Monday, July 10, 2017

Star-Lord - What's Your Sign?

Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies might be quite surprised at the Star-Lord they encounter in his very first story, his origin from way back in 1975. The light-hearted space-spanning romp which are the Guardians movies are not the stuff of this robust tale of savage revenge. The story was conceived so as not to be a part of the Marvel Universe. The story told in Marvel Preview #4 under a gorgeous Gray Morrow cover was a saga of the relatively near future set apart from the doings of Spidey and the Fab 4.

The story as Steve Englehart described it, was a project which he imagined after being given only the name "Star-Lord" by Marv Wolfman and tasked with making something interesting with it. Taking his cues off the "Star" part of the name he turns to his rich familiarity with Astrology and makes a story of a young boy named Peter Quill who is nearly killed at the moment of his birth by his insane Father and who despite that does survive and grow up to see his Mother murdered by aliens. Consumed by the desire for revenge he makes himself the first among equals of those considered for duty as space-spanning astronauts in the service of Earth. But his cold demeanor and all-consuming anger makes that an impossibility and he resorts to violence to get the chance to answer a summons from the depths of space. This call brings him before an ancient figure purporting to be the essence of the Sun itself and Peter is given the powers of "The Star-Lord", powers he then uses to fulfill his mision as a protector of space and as a means to fulfill his pledge of revenge for himself.

Steve Gan
The story is a humdinger with vintage artwork by the painfully underrated Steve Gan. Gan offers up a story grounded in reality which nonetheless succeeds in communicating the grandeur of space travel. The hard-bitten tale of Peter Quill, a man consumed with anger and self-loathing is told clearly and effectively in the pages Gan delivers. Steve Englehart's desire to tie Quill's saga to the Astrological nature of the universe starts well but seems to lose steam by the end, but who knows where it was going to go.

Gray Morrow
Because when the reader next encounters Peter Quill, the story and the premise will have changed just a wee bit. The astrology is diminished and some of his more questionable motivations are ignored. We have a protagonist who is more of a classic hero. I like the changes fine, but I miss some of the flavor of that important first story.

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