As I sit here thinking about it, it occurs to me that since Carol Danvers wasn’t Captain Marvel yet, that Marvel in the 90s used a very different character to basically fulfill the role of the space-based hero with a lot of power, going around righting wrongs and so forth, and that was Quasar.
He couldn’t keep with the times.
Quasar was originally a man named Wendell Vaughn. He became a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but wasn’t quite right for field work, so he became a security guard at a lab where scientists were experimenting on the quantum bands of a dead Marvel hero named Marvel Boy/Crusader. One thing led to another and Wendell was wearing the damn things as the new Marvel Boy. Later, he went by Marvel Man. Eventually, he settled on Quasar.
So, what was his deal? Well, with the Quantum Bands, Quasar could fly, generate energy constructs, survive in the vacuum of space, and eventually was selected by a cosmic entity called Eon to be Protector of the Universe.
If you think that sounds a lot like a Green Lantern, there’s a difference or two. For one, Quasar wore two bands, not one ring, and for another, there was no Quasar Corps. It was just him to protect the entire universe all by himself. He joined the Avengers and even had a solo series written by longtime Marvel guy Mark Gruenwald.
Now, during this period, Quasar was a frequent sight during big cosmic storylines like Infinity Gauntlet and Operation: Galactic Storm. And then came Annihilation. He’d already become something of a sporadic appearance in different Marvel books, and until Annihilation, Marvel had stopped doing a lot of stuff on the cosmic end of their fictional universe. So, what better way to show how powerful the Annihilation Wave and its leader Annihilus were than to kill an established cosmic hero and steal his quantum bands?
That happened pretty early. The quantum bands eventually rebelled and went to Phyla-Vell to be the new Quasar. He’d be brought back as quantum energy and even get the bands back, but then somewhat recently, he passed the quantum bands and the Quasar name off to another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Avril Kincaid.
As near as I can make out, Avril’s big accomplishment was getting knocked out for a good chunk of Secret Empire. Methinks Wendell is getting those fancy bracelets back at some point soon, but I’m not sure we’d even notice, truth be told. Carol Danvers fulfills his general narrative purpose these days and probably does a better job of it.
Maybe he should just get some help. The universe is a big place for just one protector.