It might be my Indie Comics Month here on Crushing Krisis, but it’s also a month to focus on a certain group of Marvel galactic heroes as we approach their third (and final?) entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Today I have a guide for all Patrons of CK that focuses on the leader of this ragtag band of galactic guardians and his odd trio of origins in the Marvel Universe – a Guide to Star-Lord, Peter Quill.
Often in these launch posts I admit to you that I was a little unclear on the origins of a character or that I learned a lot about them in my full read of their material.
This is a rare case where I can say I was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY WRONG about my understanding about a character’s origins! In my defense, Peter Quill’s origins had just changed a year prior to the creation of my original Guide to Guardians of the Galaxy – and Marvel was still recollecting his original (no-longer-canonical) origins along with other Guardians materials!
First things first: The happy-go-lucky Star-Lord you all know (and many of you love) from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has very little to do with the Marvel Comics version of the character. Although Brian Bendis and subsequent authors have gradually introduced the goofball levity of the film version into comics, there’s no mistaking that the comic version of Peter Quill is considerably more experienced and downright grizzled than his film counterpart.
Actually, I’d say Star-Lord is the #1 example of Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity and characterization changing a character permanently in the comics! All of the other Guardians characters were already much closer to their film counterparts than Peter Quill as of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
Once you can get past the shock (and, perhaps, betrayal) of this surprising revelation, let’s move on to exploring the two (or, maybe three?) comic origins of Peter Quill.
Star-Lord was originally introduced as a pulp hero in Marvel’s magazines and anthologies in the 1970s, created by Steve Englehart. This Star-Lord was born on Earth before taking to the stars after the murder of his mother.
These original Peter Quill stories were relatively hard sci-fi for Marvel, with zero connection to the Marvel Universe. In fact, as a passing detail in one of these stories we learn that this Peter Quill didn’t even take the name Star-Lord until 1990 – which is sometime in his past.
That initial Star-Lord never recurred after a final appearance in Marvel Premiere (1972) #61 in August 1981. He’d later be referenced in a 1996 Starlord series that introduced a new character taking on the name (and the ship) of the original character. Otherwise, he receded into Marvel history.
That is the first, original origin of Star-Lord.
Then we come to a second origin of Star-Lord. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to call it Origin 1.5.
This is the origin that introduces the Peter Quill we currently know in the comics. Sort of.
Kieth Giffen & Ron Lim introduced a Peter Quill who adamantly did not want to be called Star-Lord in their 2003 Thanos ongoing series. This was an older, battle-scarred version of Peter Quill who had implied history with Thanos and was serving a life sentence in a prison on the rim of the Galaxy for his part in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents as he tried to hunt down and contain a rogue herald of Galactus.
It was this veteran version of Peter Quill that was drafted into Marvel’s Annihilation cosmic event in 2006. There, he was the second-in-command to Richard Rider’s resistance forces. This was still a dour, pessimistic version of Peter Quill that’s still far from the modern iteration we know from films and movies. Quill continued to his own mini-series in the lead-up to the sequel event, Annihilation: Conquest, in which he assembled a precursor to the modern Guardians of the Galaxy that would launch out of the event as written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning.
Throughout all of Giffen’s comics and into Abnett & Lanning’s comics, the heavy implication was that this Peter Quill might be the same as the future spaceman Steve Englehart created in the 1970s. Was his 1970s future now simply our Marvel-616 past? Or, was he really from the future, only to now return to the past of the Marvel Universe?
The answers to those origin questions never came to fruition. First, because Abnett & Lanning killed of the character before answering them! Second, due to another Star-Lord origin written by Brian Bendis to coincide with him assembling a Guardians of the Galaxy team that closely matched the team we’d meet on screen in 2014.
Let me be clear: Bendis’s Peter Quill is the same character as the one we met in Giffen & Lim’s Thanos (2003), who starred in Annihilation, and who Abnett & Lanning drafted into their Guardians team.
The difference is that Bendis’s new origin (the second or third, depending on how you’re counting) in Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #0.1 firmly rooted Quill’s origins in the recent past of the Marvel-616 Universe in a story that would be adapted by the MCU.
Also, while Bendis’s version of Star-Lord in the ongoing Guardians series still had all of the experience implied in the past decade of stories, he was a considerably younger, less-grizzled, funnier, and more-romantic version of the character – all in anticipation of his film debut.
At the same time, the original 1970s origins of the character were quietly shifted to represent a Star-Lord of Earth-791. That quiet shift happened only a year prior to my original draft of the Guide to Guardians of the Galaxy and I missed it entirely!
It didn’t help that most internet comic databases hadn’t yet caught on to the change, either. Plus the Guardians of the Galaxy Solo Classic Omnibus (2015 oversize hardcover, ISBN 978-0785198321) came out the next year and included issues from the 1970s Star-Lord!
I’m happy to finally have my misconceptions corrected as I put together this Guide to Star-Lord, Peter Quill – both the Earth-616 and Earth-791 versions! Twisted continuity like this is one of the many reasons I started putting together comic guides in the first place. Not every reader should have to go through the literal hours of research I did to figure out all of these shenanigans and how they impact a character’s reading order.
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