From Centauri IV to the Stars
When Astro came across Yondu while studying Centauri IV’s fauna and geography, he was in the middle of Hakta, a rite of passage for Zatoan males approaching manhood. Angered that this human was intruding on his sacred retreat, Yondu attacked, but was repelled by Astro’s latent mutant abilities that manifested in the form of a psychokinetic force blast. After the astronaut conveyed his peaceful intentions, the two began an unlikely friendship based on mutual respect with Yondu becoming Vance’s guide for the rest of his planetary survey.
Tragedy struck when the Brotherhood of the Badoon nearly wiped out or enslaved all of Earth along with its colony planets of Centauri IV, Mercury, Jupiter, and Pluto, all of which were a part of the United Federation of Earth. Yondu and Vance attempted to escape Centauri IV but were captured by Badoon forces. Astro was promised that his life would be spared if he would just prove his loyalty and kill Yondu. The astronaut pretended to agree but with one whistle from Yondu, the Zatoan’s sound-sensitive Yaka arrow sent the Badoon troops into a panicked frenzy, allowing the two friends to escape. They soon joined forces with a large-framed militiaman known as Charlie-27 and crystalline scientist Martinex T’Naga. Both were the last survivors of Jupiter and Pluto. They all reached safety thanks to the unseen help of Starhawk (Stakar Ogord), whose intent was to bring all these heroes together from the start. These were the first Guardians of the Galaxy, with Yondu, Charlie-27, Martinex, and Ogord among their initial ranks.
Warrior by Nature
Yondu is best known for his Yaka arrows that answer to his whistling call to action, but he is also incredibly strong; as a Centaurian of above-average physical prowess, he is able to lift nearly 900 pounds. He also possesses incredible stamina, speed, durability, agility, reflexes, and acute senses of smell and hearing that surpass those of humans. Trained in the mystic ways of the Zatoan people, Yondu is blessed with a sixth sense that puts him in tune with nature and allows him to form a limited empathic link with living beings, animals and plants yielding stronger bonds. By using this power, Yondu can calm a person down via a hypnotic trance or sense their unspoken intentions. By placing himself in a trancelike state, he can replenish his inner strength and even manipulate the weather. While in this trance, he can communicate with his god Anthos or bring about visions in flame, which he then interprets for others.
In terms of physical weapons, Yondu prefers his aforementioned arrows (carrying around 20 at a time) as well as axes, bolos, daggers, flails, hatchets, maces, morning stars, scythes, spears, and swords due to his mistrust of modern technology. Nevertheless, he came to use it more while part of the Guardians, particularly starship operations, simple diagnostic devices, two-way communicators, and homing devices. The arrows are made of Yaka (or trillite) metal that is extremely receptive to sound and only found on Centauri IV. Since the substance is extremely rare, Yondu makes a habit of retrieving the 15-inch arrows from his fallen victims. He is noted as once saying, “More than once I have felled a foe not by my aim…but by my whistle.”
The Centaurian language was comprised of grunts, clicks, and whistles, so speaking English was a bit of a challenge for him. It took him years of hard effort to learn English and even then, he had to rest his throat often after speaking it. Yondu’s trademark fin or crest is known as a Tahlei and is made up of compressed hair follicles. These crests serve some sort of purpose in Centaurian mating rituals.
Constellation of Connections
By working with the likes of time-traveling heroes from Earth-616 like Captain America, The Thing, Sharon Carter, and the Defenders, the Guardians of the Galaxy are able to overthrow the Badoon in Earth-691. Despite his new comrades, however, Yondu seeks peace and solitude in the woodlands on Earth, but soon realizes the planet holds no future for him. Struggling with a will to live, he rejoins a newly-established Guardians of the Galaxy who fashion themselves as a band of space explorers, rather than as protectors. After returning to Centuari IV, Yondu communes with the planet in a mystic ritual, reaffirming his faith and will to live despite the annihilation of his people.
More allies to join the team are Starhawk’s wife Altea (whose body was turned into energy) and the flame-haired sharpshooter Nikki, who is also the last survivor of Mercury. They all adopt the derelict space station Drydock as their new mobile headquarters.
Early adversaries include the cosmic anti-life entity Karanada, an aspect of the star-spanning Topographical Man; the Reavers of Arcturus; and the cyborg super-criminal Korvac. For Korvac, the Guardians receive help from none other than Thor Odinson from Earth-616. This is around the time that Yondu begins wearing special Centaurian earrings (Kospah) and garb (Habaktu), feeling that he has greatly progressed in his mystical and martial studies to levels of advancement befitting his kind.