Five years ago, almost nobody knew of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It was a minor cosmic team-up of minor characters. Today, the Guardians are among the most popular characters Marvel produces. The reason I decided to write about this team is pretty simple. I found a Marvel Preview #18 Star-Lord while doing back-issue work, and thought it was pretty interesting how that particular extremely rare book could gain such notoriety in such a short amount of time.
The Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in January of 1969, but under a totally different face. They were a group of heroes from the 31st Century alternate Earth (Earth-691) who banded together to fight cosmic villains in the far future. These stories often revealed important facts about the future of many of our heroes in the 21st century. They appeared in mostly backup stories during the 1960s through the 1980s, but had their own title in the 1990s.
The Guardian members we know today mostly showed up in various comics during the 60’s and 70’s and had absolutely nothing in common with one another, or the original Guardians of the Galaxy.
There are two more important characters the movie didn’t touch on, Quasar (Phyla-Vell) and Adam Warlock. It is actually Adam Warlock that brought this group together. As the one that took the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos, Warlock decided to break it up and hide the gems with different cosmic heroes, many of whom later formed the Guardians of the Galaxy under Star-Lord. The name is the most interesting part. Why did they call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy? They found Vance Astro, one of the Guardians of the Galaxy from the alternate future floating in a block of ice in space. They just took the name he gave his organization. It is kind of funny how disparate characters can go on to form one of the most popular groups. For more of their story, check out the Annihilation: Conquest story arc from 2008.