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How the Movies Gave Us a Very Different Comic Book Yondu

In "Follow the Path," I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. I’m sure you can think of other examples, so feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you want to suggest some other examples for future installments.

Today, we look at how the film version of Yondu from the hit Guardians of the Galaxy movies led to a revamped take on the character in the Marvel comic books.

In the late 1960s, after many years writing for DC Comics, Arnold Drake finally started to work for Marvel Comics, as well. One of the first projects that he did for Marvel (perhaps THE first project) was to create the Guardians of the Galaxy in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 with artists Gene Colan and Mike Esposito). The set-up for Guardians of the Galaxy was that, in the distant future, the alien Badoon Empire would conquer Earth and Earth's colonies on the various other planets in the Milky Way. Major Vance Astro was an astronaut sent into outer space to colonize a distant planet. He would be in suspended animation for centuries. When he arrived, though, it turned out that people had invented faster space travel in the meantime and had already visited the planet he was headed for on top of also colonizing the various planets of the Milky Way. Not only had they colonized them, but enough time had passed for the people of these planets to adapt to the particular conditions of their planets. The Badoon came in, though, and conquered all of them, killing almost all of the colonizers on Jupiter and Pluto. Two survivors of those planets, though, broke free and began to attack the Badoon, using the abilities that they gained from their specific planets.

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We then met Major Astro and Yondu, who was one of the aliens who lived on the planet Centauri-IV that Astro was headed towards.

Drake annoyingly goes for a total "noble savage" take on Yondu, with Yondu essentially the Tonto to Astro's Lone Ranger...

In the end, the four men join together to take down the Badoon...

The concept just sort of sat there for years until Steve Gerber picked up on in Marvel Two-In-One #5 (with art by Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito). Buscema cleaned up the costume designs dramatically, with Yondu now having a real costume...

Yondu was a stalwart member of the Guardians as the membership on the team expanded over the years...

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He eventually discovered that he was NOT the last of his people, and so he left the Guardians for a number of years, before ultimately returning before the series ended (when the 1990 series ended, Michael Gallagher, Kevin West and Steve Montano decided to do a "back to basics" approach for the series)...

Then the Guardians of the Galaxy film came out.

Played by veteran actor, Michael Rooker, Yondu in the film is a member of the space pirates known as the Ravagers. He is played as sort of a space hillbilly...

So how in the world do you reconcile those two versions of the character?

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