Thanks to the MCU, the Guardians of the Galaxy are household names: Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Mantis, Nebula, Rocket, and Groot are all certified superhero stars, with another movie on the way in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. But even though the classic MCU version of the team does have its roots in comics, they're not the original comic book guardians.
In fact, the original comic book Guardians team predates the version that inspired the MCU team by almost 30 years, having debuted all the way back in 1969's Marvel Super-Heroes #18.
Created by writer Arnold Drake (who also co-created DC's Doom Patrol) and artist Gene Colan, the original version of the team was a group of freedom fighters from the 31st century, who were part of a rebellion against the galactic alien empire of the sinister Badoon.
This version of the team consisted of Major Victory, a psychic astronaut sent to the future from the present day who carries Captain America's shield (later retconned as a future version of the New Warriors hero Justice); Yondu Udonta, a spiritual warrior far removed from his MCU portrayal; Martinex, the last surviving settler of the planet Pluto which fell to the Badoon; and Charlie-27, himself the last survivor of Jupiter which also fell to the Badoon.
When the team returned in 1975, they had added Nikki, a survivor of the Badoon conquest of Mercury, and Starhawk AKA Stakar Ogord, a cosmic powered human from some time in the near future who traveled farther ahead.
This roster of the team later traveled back in time to the present day to team up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes in the classic '70s story Avengers: The Korvac Saga, which earned the entire team honorary membership with the Avengers.
The original Guardians of the Galaxy went on to have a popular title in the late '80s and early '90s before fading into nigh-obscurity after it ended. And then, in 2008, a new version of the team - the one that would inspire the roster of the MCU Guardians - was formed.
Since then, the original Guardians have appeared off and on, sometimes as guest stars in the adventures of the contemporary team, and even in their own short lived revival title.
The original Guardians have even made it into the MCU themselves as supporting characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with most of the team's classic comic book roster, led by Sylvester Stallone as Starhawk, showing up as the former Ravager crew of the MCU Yondu.
It remains to be seen whether the original comic book Guardians will return in the MCU for May's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but given the promise of big changes to the classic MCU team in their final movie outing, anything is possible.
Catch up with the current comic book adventures of the classic MCU Guardians - Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Nebula, Mantis, Rocket, and Groot.