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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Admit it: the only reason this hero was created was so someone could show up between Punisher and Rogue in alphabetical lists.

Donning a pair of Quantum Bands, Wendell Vaughn transforms into Quasar, the Protector of the Universe!

The third of Walgreens' 2021 "cosmic" Marvel Legends exclusives, and the first one released once 2021 was over, Quasar is one of those Marvel charactes created solely to squat on a legally desirable name. Originally introduced in 1978, he was called "Marvel Boy," the third (or fourth) character to bear the name. And there were two more after him, because it's the "Captain Marvel" situation all over again (just without a rival company salivating at the prospect of the name rights lapsing). He was a professional guest-star in other people's comics, even after getting his new supranym a year later, but in 1989 he received his own ongoing series that lasted 60 issues.

Wendell Vaughn was something of a pet character for Mark Gruenwald, who wrote him as principled and earnest, with a strict sense of justice (think "MCU Captain America"). He was polite, not snarky, not cracking jokes... the 1990 trading card says he "has no arch-enemies, as he is quiet and soft-spoken." All that makes sense for a guy from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. So does the hockey hair. That could actually stand to be a little larger, really: he had some of the biggest hair a comicbook man has ever worn. Because the '80s.

Quasar has worn several costumes over the years, but this is his most iconic. It was designed by Greg Capullo, who was easily the best thing to ever happen to the Quasar comic. The body is the usual one, though they've traded in the arms and feet from a larger one - the shoulders so they don't get lost in his cape, and the feet... for stability? Visual balance? Because they're part of the same tool? We're not sure. It does make him look a little different from the average, though, and that's cool.

The coolest thing about the costume is the cape. The body of the suit is just red and blue, with a few angles - nothing really special. But the cape has wide, sharp shoulders, a high neck, and the interior is a starfield. The figure does it very nicely, printing a non-repeating map of dots and flares in silver. Technically the background should be black, but the cape is molded from a dark enough blue plastic that it looks okay without the cost of that extra app. Speaking of apps, though, the painted red on his torso doesn't match the molded red of his shoulders and boots, so there's a bit of a disconnect there.

If Nova was Marvel's Green Lantern in terms of hierarchical organization, Quasar is Marvel's Green Lantern in terms of powers. He was an Agent of SHIELD, but deemed unfit for field duty because he lacked the killer instinct, so he just got assigned simple security jobs. He was present when a SHIELD test pilot was experimenting with the Quantum Bands, and also when that test pilot panicked and blew up. Then AIM showed up and tried to steal the bands, Vaughn put them on; he was also about to explode, but his laid-back attitude allowed the energy build-up to dissipate rather than continuing to grow: while a Green Lantern ring works via an indomitable will, the Quantum Bands require a more flexible one. The bands are separate molds fit onto the wrists; according to the comics, they permanently bond to the wearer

The Quantum Bands work by drawing energy from the Quantum Zone - the realm of potential energy from which all actual energy in our universe derives, allowing the wearer to control anything in the electromagnetic spectrum. Quasar can use that power to fire beams of energy or form solid constructs. See, we told you he was like a Green Lantern. This figure just gets the flamey energy effects we've seen in the past, plus an alternate pair of flat hands, for flying I guess?

Although he's one of the most powerful beings in the universe, Quasar is a fairly down-to-earth kind of guy. He's not distant like Silver Surfer or Adam Warlock, not as driven as Genis-Vell or Richard Ryder... he's just a good dude using the advantages he was given in life to help others. He's been a SHIELD agent, an Avenger (it was a weird lineup, but still official), but his only toy until now has been from the tail-end of Marvel Universe, and that one was wearing a costume nobody wanted or recognized. This figure may have some small problems, but it's still a great addition to the collection.

-- 03/07/22

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