December 7, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #435: Star-Lord

Star-Lord did not start off as a pop culture-spewing clown.

Oh sure, Star-Lord.  That goofball who drops pop culture references his alien teammates on the Guardians of the Galaxy don’t understand.  The son of Ego the Living Planet and a human woman.  The character that made Chris Pratt a movie star.  Thanks to the MCU, audiences know all about…OK, I’ve been doing this run for the past few weeks, so you should know by now the comic book version of Star-Lord was initially very different, so why not just get to it?

Star-Lord, AKA Peter Quill, first appeared in a black-and-white magazine, namely Marvel Premier #4 in January of 1976.  His adventures were initially set in the then-future year of 2000, but eventually Star-Lord started appearing in regular Marvel comics, so that aspect was more or less forgotten.  Though created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan, his earliest adventures are noteworthy for a very different creative team:  writer Chris Claremont, penciler John Byrne, and inker Terry Austin, the self-same trio that would later go on to a successful run on Uncanny X-Men.

In fact, it was during this period when Marvel nearly got into a lawsuit when the lawyers representing author Robert Heinlein threatened legal action unless Marvel removed a claim that Star-Lord’s adventures were akin to the sort Heinlein wrote.  Said lawsuit was avoided by simply taking the Heinlein claim off the cover.

OK, so, what was Star-Lord’s whole deal?  Basically, he was a Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon sort of character, a guy who was a straightlaced space adventurer.  His father was an alien known as J’son, who it turned out was the Emperor of the Spartax, a spacefaring alien race.  J’son’s ship crash landed on Earth where he was nursed back to health by one Meredith Quill.  The two fell in love and had some pantsless fun, but J’son had to return home without learning Meredith was pregnant.  Meredith soon gave birth to a baby boy, naming him Peter.   Two soldiers from the alien Badoon race showed up after a few years to end J’son’s bloodline, and while Meredith was killed, Peter managed to get his father’s element guns and blow the aliens away.  A Badoon ship then destroyed Peter’s home, forcing him to go on the run.

Oh, he went on the run in space.

Peter’s adventures as Star-Lord often had him dealing with cosmic baddies and aliens, relying on his bootjets, strength-enhancing suit, and a helmet that acted as both a universal translator and allowed him to breathe in space.  Plus, since his father was a space king, the “Star-Lord” title actually made sense.

Peter did, like a lot of the 70s cosmic heroes, disappear for while until the Annhilation stories that had Marvel’s cosmic heroes return.  Peter would then organize a new, modern-day set Guardians of the Galaxy team, where his tactical knowledge and skills made him a natural if uneasy leader.

But much like the other Guardians, as soon as Chris Pratt’s portrayal of the character hit the big screen, the comic book version started to reflect that version more in his style of dress and general attitude.  If anything, that was also around the time that more Earth-based heroes joined the Guardians like Iron Man, the Flash Thompson version of Venom, Ben Grimm, and Kitty Pride.  In fact, Kitty and Peter fell in love and got engaged.

I have no proof off-hand, but I know Brian Michael Bendis was writing the Guardians’ adventures for a time, and I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if Bendis was responsible for the Kitty Pride romance.  He did the same thing with Kitty and Spider-Man in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man.  Dude must have a thing for Shadowcat.

If anything, Peter has become a Guardians mainstay, outside of the occasional period where he has to rule the Spartax himself due to J’son’s absence.  And while he doesn’t normally have superpowers, an encounter with the Olympian gods means his element guns, for some reason, don’t lose power over time like Peter himself can somehow just charge the weapons by simply holding them.

So, basically, Star-Lord for the longest time was nothing like Chris Pratt’s take on the character.

On the other hand, Star-Lord does use a hyphen, so Jimmy might love the guy.