Brew's Crew: Remembering the other shield carrier, the noble Guardian of the Galaxy, Vance Astro!
(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with cosmic comics and their many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)
By Byron Brewer
The Captain America of an alternate future, what’s not to love about the character design and demeanor of Vance Astro?
Vance Astrovik was born in Saugerties, New York, the only son of a small-town butcher Arnold Astrovik and his wife Norma. Going into the U.S. Air Force at the age of 18, Astrovik (who changed his name to Astro when he was 21) became the youngest man to be accepted into the astronaut training program several years later.
In 1988, Astro volunteered for the first manned interstellar mission ever conducted by the United States, Project: Starjump.
His ship, Odysseus I, was not equipped for faster-than-light speed; hence the journey to Earth's nearest interstellar neighbor, a planet in the Alpha Centauri system, would take about 10 centuries. To protect him from aging, Astro was covered with a skin-preserving copper alloy (which was upgraded with adamantium in the Guardians of the Galaxy series) body-suit, and his blood was transfused with a kind of preservative fluid. Astro was launched into space from the HoustonAirportin the fall of 1988.
While on his way to Alpha Centauri, the ship automatically awoke him from his suspended animation in order for him to perform routine course adjustments. During the periods he was awake, sometimes for a year in duration, Astro eventually went insane from loneliness on several occasions, returning to a semblance of normality only after the ship automatically put him back in suspended animation again. During his long periods of sustained dream-state activities, Astro's latent psionic powers emerged. By the time he arrived on Centauri IV almost a thousand years later, he had full control over his psychokinetic abilities.
Upon arrival, Astro learned that Earth had beaten him to Centauri IV by two hundred years, having developed a faster-than-light drive since the time he left. Although Earth was unable to intercept his flight, the Centaurian people afforded him a hero's welcome. Disturbed by his reputation, Astro was determined to carry out the mission he was assigned a millennium ago, even though it would now be superfluous. While engaged in a geophysical survey, he encountered Yondu, one of the humanoid natives of the planet. When the alien Badoon launched an attack on Centauri IV, annihilating the human colony and methodically eradicating the natives, Astro and Yondu attempted to escape in Astro's ship. They were overtaken and transported to Earth.
There they escaped in the year 3007 A.D. and joined with two other survivors of the Badoon's massacre to form the Guardians of the Galaxy with himself as the leader. After liberating Earth, the Guardians set out on a random course across the galaxy, in the hopes of safeguarding freedom everywhere, and fight the Badoon conquest of Earth's solar system.
Eight years later, Astro and the Guardians of the Galaxy time-traveled to the 20th Century, and met the Defenders. The Guardians returned to 3015 A.D. with Starhawk and the Defenders to defeat a new Badoon invasion force.
Later, Astro and the Guardians teamed with the time-traveling Thor. They battled Korvac and his Minions of Menace. Astro then traveled to the present alongside his fellow Guardians, and assisted the Avengers in battle against Korvac.
Years later, on a trip to the present day, Astro encountered his younger self and convinced him not to join the USAF. He also accidentally awoke the younger Vance's telekinetic powers, ensuring the divergence. The younger Vance Astrovik would later join the New Warriors, first as Marvel Boy, then as Justice, and eventually became a member of the Avengers for a short time. (Because all of the Guardians of the Galaxy are reserve Avengers, Vance holds the distinction of being the only Avenger to appear twice in the roster -- as himself, and as Justice.)
Vance – or a similar being from another alternate Earth -- was discovered encased in ice on the asteroid Hydronis by the new Guardians of the Galaxy team lead Star-Lord. Astro confirms his identity to the band of aliens and later converses with Mantis at the Guardians' home base, Knowhere. Mantis confirms to Star-Lord that Astro has been temporally displaced. The Guardians are then attacked by the Cardinals of the Universal Church of Truth.
Vance later joined this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy and helps to rescue Peter Quill from Blastaar. He later joins Rocket Raccoon’s team on their mission to stop the War of Kings. After Adam Warlock loses control and becomes Magus, Vance is seemingly killed when his shield is thrown back at him by Magus, opening his suit up and causing him to age rapidly. However, he is later seen to be alive, but in suspended animation and a prisoner of the Magus, along with Mantis, Phyla-Vell, Cosmo and Gamora.
He later breaks free with the other Guardians excluding Phyla-Vell -- apparently slain by the revived Thanos -- reuniting with the other half of the team. After Thanos is incapacitated by Star-Lord, Vance (calling himself Major Victory) and all the other Guardians reunite in Knowhere.
It's also revealed, during a council of the Guardians of All Galaxies, that the Major Victory discovered by Star-Lord’s team in Reality-616, is a time displaced one from an alternate, unidentified dimension. During this council four other Major Victories appear: one identical to Earth-616, one with the original uniform, another with a symbiotic outfit of 1994-1995 and finally another with the pre-symbiotic costume appearance and a Captain America-themed uniform.
What the future – or present – holds for Astro or the any of the Guardians, only Providence and Brian Michael Bendis know for sure.