Issue(s): Quasar #18
Quasar finds himself in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, his mother's place of residence, without any recollection of what he is doing there. He goes to his mother's house where we see her and his sister Gayle (who we are meeting for the first time).
We soon learn that, Wendell has even forgotten that he's Quasar, although he does have a dream of flying while wearing bracelets.
His parents invite over the neighbors for dinner: a Norma Betelheim and her ten year old son, Billy. Billy wants to be a comic book artist, and he's interested in talking to Wendell, since Wendell lives in New York where all the super-heroes are.
Mark Gruenwald was actually born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and i bet that Billy is based on him as a child.
Billy invites Quasar to his clubhouse to see his drawings of all the super heroes that he "created".
And he does mean created. He claims to be a cosmic entity responsible for the creation of all of Marvel's super-heroes.
Mutants are the easiest since he doesn't have to make up special origins for them.
While Billy's real name would be unpronounceable, he is called Origin. And his nemesis is another cosmic entity called Unbeing, who erases super-heroes from existence. The fact that Unbeing is based in the midwest explains why there are so few super-beings there. And she's responsible for wiping Quasar's memory and powers. Billy offers to restore his powers if he'll take care of Unbeing for him. Quasar is suspicious, but goes along with it until they get to the person that Billy says is Unbeing, an old woman in a hospital bed. When they get there, though, Quasar acts on his suspicions, and confirms that it's Billy, not the old woman, that is really Unbeing.
The old woman, Phyllis Twombly, is really Origin.
Unbeing fades away when he is revealed, and Origin gives Quasar a new costume.
If i understand the conclusion to the upcoming Cosmos in Collision storyline correctly, Origin actually makes this costume change retroactive, so that he always had this costume. But that's not clear at this point (although maybe implied by the fact that the entity is called Origin and not Costume Designer). For now, note the idea that he can hide his costume in his wristband, which i assume is a nod to the Flash keeping his costume stored in a secret compartment in a ring, and seems pretty cheesy.
As Quasar is flying home, we see Unbeing talking to his master, Oblivion. Unbeing failed to wipe out Quasar, but "at least I kept him from sensing the arrival of the Great Pawn".
Mark Gruenwald has a very pedestrian approach to cosmic entities. When Steve Ditko introduced Eternity, the story barely made sense, but there was no doubting the majesty or mystery of the character-concept. In the 1970s, creators like Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin continued in that vein. It was never exactly clear what the purpose of their cosmic characters was, but the mystery and metaphor of it was part of the appeal. With the characters introduced here - and we'll see more of this in Cosmos in Collision, Gruenwald is very specific and casual about what the entities represent. Origin creates origins for super-heroes. Unbeing eliminates them. This is not a surprise. Steve Ditko is Steve Ditko, and the creators of the 1970s are products of their psychedelic times. Gruenwald, on the other hand, was the driving force being the push in the 1980s to categorize everything in Handbooks and Sagas. It makes for clearer stories and eliminates arguments around what the various entities represent, but it makes the characters pretty boring. Origin is mundane and kinda dumb. And i'd actually write this entire story off as a cute tribute to Gruenwald's childhood if the events here didn't figure into Collision and if Origin (but not Unbeing, except for a flashback) didn't have more appearances.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Quasar gets another new costume at the end of Cosmos in Collision, so we'll have to pay close attention to his appearances in other books and place them based on which outfit he is wearing.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
IMO, this is one of the ugliest costumes I've ever seen. Thank goodness it didn't last long.
Posted by: clyde | September 9, 2015 10:03 AM
and the printing Marvel used at the time made a good chunk of the books look ugly and garish, which didn't help.
Books from the 70s still look nicer than early 90s stuff.
Posted by: Bob | September 9, 2015 11:18 AM
Personally, I prefer the Gruenwald-style of "categorize and define everything," but I can see that a lot of people wouldn't.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 9, 2015 12:32 PM
I've always had the same opinion on mutants. Lazy writers don't have to bother with an origin. "He's a mutant. Boom."
Posted by: kveto from prague | September 9, 2015 4:26 PM
Its sort of understandable what Gru is trying to do...except that we have other writers elsewhere who have spent decades trying to create the "unified theory of the Marvel Universe" so that's why this version probably was ultimately ignored. There are universes where an idea like this would actually be sort of clever; just not in this one.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 9, 2015 4:44 PM
I don't know... I think Origin and Unbeing can exist in the Marvel Universe without a problem as "metaphysical abstract entities." You know, like how you've got personifications of Love, Hate, Eternity, Order, Chaos, dreams, death and the like. There's obviously earthly reasons for hate and death and such, but there are also representations of them that could possibly destroy the concept if they were somehow harmed. Things you'd find in the Oververse from Mighty Avengers. Just that regardless of wherever the concept or the entity came first, there are abstract entities that represent superhero origins and endings.
Or say, how gods work in Discworld, kind of.
Posted by: Max_Spider | September 9, 2015 8:54 PM
Fnord, something that looks like Death appears in the clouds in the final panel of the issue, right before the lines "Death and Oblivion shall claim the cosmos". I always assumed that was Death. If that's the case, then Death should be listed as a Character Appearing.
Posted by: Michael | September 9, 2015 11:45 PM
I've added that scan. It doesn't really look like Death to me, although i can't say who/what it does look like. Per Quasar #25, it doesn't really seem like Death was colluding with Oblivion at this time. Does it really make sense for her to be hanging out with him here?
Posted by: fnord12 | September 10, 2015 7:25 AM
Could that be Deathurge? He was an agent of Maelstrom & Oblivion.
Posted by: clyde | September 10, 2015 9:34 AM
I considered that, yeah. I think those squares around the "head" might look a cloak, which (plus the words) is why Michael suspects that it's Death.
In any event it's not a critical appearance of whoever it is, so i think i'll leave it untagged and people can see these comments and make their own decision.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 10, 2015 9:38 AM
Horrible costume overall, but I kinda like the starfield-inside of his cape.
Posted by: Berend | September 10, 2015 10:59 AM
Capullo's art was a major step up from his predecessor.
Posted by: Bob | September 13, 2015 7:18 PM
Bob, I enjoy reading your comments because they nearly always mirror my own opinions and thoughts.
Posted by: grom | October 4, 2015 6:44 AM
I don't mind his costume that much, but it definitely made him look TOO much like Captain Marvel's replacement.
Posted by: AF | April 10, 2016 3:04 PM
Mike Manley's unused designs for this costume:
The costume we wound up getting was still designed by Mike Manley - despite being drawn by Capullo.
Posted by: AF | April 29, 2016 8:49 AM
Too bad Manley hadn't yet developed the style of art he used in Black Panther - it would've looked great for Quasar.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | March 6, 2017 12:38 AM
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