The Imperial Guard was formed centuries ago when a man named Rook'Shir, who wielded the power of the phoenix in his blade, was ravaging the Shi'ar Empire. They ultimately defeated him and hunted down his descendants, as they are the only ones able to wield the blade.
Its members are drawn both from the Shi'ar and other alien races governed by the Shi'ar. The majority of the Imperial Guard's members are known as Borderers. They assist the governors of conquered planets in enforcing the Shi'ar imperial law.
The Imperial Guardsmen however belong to the elite corps that protects the ruler of the empire, known as the Majestor or Majestrix, and executes his or her orders. The praetor (leader) of this elite corps is Gladiator, the most powerful member of the entire Imperial Guard.
The duty of the Imperial Guard is to serve the monarch of the Shi'ar, no matter who it may be. The Guardsmen once aided the mad emperor D'Ken against his rebellious sister Lilandra, but when Lilandra succeeded D'Ken as ruler, the Guard switched their loyalty to her.
The Imperial Guard was created by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Dan Green in 1977 and first appeared in X-Men # 107. Many of the characters that make up the Imperial Guard are in fact loosely based on many of the characters that make up DC Comics Legion of Superheroes. Scintilla for example bearing resemblance to Shrinking Violet, Hobgoblin based on Chameleon Boy, Astra based on Phantom Girl, and Fang based on Timber Wolf, among many other parallels. During an early appearance, Wolverine battles (and defeats) Fang, stealing his costume; this battle may have been inspired as a nod to fan speculation about a battle between Wolverine and Timber Wolf.
Major Story Arcs
During a fight with Vulcan the Imperial Guard suffered many casualties. Those who died in the fight were: Smasher, Hobgoblin, Cosmos, Neutron, Titan, and Impulse. Oracle and Nightshade were severely injured but they may have survived the battle. Gladiator, Scintilla, Manta, Earthquake, Mentor, and Flashfire survived the battle. Recently Vulcan formed a new Imperial Guard using the five most dangerous criminals the Shi'ar Empire has ever captured. They are: Xenith, Pn'Zo, Hodinn, Uncreated and ZZZXX.
War of Kings
The Shi'ar went to war with the Kree, who were joined by the Inhumans. In a battle between Vulcan and Black Bolt, both seemed to be killed. In the aftermath, the Kree, lead by the Inhumans, were the victors. Gladiator became the new Majestor of the Shi'ar with the Inhumans as their overlords. A peace is trying to be formed between the Shi'ar and the Kree.
Realm of Kings
The Guard is originally dispatched to the planet Izumbardi, location of the production facilities for the Shi'ar Imperiums finest fleet. After the war with the Inumans, Izumbardi has become disheartened with the entire situation, and has decided to break off rather then remain under Shi'ar rule. This however is unacceptable to the Shi'ar, and as the apparent ruler of the planet is giving his declaration of independence, a scout reports to him that something is coming. It's the Imperial Guard, with guns blazing.
But watching the Guard from a command center, Gladiator is finding it hard not to be out in the field again. He knows that as Majestor of the Imperium, he can't aid them in any sort of official capacity, as it would be frowned upon my members of the Shi'ar governing body. But old habits die hard, and as the guard is encountering some major resistance, it's Kallark the turns the tide and saves the day once again. Later as Kallark is receiving reports from the Shi'ar imperial flagship, one of his councilors berates him for taking such action, stating that it's a matter of image. Councilor Araki is dismissed, only to return to a room where the real councilor Araki is being held in a stasis field, as the imposter councilor reveals himself to be the infamous member of the Raptor Society, Talon. Later as the Guard are celebrating their victory, a small scuffle breaks out over whether Gladiator is actually the right person to lead the Imperium. But it's quickly interrupted by the new Praetor Mentor with a message that Gladiator requires them for a briefing, as they'd just volunteered themselves for a mission to the fault. And since the Imperiums fleet is stretched thin, Gladiator has acquired them a special transport team - The Starjammers.
At the fault, the Guard and the Starjammers are assaulted by a massive bio-organic ship, and consumed. The vessel is essentially helpless and as Ch'od and Mentor begin repairs on the ship, it's the Guards mission to defend it from alien microbes intent on beginning the digestion process of they're fleshy prison. As Fang, Manta, and Hussar are busy repairing the hull, the exploration team of Flashfire, the new Smasher, and Oracle are returning with enemies on their tail. They're saved as Flashfire returns to cook the microbes alive, and repairs are finished on the ship as they blast they're way out of the belly of the beast. But as they continue their exploration, they find drifting in space the Earth hero Quasar, badly damaged and running from none other then monsters of the Cancerverse.
Back on the throne world, Gladiator is saved by the figurative bell, as an attendant draws him from what looks to be an incredibly boring meeting. The M'Kraan Crystal is behaving strangely with power fluctuations, and as Gladiator approaches it, the quantum energies seem to recognize him. Gladiator touches the crystal is is given a mental communication from the Guardsman Oracle who's using Quasar to channel. The message is dire. There's danger at the fault, and the Guard is requesting massive assistance. But Oracle and Quasar can't hold the message for long, Gladiator wishes to go immediately, and even as the true Councilor Araki warns him about this decision, Gladiator can't stand to let his former comrades simply give up their lives in his service.
Meanwhile back at the Starjammers ship, the Guard is forming a wall of debris and Warstar is laying down a minefield for defense against the inhabitants of the Cancerverse coming to assault them. As the first of the defenses are tripped, Ch'od angrily messages Mentor. Someones sabotaged the ship by removing the Hypderdrive Capacitor. And the only suspect? The newest Smasher, who's on his first tour. As the members of the Guard and the Starjammers confront him, Plutonia grabs some amulets he had behind his back, and the new Smashers disguise is ruined. It's once again, Talon of the Society of Raptors. Talon says that he was only trying to help, and that if the amulets are returned, he can create two new raptors and boost the firepower of the Guard immensely.
Back outside, the Cancerverse inhabitants are attacking, but there's something oddly familiar about them. They all resemble members of the X-Men, from Wolverine, to Cyclops, and even Storm. A battle ensues, and the Cancerverse's Nightcrawler manages to kill Starbolt. It's revealed that the attack is being orchestrated by the Cancerverses version of Xavier as some sort of Cerebro Ship. As things are looking dire for the guard outside, just as Neutron is about to be devoured, something bursts through one of the flesh ships and kills it. Gladiator had joined the battle, bringing along more members of the guard, and using the M'KRaan crystal to transport them all to the fault to aid the rest of the Guard. With Gladiators arrival, the tide of the battle is quickly beginning to shift, but unfortunately, the Guardman Neutron is also killed in battle. Gladiator arrives at the ship for the briefing and is informed of the situation. Like the others, he's incredibly unhappy with Talons presence, but Talon manages to convince them that he can help. He simply needs two volunteers to become Raptors temporarily. So Mentor and Plutonia volunteer, and together with Quasar, the Raptors, and Gladiator, they lead the assault on the inhabitants of the Cancerverse attacking them. When Gladiator feels it's time to withdraw and return to the Imperium, Quasar points out that the enemy seems to be falling back - on orders from the Xavier ship who lets out a massive psychic attack. The Starjammers manage to destroy it, and return to the Imperium. Later, Kallark reports to the Inhuman queen Medusa to explain about what happened at the fault. He warns them of what's coming, and everyone agrees that now more then ever, the Kree and the Shi'ar must be allies.
Earth 295 - Age of Apocalypse
After the mentally imbalanced son of Charles Xavier travels back in time, to kill Magneto, he unwittingly creates a new reality in which Apocalypse rules the Earth. In this reality exists an Imperial Guard as well. In this reality they are still loyal to D'Ken, who still seeks the power of the M´kraan Crystal. The same artifact that Gambit and his crew seek to steal a shard from.
This bringing the two groups into conflict with each other, as the Imperial Guard appear attacking Gambit and the X-ternals, when they arrive to try to steal the M´kraan Crystal. The Guard temporary, allied themselves with X-Ternals pursuer Rictor to fight the renegades. An unstable M´kraan Crystal producing powerful shock waves teared though their ranks during the battle, ending the lives of many of the Guardsman. Gladiator being one of the few members of note to survive the initial wave, later falling in battle with Sunspot.
Earth-41001 - X-Men The End
Cassandra Nova orchestrates the end of the X-Men, and uses the Shi'ar and the Imperial Guard as pawns in her massive scheme. The final battle of X-Men and the Imperial Guard on their home planet decimates the ranks of both teams, leaving both vulnerable to a power mad Nova.
X-MEN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
The Imperial Guard appeared in a few episodes of the series during the Phoenix Saga. The Starjammers (The Phoenix Saga Part 4, Episode 32) Child of Light (The Phoenix Saga Part 5, Episode 33)