Quasar #46

Issue Date: 
May 1993
Story Title: 
We are the Shock Troop

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Andy Smith (penciler), Ralph Cabrera (inker), Janice Chang (letterer), Paul Betcon (colorist), Mike Rockwitz (editor), Ralf Macchio (group editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Quasar emerges from a crater to find Dr Druid and the Shock Troop standing over him. Dr Druid explains that they are the policemen of the occult, and have come to investigate the mysterious army of Antibodies. The bizarre heroes start battling the Antibodies, while Dr Druid attempts to learn their origins and motivations. Quasar goes in search of his other enemies, the Presence and Neutron and is soon reunited with the latter, who is determined to make Quasar pay for previously humiliating him, and they engage in battle. Dr Druid has a plan to contain the Antibodies and it involves Shadowoman. She is able to act as a host body for the Antibodies, they just have to get all of them to merge into her. The Presence finds Quasar, who tries to explain to him that the USSR has dissolved. Curious, and furious, the Presence flies to a nearby city, and queries the locals about this. They all confirm what Quasar said. Deciding he may use this opportunity to rise to power in his home country, he departs. However, Quasar is still having no luck dealing to Neutron - however three of his teammates, Moondancer, Voyager and Glom arrive. The Imperial Guard reveal to Neutron that they have been looking for him for some time, while Quasar assures them he wasn’t holding Neutron hostage. It appears that Neutron is about to relinquish his desire for battle, but Glom detects that Quasar’s energy “smells” different than last time, and bites down on him. Quasar is summoned by Druid back to the battlefield against the Antibodies, and there, Glom starts devouring them. Quasar manages to throw the remaining Antibodies into the portal created by Shadowoman, ending their reign of mayhem. The Imperial Guard then depart, with Neutron warning Quasar to beware their next encounter. Dr Druid tells Quasar that if he has any more supernatural problems, then he knows who to call. Aboard a spherical space ship, Kayla Ballantine and HD Steckley witness the strange aliens appearing to dance, when suddenly, energy surrounds Kayla.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere in North Carolina, in the dead of night, ‘Quasar, I presume?’ Dr Druid asks as he stands over a glowing crater in a field, flanked by his teammates in the group called Shock Troop - Shadowoman, Blazing Skull and the Living Mummy. ‘You presume right’ Wendell “Quasar” Vaughn replies as he climbs out of the crater. Quasar recognizes Dr Druid as an Avenger, from before Quasar joined, who resigned in disgrace. He doesn’t know who the rest of his troop is, but it looks they have come to add to his already considerable troubles. ‘So, uh, what brings you here, Doctor?’ Quasar asks. ‘I take it that is an attempt at a witticism’ Dr Druid replies as he levitates Quasar out of the crater, while pointing out that this region is infested with occult entities, and given that he and his teammates have appointed themselves the policemen of the occult, when he sensed the psychic disturbance, they came running.

As the myriad of the mysterious Antibodies fly around the Shock Troop, the occult investigators stand ready. ‘So what you’re saying is you guys are good guys?’ Quasar asks. ‘We’re no angels, but close enough’ Druid replies, before asking what the situation here is. With the Starbrand marked over his right eye, Quasar explains that the flying gremlins are extra dimensional beings called Antibodies and that they are getting meaner by the minute - not to mention they have the nasty habit of multiplying when you hit them. Quasar adds that also in the area are two old sparring partners of his - a radioactive mutant and a super-strong alien. Wendell isn’t sure if he can trust Dr Druid in light of his Avengers record, but decides that he isn’t about to look a gift posse in the mouth.

Druid tells Quasar that their field is the occult, so they will handle the antibodies, while his other foes are all his. ‘Huh? Oh, okay’ Quasar replies as Druid turns away to join the rest of the Shock Troop in combating the Antibodies. Addressing the Living Mummy as N’Kantu, Druid orders him to subdue one of the Antibodies and bring him over. Quasar, his costume ripped in places, takes flight, grateful that he can still fly, although he is a little unsteady after the crash. He wishes that he had his Quantum-Bands back already, as the Starbrand power he has been running on his still very disorienting and he keeps having a nagging suspicion, that sooner or later he is going to totally use it up.

‘N’Kantu?’ Dr Druid calls out. ‘One minute, Doctor’ the Living Mummy replies as he is attacked by two Antibodies. He manages to grab one of them, and Dr Strange places his fingers to the Antibody’s head, announcing that he will try to unlock this creature’s mind to learn its origins and motivations. Druid concentrates, and sees impressions of two men, both from other earth-like dimensions. One man was good, and it was in his body that the Antibodies were originally formed, but they were separated from him and found refuge in the body of an evil man, and fell under his influence. Druid tells the Antibody to gaze into his eyes and tell him what it is that he and his body-doubles want. ‘Why are you rampaging?’ Druid asks.

Suddenly, ‘Graaama!’ a little girl calls out to her grandmother, as two of the Antibodies approach them. The elderly woman tells her granddaughter to stand very still and maybe the shadowy men will see that they mean no harm. ‘Thinking good thoughts won’t protect you against this lot, ma’ma - but the Shadowoman will!’ declares Jillian Woods as she appears overhead. Shadowoman grabs both Antibodies and takes them upwards, ‘You’re coming with me!’ she tells them, explaining that her body can melt into shadows, ‘And sure enough, I can take you with me’ she smiles as she absorbs the Antibodies into her. Shadowoman tells the old woman that she is safe now, but recommends that she hurry on home. ‘Home? Yes - home!’ the old woman calls out, telling her granddaughter, Gina, to come along. ‘Wow, that was totally cool!’ the girl exclaims.

Nearby, the Blazing Skull has engaged several Antibodies in combat, ‘What’s the matter, bozos? My glowing force field playing hob with your spooky bods?’ he jokes as he knocks them about, adding ‘Between you and me, it ain’t exactly doing my love life any favors, either!’

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a spherical ship speeds towards an unknown destination. Inside a several hundred members of the alien race known only as the Dance, and two recent guests - HD Steckley and Kayla Ballantine. ‘Whoa, the gravity on this ship is so light, every step I take turns into a leap!’ HD points out as she and Kayla follow one of the strange aliens down a corridor. Kayla replies that she is just thankful they can breathe. HD mutters that she wishes this goody-moving guy would say something, as she has no idea where he is leading them. ‘You’re the one with super-powers, Kayla, you try to get him to respond to you’ HD suggests. ‘Me?’ Kayla, wearing only a sheet wrapped around her body, asks. ‘The star tattoo may let me do some strange things - but speaking alienese isn’t one of them!’ she points out, before the peculiar alien leads them into a large room, where more aliens are moving about in a strange manner. ‘What if these weird movements are their language? Maybe they are trying to talk to us’ Kayla suggests.

Back on Earth, Quasar darts about through the air, supposing that it would be too good if Doc Druid and his crew could figure out how to handle those Antibodies. ‘Neutron and the Presence are more than enough to keep me hopping’ Wendell thinks to himself, while wondering where they are. As if on cue, Neutron torpedos towards Quasar, knocking him side ways. Quasar tells Neutron that the Kree / Shi’ar war is over, that the Shi’ar won, so there is no reason to fight. ‘You say that just to avoid a beating’ Neutron replies. ‘No, it’s true!’ Quasar calls out. Neutron grimaces and tells Quasar that war or no war, he must pay for how he treated him. Neutron flies over to Quasar and grabs his arm, while Wendell asks him what will satisfy him - roughing him up some more, or killing him. ‘I will kill you! Then if I am still not satisfied, I will rough you up some more!’ Neutron boasts, before slamming his fist into Quasar’s face.

Quasar asks Neutron to cool it with the testosterone stuff and he will help him get back to the Shi’ar Imperium - but Neutron ignores him and goes in for another punch. Quasar grabs his fist this time. ‘You really are serious about this beating thing! You know, my estimation of your species’ level of sophistication is dropping by the moment’ Quasar tells Neutron, who replies that a Stygian does not care what any lower life form thinks of him. ‘A Stygian, hmm? Figures’ Wendell mutters.

At that moment, 22,300 miles above the Earth, a spaceship appears. ‘I’m getting a reading! We’ve found him at last!’ someone aboard announces. ‘Prepare to jump!’ someone orders.

Oblivious to the starship above, the Shock Troop continue their battle against the Antibodies. Blazing Skull holds one overhead, while the Living Mummy slams a tree into his opponent. Dr Druid holds one of the Antibodies in a energy field and tells himself that the creatures’ torments stand revealed to him, but it remains to be seen what can be done to alleviate the situation. Suddenly, he has an idea, and tells Shadowoman that he needs her. ‘Yes, Anthony?’ Shadowoman replies as she flies over. Druid informs Shadowoman that these creatures are rampaging because they are dying from lack of contact with a host body. He explains that the Darkforce that contaminates their systems makes it impossible for them to enter a host. Druid tells Jillian that he has a plan to rid them all of their contamination, but that he needs her help. He instructs her to assume her shadow form and to cast it across the Antibody in front of them. Jillian does so, and Druid orders the Living Mummy and Blazing Skull to let the Antibodies come forth. ‘You asked for it!’ Blazing Skull replies.

Nearby, the Presence flies towards Quasar and Neutron, telling himself that he had feared that in the time it took him to repair the breach in armor, his comrade would have finished Quasar, robbing him of his revenge. ‘But I see that accursed American is still in the fray’. Out of the corner of his eye, Wendell sees the Presence approaching. ‘I will break you, American!’ the Presence declares as he wraps an arm around Quasar’s neck. ‘You could waste you time trying, Serge, or you can hightail it back to your native land where there’s a big surprise waiting!’ Quasar replies, informing the Presence that while he was gone, the Soviet Union broke up into a bunch of smaller countries. ‘Russia, Ukraine - uh, Georgia, I think…’ Wendell announces. ‘You lie!’ the Presence replies.

‘I’m a lot of things but a liar isn’t one of them!’ Quasar declares, while the Presence wonders how this could be. ‘The communist Part would never allow -’ he begins, to which Quasar tells the Presence if he doesn’t believe him, to ask anybody, as everyone knows what has happened to the USSR. The Presence warms Quasar that if he is lying, then he will return, before he takes off. Quasar smiles at Neutron and tells him that it is just the two of them again, to which Neutron slams his head against Quasar’s.

A mile away, the Antibodies all converge on the one held in stasis. Dr Druid decides that it seems to be working. He has given the supine Antibody a psychokinetic charge so that any other Antibody passing within six feet or so is sucked into the dimensional interface Jillian’s shadow power has opened. However, it remains to be seen whether Blazing Skull and Living Mummy can keep the onslaught of Antibodies directed this way. The Blazing Skull is grabbed from behind, while the Living Mummy smacks his opponent on the head. ‘If Jillian can maintain the interface. I sense it is taxing her stamina to the limit’ Druid thinks to himself, while Blazing Skull tells the Antibodies around him that they are late for their family reunion.

The Presence arrives in a town nearby. ‘J-Jonathan!’ a woman exclaims as the Presence descends beside them. ‘Courage, Martha’ Jonathan tells her, before saying to the Presence ‘Don’t hurt us! We’ll do whatever you say!’, as the Presence stands before them and announces that he seeks information. ‘Answer me truthfully or suffer the consequence’ he warns the couple. ‘Okay’ Jonathan replies, while the Presence asks what has happened to the Soviet Union. ‘Well, Sir, it broke up ito a bunch of smaller countries. The Communist Party was overthrown. Boris Yeltsin was elected President’ Jonathan reveals, adding that it all he knows, as he doesn’t follow the news that much.

The Presence turns and takes flight, ‘His claim is the same as Quasar’s’ he thinks to himself. ‘Whew’ Jonathan mutters, while Martha asks him who that was. The Presence decides that he must question more people, ‘You! Tell me about the USSR!’ the Presence demands as he drops down beside a woman. Shortly, he takes flight again, after ten random people all told him the same answer. He wonders if they speak the truth - if the government that has branded him a traitor and a menace is indeed no more. The Presence decides that he must return home, for if the political situation is in disarray, it might be incumbent upon a personage as powerful as himself to create a new order. ‘Mother Russia calls. Quasar can wait’.

At the same time, Quasar tells Neutron to wait a minute before he head-butts him again, and announces that he surrenders, concedes defeat. ‘You win’ he declares. Realizing he managed to outwit the Presence, Wendell hopes to do the same thing to Neutron. Quasar informs Neutron that he just figured out, that without his wrist-weapons, he has no way to beat him, so sooner or later, he will win. ‘So what’s the point of continuing?’ Wendell asks. ‘You are trying to trick me, terran! I will have none of it!’ Neutron shouts, as he throws Quasar through the air. Quasar lands hard on the ground, unable to stop the fall as Neutron threw him with such force.

Quasar tells himself that Neutron is one super-tough so-and-so, and knows he is really going to have to think up a plan, when suddenly energy starts to crackle behind him, and a portal opens, with three more of the Imperial Guard - Moondancer, Voyager and Glom - appearing. ‘We are the Imperial Guard!’ Voyager announces. ‘You will surrender the Guardsman you hold hostage - or face our might!’ he warns Quasar, who is unimpressed - as if he didn’t have enough trouble already?

Back aboard the starship of the Dance, the strange aliens move about, around Kayla and HD. ‘You have their attention, Kayla. Give it a try’ HD tells her companion. ‘Uh, okay’ Kayla replies, before introducing herself to the aliens, and explains that she and HD need to get back to the Earth, as they are lost. ‘Can you people help us?’ she asks, but gets no response. ‘It’s no use. They’re dancing around like idiots! Now what?’ Kayla asks HD, when suddenly, bands of orange energy spiral around Kayla, who is shocked, and calls out to HD, ‘What are they doing to me?’ she asks.

On Earth, Druid, Blazing Skull and the Living Mummy are overwhelmed by the remaining two dozen Antibodies who they can’t quite get to join up with Shadowoman’s shadow state.

Nearby, Neutron sees his teammates, ‘You’ve come for me!’ he calls out. Voyager asks Neutron where he has been, while Quasar remarks ‘See, I told you I wasn’t holding him hostage’. Voyager informs Neutron that they have been looking for him since the end of the war. Still angry, Neutron declares that the presumptuous Earth creature teleported him into the vast interstellar void and abandoned him there, and since rescuing himself, he has been attempting to regain his honor through combat. Quasar rubs his wrist and remarks that Neutron is complaining that he warped him out of play, and reminds Voyager that he did the same thing to him in the battle also. ‘Hmh!’ Voyager mutters. Moondancer tells Neutron that they have been in this space sector scanning for him for months. ‘Did you not activate your locater?’ she enquires. ‘I…was negligent’ Neutron admits.

Quasar tells the Imperial Guard that they have found their long-lost comrade and suggests they take him and hurry on back to their empire. ‘You wouldn’t want to create an interstellar incident by hanging around here too long without passports, would you?’ Quasar jokes. Voyager asks Neutron if matters have been resolved to his satisfaction. ‘Well…’ Neutron begins, while the strange alien Glom starts sniffing Quasar. ‘Excuse me, but does your friend have to -’ Quasar calls out, while Glom announces that the terran’s energy smells different than last time. ‘You’re right, I’ve -’ Quasar begins, before crying out in pain as Glom wraps his large mouth around Quasar’s arm, biting him. ‘Glom - what in Lilandra’s name are you doing?’ Moondancer asks. Quasar takes flight, with Glom attacked to him. ‘He’s eating my arm is what he’s doing!’ Quasar points out. ‘Get him off or I won’t be held responsible for what happens!’

Suddenly, a projection of Dr Druid appears before Quasar, instructing the young hero to come quickly, as he needs his help with the Antibodies. Quasar tells Druid that he will be right there, and takes flight, deciding that there is no time to dislodge the living appetite from his arm just now. Upon arrival back at the farm, Quasar sees a massive pile of Antibodies, but no sign of Druid or the rest of the Shock Troop. ‘Unless -’ he tells himself, as he flies towards the pile, where the Living Mummy’s hand can be seen sticking out. ‘First floor - every body off!’ Quasar calls out as he dives into the pile and sends the Antibodies scattering. ‘FOOD!’ Glom shouts as he leaps from Quasar’s arm, and starts chomping down on the Antibodies. ‘What am I looking at?’ Blazing Skull asks as he sees Glom. Druid asks Quasar what it is he brought with him, to which Wendell replies ‘An energy-eating alien. What else?’

Druid announces that they must throw the remaining bodies at the one that is levitating, as Shadowoman can’t hold the gateway open for more than a few moments. ‘What gateway?’ Wendell enquires as he tosses one of the Antibodies towards the glowing one, and as it is sucked in, he mutters ‘Oh, that gateway’. Wendell continues to round up the remaining Antibodies and throws them into the portal. Glom sees the glowing Antibody and declares that he is still hungry. ‘Globs of energy in last dark man!’ he calls out. ‘Wait - don’t!’ Druid exclaims. ‘Stop him! Shadowoman’s still merged with that creature!’ Druid shouts. Blazing Skull lunges at Glom, who has already bitten down on the final Antibody - but Shadowoman appears behind them, telling her teammates not to worry, as she made it out before he took a bite. ‘Besides, he’s not really eating them. Just siphoning off their Darkforce’ she explains.

Neutron, Voyager and Moondancer drop down amongst the Shock Troop and Quasar, as Druid announces that the threat has ended and the essence of the original Antibody has been dispatched. He is about to say where to, before noticing the new arrivals and asking ‘Who are these?’ ‘More aliens’ Quasar explains. Quasar suggests to Voyager that next time they take Glom anywhere, they put him on a leash. ‘Glom full now’ the alien reports. A portal opens as Voyager declares that this world ceases to interest him, so they should go. As Neutron flies through the portal, he suggests to Quasar that he beware their next meeting. Quasar and Dr Druid shake hands, and Quasar remarks that he thinks the Avengers were wrong about Druid. ‘I travel in other circles now’ Druid replies, and tells Quasar that if he ever has another problem with the supernatural, he will know who to call. Quasar just smiles.

Characters Involved: 


Kayla Ballantine

“Holly ‘HD’ Steckley” / Ereshkigal

Blazing Skull II, Dr Druid, Living Mummy, Shadowoman (all Shock Troop)

Glom, Moondancer, Neutron, Voyager (all Imperial Guard)

The Presence


Gina and her Grandmother

Jonathan & Martha

Other civilians

The Dance, aliens

Story Notes: 

Dr Druid’s infamous career with the Avengers came to an end in Avengers (1st series) #297.

Quasar incorrectly refers to the Presence as a mutant.

Voyager teleported Quasar away in Quasar #33.

The Shock Troop return in Quasar #50.

Issue Information: 
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