The humanoid-avian Shi’ar, closely associated with the X-Men, are led by an ancient monarchy of emperors, a lineage now in the hands of the Neramani bloodline. The Shi’ar are a planet-spanning empire who stop at nothing to increase their holdings in the M-31 Galaxy.
The Royal Line
Forged from defeat, the race later called the Shi’ar grow to be the largest empire in the known universe. An unidentified alien threat unites several divided worlds to drive the threat away; their collective culture’s dominant avian race becomes known as the Shi’ar and later rules the fledgling Shi’ar Empire from the planet Chandilar, AKA the Aerie.
The Shi’ar worship Sharra and K’ythri, two gods the myths say were forced into a marriage from which they later drew strength, and the Shi’ar recruits other cultures to “marry” into the Empire, by invitation or by force. In the following centuries, the empire reportedly grows to include a million worlds and many races, some of which had to be kept under constant martial law. The ruling line of empresses and emperors, also called majestrixes or majestors, is passed down through generations within the same family, traditionally attended to by various councilors, aides, and chancellors, including Aroke, K’tor, and Araki and his clones. Ruling councils, such as the Supreme Executive Council, the Grand Council, and the Royal Commission, are appointed to aid the emperor, composed of Shi’ar leaders and, at times, representatives of other conquered races.
Over ten millennia ago, when powerful geological artifacts that survived the Big Bang were discovered, the Shi’ar participate in a multispecies scientific endeavor that creates evolutionarily advanced galactic guardians who used the artifacts’ power to protect their respective galaxies for 200 years. Keap Tre’bor is the Shi’ar representative to this group, the “Chosen Eight of Fate” or “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
In their war with the deadly Mephitisoids, T’kyll Alabar becomes legendary for leading the Shi’ar to victory. He and the Mephitisoid leader, “the Butcher,” are put in stasis and set adrift in space, to hide Alabar’s atrocities and avoid a Mephitisoid insurrection over the Butcher’s execution. Several centuries ago, the Shi’ar war with the Heptarchy. Seeking to take the Heptarchy’s worlds intact, Shi’ar scientists develop a weapon based on bodiless energy parasites called mummudrai—psychic twins conceived in utero who copy a fetus’ DNA to become their ultimate opposite. Extracting a mummudrai—Ev Teel Urizen—from its host, Ul’var Urizen, the Shi’ar’s scientists analyzed it. Creating an artificial mummudrai from Urizen’s template, the Shi’ar encases it within an electrochemical force field housed inside a metallic sphere. This “Hecatomb” can kill a planet’s inhabitants by absorbing their minds into its matrix while leaving planetary infrastructure intact. Dropped onto the Heptarchy homeworld, the Hecatomb slays 18 billion instantly; however, a design flaw prevents the erasing process from occurring, and the absorbed minds merge with the matrix. When the Shi’ar try to deactivate it, the Hecatomb becomes aware and over the following centuries devours minds from other alien races throughout space.
At some juncture, the Shi’ar grow to believe that Sharra and K’ythri’s lost homeworld housed the M’kraan Crystal, a powerful artifact capable of shaping or destroying reality. After searching for centuries, the world is discovered during Emperor Vyr’tal’s reign; the Shi’ar slaughter the world’s inhabitants, leaving only a few survivors, but somehow soon lose track of the world again, and spend subsequent centuries searching for it.
Possessing both mammalian and avian characteristics, Shi’ar have humanoid bodies and feathered heads. In ancient times, Shi’ar had wings growing under their arms that enabled flight, but only genetic throwbacks still have these.
Standard Shi’ar can lift approximately 1 ton, and generally have 20 times the endurance of Earth humans. Shi’ar females possess mammary glands and are viviparous (give birth to live young), though some Shi’ar are artificially created and hatched from eggs in the Royal Hatchery.
They utilize cloning technology, planet-to-planet teleportation, warp-drive-equipped starships, and stargates to rapidly transit vast interstellar distances. Isolated Shi’ar have superhuman abilities, such as Electron, who wields magnetic and electric forces; Deathcry, who has enhanced agility and claws; Korvus Rook’shir, AKA Korvus, who can tap into a portion of the Phoenix Force; and Chakar, the extremely powerful former praetor of an Imperial Guard branch.
A Battle Royale
Governed from the imperial throneworld Chandilar, the Shi’ar are led by an ancient monarchy. The Neramani bloodline holds the keys to the Shi’ar kingdom, and the family has an Imperial Guard, an elite force of super-powered warriors with powers of telepathy, super-strength, and even infrared vision.
After the Shi’ar cure a plague devastating the superpowered Strontian race, the Strontians swear loyalty to the Shi’ar. When then emperor T’korr seeks members for the Guard, he tests the loyalty of the young Strontian candidates by ordering them to slay their own Council of Elders. Strontian Kallark loyally obeys the orders of his emperor, succeeding in his mission, and becomes Gladiator, the overall praetor of the Guard. Guard branches are stationed across the empire, with some subdivisions such as the Borderers or the Superguardians led by their own praetors. At some point, the Shi’ar kill all but two members of the deadly Hodinn race, imprisoning one and conscripting the other into the Guard as G-Type.
When Emperor Neramani comes to power, he focuses primarily on expanding the Shi’ar Empire, with his closest aide, Major-General Ka’ardum, commanding his forces.
Neramani’s oldest child, Cal’syee, AKA Deathbird, murders her mother and an unidentified sister and is exiled. Neramani’s only son, D’ken, eventually becomes the new emperor while the youngest child, Lilandra, comes to command the Imperial Navy and serve as the Guard’s grand admiral. Though, these siblings have a rivalry for the ages, which turns into a lifelong battle for the throne.
For the Fate of the Empire
Hundreds of years ago, cosmic entity the Phoenix Force takes a Shi’ar host, Rook’shir, who devastates much of the galaxy. The Imperial Guard, super-powered representatives of various Shi’ar subjugate races answering directly to the emperor, are gathered to fight Rook’shir, and soon defeat him. His descendants are kept closely contained or killed, and the Shi’ar come to regard the Phoenix Force as a universal threat.
When the race Scy’ar Tal threatened to destroy entire worlds, an unlikely team-up formed between enemies Gabriel Summers, AKA Vulcan, Lilandra, and the former Shi’ar prisoners turned pirates, the Starjammers, to protect the Shi’ar Empire. Though their truce crumbled after the threat was defeated and they return to fighting each other.
During its history, the Imperium was allegedly guided by the sinister Fraternity of Raptors, a group dedicated to an undisclosed great purpose through advancing the Shi’ar Empire. One of their members is responsible for killing Lilandra.
he Imperial Guard is dedicated to enforcing Shi’ar law to keep the peace among their people, and they are honor bound to anyone on the throne.
When it comes to the politics of the throne, Earth’s X-Men and their leader Charles Xavier, AKA Professor X, are probably the closest thing the Shi’ar have to true allies, looking out for their well-being as much as their Magestrix Lilandra does.
The Shi’ar Empire’s Reign
D’ken’s harsh techniques quickly cemented his power base. Sending scouting parties throughout the galaxy, an Earth mission captured Christopher Summers and his wife, Katherine-Anne. When D’ken sought to make Katherine his consort, Christopher resisted, and D’ken responded by slaying Katherine, and removing her unborn child from her womb. D’ken had the child, Gabriel, artificially aged and assigned to serve his agent on Earth, Davan Shakari, but he eventually escaped; unaware of his son’s existence, Christopher also escaped, and as Corsair led other former prisoners to form the Starjammers, pirates opposing Shi’ar rule. When D’ken later sought the M’kraan Crystal’s power, Lilandra rebelled against him.
After a brief war between their forces, Lilandra was apprehended and imprisoned, but her personal force, the Pathfinders, freed her, though most were killed in the effort. A psychic wave emanating from Earth telepath Charles Xavier, boosted across space when he harnessed Earth’s collective will to prevent a Z’nox invasion, overtook the fugitive Lilandra, mentally connecting her to Xavier. As Lilandra fled to Earth to seek Xavier’s help, D’ken tasked Shakari with thwarting this alliance. Shakari captured Lilandra and returned her to D’ken just as the emperor prepared to use the Crystal to achieve universal power. Xavier’s X-Men pursued and, alongside the Starjammers, stopped D’ken’s mad scheme; with D’ken driven insane by the Crystal’s energies, Lilandra took the throne, with Xavier as her Imperial Consort, though his Earthly responsibilities soon took him home.
D’ken was believed dead, but his loyalists secretly hid his comatose body and plotted against Lilandra, disliking her leadership style and resenting Xavier’s appointment. Lilandra’s forces stopped Ka’ardum’s attempts to dethrone her, secretly exiling/imprisoning him. When Xavier’s student Jean Grey seemingly merged with the Phoenix Force (actually the Force impersonating Grey), destroyed the star D’bari, killing billions, Lilandra took the Imperial Guard to Earth’s moon to neutralize the threat, reluctantly clashing with the X-Men; ultimately Phoenix seemingly committed suicide.
Later, advanced Shi’ar technology was bequeathed to Xavier, who used it to upgrade the X-Men’s training facility, the Danger Room. The technology became sentient; sensing its first thought, Xavier consulted with its Shi’ar makers, who dismissed the possibility. Xavier investigated the matter further, but ultimately left the technology in place. Cal’syee, now called Deathbird, allied with the alien Brood and had Shi’ar who were loyal to her kidnap Lilandra, implicating Earth in the crime. One of the loyalists, the Fleet’s Admiral Lord Samédàr, planned on destroying Earth, but, negotiating a stay of execution, Xavier and the remaining X-Men rescued Lilandra and their teammates. Samédàr was ultimately exposed as a traitor, but not before Deathbird claimed the Shi’ar throne.
In an effort to reclaim it, Lilandra and Xavier allied with the Starjammers to form a rebellion. Deathbird then undertook a quest to obtain the power of the “Phalkon.” Locating it on Earth, Deathbird discovered it to be the Phoenix Force, which then empowered Rachel Summers. This sparked a clash with Rachel’s Excalibur teammates until the Starjammers intervened, forcing Deathbird to flee empty-handed. Later, shape-shifting Warskrulls captured the Starjammers and, posing as Lilandra’s allies, overthrew Deathbird and placed a mind-controlled Lilandra back on the throne. Unknowingly mentally influenced by the captive Xavier, Deathbird sought the X-Men’s help and, after a pitched battle, the Warskrulls’ plot was thwarted. Deathbird surprisingly relinquished the throne to Lilandra, claiming she had tired of the empire’s complicated political affairs. When a convoy of the Grand Jhar, a Shi’ar force charged with bringing new races into the empire, engaged in genocide, one of their number, the genetically bred Cerise, decimated them, and was declared a traitor. Cerise fled to Earth and allied with Excalibur but was eventually found and arrested.
After discovering what had motivated her crime. Lilandra appointed Cerise her personal aide to commute her sentence. Covertly manipulated by the Kree Empire’s Supreme Intelligence and his allies the Skrulls (some of whom had infiltrated the Shi’ar, one posing as Araki), the Shi’ar and Kree Empires declared war on one another. Lilandra ordered the construction of a Nega-Bomb, a device that could utilize negative matter to destroy all life for light years around, but a delegation of Earth’s Avengers convinced Lilandra to rescind the order; however, the Skrulls commandeered the bomb and detonated it in Kree space, killing trillions. Lilandra regretfully claimed the Kree Empire in the name of the Shi’ar and placed Deathbird in charge as Viceroy, with the Kree Starforce acting as the region’s Imperial Guard during subsequent rebellions. The Shi’ar Empire next came under attack from the deadly Uncreated, who sought to kill all races that worshipped a god.
The Uncreated destroyed both Shi’ar worlds and neutral planets in Shi’ar territory, forcing Lilandra to declare temporary martial law across the empire. The Starjammers helped defeat the aliens, and one of Lilandra’s aides, T’cahr, was exposed as a traitorous D’ken loyalist. Sent to Earth by Lilandra, the young Shi’ar warrior Deathcry aided and then joined the Avengers for a time, witnessing the ancient Alabar and the Butcher come out of stasis for a final battle in which both were killed. From Earth, Shakari and his followers, the Crystal Claws, tried unsuccessfully to oppose Lilandra’s rule by manipulating D’ken’s illegitimate son, Adam-X, into taking power. Lilandra, Deathbird and the X-Men later joined forces against the deadly alien Inciters, who sought to explode white stars in the empire. The Shi’ar briefly enslaved powerful alternate-reality (Earth-295) telepath Nate Grey, who escaped and made Lilandra aware of the horrors of the slave pits. Appointed leader of the Intergalactic Council, whose delegates represented myriad alien worlds, Lilandra presided over the Council’s decision to confine humans to Earth by transforming the planet into an interstellar prison and erecting a barrier around the planet, to prevent human interference in galactic affairs. The Council ultimately learned its ruling had been manipulated by the Supreme Intelligence and opposed the Kree plot, though it cost the Shi’ar control over the Kree Empire.
The Shi’ar Empire soon came under attack from the techno-organic alien Phalanx, who killed thousands before the X-Men stopped them with a specially designed virus. Months later, the Shi’ar considered combining cultures with the Spartoi race, but changed their minds when an assassination attempt was made on Lilandra by Earth’s Inhumans as part of a plot clandestinely orchestrated by the Kree. On a subsequent visit to Xavier on Earth, Lilandra was unaware that his mind had been switched with that of his mummudrai, Cassandra Nova. Nova killed many Shi’ar and drove others, including Lilandra, insane. Nova influenced the Imperial Guard into attacking the X-Men; however, the two teams ultimately joined forces against Nova, who was defeated after the X-Man Emma Frost tricked her into possessing and being trapped within Imperial Guardsman Stuff’s biomorphic body. Lilandra was forced to temporarily step down from her duties as majestrix to recover from the Nova ordeal, and her marriage to Xavier was annulled. After the supremely powerful Maker (formerly the Beyonder) killed many Shi’ar and was incarcerated on the Kyln prison world, Gladiator was sent to see that she could not harm anyone else, which he did with death-worshipping Thanos’ help. Gladiator also investigated the cosmic Uni-Power when it posed a potential risk to the Shi’ar.
Over the years, many Shi’ar have come into contact with Earth on various quests; D’syndri, one of the remaining Pathfinders, warned Earth about a brief Shi’ar alliance with the reptilian Badoon; agents Shy’tharra, Kre’shje and Fath’raj attacked Earth hero Nova (Richard
Rider) to test him on behalf of a Shi’ar ally race, the Xandarians; Ya’lont piloted the Imperial Guard to Earth to investigate the ancient deadly Skornn; Gladiator has pursued enemy Skrulls to Earth on more than one occasion, once alongside Commander K’toth; Yahnos Tr’morr led soldiers in an attempt to retrieve the cybernetic aberration Pulse, though
Cable’s X-Force helped Pulse escape; the Imperial Guard dwelt on the Earth for a time at Lilandra’s instruction, fighting against Kree resurgents the People’s Underground Militia and longtime Shi’ar enemy Elamron the Changeling. Lilandra joined a short-lived alliance with Kree and Skrulls to handle the growing threat of Captain Marvel (Genis-Vell); and a force of scientists worked to kill the Phoenix Force once and for all, but were unsuccessful. The Hecatomb later arrived on Earth, having followed Urizen’s mummudrai, but was defeated when X-Man Rogue (Anna Marie) absorbed the Hecatomb’s minds into her own form. Having returned to Shi’ar space, Deathcry ultimately died battling Phalanx invaders when she succumbed to battle madness and her own ally Captain Universe (Gabriel Vargas) was forced to kill her.
In Lilandra’s absence, D’ken’s secret cabal of followers again made power plays, sending the Shi’ar Death Commandos, a group of powerful and deadly non-Shi’ar aliens, to kill any blood relatives of Jean Grey’s family to eliminate the Phoenix Force’s threat. Though her entire family line was eliminated, Rachel Summers (now called Rachel Grey, AKA Marvel Girl) survived. Gabriel Summers resurfaced as Vulcan and vengefully assaulted the Shi’ar Empire but was captured by the Imperial Guard.
Seeing an opportunity for manipulation, D’ken’s loyalists allied Vulcan with fellow prisoner Deathbird, and the two fell in love. Vulcan’s powers restored D’ken’s mind, and they overthrew Lilandra and returned D’ken to the throne. D’ken’s allies also activated Korvus, a descendant of Rook’shir who had been imprisoned and enslaved all his life, giving him the Blade of the Phoenix and sending him against the X-Men; however, Korvus and Marvel Girl, both connected to the Phoenix, became allies.
The X-Men and the Starjammers freed Lilandra and opposed D’ken’s rule. Lilandra revoked Admiral Ka’ardum’s exile, and he turned much of the Shi’ar military to Lilandra’s side. Capturing Xavier, Deathbird and Vulcan were married on the M’kraan Crystal World just before Lilandra’s forces attacked. During the melee, Vulcan murdered D’ken and claimed the Shi’ar throne for himself, much to Deathbird’s chagrin. Vulcan then murdered his father Corsair. Several X-Men subsequently joined the Starjammers in aiding Lilandra’s opposition to Vulcan’s rule.
Over the following months, Lilandra, the Starjammers, and Ka’ardum’s forces battled those Shi’ar loyal to Vulcan because of his marriage to Deathbird, and the empire began to fracture. As Vulcan’s and Ka’ardum’s forces prepared for final battle, they were attacked by the Scy’ar Tal, the former M’kraan planet inhabitants whose name now translated as “death
to the Shi’ar.” When the Scy’ar Tal proved capable of destroying entire worlds by teleporting stars into their atmosphere, Vulcan convinced the Starjammers and their allies to join forces against the Scy’ar Tal, ultimately defeating them. However, Vulcan turned on the Starjammers, and his brother, the Starjammer Alex Summers, AKA Havok, surrendered to save his teammates’ lives while Ka’ardum defected to Vulcan’s forces, becoming admiral of the Shi’ar fleet. Havok, and his fellow detainees Lorna Dane, AKA Polaris, Ch’od, and Angelo Finelon, AKA Raza, were isolated and tortured for two months while Marvel Girl, Korvus, and Lilandra continued their battles on the edge of the empire.
Vulcan recanted Lilandra’s previous edict that there would be no more expansions in the Shi’ar Empire, taking over multiple territories, including the Z’nox’s. With the empire’s resources already strapped, Vulcan ordered violent criminals—a Symbiote, the remaining Hodinn, an Uncreated, a Pn’zo, and a female Strontian—be drafted into the Praetorians, a special branch of the Guard serving Vulcan directly, and sent after the Starjammers. When members of the Intergalactic Council petitioned Vulcan for peace, he callously murdered them all, leaving a robotic Recorder alive to transmit his message to the rest of the Council. Vulcan soon led the Imperial Guard in a massive assault on the reunited Starjammers; during the battle Deathbird was wounded and left comatose by Lilandra, and the Starjammers freed their captive teammates (except for Raza) and escaped. Vulcan put the Strontian and Ka’ardum in charge of the great expansion while the Imperial Guard was appointed to stay at his side. Concurrently, two Shi’ar salvage merchants, Glitter and Sovel Redhand, detected Shi’ar technology on Earth, and attempted to collect it for profit, unaware it was Danger, the sentient technology that served as the X-Men’s Danger Room. They injected Danger with flow-inhibitors to turn her off, instead damaging her cognitive functions, trapping themselves, Xavier, Anna Marie, AKA Rogue, and Remy Lebeau, AKA Gambit, within Danger’s holographic scenarios until Xavier deactivated her, then reactivated her to assist him in repelling the salvagers, who teleported away.
Seeking revenge on the Skrulls for war crimes, the lunar-based Inhumans transformed their city, Attilan, into a spaceship, and pursued Skrull ships into Shi’ar space, destroying three Shi’ar Warbirds before taking control of the Kree empire. Subsequently, Vulcan tried to annex the Kree by declaring war upon them and their Inhuman king Blackagar Boltagon, AKA Black Bolt, initiating hostilities by attacking during the marriage of Inhuman Royal family member Crystalia Amaquelin Maximoff, AKA Crystal, to the Kree Ronan the Accuser, AKA Ronan, and annihilating Kree colony worlds with Nega-bombs. The Imperial Guard captured Lilandra and delivered her to Vulcan, who was convinced not to execute her by Ka’ardum and Gladiator. The combined forces of the Kree, Inhumans, and Starjammers launched a counterattack and pilfered Shi’ar computers to gain Lilandra’s precise location. Meanwhile, Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord’s Guardians of the Galaxy (not the same group as the Chosen Eight) learned of the war, and fearing further damage to the galaxy already in precarious shape from two previous wars within a year, sent squads to both factions, hoping to negotiate a peaceful resolution.
The Kree squad’s petition for peace was rejected by the Inhumans, and after a brief battle, the Guardians teleported back to base; however, Guardian Phyla-Vell, AKA Martyr, kidnapped Crystal, believing she would serve as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Concurrently, the Guardians’ Shi’ar squad joined the Starjammers’ rescue attempt of Lilandra, while Adam Warlock, AKA Magus, confronted and battled Vulcan. Following his departure from Shi’ar space, Warlock was tracked by Vulcan’s Imperial Guard back to Guardians’ headquarters at the same moment the Inhumans teleported in to retrieve Crystal. Following a brief skirmish, the Inhumans teleported away with Crystal, leaving the Guardians to battle and defeat the Imperial Guard, which teleported away following the death of Guardsman Magique.
Also receiving reports of Kree/Shi’ar hostilities, the Xandarian Nova Corps appointed Shi’ar Malik Tarcel as Nova Prime, and dispatched the Corps to stop hostilities, doing battle with the Imperial Guard and Praetorians, losing an entire cohort to Shi’ar execution following their surrender. Tarcel was spared execution, interrogated, then brought before Vulcan, who tortured him for sport. Elsewhere, the combined forces of the Starjammers and the Guardians’ Shi’ar squad (minus Warlock) rescued Lilandra with the unexpected assistance of Gladiator, who defected to Lilandra’s side. Refusing to believe Shi’ar resources were overstretched by the multiple campaigns, Vulcan received and ignored tactical assistance from Shir Ydrn Talonis, AKA Talon, of the returned Fraternity of Raptors, who allied the Shi’ar with Blastaar of the Negative Zone. Immediately following Lilandra’s reclamation of her throne, Raptor member Razor, using the body of Earth hero Chris Powell, AKA Darkhawk, murdered Lilandra during a battle between the Shi’ar Death Commandos and the Starjammers, sparking massive civil unrest amongst the Shi’ar and enraging Gladiator, who killed the corrupt Chancellor Araki for his part in the assassination.
Meanwhile, a Nova Corps contingency defeated and imprisoned the Praetorians and confronted Blastaar. Turning to their final solution, the Inhumans launched the T-bomb into Shi’ar space, a device personally powered by Black Bolt that would weaponize the Terrigen, the transmuting crystals that grant Inhumans their powers and physical mutations, to create a unified Inhuman galaxy. After Vulcan attacked Black Bolt, and was seemingly killed by him, Crystal used her elemental powers to render the Terrigen inert to prevent the final solution. However, a surviving Vulcan attacked again, forcing the bomb to detonate, tearing a seven-parsec hole into time and space, apparently killing himself and Black Bolt, and causing untold damage to the already precarious galaxy. The Shi’ar subsequently surrendered, ending hostilities. Following the surrender, a reluctant Gladiator assumed command of the Shi’ar empire under the Kree-Inhuman monarchy, unknowingly advised by Talon of the Fraternity of Raptors, in disguise as a female iteration of the Chancellor Araki line of clones. What will come of the Shi’ar, and the civil war waging amongst them, remains to be seen.