Quasar’s Costume Change Saved the Marvel Universe
Today we take a look at how Mark Gruenwald managed to find a way to use continuity to save the Marvel Universe in a Quasar storyline involving a re-enacted costume change.
This is a feature called “Nothing’s Better”, where I highlight aspects of classic comics that particularly impressed me.
As I’ve mentioned many times, before working as a professional comics editor and writer, Mark Gruenwald was already one of the most thoughtful and observant writers in the world of comics fanzines. Gruenwald edited, designed and wrote much of the writing for his own fanzine, Omniversededicated to exploring continuity in comics.
Continuity was clearly something Gruenwald enjoyed immensely, and it had a major impact on many of his stories. However, one example that particularly impressed me was how he used continuity as a tool to, in effect, save the entire Marvel Universe in a Quasar storyline!
HOW DID QUASAR GET A NEW SUIT IN THE 1990S?
In 1989, Gruenwald launched Quasar with his DP7 artistic team of Paul Ryan and Danny Bulanadi. Quasar kept his costume then assigned to SHIELD…
It changed to Quasar #18 (by Mark Gruenwald, Greg Capullo and Keith Williams), which was Capullo’s first serial issue on the show as the book’s artist and right away, Capullo did a hell of a job on the book. The issue sees Wendell Vaughan back home in the Midwest, visiting his mother and sister. However, a curious thing continues to appear. Wendell doesn’t know how he got there and he’s confused as to why he didn’t bring a suitcase with him. When he dreams, he dreams of flying with fancy bracelets on his wrists. A local family neighbor has a ten-year-old son who is a huge superhero fan, just like Wendell, and he’d love to talk with Wendell about life in New York City, where so many superheroes live (oddly, Wendell even finds himself referring to Captain America as the oddly informal “Cap”).
Either way, Wendell goes to talk to the little boy, but is shocked when the kid has a drawing of all the superheroes he’s created, including one named Quasar. Wendell recognizes the character, but doesn’t know how. That’s when the boy drops a bomb, it’s not REALLY a boy, it’s a cosmic being known as Origin, who created all the superheroes in the Marvel Universe! Including Quasar! He explains that he sets up scenarios that will create superheroes and then plant names and costumes in their minds. He knows that Wendell is Quasar since he created him!
Wendell obviously doesn’t believe him, but the boy goes on to explain that he’s in a cosmic pitched battle against another cosmic being known as The Unbeing, who keeps trying to create superheroes. “Origin” shows Wendell a pile of unknown superheroes that the boy claims The Unbeing erased from existence. He notes that the Unbeing’s powers are weakening, as it does in the body of the boy’s grandmother, and therefore its influence is only about 500 miles away, that is why there are no superheroes in the Midwest! However, the Unbeing’s powers weaken even there, as the introduction of the Great Lakes Avengers made clear. “Origin” wants Wendell’s help to destroy The Unbeing. Wendel agrees.
The plan was for “Origin” to reverse the erasure of Wendell’s superhero background and for Wendell to be able to become a Quasar again, just in time to destroy the Unbeing’s host body. “Origin” was truly Unbeing itself!!
Generally speaking Gruenwald wrote that Quasar had one of the strictest senses of justice in the Avengers (Gruenwald wrote it very similarly to Captain America) and in the end Quasar just couldn’t not imagine a being that was all about creation being so desperate to destroy another being. So he castigated the kid instead. The true Origin was grateful, as much of what the child had told Quasar was true, just with the roles reversed. Origin was, in fact, a cosmic being who had created every superhero in the Marvel Universe, and he was now about to reincarnate into a new host body.
Before Origin parted ways with Quasar, as a thank you to Quasar for saving him and attacking The Unbeing, Origin gave Quasar a brand new costume that looked much more like Captain Marvel’s costume, noting that he would have must have thought of a better costume for Quasar in the first place, and due to his powers, it retroactively BECAME Quasar’s costume from the start!
Yes, the costume itself was a retcon! The prior costume technically never existed. Now how could that be useful, I wonder?
WHY DID QUASRA’S COSTUME CHANGE SAVE THE MARVEL UNIVERSE?
The villainous Maelstrom slew the cosmic entity known as the Anomaly, which was essentially a symbol of the concept of anomalies per se, things that shouldn’t exist. Maelstrom had served the cosmic entity known as Oblivion, which, of course, sought the destruction of the entire universe. Maelstrom’s plan was to use the powers of Anomaly to defeat Oblivion, take wer and then destroy the entire universe. Maelstrom even killed Quasar and stole his Quantum Bands. Luckily, the cosmic being known as Infinity saved Quasar’s soul, well, I guess, and sent him back with enough power to take on Maelstorm in Quasar #25 (by Gruenwald, Capullo and Williams).
During the fight, Maelstrom bragged about being the ultimate anomaly in the universe, which he could say, since his new powers gave him cosmic awareness. However, Quasar then revealed his original costume to Maelstrom, asking him if he recognized him and when he didn’t, Quasar insisted that this made QUASAR the ultimate anomaly, since he had something something that even Maelstrom could not conceive, even with his cosmic consciousness. …
The realization that Quasar was right was too much for Maelstrom to handle and he lost control of his stolen Quantum Bands which essentially wiped him out of existence…
Quasar reunited with the bands and in a fun twist he then gave himself his OWN costume, the first one designed BY him and not someone like SHIELD or Origin and that costume, of course, became THE definitive costume for Quasar (Capullo did a wonderful job here)…
Anyway, how cool is it that Mark Gruenwald used a point of continuity to save the Marvel Universe?
Alright folks, this is a feature that’s a little less amenable to suggestions (because it’s really about stuff that speaks to me, you know?), but hey, feel free to send suggestions for future installments, to [email protected]! Maybe you and I have the same vision of things and I will use your idea!
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