What the D’ast: The Starjammers


(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with Marvel Cosmic and its many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)

picI can remember it as if it were yesterday; no, better.

The All-New, All-Different X-Men were battling the Imperial Guard for the fate of all reality’s existence. Suddenly, above the overwhelmed mutants, four figures drop from a cool looking star craft. The simple caption (you all remember those, right?): “Enter a legend!” It was the debut of Chris Summers (Corsair) and the Starjammers. Little did we know at the time how much of a part of the X-Men’s lives they would become.

The story of the Starjammers began with Summers, a military pilot returning with his family from a trip to Alaska. Without warning their plane was attacked. Chris’s wife, Katherine, strapped their two sons (Scott and Alex, who later became the X-Men Cyclops and Havok) to their only parachute and pushed them out of the plane, saving their lives. The husband and wife were then teleported from their plane to the ship of an advanced alien race, the Shi’ar.

They were brought before Emperor D’Ken, who was immediately smitten with Katherine, making her his concubine and sending her husband to the slave pits. Eventually, Chris escaped and reached D’Ken’s private quarters to try to assassinate him. However, he was caught and punished by having his wife murdered before his eyes, and his unborn son cut out of her womb. His spirit broken, he was sent to a mining camp on another planet.

While working in the mining camp, Chris witnessed the guards mercilessly beating a feline-like female. He stepped in, trying to get them to stop, but was then beaten himself. The woman was taken to the holding cells and Chris huddled up in a corner, ashamed of himself. A little while later, Raza and Ch’od passed by and asked Chris for the whereabouts of their comrade Hepzibah. Unfortunately, Chris was too afraid to answer. After they had left, Chris felt guilty and went to the guards’ quarters, starting a fight after killing one of them. Surrounded on all sides, Chris’ cause seemed hopeless when Raza and Ch’od jumped in. After getting past the guards, they freed the cat-woman and sneaked on board a Shi’ar starship. Chris used his pilot call-sign, Corsair. Naming Chris their captain, they became the Starjammers, a group of space pirates rebelling against D’Ken’s tyranny.

The Starjammers have had many adventures across the universe, many of them on Earth with the X-Men, during which Chris Summers finally met his long lost sons. At times, the group ran with Professor X and even his consort, the Shi’ar ruler, Lilandra. The group participated in the defeat of the cosmic threat Magus, assisted by Professor X and the New Mutants. When the Skrulls made an incursion into Shi’ar territory, the Starjammers were overwhelmed, kidnapped and duplicated. They were later rescued from their imprisonment by the X-Men.

The Starjammers figured significantly in the Uncanny X-Men story arc, “The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire,” a 12-issue long story arc following on the events of X-Men: Deadly Genesis.

Within this arc, the long-lost third son of Corsair, Gabriel Summers, now the powerful mutant Vulcan, travels from Earth to Shi’ar space seeking revenge against the mad emperor D’Ken and the Shi’ar empire for the death of his mother and his own mistreatment by the Shi’ar. Through the course of the story, Vulcan allies himself with Deathbird to depose her brother, the emperor, but later seems to side himself with D’ken against the X-Men and the Starjammers, who seek to stop his plans for revenge. Vulcan soon turns on and kills D’Ken, and by marrying his ally (and sister of D’ken) Deathbird, assumes the throne of the Shi’ar empire himself.

In the course of the finale, Corsair, Vulcan’s father, is seemingly killed. Hepzibah is returned to Earth with the X-Men, while Havok, Polaris and Marvel Girl remain behind. Havok decides to assume his father’s position as leader of the Starjammers. Polaris opts to stay with him. Marvel Girl remains behind as well, having developed an intimate relationship with Korvus, a Shi’ar warrior whose ancestor was once a host of the Phoenix force (like Marvel Girl); his giant sword allowed him to access the force to a degree as well. The Starjammers’ new mission is to defeat Havok’s brother and return Lilandra to the throne of the Sh’iar Empire.

The further adventures of the Starjammers are continued in the mini-series: X-Men: Emperor Vulcan. Havok and the Starjammers attack Shi’ar space. Responding, Emperor Vulcan appears with an armada to kill them, but a another alien race, the Scy’ar Tal,  gets involved. The race’s name translates to “Death to the Shi’ar,” and they destroy the Shi’ar flagship. In the aftermath, most of the Starjammers are captured and subsequently imprisoned by Vulcan. Lilandra, Korvus and Rachel Summers escape.

In the mini, X-Men: Kingbreaker, the Starjammers battle back to free their comrades from Vulcan’s clutches, but Raza is infected and becomes a reluctant host to an alien symbiote that appears to be of the same race as Venom. The symbiote-controlled Raza subsequently becomes a member of the Emperor Imperial Guard. The Phoenix Force (right when it may be needed most) also abandons both Korvus’ blade and Rachel Summers.

All this makes way for the Starjammers’ inclusion in the War of Kings event. The silent Inhuman Black Bolt, now ruler of the Kree, squares off against Vulcan of the Shi’ar. In this adventure, the Starjammers are instrumental in an attempt to return Lilandra to the Shi’ar throne. Unfortunately, she is assassinated by Razor of the Fraternity of Raptors seconds before Christopher Powell is able to return to his Darkhawk armor (which Razor had previously occupied). Darkhawk becomes the most wanted man in the galaxy!

During a WoK-related Nova issue, Raza is freed from the symbiote and later accompanies Ch’od and the Imperial Guard in exploration of the Fault, a rip in time/space resulting from a bomb which exploded during the battle between Black Bolt and Vulcan.

Word from Marvel.com has it that in September, the X-jammers — Havok, Polaris and Marvel Girl — will return amid an intergalactic epic in X-Men Legacy. No word on the other Starjammers at the time of this filing, but this story arc should be interesting — and fun!

Beam me up, Waldo!