Quasar: Another New(ish) Hero

Quasar has returned to Marvel comics. Kind of.

Spoilers ahead.

In the conclusion to Marvel’s Standoff event, it brought back a familiar name, albeit with a new face. Cosmic hero Quasar, who’s been little seen in recent years, returned as part of the story’s climax. But instead of the familiar Wendall Vaughn version, fans met a new female Quasar, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Avril Kincaid.

It’s simultaneously disappointing and sensible.

It’s disappointing because Wendall is a great character who has suffered from editorial indifference for years. He had his heyday in the early ’90s, in a great five-year series written by the late Mark Gruenwald that was often one of the most interesting mainstream books around. Around the same time, he logged a couple years as an Avenger, bringing a lot to the team’s mix.

After the Quasar series ended, Wendall would go missing for long stretches. Avril is not the first replacement Quasar. In the past, both the daughter of the original Captain Marvel and O.G. Nova Rich Ryder took on the Quantum Bands that give Quasar powers. Wendall always came back to the role eventually. His down-to-earth personality made him a nice contrast for cosmic adventures.

Quasar would turn up here and there. But even as Marvel finally managed to sustain interest in its cosmic side, he wasn’t a big part of it. Which is odd, considering his power set and the natural link between Marvel’s earthbound and space quadrants he provided. He’d occasionally get a moment in the spotlight, but then would disappear again. It’s puzzling, when you consider how well Quasar would have fit in books like Guardians of the Galaxy, Infinity or Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers opus.

So really, replacing Wendall yet again isn’t a surprise and makes sense in many ways. New Quasar Avril Kincaid serves Marvel’s efforts to broaden its character representation beyond the traditional “white male” mode. The Quasar power set is substantial and useful to have in play in the Marvel Universe. And the original is mostly a cult favorite, so swapping him out for a new version is unlikely to draw significant fan grumbling.

Readers don’t have much of a sense of Avril Kincaid yet. She’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a novice. Putting tremendous objects of power into the hands of a newbie and watching her figure out how to use them is a solid hook for the character. It was what Grunewald did in the early days of his Quasar series that made Wendall relatable. And Wendall apparently will be around as Avril’s mentor, so the original isn’t entirely put out to pasture.

So a new Quasar makes good story sense and furthers Marvel’s commitment to broadening its tent. It’s hard to argue with the logic.

But for the small cult that loved Wendall as Quasar, it’s disappointing that Marvel spent so much time ignoring the character and wasting his potential. Hopefully they don’t treat Avril the same way.

Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on April 28, 2016.

Author (Grievous Angels) and pop culture gadabout #amwriting

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