Last week, we discussed a purported logline for the “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, which referenced the cast of characters that will be seen in the movie, particularly Peter Jason Quill, the intergalactic hero known as Star-Lord. This week, we’re going to take a closer look at Star-Lord, his long history in comics, and where he stands today in relation to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Star-Lord first appeared in 1976’s Marvel Preview #4, as created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Steve Gan. From the moment of his birth, there were doubts as to his true parentage, and by his 11th year, he learned unmistakably that there was more to his background than that of a simple Earth boy, when he witnessed his mother’s murder at the hands of an alien raiding party. No one believed young Peter, but he became determined to seek vengeance upon his mother’s killers, and made it his lifelong goal to enter NASA’s space program, so he could one day reach the stars and deliver retribution.
However, his obsessive outlook led to him growing up to be an “unpleasant, introverted jerk” in the words of his creator, and NASA determined that his social difficulties made him unsuited for more important space missions. He was relegated to serving on a near-Earth space station, when the moment came that would change his life forever. As the crew observed a solar eclipse, an alien presence made itself known to them, and informed them that 14 days hence, when the moon itself would be eclipsed, a crew member of their selection would be chosen to become “The Star-Lord.”
Quill volunteered for the honor, but was quickly shot down by NASA’s high command who determined that he did not have enough space experience to be chosen for this duty. Quill, who saw this as his last, best chance to achieve his dream of finding his mother’s extraterrestrial killers, snapped and went on rampage, shooting down his colleagues, and at the last moment displacing NASA’s chosen Star-Lord candidate, winding up transported away in his stead to meet the alien entity known as the Master of the Sun. The Master of the Sun bestowed upon him a new uniform, as well as the power of flight, and a strange weapon bearing resemblance to a gun, but capable of projecting any of the four “elements”; fire, wind, water, and earth. The Master also gave him the opportunity to act out the vengeance he had been seeking in the form of an elaborate illusion, which made Quill realize he had been wasting his potential, and that as Star-Lord, an entire of universe of possibilities had been opened to him.
Englehart departed Marvel soon after writing Star-Lord’s debut, and in 1977’s Marvel Preview #11, the character was reintroduced by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne. The new team took Star-Lord in a different direction, notably dropping the astrology aspects that had been central to Englehart’s take in favor of a more straightforward action-adventure in the vein of Robert Heinlein’s novels. A new companion for Star-Lord was created in the form of “Ship,” a sentient energy being capable of transforming herself into a starship and other forms to assist Star-Lord on missions. The two held an unconsummated love for one another that provided an added level of angst to Star-Lord’s existence. In addition, Star-Lord’s origins were expanded upon, revealing that he was actually the son of a noble galactic emperor, and his mother’s death had been engineered by his evil uncle who had in fact been gunning for him, in order to eliminate any heirs to the throne.
Star-Lord made several more appearances following this, with writer Doug Moench eventually taking over his reins, but ultimately fell into limbo following 1982’s Star-Lord Special Edition #1. An attempt at a revival was made in a 1996 Star-Lord miniseries where noted science fiction author Timothy Zahn created a new version of Star-Lord, Sinjin Quarrell, an alien from a possible future who adopts Quill’s Element Gun and allies himself with Ship in order to carry on the Star-Lord legacy. In 2000, Rafael Marin, Carlos Pacheco, and Jose Ladronn for the first time attempted to connect Star-Lord with mainstream Marvel Universe continuity, by bringing his father into their Inhumans miniseries. But it was not until 2004’s Thanos #8, written by Keith Giffen and drawn by Ron Lim, that attempts to bring Star-Lord into the Marvel Universe fully took hold, as Star-Lord was shown to have been imprisoned in the intergalactic penitentiary known as the Kyln, where he first encountered the villainous Thanos.
Giffen followed up on his re-introduction of Star-Lord in 2006’s Annihilation event, where Quill assisted Nova and other cosmic champions in beating back the forces of Annihilus. Annihilation was successful enough to merit a sequel in Annihilation: Conquest, which brought the threat of the world-conquering Phalanx to the fore. Star-Lord earned his own miniseries as part of this event, and by the end of Annihilation: Conquest, Star-Lord had taken a central role in the cosmic goings-on of the Marvel Universe, having decided it was necessary to form a pro-active team to deal with threats before they got out of control. This led to the start of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy series, featuring a quick-reaction force made up of an array of Marvel cosmic heroes, for which Star-Lord assumed command.
The Guardians, led by Star-Lord, are currently appearing in Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Avengers Assemble series, and with the movie on the way, rumors abound of a new Guardians of the Galaxy series. Given what we know of the film’s character line-up, and the description of “a U.S. pilot who ends up in space in the middle of a universal conflict,” it seems a safe bet that Peter Quill will remain at the forefront of Marvel cosmic events for some time to come.