NOTE: This story was originally published on Feb. 7, 2017.
The latest teaser for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” dropped during Super Bowl LI, and with it arrived the first appearance of Elizabeth Debicki’s character, Ayesha. She was featured very prominently, a striking golden being sitting on a throne in front of the Guardians.
Though audiences are now familiar with most of the Guardians, the mystery surrounding Ayesha is not a small one. And while we don’t know yet how she will be used in the film, we can probably gain some insight by looking into her comic book history.
But before meeting Ayesha for the first time in the comics, we must look to the creation of the famous comic book character, Adam Warlock, who debuted in the pages of “Fantastic Four” #67 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott). In the previous issue, a group of scientists known as the Enclave kidnapped Alicia Masters to get her to sculpt a being that they had created with the intent of helping the future of mankind. They did so at their base called the “Beehive.”
The Enclave turned out to be bad guys and their creation, known only as “Him,” turned on them in #67…
Him then went on to take the name Adam Warlock and have many notable adventures, especially by writer/artist Jim Starlin.
The Enclave, though, turned out to survive their initial encounter with their first creation, so they tried again a decade later in 1977’s “Incredible Hulk Annual” #6 by David Kraft, Len Wein, Herb Trimpe, Frank Giacoia and Mike Esposito. This time, they enlisted the help of Doctor Strange and then the being came out of the cocoon and was called Paragon, who the scientists quickly set upon Strange…
The Hulk showed up to help his friend and as he battled Paragon, Paragon hooked himself up to the Beehive’s computer system and he learned the truth of what happened to the previous creation, Him, so he realized that the Enclave were evil and he decided that he had to destroy the Beehive, even as he was evolving into a new being. At the end, once he succeeded, he re-entered his cocoon to continue his evolution…
The cocoon remained under the rubble until it fell away from the rest of the wreckage and floated away, ultimately washing up in New York City in “Marvel Two-In-One” #61 (by Mark Gruenwald, Jerry Bingham and Gene Day), where it was taken in by some fisherman. The cocoon opened and out came the final evolution of the earlier being, it was now a female version of Him dubbed, appropriately enough, Her.
She sought out Him to mate with him, to fulfill her purpose of creating a master race. She was disappointed to learn from the Thing that Warlock had died recently. She did not believe the Thing or his team-up partner that week, Starhawk from the Guardians of the Galaxy (amusingly enough, years later Starhawk would be revealed to be the son of Her, but that’s really probably too much information for a basic primer like this), so she sought out Warlock, finding his dead body. She revived it with her powers, but she could not recreate a soul, so she let him go back to the grave and then she headed out into outer space to find a being worthy of mating with her.
While traveling through space, she briefly ended up helping out a planet against an evil interstellar group known as The Consortium. The people of the planet gave her the name J’ridia Starduster, but the planet eventually fell to the Consortium. They then tried to kill her, which sent her to Earth to gain help from the only person she could think of, the Thing, but she landed in the wrong place on Earth (close but not that close) and ended up in Canada, where Alpha Flight agreed to help her in “Alpha Flight” #97 (by Fabian Nicieza, Michael Bair and Chris Ivy). The Avengers later joined up, as well, and the collective might of the heroes was enough to put the Consortium out of business.
Now back on Earth, Her discovered that Adam Warlock had been revived, so in “Quasar” #27 (by Mark Gruenwald, Greg Capullo and Keith Williams), she sought out Warlock, only to be rebuffed by him, as he was a bit too concerned with the events going on in “Infinity Gauntlet” (which he had specifically been revived to take care of).
This led to one of the things that Gruenwald seemingly loved to do with “Quasar,” which was to get together a bunch of similar characters for a sort of competition (like the famous “Quasar” issue where all of the fastest Marvel characters raced against each other). In this instance, it was Her looking through all of the Marvel Universe to figure out who was worthy of being her mate now that Adam Warlock turned her down.
While she ended up deciding not to mate with any of the heroes, she did decide that Quasar was an interesting enough being that she would become his friend and traveling companion. Quasar had already had the Eternal Makkari hanging out with him, so now he had an interesting little supporting cast of cosmic beings helping him out when he needed it and otherwise trying to keep themselves entertained with adventures of their own in the meanwhile. After being a supporting cast member for over ten issues, in “Quasar” #40 (by Mark Gruenwald, Steve Lightle, Andy Smith, Mark McKenna and Ralph Cabrera), Her decided to take on the name Kismet…
Interestingly enough, a few years later, she encountered the Enclave and she actually helped them along in their evolution and they became golden cosmic beings like her and they all traveled off into space together.
As it turned out, though, that evolution did not work out, as the Enclave returned to their humanity and returned to Earth with a plan where they would take over the world again, this time using the mutant nation of Genosha as their way of doing so. The scientists created an identity, Crucible, that they would share. They also bound Kismet to their will and had her re-named as Ayesha. When the Fantastic Four entered Genosha to intervene in the rise of Crucible (they didn’t know who he was at the time), they ran afoul of Ayesha in “Fantastic Four” #11 (by Chris Claremont, Salvador Larroca and Art Thibert)…
and she soon told them her new name…
At the end of that storyline, Ayesha and the Enclave were seemingly destroyed by a black hole grenade. As it turned out, they ended up sent to another dimension and somewhere off panel she turned back into Kismet, as she showed up as Kismet along with all of the other heroes in Jim Starlin’s “Marvel Universe: The End” #5. That was her only appearance since she became Ayesha, though, so she could easily become Ayesha again in a future story.
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