The similarities are even more striking since his writer, Mark Gruenwald , was best-known for working with DC archetypes in the Marvel Universe in the Squadron Supreme graphic novels.
This write up mainly covers his solo series, which ran from 1989 to 1994, written by Mark Gruenwald. Mr. Gruenwald being a famous Marvel Universe scholar, his Quasar book was full of obscure, nigh-forgotten Marvel Universe characters. They too got a chance to shine for a bit.
- Real Name: Wendell Elvis Vaughn
- Former Aliases: Marvel Boy, Marvel Man
- Marital Status: Single
- Known Relatives: Gilbert Vaughn (father, deceased), Lisa Vaughn (mother), Gail Vaughn (sister)
- Group Affiliation: The Avengers; formerly S.H.I.E.L.D., and Project: Pegasus
- Base of Operations: Four Freedom’s Plaza
- Height: 5’10″ Weight: 180 lbs
- Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond
- Other Distinguishing Features: He has a mullet (it was the 1980s).
Powers & Abilities
Quasar is a trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, whose main weapon is the Quantum Bands. The Bands are attached to the host until death.
The Bands allow him to manipulate the electro-magnetic spectrum in a variety of ways. The most blatant forms are energy blasts and creating solid light constructs. The constructs can be permanent, but direct control over them can be taxing. Two constructs are the most he can maintain without risking losing control.
It provides an automatic protective aura which allows him to operate in hostile environments for a limited period, and which offers a degree of protection from attacks. This may be augmented by force constructs.
In combat situations he’s been known to create solid energy armour for extra protection. In close quarters combat he sometimes wields energy nunchakus.
Quantums of the sole ace
The Bands also allow him to fly by counteracting gravity. For interplanetary travel he quantum jumps to the Quantum Zone to allow him to travel faster. This lets him travel anywhere in the solar system within seconds. Quantum jumping is dangerous within an atmosphere, where it risks an explosion. He can work around this by first encasing himself in an energy cocoon.
Quantum jumping relies on the Quantum Zone. Traveling to another multiverse — such as the home to the New Universe — may render this power inoperable.
The Bands have an array of sensory options, especially with regards to energy detection. The 14 jewels adorning the bands can be set to keep track of certain things. Known uses Quasar has set his to include:
- The direction of the North Pole.
- Radiowave transmissions.
- Air-traffic control.
- A planetary exosphere he set over Earth to detect arriving extra-terrestrials. It’s also sensitive to exotic highly energetic power manifestations on the planet.
He can also use them to communicate with Eon or Epoch at any time.
The Bands can also be set with certain defensive actions. He set them to protect him from mental control after suffering such an attack. They likely have other powers he’s yet to discover.
Most of these abilities of the Bands Quasar has learned over time, and with Eon’s guidance. Any new wielder of them would likely only have access to the basic powers: flying (at a slower rate initially), creating solid light constructs,
Wendell Vaughn graduated the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy with high scores. They deemed him unfit for field work though, due to his lack of a killer instinct.
His first assignment was guarding the Quantum Bands worn by the deceased Crusader. The Bands were a subject of experimentation by a project headed up by Wendell’s father.
Interlude — “Wait, where do the bands come from?”
- The Quantum Bands concept originate with the Silver Age Marvel Boy (Bob Grayson) – you can read his profile for more. Marvel Boy acquired those on Uranus.
- The Bands worn by Quasar was brought on Earth by an entity called the Crusader. For years it was thought that the Crusader was an insane Marvel Boy, but it was later revealed as an impostor. His unfamiliarity with the Bands may be the reason they killed him.
- This Uranian would trouble Quasar in one of his near-death experiences, and was briefly returned to life to further hassle him as Thanos’ agent, the Blue Marvel (yes, there have actually been two character with that name).
- The whole setting with the alien colony on Uranus and its relationship with Marvel Boy was revisited during the 2000s and 2010s. If you want to know more, see the Marvel Boy (Bob Grayson) (Agents of Atlas).
- While their origin is unrevealed, the Quantum Bands have become a tool of the cosmic entity Eon, who would become Wendell’s patron. Over the millennia, Eon has regularly armed a “Protector of the Universe” with the Bands to defeat major menaces.
- Eon manifests as a surreal, disembodied, tree-like head. The bulk of its vast body exists in another dimension . An Offspring of Eternity and Infinity, Eon is charged with nurturing sentient life in the universe.
S.H.I.E.L.D. assigned an accomplished and strong willed test pilot (very similar to Green Lantern, Hal Jordan) to don the Bands. He proved adept at using them. But when their energy levels got too high, he was unable to force them under his control. They reached critical mass and vaporised him. As a result, S.H.I.E.L.D. closed down the project.
They didn’t have time to escort the Bands to a holding facility before A.I.M. forces attacked. They overwhelmed the S.H.I.E.L.D. force. With no other option, Wendell donned the bands. He subdued the A.I.M. force, then flew high as the bands energy levels spiked.
Wendell saw no way to avoid his predecessor’s fate. Instead of fighting them, he surrendered to it, prepared to die. The energy dissipated without damage, Wendell’s lack of a killer instinct making him a suitable wielder for the Bands.
Under the name Marvel Boy, he was part of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Super-Agent’s initiative (alongside Texas Twister, Blue Streak, and Vamp). It didn’t last long, as half the team turned out to be double agents. He continued to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while, as Marvel Man, and then Quasar.
After leaving S.H.I.E.L.D., he became security chief for Project: Pegasus. The Project was an energy research facility and specialised prison. It housed energy wielding super-villains the Project was experimenting on or studying. It suffered more than its share of trouble from the likes of Deathlok, Nuklo, and the Nth Man.
Quasar was often aided by other heroes, such as the Thing – who spent quite a bit of time there. It left Wendell feeling unable to do the job on his own, and caused him to resign.
Feeling lost, he returned home and did little. His father offered him a goal in the form of a trip to Uranus, where the Crusader had received the Bands.
The trip took him a few years, which Wendell spent asleep as his Bands carried him to his destination. He discovered the settlement abandoned, but was contacted by the cosmic entity, Eon.
Eon explained the Bands were the weapon of its chosen Protector of the Universe. The Crusader hadn’t been the Protector. His possession of the Bands made them unavailable for Eon’s previous champion, Captain Mar-Vell.
There was a mysterious new threat to the universe that required a new Protector. Quasar accepted the role, and Eon opened Wendell’s mind to the extent of the Bands’ power. As a result, he was able to return to Earth in minutes.
All Eon knew about the threat to the universe was that it would be alien, and would first try to kill Eon. Quasar convinced Eon to return to Earth with him, to make protecting it easier.
Re-establishing his life on Earth, Quasar joined the Avengers. In his civilian identity he set up his own business, Vaughn Security Systems, with an office in the Four Freedoms Plaza building.
A chance encounter brought him into contact with his first employee, Kayla Ballantine. She’d just missed out on a receptionist job due to her dress sense.
His next recruit was Kenjiro Tanaka, a friend from the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy. Ken was undercover in the company Wendell got his first contract. With S.H.I.E.L.D. disbanded, he’d stayed there until something else came along. Wendell didn’t share his other identity with them at first.
The company’s third recruit, HD Steckley, forced herself on them. Her forceful personality overwhelmed the flustered Vaughn, eliciting from him the promise of a job if she could secure five new contracts in a week. Which she did. She was actually Moondragon in disguise, determined to help him protect the universe. Whether he wanted her help or not.
Protector of the Universe?
Quasar established a routine of checking all alien life forms on Earth. None were the threat, although a few proved hostile. Nor was the threat among the new arrivals he detected by a sensor array he set around the planet.
His lack of success fed his concern that he wasn’t up to the job. And he read into Eon’s impassive demeanour a disappointment that wasn’t there.
It didn’t help that while he lived with his father near New York, he’d never felt they connected. Yet he often found his father talking with Eon, fascinated by this omniscient entity.
Quasar was first to meet the Squadron Supreme when they found themselves stranded on his Earth. He arranged for the reduced Project: Pegasus to put them up in their partly derelict facility.
Shortly after their arrival, the Overmind dominated members of the Squadron. He took them with him into space. Quasar followed, along with his friend Makkari, and the Squadron member Hyperion.
They followed the trail to the planet of the Stranger, the Overmind’s enemy. It was a prison planet for individuals the Stranger experimented on. The Overmind took advantage of the Stranger’s absence, releasing the prisoners. The chaos failed to draw the Stranger back.
Who Watches the Watchmen Die?
Quasar went in search of the Stranger to warn him. He found him investigating a suicide plague affecting the Watchers. A theory had spread among them that their presence as observers affected the observed. It argued that the only way to avoid influence was to no longer observe. Many Watchers had already willed themselves dead.
They stopped the rogue Watcher who’d spread the virus, but the virus itself remained. Quasar convinced the Stranger to deal with the more immediate problem. They returned to a trap, where Overmind gained the upper hand. An audience of Watchers triggered his paranoia though, allowing the Stranger to beat him.
The Watchers and Stranger proceeded to ignore Quasar. He used pyrotechnics to get their attention. He reasoned that the presence of the Watchers had swayed the fight. So even in dying they affected the universe they sought to observe. His argument convinced them. A counter virus launched through their group mind and revived the dead Watchers.
Quasar returned to Earth with the Squadron. Buoyed at his achievement, he began to believe he may be worthy of the role of Protector of the Universe.
The chaos on the Stranger’s world allowed some prisoners to escape. One convoy brought a group home to Earth, led by the Presence. He attacked Quasar as soon as he intercepted them, raving that Quasar and Eon were a threat to the universe. The Presence then went after Eon.
Quasar stopped him killing Eon with aid from the Fantastic Four. His office sustained damage in the battle, precipitating his decision to reveal his identity to his employees. He assumed the Presence was the threat he’d awaited, but jubilation was short lived.
Returning home, he found his father dead, having been so longer than he could have been. He’d died weeks prior, but Eon had animated the body to prevent the distress distracting Quasar. Wendell quit the role of Protector of the Universe in anger, wanting nothing more to do with Eon.
The Cosmic Assassin
Still grieving his father’s loss, Vaughn and his staff attended dinner at a prospective client’s mansion. It turned out to be a trap set by Maelstrom, the true cosmic assassin. With his servant, The Weird Sisters, holding the others as hostages, Maelstrom forced Quasar to surrender.
Maelstrom removed Quasar’s hands above the Bands, keeping him alive until he’d learned enough. Then he let Wendell die. Except that he didn’t quite pass over, Infinity manifesting him a quantum body to go to Eon’s aid. Unable to stop Maelstrom, Quasar followed Eon’s command to kill it before Maelstrom finished.
Eon’s death didn’t stop Maelstrom. He’d absorbed enough knowledge to continue his quest to destroy all reality. It did slow his plans though, and Eon was able to temporarily pass its cosmic awareness to Quasar as it died. Using this knowledge, Quasar interfered with Maelstrom’s plans.
Their conflict ended up with Quasar as Infinity’s champion, while Maelstrom represented Oblivion. Maelstrom revealed he was behind the Watcher plague, and the Presence’s enmity. Quasar prevented the universe’s collapse, and Maelstrom was apparently destroyed. Quasar’s body was restored, along with his hands. He returned to Earth to find his friends safe, thanks to Moondragon.
In the vastness of Eon’s trans-dimensional remains, Quasar discovered its child, Epoch. He helped it be born to replace Epoch, and it became his new mentor. Although he was in part its mentor, as it took time to grow accustomed to its cosmic awareness.
He had little chance to recover from his victory. His renewed role as Protector of the Universe occupied his time. Moondragon complicated matters, announcing his cosmic powers made Quasar a suitable mate for her. She was unwilling to accept his demurral, and plotted to force him to fall in love with her. She took some time to accept her failure, and then stormed off acrimoniously.
Even before she’d gone, Her had also determined Quasar would make a suitable mate. That situation resolved more reasonably. Her – who soon renamed herself Kismet – joined Quasar and Makkari on adventures.
While he shared genuine feelings with Kayla Ballantine, they never got to explore them. His role kept them apart, both directly and indirectly.
Stranded in another multiverse, Quasar gained the powerful Starbrand to help him return home. On returning, he embraced Ken and Kayla, unaware it transferred the Starbrand to her. It saw her get into her own troubles, and Quasar was too often distracted by other emergencies to notice.
During the Infinity War against Magus, Quasar attempted to use the Ultimate Nullifier. It didn’t work, and would have obliterated Quasar if not for further cosmic shenanigans.
His troubles kept him away from Earth for a while, and his returns brief. Reevaluating his life when Kayla was permanently stranded in the New Universe, Quasar decided his role required more mobility.
He said goodbyes to his friends and family, and made Ken his business partner, leaving him to run the business. Quasar then left the Earth, to concentrate on his role as Protector of the Universe.
A Caucasian male, Quasar’s costume generally consists of a red and blue. Usually blue cape and pants, and red shirt and highlighting. In his civilian identity he often wears glasses, and has his mullet tied back in a ponytail. The similarities to Superman/Clark Kent aren’t too subtle.
Open and earnest, Quasar is almost always polite, even in combat. He will try to end conflict peacefully where possible. He’s serious and law-abiding, and looks up to Captain America as his role model.
In general, he gives the impression of a Silver Age hero. He often comes across as upbeat and helpful, with a “never say die” attitude. Outwardly this is true, but behind the mask he experiences self-doubt issues.
He struggles with his confidence, especially over his role as Protector of the Universe. The confidence problem preceded this though. Following his imagined failure as security chief of Project: Pegasus, he lacked impetus until his father suggested the trip to Uranus. Even there, some deep suicidal impulse drew Deathurge to fight him.
He resists the negative impulses of his nature though. When faced with a task he’ll do his best to deal with it, leaving his doubts for when the job’s done.
As he’s succeeded at cosmic tasks, his confidence problems have diminished.
Quasar: “You’re not getting away from me that easily, sir !”
Absorbing Man: “Junior, I’ve taken on Thor, the Hulk, the whole blinkin’ Avengers ! I think you’re bitin’ off more’n you can chew hasslin’ with me !”
Quasar: “Yes… You have been beaten by a lot of heavyweights before, sir. Now prepare to get beaten by a light weight !” [Drops a solid light construct on him.]
“Sorry, Doctor, but you’re going to have to prescribe a greater threat than that to faze me !”
“Well, I’ll be double-dipped in dark matter !”
Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 05||Str: 03||Bod: 04||Motivation: Upholding the Good|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 06||Occupation: Protector of the Universe/Security Consultant|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 04||Spi: 06||Wealth: 005|
|Init: 017||HP: 060|
Accuracy (Quantum Bands): 07, Artist (Musician (Guitar)): 02, Martial Artist: 05, Scientist: 03, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee): 05
Confidant (Eon/Epoch), Special Credentials (Avengers), Special Credentials (Protector of the Universe).
Avengers (Low), Cosmic Community (Low), Eon/Epoch (High), Kayla Ballantine (High), Kismet (Low), Makkari (High), Squadron Supreme (Low), Thing (High).
QUANTUM BANDS [BODY 30, Acuity: 10, Detect (Energy): 20, Energy Absorption: 12, Energy Blast: 18, Extra-Sensory Tracking (Energy): 12, Flight: 21, Force Manipulation: 21, Iron Will: 10, Power Drain: 12, Radio Communications: 20, Sealed System: 15, Skin Armor: 08, Warp: 30, R#02, Insta-Change, Miscellaneous Drawback (Bands cannot be removed until death), Bonuses & Limitations :
- Relevant Powers are limited to the electromagnetic spectrum (-1).
- Detect has the Discerning Bonus (+1).
- Force Manipulation constructs can last indefinitely (+2).
- Power Drain is Contingent on Energy Absorption (-1), only affects energy based Powers (-1), and only when they’re active (-1).
- Warp can only be used when Quantum Zone is accessible (-0), and use in atmosphere without precautions causes Bomb effect at ⅓ AP (-1)].
Quantum Bands Overload
The Bands have proven dangerous for some new users. An energy cascade that proves too strong to control vaporises the wearer. Wendell saw the previous wearer, a highly trained test pilot with a strong will, fight for control of the Bands but ultimately lose.
When Wendell felt the bands do the same, he didn’t fight it, allowing them to do whatever they would. They powered down, and he never had the problem again.
It’s unclear whether this is some kind of worthiness test to determine a suitable candidate, and if so what attribute the Bands seek. Possibly a lack of aggression, or willingness to submit to destiny or some such. It may have been programmed into the Bands by Eon, as traits he seeks in a Protector of the Universe.
When the wielder uses Energy Blast or Force Manipulation for the first time at ½ or more of their total APs, they have to make a WILL check against 10 OV/RV. Success, or any HP expenditure, (or Game Masters decision) means they suffer an attack by the Bands’ Energy Blast.
Source of Character: Marvel Comics (mainly Quasar solo series, 1989-1994).
Helper(s): maficklin, Pufnstuff, Sébastien Andrivet, Butch Rosenbalm, Roy Cowan.
Writeup completed on the 21st of August, 2016.