Last weekend Balladeer’s Blog took a look at the 1970s and 1980s stories of Star-Lord. This time around let’s go even further back and examine Marvel Comics’ original Guardians of the Galaxy.
MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #18 (January 1969)
Title: Earth Shall Overcome
Synopsis: In the year 3007 A.D. the aggressive humanoid lizard race called the Brotherhood of Badoon invaded our solar system with their fleet of starships. They attacked Earth as well as the Earth’s extensive colonies on Mercury, Jupiter and Pluto, where millions of genetically engineered humans lived, bred to thrive in each planet’s unique environments.
In addition, Earth had reached the Alpha Centauri star system and on Centauri IV had formed a peaceful government with the native Alpha Centaurans. The Badoon also struck there, wiping out all of the humans and Alpha Centaurans.
The Badoon killed every Alpha Centauran because they considered them and their control of the living metal Yaka to be a threat. Similarly, the lizard-like aliens committed genocide on Pluto, Jupiter and Mercury as well, because they felt threatened by large numbers of foemen possessed of the enhanced abilities of those genetically engineered humans.
On Earth itself, the Badoon allowed roughly fifty-three million humans to remain alive as slave labor, since baseline humans did not have any extraordinary abilities which might pose a threat to them. But the Brotherhood of Badoon had not killed off every single member of the Earth colonies like they thought they had. Four figures survived to oppose them in a war to free humanity, four figures who called themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy.
MAJOR VANCE ASTRO – This tragic hero was the leader of the team. Vance Astro was an American astronaut placed into suspended animation and launched toward the Alpha Centauri star system around 1999 (which was still the future when this story was published in 1969). During the centuries when the sleeping Astro’s ship was crossing the gulf between stars the Earth people created warp-drive and wound up reaching the sole inhabited planet of the Alpha Centauri star system well in advance of good old Vance.
To Major Astro’s bitter surprise, when his slow-poke of a vessel at last reached its destination he was far from a pioneer – humanity and the blue-skinned Alpha Centaurans were expecting him and were happy to welcome the would-be explorer, who forever after wallowed in the same type of “man out of his own era” self-pity that characterized Captain America for so long.
Adding to his bitterness, Astro was trapped in his preservative bio-suit because exposure to open air would trigger horrifically swift aging, killing him. The long years Astro spent in suspended animation unleashed potent psychic powers in his brain, enabling him to shoot powerful rays of psycho-kinetic force from his forehead. (Though in the usual comic book back-and-forth retconning it was sometimes claimed his powers came from a cerebral disc inserted in his brain.)
YONDU UDONTA- The sole survivor of the native race on Centauri IV, Yondu alone retained the special link with the living metal Yaka, which the Centaurans had long used as arrows in battle. The living metal was nearly indestructible and the arrows, once fired, could be used like miniature “smart missiles” controlled by Yondu’s whistling. (And Yondu has an entire quiver full of Yaka arrows, not just one like in the movies.)
When the first Earthlings had reached Centauri IV, the Centaurans had been at a stage of development roughly similar to Native Americans in the 1500s. Yondu combined the qualities of a stronger than human warrior with shamanic insight and a spiritual bond with nature.
Yondu and Vance Astro encountered each other in the brutal aftermath of the Badoon’s attack on Centauri IV. Finding themselves to be the only living beings left on the planet, they headed for Earth to see how things stood there.
CHARLIE-27 – Charlie was the sole survivor of Earth’s Jupiter colonies, immense floating cities in the gaseous Jovian atmosphere. Jovians like Charlie-27 had been genetically engineered to possess incredible super-strength to function in the extreme gravity of Jupiter.
Charlie returned from a six-month space mission to find the Badoon army mopping up after their conquest of Jupiter. One man against an army, he sought help by teleporting himself to Earth’s colonies on Pluto, where he faced bio-engineered Saturnian Hound-Hawks, winged canine-like creatures that the Badoon were using as blood-hounds to track down any survivors on Pluto.
He eventually encountered the sole survivor of the Pluto colonies and the pair used a teleportation chamber to go to Earth to search for survivors there.
MARTINEX T’NAGA – The science officer of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Martinex first met Charlie-27 when the scientist was destroying as much of the Pluvian Colony’s technology as possible to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Badoon race. The pair soon teleported to the Earth.
Once on Earth, he and Charlie-27 met up with Major Vance Astro and Yondu, who had escaped Badoon custody on Earth and were fugitives. The four banded together and launched a rebellion against the Brotherhood of Badoon.
Martinex, as Pluto’s sole survivor, had been genetically engineered with temperature related powers. He could shoot fire from one hand and could freeze things and shoot ice from his other hand.
This first story of the Guardians of the Galaxy ended with the formation and naming of their team.
NOTE: This superteam was not used again by Marvel until 1974, when the Thing, Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter used Reed Richards’ version of Dr Doom’s time machine to travel to the year 3014. The Guardians of the Galaxy had been fighting the Badoon for seven years by then and used a captured Badoon spaceship that they renamed the Captain America as their vessel in the guerilla war.
The Thing, Cap and Sharon Carter helped Vance Astro, Yondu, Martinex, Charlie-27 and their new ally, female freedom fighter Tarin (left), a baseline human from Earth.
Working together they managed to seize 31st Century New York from Badoon control while fighting the reptile race AND armies of their “Zoms” – lobotomized humans reprogrammed to fight until death for the Brotherhood of Badoon.
The deadliest aspect of the Zoms was the way the Badoon scientists had deadened their pain receptors, meaning that in order to incapacitate them our heroes had to either break every bone in their bodies or destroy their brains.
At any rate, the combination of 31st Century and 20th Century heroes fought the aliens plus the Monster of Badoon, a creation that was powerful enough to fight the Silver Surfer when the Brotherhood had tried to conquer the Earth back in the 20th Century.
With New York in the hands of the Guardians of the Galaxy plus the Terran Underground, the Thing, Captain America and Sharon Carter returned to 1974. The Guardians continued fighting to free the rest of the Earth from the Badoon.
After that two-part story, 1975 saw the G of the G in a five-part story with the Defenders (Dr Strange, Hulk, Valkyrie and Nighthawk). The Defenders mystically traveled to the future, and in action ranging from Earth to the Badoon homeworld and the Badoon subject planet Goozot they helped the Guardians at last free Earth from its alien conquerors.
Starhawk, a powerful alien who was both the male Stakar Ogord AND the female Aleta Ogord merged into one body, joined the 31st Century team during this storyline. During that five-parter the Defenders and Guardians of the Galaxy also fought Eelar, a genetically engineered humanoid eel creature bred by Badoon science to be as strong as the Hulk, control sea life and wield electric blasts of incredible destructive force.
By story’s end all the human slave camps around the world had been liberated and a human army led by the Guardians of the Galaxy fought in the final campaign to defeat the Badoon race while the Defenders returned to the 1970s. The female rebel Tarin became the first president of the newly-liberated Earth.
The team then got a 1976-1977 tryout series in Marvel Presents, during which they gained a female member, Nikki (Nicholette), the sole survivor of Earth’s Mercury colony (at left).
On the run from the invading Badoon, Nikki had passed years listening to old, old Earth music and watching old, old Earth movies from her spaceship home’s archives. She tended to speak with a LOT of “ancient” pop culture references.
That series in Marvel Presents was canceled after a ten issue run, because with the Earth already freed, the Guardians’ main reason for existing was gone.
The team limped and staggered their way through a few pale imitations of Star Trek-style adventures around the Milky Way Galaxy but the series flopped hard when this new direction failed to grip the imagination of readers.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE BEST GHOST RIDER COVERS AND STORIES CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE BEST WEREWOLF BY NIGHT COVERS AND STORIES CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE BEST SON OF SATAN COVERS AND STORIES CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE BEST EARLY BLADE COVERS AND STORIES CLICK HERE.