acknowledges, and has Quasar in his sights - but as he releases a last of energy, it simply deflects back from the quantum dome. The Imperial Guard begin attacking the dome with all their various powers, and Quasar goes wide-eyed, realizing that the Shi’ar have some heavy hitters on their team. ‘If anybody has a plan, I’d be glad to hear it’ he tells Starfox and the Kree. Starfobegins to use his ability to stimulate the pleasure centers of their attackers’ minds, but he doesn’t seem to be pacifying any of them in the least. Wendell is confused, and wonders what kind of strength the Shi’ar have, as parts of the quantum dome begin to crumble before him. He wishes he had a few more Avengers here to even the odds, but he knows that there is nobody who could get here in time to do any good.

Meantime, at the Palos Verdes Compound, home of the Avengers West Coast. ‘Come on, Cap! Let me go!’ Rick Jones tells Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers who stands before him. Avengers West Coast members Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, Tony “Iron Man” Stark and Simon “Wonder Man” Williams are also present. Rick asks to be able to get back to his “main man”, the Hulk, explaining that the Hulk worries when he is out late. Cap tells Rick that he is sorry, but that until they are certain the Kree and the Shi’ar have no further designs upon him, they are keeping him under protective custody. ‘No offense, Capster - but I’d feel a whole lot safer with the Hulk’ Rick mutters, turning away from Cap, who assures hi that they will assign at 24 hour bodyguard.

‘Yeah? Who?’ Rick asks. Captain America turns to Wonder Man, and points out that he is the most powerful Avenger here. ‘Up to it?’ he asks. ‘Me? Well, I - how long is this for?’ Simon enquires. Cap replies that he doesn’t know, to which Rick mutters’ Simon Williams - Mister Hollywood - my bodyguard? How come I’m not relieved?’, to which Simon smiles and asks ‘Maybe you didn’t like my performance in “The Revenge of the Ninja Nuns”?’

Back at Mar-Vell’s tomb, the quantum dome suddenly shatters. ‘This can’t be happening! I reinforced my dome eight ways from Sunday - and they still break through!’ Quasar exclaims, before handing Minn-Erva and Starfox quantum shields, to help defend themselves from the Imperial Guard. But as he looks for Att-Las to give him a shield, he finds the Kree warrior has gone. ‘Lousy - he sneaked back into the tomb while my back was turned!’ Quasar supposes, knowing that he cannot chase after him right now, not with a couple dozen super-aliens to deal with! Quasar decides to start with the strong guys, and flies towards Gladiator and Titan - only to fly right through the giant Titan. ‘The giant can make himself intangible?’ Wendell asks himself, wondering why he didn’t just reach through his dome, why he instead smashed through it.

Starfox and Minn-Erva both attack their opponents with physical force, only to find they just slide right through them as well. ‘This Shi’ar - is insubstantial’ Starfox thinks to himself, while Minn-Erva decides that something is not right about this. Quasar attacks another with a quantum whip, but it goes right through him. ‘I can’t seem to connect with any of these guys! Do all the Imperial Guardsmen have the power of intangibility?’ Wendell wonders, before realizing that aside from battering his dome, he hasn’t seen any of the Guardsmen connect with he, Starfox or Dr Minerva. Wendell wonders if these aliens are ineffectual phantoms, or some sort of illusions, when suddenly, Manta appears overhead and dowses Wendell in a brilliant white light. ‘My eyes! I can’t see!’ Wendell calls out, while wondering if this is another illusion, too.

Quasar decides that it doesn’t matter, for either way, he is blind. He encases himself in quantum armor, while hoping that he doesn’t look stupid. ‘Quasar?’ Starfox calls out, but gets no response. Quasar flies back into battle, knowing he will have to let his quantum bands do the “seeing” for him. Wendell finds it weird that there are all these super-aliens around, and he only picks up energy emanations from three of them. Wendell wonders if the rest of the Guard can cloak their energies, or if they are even there at all. He punches the one called Impulse with his quantum encasing, but decides that he dare not let loose with indiscriminate blasts, as a ricochet might hit Starfox, so he has no choice but to try getting physical.

‘My impulse bursts are not penetrating his armament!’ Impulse calls out, while Wendell is relieved that he can actually make physical contact with this one. ‘And he’s by far the most energetic of the lot’ Wendell thinks to himself, while Impulse suddenly calls out to Manta, warning her to look out. But it’s too late, as Starfox comes up behind Manta and wraps his arms around her. ‘Finally! Someone who can be touched. Maybe I can bliss her out as well!’ Starfox thinks to himself. Minn-Erva, who wears a costume very similar to that of the original Captain Marvel, rushes towards a grouping of rocks, pursued by several of the Imperial Guard. She tells herself that in the melee, she has not had time to pay heed to her extrasensory impressions - as to where the true sources of danger lie. But not more.

Leaving Manta sitting smiling on some rocks, Starfox turns his attention to other members of the Imperial Guard, ‘Hey! Can I interest any of the rest of you in the pleasure principle?’ he calls out. ‘Here!’ Minn-Erva exclaims as she punches the air with the quantum-shield, despite not being able to see anything, she knows the source of danger is here. ‘Ngn!’ a voice exclaims as someone, cloaked in invisibility, is struck down. Suddenly, all members of the Imperial Guard vanish, save for Impulse and Manta. Starfox looks around, confused. ‘What in the name of Kronos? The Shi’ar have all disappeared!’ Starfox thinks to himself. ‘Almost all, at any rate’ he realizes, as he sees Manta, still blissed out sitting nearby, and Impulse, whom Quasar kicks away from himself.

Starfox, holding Manta, goes over to Dr Minerva, who stands over the motionless body of the Imperial Guard member Magique. ‘Apparently this woman can project multiple three-dimensional illusions. When conscious, that is’ Minn-Erva announces. ‘you know something, Minerva? For an opponent, you’re -’ Starfox begins, before Minn-Erva punches him in the face, knocking him back as she prepares to go after Att-Las.

Meanwhile, in another galaxy, on the outskirts of the ten thousand world Kree empire. A lone figure walks through some sort of laboratory, approaching a circular pad, he thinks to himself that the empire is decaying. ‘And I should simply sit back and let it happen. It would serve those two idiots who usurped the mantle of leadership from the Supreme Intelligence’ he tells himself, deciding that the Exalted One would never have dismissed so many of the scientists. ‘Inability to meet the quota indeed!’, and he wonders if they even examined his past record. ‘Were they not aware of my achievements?’ he thinks to himself, bitter. ‘By Tambor, I was the chief architect of the Pursuer Project - what could have been the next generation in cyber-genetic engineering!’.

The Kree scientist removes his clothing as he steps onto the pad. ‘Too many bugs to work out before it can be cost effective, they said. There are more promising cybernetic projects in development, they said’ he recalls. ‘Bah! Short-sighted know-nothings! I’ll show them!’ he vows. Pressing a button on a control panel, he is angry that he was assigned to this backwater factory-world, made foreman of a munitions manufacturing plant, which was simply insulting and stupid. The pad is encased by a dome that lowers down, with a large tube, pumping energies into the closed pad. ‘For I took the Pursuer technology with me and converted some of these facilitates to accommodate it’ the Kree scientist reminds himself. ‘If they don’t want me to develop cyber-genetic warriors for the militia - so be it! But I have developed them nonetheless’. The Kree scientist tells himself that he will be the sole benefactor of his genuis, and when the process is complete, he emerges from the pad, the process imprinted to him, working as he knew it would. Wearing a large suit of armor, he thinks to himself ‘It is cyber-geneticist Korath-Thank you have banished, usurpers - but it is Korath the Pursuer who shall return to shake this empire to its foundations!’

Back at Mar-Vell’s tomb, ‘No - don’t!’ Impulse pleads, but too late, as Quasar slams his quantum-fist into his visor. ‘You’ve breached my containment suit! I’m dispersing!’ he exclaims as he falls backwards, and energy pours out. ‘What?’ Wendell wonders as the energy continues to spew out all over the place. ‘What’s the deal with this guy?’ he wonder, while Impulse calls out ‘Help me - I cannot breat-’, and Quasar sees something small float out of Impulse’s suit. ‘That’s what was inside there?’ Wendell wonders, confused, before encasing the alien in a quantum container. ‘One down…how many more to go?’ Wendell asks himself, wishing that his eyes would stop hurting, he hopes that he has not suffered permanent retina damage.

His vision is still cloudy, but he makes out three figures lying on the ground. Wendell wonders where the rest of the Imperial Guard are. ‘They take a powder or what?’ he tells himself, before encasing the motionless Starfox and Magique, and the still bliss-happy Manta in quantum bubbles. Still inside his large quantum armor, Quasar makes his way to Mar-Vell’s tomb, wondering if he should go fishing like last time, but instead decides to seal off the entrance. He then flies through the tunnel, past Minn-Erva, he soon reaches the platform where Mar-Vell’s coffin rests. The coffin is open, and Att-Las is reaching in, over Mar-Vell’s body.

‘Have you no shame, Captain? Robbing the grave of one of your own people?’ Wendell calls out. Att-Las turns back to Quasar and declares that Mar-Vell was a traitor to their race, that his name is reviled through the empire. ‘Our customs are not yours. Had Mar-Vell remained true to the empire, he would have wanted me to do this’ Att-Las explains. ‘Yeah, right. What’d you take from him, Atlas? Let me see your hands - slowly’ Wendell demands. Captain Atlas holds up the Nega-Bands, and tells Quasar that they are what the Shi’ar were after, the unique bands that their former emperor awarded Mar-Vell. He explains that the Shi’ar already have the Kree’s psyche-magnetron, and if they get their hands on the Nega-Bands, they will wreak untold destruction.

‘As if you won’t’ Quasar replies, announcing that he will see to it that nobody wreaks havoc with the bands, and asks Atlas to hand them over. But when he refuses, Quasar sends quantum “claws” over to collect them. Dr Minerva flies into the tomb, behind Quasar, but the young hero is aware of her presense, and traps her in a quantum web. ‘Nice try, Minerva! But I figured you must’ve been around here somewhere, so I rigged up some quantum “trip wires” to detect anything moving toward me!’ Wendell declares. Atlas is simply relieved that Minn-Erva provided him with the distraction he needed, and places the Nega-Bands on his wrists, he then clangs them together, calling upon the fabled power of the Nega-Bands.

An instant later, however, Atlas has vanished, and Rick Jones is in his place, clutching at his throat, in danger. He reaches out for Quasar, who doesn’t know who Rick is. Quasar wonders where Atlas has hone, and realizes that the human before him is about to explode in the vacuum of space!

Characters Involved: 

Captain America & Quasar (both Avengers)
Hawkeye, Iron Man, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)
Starfox (inactive Avenger)

Rick Jones
Body of Captain Marvel I

Captain Atlas & Doctor Minerva

Impulse, Magique, Manta (all Imperial Guard)

Kayla Ballantine
Ken Tanaka

Peggy Carter


Korath the Pursuer

Talia Kruma and other crew aboard the Starcore

Story Notes: 

This issue follows Avengers West Coast #80 and continues in Wonder Man (2nd series) #7.

Quasar had the cosmic awarenss from Quasar #23-25.

Quasar met Captain Atlas and Dr Minerva in Quasar #10.

Several members of the Imperial Guard who appear in the illusion created by Magique actually make their debut appearances in the next issue of Quasar, Quasar #33 - Moondancer, Solar Wind, Voyager and Glom.

Written By: