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By Mike McDermott

Phyla-Vell is a heroine who has taken on various identities during her adventuring career, frequently trying to live up to the legacies of others.  She is the daughter of the original Captain Mar-Vell, and trained all her life in combat in order to follow in her father’s and brother’s footsteps as a hero.  She eventually got her chance when her brother Genis, who was carrying the “Captain Marvel” legacy at the time, went insane from his Cosmic Awareness.  Phyla adopted the Captain Marvel name and uniform and fought to subdue Genis and help restore him to sanity.  Phyla fought alongside the recovered Genis for a time, along with his ally Moondragon (Heather Douglas).  The two women soon become involved, and left to explore the universe together.  After Genis’ death, Phyla realized she was not yet ready to carry on the “Captain Marvel” legacy, and willingly gave up the title.

Phyla was one of the many intergalactic heroes who joined forces to fight the Annihilation Wave invasion of our universe.  During the final battle against Annihilus, Phyla gained possession of the quantum bands of the fallen hero Quasar (Wendell Vaughn).  Feeling that the bands had chosen her, Phyla decided to become the new Quasar.  She and Moondragon also helped battle the Phalanx invasion of the Kree Empire, but Moondragon was killed in action.

As Quasar, Phyla was one of the founding members of Star-Lord’s team of interstellar heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy.  While on leave from the team, Phyla and Drax the Destroyer (Moondragon’s father) rescued Moondragon from the realm of the dead and restored her to life.  In exchange for Heather’s resurrection, Phyla made a deal with Oblivion to become the new avatar of Death, replacing the late avatar, Thanos.  Phyla kept this deal secret from her teammates and took on the new identity of Martyr, relinguishing the Quasar identity and quantum bands back to a newly-resurrected Wendell Vaughn.

Becoming Martyr seemed to affect more than just her powers; Phyla was more aggressive and violent, bringing her into conflict with team leader Star-Lord when she became insubordinate.  To fulfill her agreement with Oblivion, Martyr attempted to assassinate her fellow Guardian, Adam Warlock.  However, Warlock survived the attempt–but transformed into his own dark reflection, the Magus.  The Magus captured Phyla and several other Guardians, tricking their teammates into believing that they were killed.  However, Phyla’s psychic bond with Moondragon allowed Heather to learn that Phyla was still alive.  Martyr and the others managed to escape, but Phyla was killed by Thanos when he was resurrected and resumed his role as Avatar of Death.  Whether or not Phyla will manage to cheat death yet again remains to be seen.

Phyla’s powers varied from identity to identity.  Her natural-born powers as a Kree/Titanian hybrid include flight and superhuman strength.  As both Captain Marvel and Quasar she was able to absorb and project large amounts of energy.  As Captain Marvel she possessed cosmic awareness (a form of psychic link with the universe itself), but that ability faded away for unrevealed reasons.  As Quasar she was able to create constructs out of quantum energy, limited only by her imagination–anything she could visualize, she could create.  She frequently used a sword constructed out of quantum energy–a weapon she that continued to use after she became Martyr.  If she had gained any new powers as Martyr, they were unrevealed at the time of her death.

Read a more in-depth profile of Phyla at this page. Please also read the Moondragon profile.

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October 4, 2021
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