Quasar #8

Issue Date: 
March 1990
Story Title: 
Still Life with Metal

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Mike Manley (penciler), Danny Bulanadi (inker), Paul Betcon (colorist), Janice Chiang (letterer), Howard Mackie (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

As part of his quest to identify all extra-terrestrials on Earth, Quasar tracks down the New Mutant called Warlock. Cannonball and Sunspot help answer questions Quasar has for Warlock, and after deciding the comical Warlock is no threat, Quasar leaves to look for another alien. He reminisces about his time as a security chief at Project Pegasus, and how he was possessed by the Serpent Crown. He arrives at Project Pegasus, and finds the facility abandoned and the power shut down. He does an extensive search, and locates one woman, who isn’t able to offer much information as to what happened. Quasar locates a strange cocoon, and breaking into it, finds a man inside, before he is set upon by a large armored alien who fires acid. Quasar uses his quantum powers against the alien, but it manages to break through each construct. The man from the cocoon is revealed to the current Project Pegasus security chief, and tells Quasar that fifteen of his men have been killed by the creature. Quasar contacts Eon for assistance with the alien, who tries to devour the security chief. Quasar is able to rescue the security chief, and learns that the alien is actually part of the armor that Iron Man wore on the planet Battleworld during the “Secret Wars”. Quasar continues to battle the alien, and eventually leads it into the magma pit within Project Pegasus, forcing it downwards into the Earth’s core, where it will not be able to break through and escape. Quasar himself barely escapes though, but does so, and seals the pit. He tells the security chief, the Blue Shield, to take credit for what happened, and takes his leave, realizing he has vindicated himself for his failed time as security chief. The Blue Shield, however, feels terrible, and resigns his post.

Full Summary: 

Up on the roof of the New York City headquarters of the New Mutants - Cannonball a.k.a. Sam Guthrie, Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta and Warlock get an unexpected visitor - Wendell Vaughn a.k.a. Quasar, the cosmic hero. ‘Yo, Sunspot - that feller with the cape is messing with our buddy, Warlock!’ Sam calls out to Bobby who asks ‘Who the heck is he supposed to be?’ Quasar fires a quantum-blast at Warlock, who creates a ray-gun to defend himself. Quasar raises his hands and tells the young mutants to be at ease, introducing himself as one of the Avengers. ‘So? That doesn’t give y’all the right ta hassle us’ Cannonball points out. Quasar tells the young men that he is not here to hassle, just to ask them a few questions about their alien friend.

Quasar explains that he is Earth’s duly appointed cosmic immigration officer, and that it is his job to check out all resident alien forms. ‘Think this is legit?’ Sunspot asks Cannonball, who replies that he can’t see the harm in answering a few questions. ‘Where’s this Warlock from? What race is he?’ Quasar enquires. ‘Warning, Self-friends, warning!’ Warlock jokes as he transforms into a robot. Cannonball rubs his head and explains that Warlock is a Technarch, but they are not sure where they are located. Sunspot turns to Warlock and sees him changing form and tells him to cool it. Quasar asks how long Warlock has been on Earth, and Cannonball replies that it was January when he arrived. ‘Greetings, Earthlings!’ Warlock calls out when he shifts into a cartoon alien. ‘I don’t recall’ Bobby replies, while Quasar asks them if they are willing to vouch that he is not a threat to world security in any way. ‘That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!’ Warlock exclaims as he transforms into another form, while Sunspot tells him to chill out.

Quasar tells the New Mutants that is all the questions he has and thanks them for their time, as he takes flight. ‘Keep him out of trouble now’ Quasar calls back. Sunspot suggests that they tell Cable about this, while Warlock utters ‘Frezzie fraggle wazzle whoopee!’, and Quasar smiles, it was all he could do to keep a straight face the way that Warlock character kept shape-changing. As he soars out over water, Wendell tells himself that he sure can use a few chuckles to keep his mind off his floundering day job, as the IDIC Corporation is keeping him on tende-rhooks not letting him know if they are going with his proposal to update their security systems or not. ‘Man, if I lose my first client, I may as well pack it in’ Wendell decides.

Quasar supposes that he should let his cosmic mentor know about his latest close encounter, and speaking into his Quantum Band, informs Eon that he just identified an extra-terrestrial named Warlock, who is supposedly a Technarch. ‘That name ring any bells?’ Wendell enquires. Eon replies that the Technarchy are a mechanoid-organic species originating in the Kvch System, possessing the capacity to transform its mesomorphy, alter its mass and transmit - ‘Yeah, well, I seriously doubt that an alien with a warped sense of humor like this fellow had could be the threat to the universe that you told me to be on the lookout for’ Quasar replies, adding that he has nothing else going on today, so he is going to zero in on one of the eleven as-yet unidentified extra-terrestrials. He tells Eon that he will be in touch.

As Quasar flies towards Project Pegasus, he wishes that all aliens gave off a distinctive energy signature that he could hone in on - but realizes that would be too easy. He wonders if Project Pegasus is housing an alien, and supposes that it wouldn’t be the first time. Wendell thinks that it seems like a lifetime since he was last here, now that it is any wonder, for who would ever want to go back to the scene of their biggest failure? Images flood his memory as he recalls being the Project’s security chief, and therefore it was his job, naturally enough, to keep the place secure. Yet, despite his Quantum Bands and the good intentions, he was among the first to fall victim to the insidious mind-control of the Serpent Crown - there he was, in league with the forces of evil.

Quasar’s memories continue, recalling that if it was not for the interventions of a band of outsiders, among them the Thing, the Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man and Dr Strange, then the Project would have been lost, and worse, the world would be writhing under the tyranny of Set, the Serpent-God! Knowing how badly he let everybody down, Wendell resigned, and he hasn’t had the nerve to go back since. Dropping down onto the Project building, the young hero tells himself that he can’t let his past failings prevent him from doing his new job, when suddenly, he notices an entrance that is wide open. Quasar enters and thinks to himself that either security has gotten really lax since his day, or there is something bad going down somewhere. It is dark, and Wendell gets the feeling that this is not simply an energy-conserving measure. His Quantum Bands glow in the darkness as he tries to recall where the light switch was.

When Wendell realizes the power is out, he flies through the building, his whole form glowing thanks to the quantum energy around him. He realizes that since this place studies over a dozen different kinds of energy, it is no mean feat for the power to be out, but he decides that something is drastically wrong, here, unless, of course, the DOE closed this facility down without the press catching wind of it. He tells himself that it is a good thing he comes with his own light-source and power supply, or it would be pretty rough sledding finding his way around, but after all this time, still knows his way around like the back of his hand. He flies into an elevator shaft, and jump-starts the power with some of his quantum energy.

He flies along through another level, and there is not a soul in sight. He supposes that is a good thing, for with no life support there is no air circulating, which is a good thing he carries his own. Wendell decides to check the administration floor, for if there is some directive closing the Project, that is where it will be filed. Entering an office, Wendell wonders if Dr Wilburn is still the head administration, and finds the office empty, but Dr Wilburn’s nameplate is still on his desk. He shines a quantum-beam over the inbox, but finds nothing of interest, so he flies to the nearest zoom tube, and descends floor by floor, scanning for any sign of life. Wendell tells himself that one good thing about the power being off like this, he can set his Quantum-Bands to pick up low-level infrared heat emissions, like those given off by living organisms, for if the power was up, there would be way too much background radiation to detect anyone.

He comes to a stop at the bottom of one of the zoom tubes, and decides that if there is anybody still wandering around, he wants to know about it. Wendell reminds himself that Eon pinpointed something alien in this vicinity, an wonders what the odds are that the extra-terrestrial has something to do with the Project’s evacuation? Suddenly, he picks up something on the communications level - and flies into the conference doom, where he sees the conference table and chairs surrounded by an energy field, and a woman under the table. ‘Easy, Miss…I won’t hurt you’ Quasar calls out. He drops to the ground and helps the woman up, informing her that he used to work here. Helen Carver introduces herself, and Quasar asks her if she can tell him what is going on. With a oxygen mask attached to her face, Helen reveals that there was a power outage, and evacuation procedures commenced, but she got flustered and came back for two floppy discs that she is responsible for, then the emergency lights went off and she lost her way.

‘It was all I could do to find one of these oxygen masks and grope my way in here…’ Helen adds. Quasar asks her if she has any idea what caused the black-out, but Helen replies that she doesn’t. Quasar tells her not to worry, and that her ordeal is over, as he will send her up to the surface. He surrounds her in a quantum-field, then sends her up the zoom tube, explaining that he would go with her, but that he wants to check for more stragglers. ‘So they just evacuated the place! Wonder why I didn’t see anyone milling about outside when I flew in?’ Wendell asks himself, supposing that he must have been too lost in thought to notice them, or perhaps they hadn’t emerged from the evacuation tunnel yet. Quasar decides to finish with his floor-by-floor heat scan and get down to the power generators. ‘It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that in order to cut all the power to this place, someone must’ve done a number on the generators!’

Minutes later, on the bottom-most level of the Project, ‘Whoa-ho! Look at this!’ Quasar thinks to himself, surprised at the mess in the generator room. He decides that it looks like the power generators have been eaten away by acid or something, and wonders what could have caused damage like this. Looking up, Wendell sees a big hole melted through the ceiling to the floor above, and wonders if it was an escape route. He decides to check, and flies through it, coming to the maintenance level, he suddenly notices something in the corner. Going over to it, Wendell sees that it looks like some kind of cocoon, only that it is spun out of metal. Wendell is pretty freaked, and has a sick feeling that there is something alive inside it, but can’t detect any infrared emissions, though. He places a quantum-stethoscope to the cocoon and listens, hearing something very faint coming from inside. He tries to amplify it, which confirms that there is something inside the pod.

Quasar isn’t sure if that is good or bad, but is going to find out. As he uses the quantum-energy to peel back the layers of metallic goo, Wendell doesn’t notice something approaching him from behind. As the metal disappears, Wendell is shocked to see a man in a costume trapped inside. ‘Thank God!’ the man dressed in blue gasps. Quasar tells him to take it easy and that he will have him free in a minute, while a robot-like creature looms over him. Just then, Quasar hears something - and turning around, gasps in shock as the strange creature looms over him. It is red and silver in color and has sharp claws on its hands and feet, while acid drips from its mouth - it extends its acid-shooter from within its mouth and fires at Wendell, who quickly raises a quantum-shield to protect himself, while the other man gets out of the cocoon.

Wendell is shocked as the acid starts eating through it the shield. The surprises continue as the creature starts to suck up the corroded metal off the floor, and Wendell realizes that is like how a fly eats - slobbering up its digestive fluid on something then lapping up the mess. He knows he should be tolerant of physical differences among alien species, and all, but decides that this is the most disgusting thine he has ever seen. He drops a quantum-anvil on the creature’s head and it drops to the ground, but only momentarily, so Quasar takes flight, and tries to encase the creature in a foot-thick solid energy cushion. As he does so, he turns back to the man from the cocoon, who shouts ‘Fifteen men! It sprayed fifteen of my men - dissolved them - and… and ate them!’

Quasar tells the man that he is sorry, before asking how it is that he managed to survive, and whether it was his force field. Surrounded by a blue energy field, the man replies that he guesses that the creature couldn’t burn through it. ‘Don’t worry, Sir. We’re gonna stop this thing. Avenge all your men! Count on it!’ Quasar assures him, before introducing himself, as he continues to hold the creature in the quantum-field. ‘He’s moving!’ the man in blue calls out, as the creature thrashes about, and shatters Quasar’s quantum-field. ‘Stay down! I’ll cover us!’ Wendell calls out as he flies down towards the man in blue and creates a quantum-bubble around them. ‘But -’ the man in blue calls out nervously.

The creature starts banging its fists on the quantum-bubble, while Quasar holds his ground, he can’t figure how this creature can burn through his energy-constructs. ‘Unless…it’s simply eating away at the component matter in my constructs - unbinding the energy in the process!’ Quasar supposes. ‘Look out - it’s -’ the man in blue exclaims, as the creature smashes the bubble, and reaches down and grabs the man in blue, while Quasar is knocked aside. ‘It hammered through my shield without using its throat-spray! What’s going on? Does its pores exude some sort of molecular acid?’ he wonders, while the man in blue screams for help, as he starts to get crushed by the creature’s grasp. ‘It’s moving me toward its mouth! Do something! Do something!’ he pleads to Quasar. Wendell decides to try and bolster the blue-guy’s own force field, if he can, otherwise the creature will snap him in half.

Quasar attempts to create a brace between the man in blue and the creature, but he knows it is not going to hold any longer than his other energy fields have. Quasar calls out to Eon, asking ‘You read me? I need some help here’. He reports that he is up against some sort of omnivorous metallic extra-terrestrial who corrodes through his energy constructs like they were Swiss cheese. ‘Can you figure out what this thing is - where it came from?’ Wendell enquires. Eon replies ‘I’ll get back to you’. ‘Great’ Wendell mutters, before thinking of something: ‘If the omnivore’s nervous system is electromechanical, maybe if I generate an electro-magnetic pulse I can overload it and shut it down!’ he supposes, before attempting to do just that.

And, an instant later, the creature stops. But, only for an instant, as it starts to move again, corroding the containment sphere. ‘I’m mad, now! No more mister nice guy!’ Quasar exclaims as he creates a quantum-sword, and rushes forward, slicing the creature’s hand off, the man in blue drops to the ground with the hand. But, Quasar and the man in blue look on in shock as the hand starts to crawl away. ‘It’s still alive!’ the man in blue calls out, while the creature grasps at its wound, red energy radiating from it. ‘Oh no, you don’t!’ Quasar calls out as he traps the escaping hand in a quantum-box. He encases the man in blue in a quantum-bubble, and pulls both behind himself as he flies onwards. ‘Come on, mister - we’re getting you out of here while we can!’ Quasar calls out as he starts to fly to the surface. As he does, Quasar gets a call from Eon, who reports ‘I have found some information for you’. ‘Great, spill it!’ Wendell replies.

Flashback illustrations, narrated by Eon:

Eon reports that the entity originates on an artificial planet created by a renegade extra-dimensional called the Beyonder. It was dubbed Battleworld by the two-dozen superhuman Earth-people lured to fight a “Secret War” there, and the planet contained alien technology, some of which was used by scientist Reed Richards, to fabricate replacement parts of the body armor of Iron Man which was damaged in battle. Eon states that, upon returning to Earth, Iron Man discovered that the replacement parts were dysfunctional, presumably due to differences between Earth’s and Battleworld’s magnetic fields. Thinking them useless, Iron Man disconnected the alien accessories, and left them in a snow bank in upstate New York. Unknown to Iron Man, the real reason why the alien armor-parts did not work was that they were alive - and had Iron Man not discarded them when he did, they would have taken over his entire armor system!


Eon continues, revealing that the armor parts fused themselves into a single ambulatory organism, the armoured alien sought out food and shelter, finding both at Project Pegasus, just a few miles away, and entering through a ventilation shaft, it has been eating, growing and evolving down there ever since. Quasar thanks Eon, and while he doesn’t have a better idea how to fight it, he at least knows what it is. Wendell knows that nothing he can create with his Quantum Bands can hold it for a very long time, as its molecular acid eats right through it. Wendell wishes there was some place to stick the creature, where it could eat all it wanted to, when suddenly, he notices the magma tap. He recalls that project scientists doing thermal research drilled a hole straight down into Earth’s magma layer, and using a quantum-wrench opens the tap.

‘Quasar!’ them an in blue, still in the quantum-bubble, calls out as the armor-creature follows Quasar. ‘Oh man…it caught up with us fast! Let me try to lure it where I want it…then slam it in!’ Quasar tells himself as he des just that - hovering over the magma pit, the creature lunges towards Quasar, who smacks it down into the pit with a large quantum-mace. Quasar keeps hitting the alien armor, as he has to make sure he is completely in so that he can close the hatch. The alien armor creature falls back into the pit, but hangs onto the edge. Wendell knows that there is a real good possibility that this may kill the carnivore, but considering that the thing has already killed fifteen men, being responsible for this creature’s death is nothing he is going to lose any sleep over.

The man in blue looks on as Quasar finally gets the creature down into the pit, but as he prepares to put the lid back on, the creature grabs onto the side once again. ‘Shoot! Tenacious little sonuvagun!’ Wendell thinks to himself, realizing that if he wants the job done right, he is going to have to do it up close and personal. He then flies down into the magma pit himself, but the creature is not going without a fight, and it spews more acid-vomit over Wendell. Even with the eye-filters, it is so bright in the magma pit and Wendell can’t see a thing. The heat pressure is unbelievable, and Wendell realizes that if it manages to dissolve his protective energy-aura, he is going to flash-fry in an instant. Wendell continues to force the alien armor creature deeper and deeper into the Earth’s core, keeping moving as he does to avoid the spray.

‘Come on your disgusting monster - cut that out!’ Wendell thinks to himself. Suddenly, he can’t go any farther as the heat is penetrating his aura, he has to turn back, however, in the brilliant glow of the magma, the creature holds onto Quasar. ‘Got to make it let go of me - LET GO!’ he thinks to himself as he manages to break free. Wendell spins around and flies upwards, hoping that his aura will hold out until he makes it out of the inferno. ‘YES!’ Quasar exclaims as he bursts through the top of the magma pit, then expels the thermal energy he picked up, then forces it down the pit, before capping it with a quantum-field.

A short time later, outside, Quasar and the man in blue take some time to rest, ‘Well…it’s over. The Project’s safe’ Wendell announces. ‘Yeah…no thanks to me. Some security chief I am! Letting fifteen of my men die!’ the man in blue laments. Quasar puts a hand on the man in blue’s shoulder and tells him that there was nothing he could do, and that he knows what he is going through. ‘When I was Project security chief, I screwed up so badly it took four outsiders to come in and pull the Project’s bacon out of the fire’. He adds that it is no big disgrace, it is just something that happens. ‘Don’t let it get to you, make you want to toss in the towel’ he adds, before announcing that he has to get going, and as he takes flight, with the alien armor creature’s hand in the quantum-box still, Wendell tells the man in blue that he can take credit for the Project’s rescue any way he wants to. ‘Take care now…uh, what was your name?’ Wendell calls out. ‘Blue Shield!’ the man in blue reveals as he waves goodbye.

As he flies back towards the city, Quasar tells himself that it is weird being on the other side of the fence. ‘I now see it’s easier coming in from the cold sand saving the day than it is putting your butt on the line day in day out’ he thinks to himself. He hopes that the Blue Shield takes his pep talk to heart, as he wouldn’t want him to repeat his mistakes. ‘In light of the deaths and all, I hate to have anything to feel good about…but I can’t help feeling I vindicated myself tonight for all the times I failed the Project’ Quasar decides.

Meanwhile, back at Project Pegasus, the Blue Shield looks up to the sky, when suddenly, Dr Wilburn rushes towards him with several Project Pegasus officers at his side. ‘What happened?’ Wilburn calls out. The Blue Shield explains that a creature was eating the Project, that it killed fifteen of his men, but not to worry, as it is gone now - Quasar came in and saved them all. ‘Me…I was all but useless’ he remarks. The Blue Shield announces that he is going to help the engineers restore power to the place, and as he strides off, informs Dr Wilburn that his resignation will be on his desk in the morning.

Characters Involved: 


Cannonball, Sunspot, Warlock (all New Mutants)


Blue Shield

Dr Wilburn

Helen Carver

Project Pegasus scientists

In Quasar’s Memory:


Dr Strange, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Thing

Project Pegasus staff

In Flashback Images:

Iron Man II

Reed Richards

Story Notes: 

Apparently the New Mutants’ appearance here takes place between New Mutants (1st series) #91 and #92.

Quasar was possessed by the Serpent Crown in Marvel Team-Up Annual #5.

The story regarding the armor on Battleworld can be seen in Secret Wars #8. Iron Man disposed or the armor in Iron Man (1st series) #183.

Issue Information: 
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