Fresh off his victory at the Stranger’s Lab world (see Journey into Mystery), where he saved the Squadron Supreme from Overmind, and saved the entire watcher race from the Oblivion Plague, a confident Wendell Vaughn wanted to celebrate. He used the recent client acquisitions for his business at Vaughn Securities as an excuse to ask his small staff out for a dinner. For one reason or another, most of the staff was not able to attend with the exception of his secretary, Kayla Ballantine.
Kayla wasted little time in explaining to Wendell that she has had a crush on him since the day he hired her. She stressed that she broke up with her boyfriend just on the off-chance that Wendell might be interested, unless he had an issue with dating a subordinate. She briefly questioned if Wendell might be gay, given his friendship with Mike Khary. Wendell clarified he was attracted to women in general and Kayla in particular, but stressed that it might be okay for them to date as long as she doesn’t feel pressured by him. Just as the conversation looked as though it was going somewhere, Wendell’s Quantum-Bands informed him that a ship had just penetrated the sensor net he had erected around the planet.
Wendell decided that because of the way she had opened up to him, that he felt obliged to share his secret identity with her after offering up countless excuses over the months that they had worked together. He asked if she had ever heard of the new Avenger, Quasar (despite that Quasar had saved her life upon their first encounter) and showed her his Quantum-Bands. He then offered to take her flying just like in the Superman movie. He left some cash on the table for the bill and departed, leaving behind a very shocked Kayla Ballantine.
Quasar got into orbit and found Jack Of Hearts leading a rag-tag group of tethered spaceship hulls. He confronted Jack, who responded with naked aggression having taxed his powers and patience to the limit on his trip from the Stranger’s lab world. After a brief struggle Jack found himself betrayed by two other members of the entourage the Presence and Starlight (formerly Red Guardian II).
The Presence attempted to kill Quasar outright, but when Jack refused to take part in murder he blasted him instead. Then with a close-range blast to the temples he thought Quasar dead. However, Quasar quantum-jumped out of harm’s way at the last possible second. Finding that Jack was hurtling away from the Earth; the tethered refugee ships headed into the atmosphere threatening to burn up somewhere over Siberia, while the Presence and Starlight headed into the atmosphere toward the North American continent.
Realizing lives were directly at stake on the refugee ship; Quasar caught up with them as they entered Russian airspace and he rendered them invisible to radar and planted them down in Siberia. He questioned the occupants of the ships and found that despite their very alien appearances they were all very human. Eon contacted Quasar directly to explain that he was under direct attack Quasar quickly departed, leaving the refugees there.
He radioed ahead to the Fantastic Four, telling them that a couple of cosmic level menaces were breaking into a lower level of their building. The FF was able to capture Starlight, and Quasar was able to arrive in time to protect Eon by trapping the Presence in the trackless Quantum-Zone. Feeling that he had saved his mentor from the “Cosmic Assassin”, Quasar decided it was time to celebrate. He instead found Kayla, who he was just starting a relationship, with in the arms of his best friend, Makkari. He left the scene without a word to either of them. He traveled to his father's house and found him dead on the kitchen floor. He learned to his shock that his father had been dead since before Quasar visited the Stranger’s Lab world. Quasar felt betrayed. Eon chose to animate him because he was certain that the Cosmic Assassin had killed him to throw off Quasar’s mental stability, and Eon was not convinced that the Presence had been the threat that Quasar had been appointed to combat. Quasar quit as Protector and told Eon to stay out of his life.
Malcolm Stromberg, a wealthy philanthropist wanted to gain the services of Vaughn Securities and that he knew Wendell Vaughn’s identity as Quasar, saying in no uncertain terms that he would have Quasar’sQuantum-Bands or he would kill Quasar's friends. Not knowing what else to do Quasar attacked only to find his beams bending around Stromberg. Stromberg then revealed himself to be none other thanMaelstrom, the Cosmic Assassin.
Holding Quasar frozen in place with his control of kinetic energy, Maelstrom gave an ultimatum: Give up the Quantum-Bands or his friends would die. Quasar attempted to bargain for their lives with the understanding that the bands could not be removed from Quasar until he was dead. Maelstrom simply used a steak knife to cut Quasar's hands off at the forearm.
Shortly thereafter, having been nailed to a wall of Stromberg's manor, of an energy manifestation of Mar-Vell appears to Quasar. Mar-Vell speaks for Eon, saying that despite that he was facing death now, he was a worthy successor and that he surpassed all of Eon's expectations. He then departs saying only "Goodbye, brother." Later, an energy manifestation of Gilbert Vaughn appeared and explained his aloofness to his son saying:
“Wendell, you know that I was never any good at expressing how I felt. But I’m telling you now that I was proud of you, son. Maybe a little jealous, too. Each generation wants their progeny to do a little better than they did—but what you achieved was just so much better than I could have hoped to have accomplished… it was hard to accept…”
“… I’m very proud of you, son. I’m sorry you had to wait until I was dead to hear it… …I love you.”
And with that Dr. Gilbert Vaughn vanished.
Quasar was greatly strengthened by these visits and was now ready to face his death. It was then that Phobus appeared with an energy whip. Saying he was going to whip Quasar a mere 39 times and needed Quasar to keep count for him. Phobus proceeded to whip him, but Quasar refused to keep count, only repeating "One". Phobus enraged by this, could not keep count and whipped Quasar innumerable times. Exhausted, Phobus left satisfied, and Quasar was left dying.
It was then that Wendell Vaughn's own personified version of Death manifests before him: Kid Reaper.
Kid Reaper ended that last little ember of lifeforce that Wendell was still defiantly clinging to with a sudden stab to Wendell's heart with his scythe.
Much later, an energy wraith manifestation bearing Quasar's appearance and seeming to be in some sort of trance simply floated out in the outer void. Kid Reaper suddenly appeared nearby and openly questioned the energy manifestation as though it was truly Quasar. Awakened from his stupor, Quasar asked Kid Reaper what this place was and why he wasn't dead. Kid Reaper pled ignorance saying that "Nothing like this had ever happened to him before". In a flash, Quasar realizes that Eon is still in danger and that it is his duty (even in death) to protect him. Quasar asks Reaper to hold open his cape. He says he finally knows what it is for." and he travels into it- using it as a portal.
Quasar along with Kid Reaper quickly arrived at the base of Eon’s brain, which is about the size of a planetoid, where Maelstrom reclines in a (Quantum-created) chair and has created various probes into the gray matter. Maelstrom hears Eon explain where Quasar should fire a blast that would result in immediate death for Eon. Maelstrom howls in rage at the sudden re-appearance of his adversary and attempts to blast him into nothingness (with the recently acquired Quantum-Bands), but since the energy-wraith Quasar is made from the same energy type that the Quantum-Bands produce the beam passes harmlessly through him. Quasar believing that it was Eon who was animating his form asked Kid Reaper to alert the Avengers to Maelstrom's threat and Kid Reaper agrees. Quasar responds by heeding his mentor’s wishes and firing a devastating bolt of energy right into Eon’s Brain stem.
When the dust clears, there is a gaping crater where Eon's brainstem used to be. Maelstrom howls in rage at apparently denied the secret of Cosmic Awareness. Quasar to his surprise still existed and found that his awareness is expanding as stars start to form on his face. Maelstrom understood that Eon had in his last act given the secret of Cosmic Awareness to his protector and quickly demanded that Quasar give it to Maelstrom. Knowing that Maelstrom could not threaten him anymore, Quasar refused. Changing tactics Maelstrom quantum-jumped out of the Eonverse to orbit of Earth where Quasar and Kid Reaper followed him.
Maelstrom halted the rotation of the Earth using his own power, the power of the anomaly and augmented that power with the Quantum-Bands, saying he'd only free the planet from imminent destruction only if Quasar would release Cosmic Awareness to him. Unable to gamble with his own home planet, Quasar retreated to the Quantum-Zone, leaving Kid Reaper behind.
It was then that Maelstrom revealed that he already had Cosmic Awareness and simply wanted Quasar to give his up. Maelstrom then sent Kid Reaper back to the realm of Oblivion.
Maelstrom uses his mastery of Kinetic energy backed by the limitless power of the Quantum-Zone to create a super-black hole at a point he arbitrarily decides is the center of the universe. The black hole quickly grows to dwarf most average sized galaxies. And with Quasar in hiding, and his plan proceeding apace, Maelstrom takes the time to taunt Galactus, Thanos (who was at the time wielding the Infinity Gauntlet), and Arishem the Judge of the Celestials.
Watchers (probably mostly those displaced by the black hole) have come to the site of the Black Hole (which at this point was roughly the size of a galaxy) to watch what is likely the very end of the universe, Galactus and his herald, Nova have also appeared near the event horizon, several different species have sent emissaries to see first hand the devastation; finally the Prime Celestial Host arrive, all powerless to do anything, they have all come simply to watch the collapse of the universe.
Within the Quantum-Zone, Quasar is contemplating his next move- it is then that Infinity makes her presence known. She explains to Quasar that is she who animated his quantum-form along with her place of the cosmological order. She is sister to Eternity and the physical manifestation of our universe and as such, Maelstrom's black hole was quite literally killing her. She named Quasar as her avatar.
She offers the power to offset the power of the Black Hole by feeding it the energy of the Quantum-Zone- ideally overloading it. Quasar returns to our universe and attempts this, but Maelstrom senses his presence and intervenes. He slams into Quasar knocking them both into the Black hole, Quasar being made of Quantum-Energy can resist its destructive force, but Maelstrom cannot especially when Quasar augments the power singularity, causing it to destroy Maelstrom, but increase the speed at which it is taking in matter from the Universe.
With Maelstrom destroyed, Quasar re-enters the Black hole and attempts to again overload the Black hole directly from within and almost succeeds, but Oblivion pulls Quasar into his realm. Oblivion reveals that he is Maelstrom's baker hoping to bring the entire universe into Oblivion's realm. He also reveals that he has animated Maelstrom just as Infinity animated Quasar and named Maelstrom his avatar.
Maelstrom gloats that Quasar almost succeeded in overloading the black hole, but now that he is trapped in Oblivion's realm, Maelstrom was going to "thrash the Infinity-force out of him". It is than that a small aspect of Infinity flies out of Quasar's mouth and manifests as Infinity herself; she augments Quasar so that he and Maelstrom are on even terms; Oblivion tells her that it is time that a new deal is struck between the forces of life and death. Infinity regretfully agrees. The battle is met and they find that they are indeed too evenly matched, which means that there is no way to stop the black hole.
Quasar and Maelstrom stand deadlocked firing blasts of unimaginable amounts of energy at each other even as Infinity and Oblivion mirror their battle on much higher planes of existence. Maelstrom explains that the longer they battle the more of the universe the black hole will consume so than even if Maelstrom cannot win their battle, he will win his war against all life. Quasar focuses his Cosmic Awareness on the conundrum and realizes that he might have one advantage over Maelstrom.
Quasar tells Maelstrom that he has something to show him and Quasar’s costume changes briefly. Under the onslaught of energy Maelstrom barely notices so Quasar shows him again. Quasar costume changes to his previous costume that the cosmic entity Origin had retroactively removed from reality when Quasar had protected her against the Unbeing. What would otherwise be a simple costume change was actually a physical paradox that sent ripples of temporal anomalies down the time stream. This simple fact made Quasar a more powerful anomaly than Maelstrom. Maelstrom shocked by this fact loosed his concentration upon the Quantum Bands for only a moment, but that was all it took before the Quantum Bands consumed him. Quasar then reclaimed the Quantum-bands.
With Maelstrom destroyed, all the energy and power he had accumulated was released back through the Black Hole which reversed its flow. The universe was safe and Infinity, Eternity, Oblivion and Death negotiated a new balance between their powers as they represented the four cosmological points of creation. Quasar took the opportunity to use Infinity’s power to restore Earth’s rotation, resurrect himself, and create a new costume.