The cosmic entity known as Eon was responsible for the creation of the Quantum-Bands over 7 billion of years ago. As it is Eon's duty is nurturing the evolution of sentient life and to maintain conditions favorable to life in the universe, he foresaw a need that the universe would need a protector; he created the Quantum-Bands to be the instrument of that protection.
Wendell Vaughn, a longtime bearer of the Quantum-Bands described their power as "...so great, that it could make a universe tremble" and that power takes a toll on the bearer.
The Quantum Bands themselves are predominantly made of a unknown black alloy that is warm to the touch. They are embedded with seven (not four) golden gems which encircle each band. The bands have been known to change their shape not only to alter size to fit a new bearer. One such bearer, Trantra of the Trill, the first non-humanoid Protector, had apparently merged the bands (or had them merged presumably by Eon) into a belt-like ring which encircled his body at what would be the waist in humanoids.
Roughly 200,000 years ago in the aftermath of the Titan Schism, A'Lars (later known as Mentor) in his exile to Titan because of his heresy sought to prove his belief that Eternals could use natural reproduction; was married to Sui-San in a ceremony that was presided over by the cosmic entities Kronos and Eon. The rings used to symbolize their union were the Quantum Bands (sized down to fit upon their fingers). The bands were the missing link in Eternal physiology. Their immense power and ability to alter reality, thus making the impossible possible. The child born from this union was Thanos of Titan. After Thanos later brutally murdered Sui-San, Mentor returned the bands. Kronos (presumably speaking for Eon) declared that the Quantum-Bands would always oppose Thanos.
The Kree know the Quantum-Bands as the legendary Power-Bands of Rinn, which according to Captain Att-Lass were the inspiration/prototypes for the less powerful Nega-Bands. While it's possible that the Supreme Intelligence (who created the Nega-Bands) somehow acquired the Quantum-Bands for study, it's however more likely that he was able to study the equivalent of 'archive footage' previous bearers of the Quantum-Bands in action. Although, it is entirely possible that Mar-Vell was not the first and only Kree ever to be appointed Protector of the Universe and be somewhat loyal to the Supreme Intelligence.
The Quantum-Bands were indirectly responsible for the creation of Thanos of Titan and were a major factor in the outcome of Cosmos in Collision, Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, Operation: Galactic Storm, Maximum Security, Annihilation, Annihilation Conquest, War of Kings, Realm of Kings, Annihilators: Earthfall, Standoff and Secret Empire.
Continuity of the Quantum-Bands
The Quantum Bands first became notable in Marvel continuity when Robert Grayson a.k.a. Marvel Boy (an Atlas comics character) wore “Uranian power-bands” in defense of the US from aliens, saboteurs, and communists during the 1950’s. Later, (after Marvel acquired Atlas Comics) Marvel Boy apparently returned from Uranus (now calling himself the Crusader) and had been driven mad by the horrors of what had happened to the outpost. He battled the Fantastic Four and Mr. Fantastic surmised that since he only attacked when the sun was high in the sky that the power-bands must be solar powered. Reed obscured the sunlight with a smoke machine and the Crusader found his power greatly diminished. When he attempted to draw more power through the bands when the smoke had cleared and he drew more power than he could handle and disintegrated himself. But not all was as it seemed. The Crusader was not actually the human Robert Grayson, but a Uranian double bearing the Quantum Bands instead of Grayson's own power bands. Grayson himself was held in suspended animation on Uranus until recently.
The bands were then collected from Reed Richards by SHIELD for study. SHIELD enlisted Stark International in that endeavor. The head scientist was a man named Dr. Gilbert Vaughn, who had a son named Wendell who at the time was training to become a SHIELD agent. William Wesley, a test pilot, (a possible allusion to Hal Jordan) tested the bands out but disintegrated himself just as the Crusader had.
AIM robot assault group attacked in an attempt to steal the bands but were foiled when Wendell Vaughn donned the bands to protect them and single-handedly destroyed the assault group. He was then offered a job by Col. Nick Fury himself to become the first member of the Super-Agents of SHIELD. He called himself Marvel Boy in honor of Grayson, and later Marvel Man.
Later calling himself Quasar, after it was surmised that the power-bands collected energy from QUASi-stellAR radio sources (or Quasars) he had many adventures, even serving for a time as security chief at Project: PEGASUS, and eventually was appointed by Eon to be Protector of the Universe. It is here that the bands are called by their proper name for the first time. The Quantum-Bands. And it was learned that the bands were symbols of the station of the Protector of the Universe and actually powered by another dimensional "Quantum-Zone", which contained all of the potential energy of the universe.
Quasar served well as Protector, he was unfortunately killed by the cosmic assassin, Maelstrom, who then donned the bands, but Quasar was able to resurrect himself and reclaim them. Later Quasar was nullified by the Magus and was still able to resurrect himself and eventually reclaim the bands again, but not before a Skrull (disguised as the Comtemplator) briefly claimed one of them.
Quasar was killed by Annihilus who claimed the bands during the Annihilation War. Phyla-Vell avenged Quasar and claimed his mantle along with the Quantum-Bands. It is worth noting here that when Phyla acquired the Quantum-Bands she was already wearing a version of the Kree Nega-Bands. It was assumed that the Nega-Bands somehow merged with the Quantum-Bands. This is supported by the fact that the Quantum-Bands have functioned slightly differently since then, such as changing users at will when it had been previously established that Quantum-Bands cannot be removed until a bearer is dead. She used the bands to defend the Kree Empire from the Phalanx and even destroyed Ultron. Later, after joining the Guardians of the Galaxy Phyla-Vell was killed by Mentor in an attempt to bring Moondragon back from the dead, thus losing the Quantum-Bands. They were reclaimed by Maelstrom who seemingly sought to feed Phyla and Drax to the Dragon of the Moon. Wendell (who had been resurrected in energy-form) intervened and Drax cut Maelstrom's arms off and the Quantum Bands returned to Wendell and he reclaimed his mantle as Quasar.
Wendell briefly lent the Quantum-Bands to Richard Rider who had lost his powers and was dying. Once he had gotten his own powers back and defeated Ego the living planet, he returned the bands to Wendell.
Later, Avril Kincaid was offered the Quantum-Bands by Wendell Vaughn and was instrumental in turning the tide during the chaos at Pleasant Hill. She was offered the mantle of Quasar and instructed in the use of the bands by Wendell himself.
During the events of Secret Empire, Avril Kincaid seemed to sacrifice herself destroying an energy shield surrounding Earth. The bands returned to Vaughn who came out of retirement to continue as Protector of the Universe. He later joined the Guardians of the Galaxy and reported he had found Avril trapped within a pocket dimension and now she and Wendell can swap places as needed; both of them somehow wielding the Quantum-Bands.
The following beings* have worn the Quantum Bands in presumed chronological order:
(names in bold are the current wielder(s)
* = This listing is by no means complete, but includes all those known named characters to have worn the Quantum Bands.
Abilities of the Quantum Bands
- Energy Manipulation: Primarily, the bands are tools for manipulating forms of energy. A bearer of the quantum-bands can affect, alter, absorb, and channel any form of energy found in the Electromagnetic spectrum, from Gamma Rays to Radio Waves, and this also includes visible light. This affords the bear complete control of the Electromagnetic Spectrum.
- Energy Constructs: The bands can construct anything the wearer can imagine from "Quantum energy", This energy is derived from the Quantum-Zone, although the bands can absorb energy from all known sources.
- Flight: The bands allow the bearer to fly in atmosphere or in space (surrounding the wearer in an energy aura to protect from air-friction or the vacuum of space), and can achieve incredible speeds (Wendell Vaughn once flew from New York Harbor to the Sea of Tranquility and back in under 10 minutes which means he would have to maintain an average a speed of 2.8 million miles per hour without teleporting). Quasar was often clocked at near light-speed. Starhawk was estimated at traveling at "thrice light-speed" by Era, Eon's child in an alternate future.
- Teleportation/Warp Gate: The Quantum-Bands also enable the bearer to "quantum jump" or create apertures between the fabric of space/time of various sizes. Allowing the wearer access to the realm of potential energy which the bands interface with known as the Quantum-Zone. A wearer can then travel through this trackless, featureless zone and emerge at a different point in our physical space light years away from his starting point only seconds later. The Quantum-bands would enable a bearer to keep their bearings while in the zone and thus emerge where they want to. They can cross countless light years in a single jump (Vaughn regularly traveled from our star system to systems in other galaxies this way) if a bearer so desires. He could take passengers or open gates large enough for a starship. Quasar once traveled this way from Uranus to Earth; a distance of at least 1.6 billion miles in 15 seconds. Important note, however, a bearer cannot quantum-jump within an atmosphere of a planet without ripping a hole in its ozone layer.
- Communications: The bands can detect, emit, and receive radio waves; thereby the bearer can communicate with other radio receivers. The bands can also create a “Quantum-link” which appears as a glowing golden sphere about 2 inches in diameter, which travels to the point of contact at warp speeds and connects with any communication device present allowing the bearer to carry on near-instantaneous communications even over extra-galactic distances.
- Altered metabolism: One previous bearer of the Quantum bands (The Crusader) has been known to be able to augment his strength and stamina to unknown limits with the Quantum-bands. William Wesley was shown to be able to lift an automobile when he was field testing the "Power-bands". Quasar himself rarely exhibited this ability and only when it was needed. He once lifted Terminus out into space from Earth with only the assistance of the cosmically powered Spider-Man and he also once physically restrained She-Hulk by himself, whether this was a statement of his augmented physical strength or her own restraint is unknown, though she seemed to struggle against him.
- Mental protection: Despite the fact that the Quantum-Bands have no control over the mind or Psionics, at least one previous bearer (Vaughn) had "programed" the Bands to protect his mind for mental attacks and takeover. So powerful is this protection that powerful psychics, such as Moondragon or the Overmind could not overcome it.
- Mental/Physical bond: The Quantum Bands bond with their bearer upon contact interfacing the bearer's mind with the Bands allowing for mental control. Permanently affixing themselves generally to the bearer's wrists, the flesh and bone within rendered indestructible so long as the bond with the bands persists. The bond can only be broken upon the bearer's death, at which point the bands could be removed easily. Although, with Vaughn's many resurrections, he has shown to have a link with the bands even beyond death. Note: Despite this, since Phyla-Vell died and lost the Bands, they have been depicted as being easily transferable: Such as when Maelstrom's hands were cut off by Drax; when Wendell offered the bands to Rich Rider; or when Wendell offered the bands to Avril Kincaid.
- Worthiness: Similar to the hammer of Thor ( Mjolnir), a bearer of the Quantum-Bands must to be worthy. As the Quantum-Bands are tied to the station of the Protector of the Universe, the bands seem to require a calm mind lacking ‘killer instinct’ to learn to use them to their fullest potential. A bearer with the intent to commit acts of depravity and destruction (or simply attempted to force their own will over the bands) will quickly find themselves losing control of the energy output of the bands until they disintegrate them. Despite this, Annihilus wore the Quantum-Bands for about a full year, but the bands removed themselves from him at the earliest opportunity to bond with Phyla-Vell.
- Magic: The Bands cannot absorb it or resist it. However, an enchanted physical object will only be as strong as the object itself would otherwise be. Therefore, Thor's hammer (Mjolnir) will simply not shatter Quasar's force field like glass. Fortunately, magicians have no control over the energies of the Quantum-Bands so, it evens out.
- Extra-dimensional energy: Quasar is susceptible to all persons using Darkforce. The Q-bands cannot create constructs to hold or resist darkforce energy. The Darkforce penetrates his energy like it wasn't even there. Also powerful entities from the Negative-Zone (such as Annihilus) can corrupt the bands if wearing them.
- Kinetic energy: The Quantum Bands have no defense against someone manipulating kinetic energy psionically. (Which is why Maelstrom overwhelmed Quasar so easily to begin with during the events of Cosmos In Collision), but a bearer can resist a kinetically imbued object (such as a knife or a deck of cards) If a bearer of the Quantum Bands senses the attack they can throw up a shield to defend themselves with.
- Psionic energy: A psionic blast will cut through any quantum constructs like paper mache'. Fortunately, most psionic manipulators are susceptible to the energies of the Quantum-Bands.
- Matter manipulation: Foes who manipulate matter, psionically or otherwise, the Quantum Bands cannot effect their powers. They deal with energy, not matter. The Molecule Man, Sersi, Phoenix, Her, and the Silver Surfer, among others, affect matter in a way that a bearer of the Q-bands cannot. However, Her, Sersi, and the Silver Surfer use cosmic energy to power their matter manipulation abilities and therefore a practiced bearer could affect the energy source, but not the ability itself.