Yondu Udonta was a game hunter of the primitive Zatoan tribe of humanoid beings who were native to Centauri IV, the first planet system to be colonized outside of the Sun's solar system; the colonization took place some time during the 29th century. Intimidated by Earth's superior technology, most Alpha Centaurian tribes established peaceful relationships with the settlers. Yondu's tribe, however, migrated from their ancestral forests to the less accessible plains in order to avoid contact with the outworlders. 200 years after the Alpha Centaurians first contact with Earth, a ship bearing Vance Astro (later Major Victory) arrived on Centauri IV, using an antiquated mode of star travel.
Finding that Earth had beat him to his destination centuries before, using advanced star-drive engines, Astro set about to perform his reconnaissance mission of the planet, despite the fact that it was now obsolete. While performing his geophysical survey, Astro came across Yondu, who was in the midst of his ritual of manhood ordeal. Although Yondu tried to avoid contact with the outworlder, the planet-wide attack by the extraterrestrial Badoon brought the two men together.
Yondu was created by writer, Arnold Drake, and artist, Gene Colan, in his first appearance in Marvel Super-Heroes vol 1 #18 (1/1969). Mike Esposito was the inker for this issue.
More recently, the 616 version of Yondu appeared in the pages of Star-Lord vol.1, whom is nothing like his future counterpart, namely a space-pirate and bad guy.
Major Story Arcs
The Guardians of the Galaxy are Born
The Badoon had massacred the entire settlement of Yondu and began circling the planet, trying to eradicate the scattered tribes of native Alpha Centaurians. With the first evidence of hostilities, Astro took Yondu aboard his survey ship and set out for the nearest known planet in the Centauri trinary star system. Due to the antiquated nature of Astro's ship, however, the two were swiftly overtaken by the Badoon. Intrigued by the ancient vessel, the Badoon did not annihilate it upon sight, but instead captured it and took its passengers captive. The two were taken prisoner under Badoon escort to the Badoon's base of operation on Earth (the Earth having been recently conquered). On Earth, the two were taken before Drang, head of the Badoon militia, but managed to escape. They soon encountered two other fugitives of the Badoon invasion: Charlie-27 of the Jupiter colony, and Martinex of the Pluto colony. Banding together to battle Badoon oppression, the four of them founded the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Fighting the Badoon
For the next few years, Yondu and his teammates attacked the Badoon's outposts in the solar system. With aid from the time-travelling Defenders, they managed to repel all the Badoon from Earth's dominion. Having secured the freedom of their people, the Guardians remained together to safeguard the galaxy.
Yondu would discover the existence of a female Alpha Centaurian named Photon. While he viewed this as a miracle and a way to continue his race and traditions, she had long abandoned their ways and would rather die that continue their race. This devastated Yondu and he soon found himself at odds with his teammates, even fighting them and attempting to leave and find Photon on his own. He finally returned to his usual, calm state when Starhawk told him the he knew Yondu was meant for great things.
Yondu would face off against Photon again, this time nearly killing her. In anger, Interface transmuted Yondu's hand into mist. Martinex offered to replace his hand, but he said he would not allow it as a reminder of his shame. His hand was replaced with a weapon capable of making knives, axes and even a laser (which he swore to never use after accidentally using it). He and Photon made peace with one another, Yondu even giving her his Yaka bow and arrows. It wouls seem he was able to get her to embrace her heritage.
Leaving the Team
Yondu would later leave the team when it is discovered a small enclave of his people have survived on Centauri IV. It had been thought for some time that Yondu had been the lone survivor of his planet, but circumstances, such as radio-wave absorbing caverns, had allowed some of his species to survive. As to not scare his people, he allowed Martinex to replace his hand. Yondu would be the first Habaktu (Holy Man) the tribe had seen in a generation and he was received with open arms. During their farewells, Vance apologizes for what he had thought was unacceptable treatment of Yondu during their earlier adventurers.
During his time on Centauri IV, Yondu became aware of a change in history, the Badoon invading Alpha Centauri much earlier than they had originally. The Badoon outlawed worship of Anthos and began cross-breeding with the Centaurians, making them more reptilian. He demanded the help of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who were responsible for the "time jolt" when they went back in time and left behind the dagger he had given Charlie.
While they waited for Starhawk and Aleta to revert the time line, they were whisked away by the Beyonder, who needed their assistance battling Protege. During this confusing time, Yondu found himself in a spiritual state before his God Anthos. He requested a soul vision and was granted one, but the message was cryptic. Yondu was unsure of his path, should he return to his people or reunite with the Guardians? Yondu's vision became clear in battle with Mephisto and he knew that he should return as an active Guardian.
On another mission into the past, Yondu and the Guardians met Major Victory's younger counterpart, Justice, and his teammates the New Warriors.
The Guardians' mission was to remove a temporal anomaly which was a member of the Warriors known as Speedball. The Warriors refused to cooperate with the Guardians which resulted in a battle. During the battle, the Guardians disappeared from that time period.
More recently, Yondu and his team where forced to investigate a time-flux that had started to appear in the galaxy, causing many things to 'happen again', though with different outcomes. This caused the team to fight some battles that they already fought as well as not remembering certain events.
Yondu is a natural mystic, like his entire tribe, and possesses an intuitive "sixth sense" that permits him limited empathic relationships with other lifeforms. The higher the lifeform, the more limited is his empathic potential. Additionally, Yondu possesses an intuitive and rather mystical rapport with nature, particularly with his own world, but also with any world that still possesses natural wildlife. With this rapport, he can sense incongruous elements (foreign bodies or substances) or focus on specific elements within the whole (such as the location of a given plant). He is also sensitive to mystical beings and forces and is able to detect their presence and activities without effort. By going into a trance, Yondu is able to replenish his own inner strength by communing with natural forces.
Yondu is an above average physical specimen of his race. He has enhanced physical prowess (agility, stamina, dexterity) and slightly more endurance than the average human male and is about 4.5 times as strong as an athletic human. Yondu can lift/press about 875 pounds. An apprentice hunter, Yondu is proficient in the use of bow and arrow. His ability to whistle with a range of four octaves aids his archery (see Weapons, below). The native Centuarian language is a system of grunts, clicks, and whistles, but Yondu has managed to master the English language, although it is painful for him to speak for too long without resting his throat.
Yondu uses a 5-foot single curve bow and a quiver of arrows composed of yaka, a special sound-sensitive metal found only on Centauri IV. A yaka arrow can actually change its direction (but not speed) in response to certain high-octave whistle-sounds some Centaurians can produce. It is not yet known precisely what pitch causes a yaka arrow to move in what way. Yondu is so skillful at controlling his arrows, he can cause an arrow to return to his hand or weave its way through a crowd of people without touching them. Yondu's arrow are 15 inches in length and are very flexible. He carries about 20 of them at one time.
Earth-616 - Main Marvel Universe
The 616 version of Yondu is a bit of a bad-guy and leader of the space pirates known as the Ravagers. He first appeared in a cameo in Star-Lord Vol.1 issue 1 (2016) before appearing fully in the next issue. His likeness is based on his portrayal in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
Yondu describes himself as too "rough and tumble" for his fellow Centuarians. Ultimately, his behavior resulted in having his crest cut off and his banishment from Centauri IV. He would become the leader of the group of space pirates known as the Ravagers.
After boarding a stranded vessel, he was impressed with a young Peter Quill's ability to fool his crew and capture him. While he was unsuccessful in stealing Yondu's ship, he was spared death and remained on board to live with the pirates.
Michael Rooker plays Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy. In the film, he was hired to abduct Peter Quill when he was still a child, but instead raised the boy as part of his band of space pirates, the Ravagers. Yondu's main weapon is an arrow, which he can control just by whistling.
Michael Rooker reprises his role in the sequel. In the second movie, Yondu is forced to ally himself with the Guardians after he is ousted from the Ravagers by the mutinous Taserface.
It is also revealed that in the past, Ego had hired Yondu to deliver his children to him, but after learning that Ego was killing them, Yondu decided to protect Peter, who was Ego's last surviving child. Upon learning that Yondu had broken the Ravager code by dealing in children, the other Ravager leaders (including Starhawk, his best friend) shunned Yondu and his faction of the group.
After learning that Ego has managed to locate Peter, Yondu and Rocket escape from Taserface's forces and head off to rescue the rest of the Guardians. At the climax of the movie, Yondu sacrifices his life to save Peter, telling him that while Ego may have been the boy's father, Yondu was the one who raised him and loved him. The Guardians hold a funeral for Yondu, cremating his body in the exhaust of their ship. To their great surprise, the other Ravagers arrive to pay their respects, having learned of Yondu's sacrifice and redemption.
- Yondu appears in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, voiced by James Arnold Taylor.
- Yondu appears in the Disney+ What If...? animated series, with Michael Rooker reprising his role from the movies. He is first seen in the episode "What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?" where his underlings accidentally abduct T'Challa, the young prince of Wakanda, while trying to find Peter Quill on Earth. He subsequently becomes a mentor to T'Challa, who reforms the Ravagers into a more benevolent organization that helps those in need.
- Michael Rooker appears in rotoscoped flashback sequences in the Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special, a Special Presentation on the Disney+ streaming service.
- Yondu appears as a playable character in Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes. This version is heavily based off the film depiction of the character, rather than his comic incarnation.
- Yondu was available as a premium character during the Guardians of the Galaxy event of the mobile app game, Marvel Avenger's Academy.
- Yondu appears as a playable character in the Marvel Contest of Champions fighting game.
- Yondu appears in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, voiced by Mark Barbolak.
- Funko released a Yondu bobblehead as part of the Pop! line, as well as a Dorbz vinyl figure.
- Hasbro released a Yondu figure as part of the Marvel Legends line.
- Hasbro released a 6-inch Marvel Legends figure of Yondu as part of the Titus Build-a-Figure wave.
- A figure of Yondu appears in the "Ayesha's Revenge" Lego kit.
- Hot Toys produced a figure of Yondu, which sported Michael Rooker's likeness from the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
- A lead Yondu figurine was featured in the Marvel Movie Collection from Eaglemoss Publications.