Happy Comics Release Day!
There’s never been anything quite like this series and it’s criminal that it isn’t available in a trade paperback collection.
Wendell Vaughn, eventually the Protector of the Universe, is a genuinely nice guy with a commitment to doing the right thing. During one of those accidents prevalent in superhero stories, he became bonded to cosmic wrist bands that seemingly caused the last wearer, a hero call Marvel Boy, to go insane and self-destruct. (The full story of Marvel Boy was revealed/retconned in the Agents of Atlas series.)
Essentially, Wendell is stuck with an unfathomable power that he doesn’t fully understand and can’t fully control. The entire run follows his struggle to become what he deems a real hero. The sixty-issue run features the cosmic entities called the Eternals, an avatar of death that looks like a macabre version of Casper the Friendly Ghost, a death, a rebirth, and a struggle to find some humanity in a life that now seems to span eternity.
I first encountered Wendell in the pages of Marvel Two-In-One, where he worked as the chief of security for Project Pegasus, a scientific research center in the Marvel Universe. He was so earnest and so sincere that it was hard not to like him and I remember being thrilled that he received his own book.
What Kids Will Like About It:
They’ll be drawn to Wendell’s personality and his need to prove himself. And if they are interested in bizarre/cosmic events and stories, this is also the book for them.
One warning: there are some suggestively gory sequences when Wendell is being tortured into giving up the cosmic bands. At that point, it looks grim for our hero and it’s disturbing enough to scare younger children. There’s a bit of the scene at this journal so parents can judge. By no means is this scene typical. It’s Wendell’s darkest moment and possibly the moment of his greatest heroism as well.
What Parents Will Like About It:
Quasar brings in all kinds of elements from the Marvel Universe from the cosmic to the everyday. Gruenwald was known as being the Marvel trivia expert, especially all thing obscure and this books is a treasure trove for the Marvel Comics geek. There are many references to sometimes forgotten stories and there’s even an appearance by a popular DC hero, albeit disguised, in Quasar #17.
About the Creator:
The late Mark Gruenwald passed away far too young but still left a wonderful body of work. Besides Quasar, he’s best known for his decade-long run on Captain America, the twelve-issue miniseries Squadron Supreme, and, one of my favorites, a four-issue Hawkeye miniseres.
After his death, Gruenwald’s ashes were mixed with the ink used to produce the first edition of the trade paperback of Squadron Supreme.
Gruenwald was the owner of the replica of Captain America’s shield that is now in the possession of Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert.
How to Find It:
A quick search on eBay didn’t find a complete run of the series but there were several sellers with large numbers of issues for very reasonable prices. Issues #1-12 were priced at $20.
I did find the trade paperback of Marvel Two-In-One that features Wendell before he received his own series.