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Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceX-Men #97 (February 1976)
Created byChris Claremont (writer)
Dave Cockrum (artist)
Place of originShi'ar Imperium
PantheonSharra and K'ythri
Notable membersSee Known Shi'ar

The Shi'ar (/ʃˈɑːr/ shee-AR) are a fictional species of aliens appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The Shi'ar Empire (or Imperium), is a vast collection of alien species, cultures, and worlds situated close to the Skrull and Kree Empires. The Shi'ar is one of the four main extraterrestrial species depicted in the Marvel Universe.

The Shi'ar have appeared in other media and will make their live-action debut in Dark Phoenix.

Publication history[edit]

The Shi'ar first appearance was in X-Men vol. 1 #97 (February 1976) and were created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Dave Cockrum.


The Shi'ar are cold-blooded humanoids of avian descent; they resemble humans with feathered crests atop their heads in lieu of hair. Two different styles are common: most Shi'ar, particularly those of the aristocracy, have feathers sprouting in a triangular shape away from the face, one peak on the top of the head and one peak on each side slightly over the shoulder; the other commonly seen "hairstyle" is bushy on both sides and very flat on the top.

Internally, they have lightweight and hollow bones, and on their forearms there are still some vestigial feathers left of wings that were lost over millions of years of evolution. The average Shi'ar can lift 1 ton in Earth-like gravity and has far greater stamina than the average human. Most Shi'ar have no other special abilities, though occasionally a genetic throwback appears possessing wings that allow flight (an example of atavism).

The Shi'ar conceive their offspring in eggs. They are nurtured in special chambers and the children are referred to as hatchlings.


The Shi'ar possess technologies common to most Marvel alien races, including:

The Shi'ar also possess technologies fairly unusual to them, including:

  • Hologram technology: which is used by the X-Men in their Danger Room.
  • Cloaking technology: rendering a craft completely invisible, used by the X-Men on their Blackbird aircraft.
  • Stargates: Devices in a network system. They are used for travel to faraway distances including instantaneous travel between galaxies. There are planet-based Stargates (used for personal travel to other solar systems and galaxies) and enormous space-based versions (used for starships to travel through).
  • Starcracker technology: This is the Shi'ar ultimate weapon. The Starcracker causes stars to go supernova.

According to a statement by Emma Frost in The Astonishing X-Men #9, most if not all Shi'ar technology is sentient.



Traditionally, the Imperium has aggressively absorbed new cultures. Warren Ellis' 1995 Starjammers limited series described the story of the Shi'ar deities Sharra and K'ythri as a parable which guides the Shi'ar expansionist philosophy to other worlds:

Sharra and K'ythri are the gods in marriage. The gods who didn't want to marry, but were forced into it. In marriage they found strength and in strength they found love. That's what the Shi'ar Imperium does. It marries other cultures. Shotgun weddings.

There are aggressive and violent ancient traditions, such as the Rite of Arin'nn Haelar, which is a battle to the death. This rite can be invoked to settle disagreements and their outcomes are accepted by the Imperium.

X-Men writer Ed Brubaker compared the Shi'ar to Star Trek's Romulans, saying they are "smart, aggressive, and mean".[1]


Though the empire has grown to include hundreds of thousands of different sentient species and worlds, the Shi'ar race controls and governs the empire. Its central base of power is located on the "throneworld" Chandilar, while the Shi'ar homeworld is called Aerie (it is unknown if the planet still exists). The leader of the empire is given the title Majestor (male) or Majestrix (female) and is a hereditary position, occupied by members of the royal family of the Shi'ar. Formerly, the Neramani family represented the royal bloodline.

The Shi'ar Empire is one of the most advanced and expansive civilizations in the universe, spanning entire galaxies. It is mainly an economic co-operative, where trade with other galactic powers is its driving force. Not all races have the same rights in the Imperium, as the Shi'ar appear to have a disproportionate influence on its governance.

It is nominally ruled over by a high council, which has representatives from a large majority of the alien races that exist within the Imperium. However, in practice, the head of the council (the Majestor or Majestrix) exercises strong executive control and can institute policy virtually by decree.

The leader of the empire is protected by his or her own personal guard called the Imperial Guard which is made up of the most powerful and elite soldiers from throughout the Empire. The Imperial Guard is led by a praetor. The military itself (outside of the Imperial Guard) has been depicted as consisting almost exclusively of Shi'ar personnel, at least in most of the command positions.

Though having warlike and militaristic ancestry, the Shi'ar Empire has largely occupied the role of peacekeepers in many interstellar affairs. Just to name a few, Empress Lilandra Neramani tried to broker peace between the Kree Empire and the Skrull Empire to help bring an end to their devastating war: she sought interstellar accord when deciding how to end the threat of the Dark Phoenix, and attempted to avenge the destruction of Tarnax IV, the Skrull throneworld, by Galactus.

However, it should also be noted that Empress Lilandra was personally responsible for authorizing the use of the Nega-bomb weapon, devastating the Kree Empire during Operation: Galactic Storm, and that the Shi'ar were pivotal in the invasion and containment of Earth during the Maximum Security event. One of the latest atrocities committed by the Shi'ar was ordering the extermination of Jean Grey's family, in an effort to quell any future conflicts with the Phoenix entity.

Attitude toward the arts[edit]

The Shi'ar consider artistic creativity to be a sign of insanity and deviance, as they lack the ability to dream. Shi'ar who have the ability to dream and create do all they can to suppress their impulses. In the past, execution was a common remedy to such 'infections'. A race called the Fianden had the ability to cause any Shi'ar to dream; this caused mass catatonia and insanity in most Shi'ar, although a small subset who already are able to dream recover after a brief delay. The Fianden were wiped out in a mass genocide. After they were used to destroy the Fianden, the Shi'ar executed all of the natural dreamers to purge the taint from their bloodlines. Nevertheless, the trait does still emerge periodically, to continued violent repression.[2]

Fictional race biography[edit]

Phoenix Saga[edit]

D'Ken Neramani, a corrupt Shi'ar ruler, attempted to use the powerful M'Kraan Crystal to take over the universe. His younger sister Lilandra and her new allies, the X-Men, foiled his plans. He was rendered comatose by the crystal, and Lilandra then took over as the Majestrix of the Shi'ar Empire. The X-Men, as well as most of Earth's other superheroes, have had cordial if not friendly relations with the Shi'ar Empire ever since.

Trial of Galactus[edit]

The Shi'ar put Reed Richards on trial for the crimes of genocide. He was guilty of reviving Galactus after he was defeated on Earth. Shortly after his revival, Galactus proceeded to consume the Skrull throneworld, resulting in the death of billions. Uatu the Watcher, acting as his lawyer and with the help of Odin and Galactus himself, convinced the gathered tribunal that Galactus is a necessary force of betterment of the universe, not a villain. This was done by summoning Eternity. The truth as shown by Eternity however, is so grand and overpowering that none of the tribunal's members can remember it fully, although the comprehension stays.

Deathbird, the Kree-Shi'ar War, and the Spartoi[edit]

In the 1980s, Lilandra and D'Ken's unstable exiled elder sibling, Deathbird, made several attempts to overthrow her sister from power. Deathbird even resorted to attacking Lilandra's Earth-based allies in order to achieve her goals. She is also responsible for initially directing the alien parasites known as the Brood towards the Earth and its heroes. Deathbird was eventually deposed with the assistance of the X-Men.

In the 1992 crossover Operation: Galactic Storm, the Shi'ar annexed the Kree Empire at the end of the Kree-Shi'ar War and Deathbird was placed into a prominent position as viceroy of Hala, the Kree homeworld. However, Deathbird did not last long in this position and has since abandoned her responsibilities and it appears that the Kree Empire has, at least in some part, been re-established.

The Shi'ar have had recent contact with the Spartoi.


The empire came under the threat of the "techno-organic" alien race known as the Phalanx after they infiltrated the Shi'ar Empire as the "Pure", killing tens of thousands before the X-Men fought them on the Shi'ar throneworld and separated the transmode virus from its hosts, killing most of those Phalanx.

Cassandra Nova[edit]

Professor Xavier's evil twin sister, Cassandra Nova, single-handedly destroys a good portion of the Shi'ar Empire. Inhabiting the body of her brother, Nova asserts control of Empress Lilandra and causes a Shi'ar civil war. Jean Grey is instrumental in ending this threat.

Phoenix Endsong and End of Greys[edit]

Even though Jean Grey did the Shi'ar a big favor by eliminating the threat of Cassandra Nova, the Shi'ar still want her dead. In the Phoenix Endsong series, a group of Shi'ar tried to permanently kill the Phoenix Force and Jean Grey. Jean, however, escaped their suicide bomb attack and returned to the White Hot Room to restore herself. In the "End of Greys" story arc, the Shi'ar wanted to wipe out the Grey genome and Quentin Quire with the purpose of eliminating the possibility of a new Omega-level mutant becoming a host for the Phoenix Force. The Shi'ar Death Commandos murdered Jean Grey's father, niece, nephew, and other relatives in an alien invasion on Earth, thus inciting the wrath of Jean's daughter Rachel Summers, who has vowed vengeance on the entire Shi'ar Empire. Recent events seem to indicate the Shi'ar Council was responsible for this, and that Lilandra is unaware of what has been done in her name.

Fall of the Shi'ar[edit]

Another Shi'ar threat comes from an X-Men villain called Vulcan. During his tenure as majestor of the empire, D'Ken killed Vulcan's mother Katherine Summers (also mother to longtime X-Men Scott and Alex Summers) and made him a slave for most of his adolescent life. Bent on revenge against D'Ken, Vulcan attacks the Empire. Not only that, but within the empire, there is a coup to dethrone Lilandra and return D'Ken to power, with the aid of Deathbird. The X-Men once again team up with their space allies, the Starjammers, to stop both Vulcan and the plot to return rulership of the empire to D'Ken. In the end, Vulcan kills his father, Corsair, and D'Ken, and assumes the throne of the Shi'ar Empire for himself, with Deathbird as his queen; Lilandra and the Starjammers now lead a resistance against Vulcan's rule. This occurs in a 12 issue arc entitled "The Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire".[3]

Emperor Vulcan[edit]

The civil war between Vulcan's forces and those loyal to the dethroned Lilandra rages on. Led by Havok and the Starjammers, Lilandra's forces gradually whittle away at Vulcan's forces, which are plagued by defections. The Shi'ar, contrary to Vulcan's expectations, are not happy to have an outsider as their ruler. Vulcan is discouraged by this, but Deathbird convinces him that they will come to accept him.

Warned in advance of a rebel raid on Feather's Edge, Vulcan and his fleet ambush the Starjammers. However, in the middle of the battle, his ship, the Hammer, is destroyed by the Scy'ar Tal (translates as "Death to the Shi'ar"). Vulcan and Gladiator (still the praetor of his Imperial Guard) attack the leader of the Scy'ar Tal and are easily defeated, whereupon they retreat deeper into Shi'ar space.

Marvel Girl makes contact with the Eldest Scy'ar Tal and discovers their true origin. The Scy'ar Tal were originally called the M'Kraan. Early in their history, the Shi'ar attacked them, killed a great number of their people, making the rest flee for their lives. Eventually, the Shi'ar settled on their planet, took the M'Kraan Crystal as their own, and passed down the legend of the M'Kraan Crystal as a sacred gift from their deities, Sharra & K'ythri. The M'Kraan then changed their name to Scy'ar Tal and devoted their culture and society to the destruction of the Shi'ar Empire. With their first attack, they destroyed Feather's Edge by transporting a star to obliterate it. After which, Vulcan makes contact with the Starjammers to call a temporary ceasefire.

Under the ceasefire, the Shi'ar and the Starjammers decide to take out the Finality, thus crippling the Scy'ar's biggest threat. Once Havok and Vulcan are in position to destroy Finality, the Eldest Scy'ar tries to stop them. Once Vulcan figures out how the Eldest is powered, he severs the connection Eldest has with his brothers, making him powerless. Once the connection is severed, the Scy'ar become disorganized, and the tide of the battle shifts to the Shi`ar. The Shi'ar then proceed to attack both the Scy'ar and the Starjammers. Meanwhile, Vulcan blasts Havok into a sun.

Vulcan decides to use Finality to destroy the Scy'ar by using the weapon to place a star in the middle of their fleet. Alex returns and, having absorbed enough power to burn him, decides to end things with Vulcan. While they battle, Rachel and Korvus try, but fail to stop the beacon that will initiate the attack by the Shi'ar. The Shi'ar Imperial Guard end Alex's battle with Vulcan by appearing with the Starjammers in captivity, threatening to kill them. Before surrendering, Alex destroys Finality. With Alex and the Starjammers in custody Vulcan declares that he will return the Shi'ar Empire to its former glory.

X-Men: Kingbreaker[edit]

Vulcan and the Shi'ar were featured prominently in the mini-series X-Men: Kingbreaker that revolved around Vulcan and the Starjammers following the conclusion of the mini-series Emperor Vulcan. This mini-series led to the War of Kings event and revealed that eons ago the Shi'ar, used dark sorcery to created and stored in Null Space the Tree of Shadows which is the repository for all of the Darkhawk amulets used to empower the Fraternity of Raptors to whom the Shi'ar intended to use to maintain the Shi'ar Empire as it evolved over the centuries. The Fraternity of Raptors refer to their mission to protect the long term interests of the empire as "The Great Purpose."[4] However as the Shi'ar Empire aggressively expanded so to did the Fraternity of Raptors and eventually they grew too powerful for the Empire to control. Therefore they all were sealed in patches of dark matter throughout Shi'ar territory and their history almost completely forgotten.[5]

War of Kings[edit]

The story revolved around the Starjammers, the Shi'ar, the Inhumans, the Kree, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Nova.[6]

The Shi'ar end up in conflict with the Inhumans and the Kree. After the presumed death of Vulcan and Black Bolt, Gladiator assumes the throne and surrenders to the Inhumans and the Kree when the damage to the Shi'ar military is too much.


During the Infinity storyline, Gladiator represents the Shi'ar Empire when he appears as a member of the Galactic Council.[7]

All-New, All-Different Marvel[edit]

As part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel, it was revealed that some Shi'ar that are living on Earth have established a Shi'ar corporation called Shi'ar Solutions Consolidations.[8]

During The Asgard/Shi'ar War storyline, the Shi'ar Gods Sharra and K'ythri do a "Challenge of the Gods" by bringing the Shi'ar fleet to Asgard.[9] In the Genesis Round, Sharra and K'ythri use their dust to create the Shi'ar Giants who commit indiscriminate murder causing the female Thor to fight them. As the female Thor failed to create life, the Shi'ar won the Genesis Round.[10] Later following the Phoenix Force being appeased, the Shi'ar rebel against their gods where they who were taken away for their reckless actions.[11] During the search of the Infinity Stones, Razor reveals the true origin of the Tree of Shadows and the creation of the Fraternity of Raptors, according to Razor the Tree of Shadows was created eons ago by the Elder of the Universe known as The Gardener who tried to bring life to the Null Space. Eventually Null Space and the Tree of Shadows were discovered by a more pre-historic version of the Shi'ar and the Skrulls, and a war erupted between the two alien races. The war ranged until one member of the Shi'ar was able to grasp one of the seeds of the Tree. His physiology, fear and believes shaped the birth of the most vicious killing machine the universe had ever seen, the first Raptor and while the Skrulls, being shape-shifters, were still able to hold against the Shi'ar, they eventually were nevertheless slaughtered by Raptor Prime, a creature of instinct and adaptation which quickly learnt to use their shape-shifter abilities too. The Shi'ar then intended to use the seeds of the Tree of Shadows to create an army to unleash the Ratha'kon or Dark Starhawk, who would be able to contain and act as a "predator" to the Phoenix Force, however, while the Fraternity of Raptors were able to coveted the power of the Cosmic entity, because of their mechanoid nature, they were unable to unlock the true power within their ranks[12][13]

Known Shi'ar[edit]

The following are members of the Shi'ar:

  • Adam Neramani - [14]
  • Araki - He is the chancellor to Lilandra.[15]
  • Ava'Dara Naganandini - A member of the Shi'ar Warbirds.[16]
  • Cerise - Member of The Graces.
  • D'Ken - The former Magestor of the Shi'ar and the brother of Lilandra and Deathbird.[17]
  • Deathbird - The sister of Lilandra Neramani and D'Ken.[18]
  • Deathcry - A Shi'ar commando who is the niece of Lilandra.[19]
  • Electron - A Shi'ar who is a member of the Imperial Guard.
  • Erik the Red - A Shi'ar spy who is a member of the Shi'ar Imperial Agency.[17]
  • Frr'dox - A Shi'ar who is the Supreme Director of Interstellar Operations at Shi'ar Solutions Consolidations.[8]
  • K'Tor - He is the vice-chancellor to Lilandria.[20]
  • Ka'ardum - A major-general in the Shi'ar army.[21]
  • Korvus - Wielder of The Blade of the Phoenix.[20]
  • K'ythri - One of the two chief deities of the Shi'ar. Husband of Sharra.[22]
  • Lilandra Neramani - The former Magestrix of the Shi'ar and the sister of D'Ken and Deathbird.[17]
  • Magique - A Shi'ar who is a member of the Imperial Guard.[23]
  • Malick Tarcel - A Shi'ar that was promoted to the new Nova Prime.[24]
  • Nightscream - A Shi'ar that tried to purchase Women's Magazine from Carol Danvers under the alias of Barbara Nelson.[25]
  • Oracle - Oracle is a long-time member and warrior serving in the Royal Elite of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard.[26]
  • Raptor Prime - An ancestor of the more evolved Shi'ar and the one to give birth to the most vicious killing machine the universe had ever seen, the first Raptor, a creature of instinct and adaptation.[13]
  • Rook'shir - A Shi'ar who is the ancestor of Korvus and one of the hosts of the Phoenix Force.[27]
  • Samédàr - Lord Samédàr became Grand Admiral after Lilandra was made Shi'ar Empress.[28]
  • Sharra - One of the two chief deities of the Shi'ar. Wife of K'ythri.[22]
  • Sovel Redhand - Captain of a group of salvagers of various races.[29]
  • T'Cahar - A friend of D'Ken's before his fall and formerly the Minister of Peace for the Shi'ar.
  • Urizen Ul'var - [30]

Other versions[edit]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the Ultimate Marvel universe, the Shi'ar are not an alien race, but a religious group whose beliefs are said to have descended from alien knowledge. They worship the Phoenix, believing it to be a god of not only destruction, but renewal. Their beliefs state that all of the Earth was originally a prison created by ancient alien civilizations to hold the Phoenix, but its presence at the core led to the creation of life on Earth, and the Phoenix's direct influence resulted in all major steps of evolution for man, and specifically, led to the creation of mutants. The Ultimate version of the Hellfire Club is an offshoot of the Shi'ar religion that believes the Phoenix only desires destruction.

Recently an alternate version of the Lilandra character has turned up in the Ultimate Marvel universe's Ultimate X-Men title. Ultimate Lilandra is not an alien, but the Majestrix of the Church of Shi'ar Enlightenment, and contacts Professor Xavier with the offer of funding his school's immense budget, in exchange for the chance to see if Jean Grey is the human host for The Phoenix.

Age of Apocalypse[edit]

In the Age of Apocalypse reality, the Shi'ar Empire was almost decimated by the Brood. However, D'Ken remains as Majestor of the Imperium, while Lilandra has been executed and Deathbird leads the Starjammers.

Last Planet Standing[edit]

In Last Planet Standing, a limited series set in the alternate timeline known as MC2, the Shi'ar homeworld is destroyed by Galactus.

In other media[edit]


  • The Shi'ar Empire appears in the 1990s X-Men TV series, the first appearance being part of the Phoenix Saga, with other appearances later on including the Dark Phoenix Saga.
  • The Shi'ar are briefly referenced in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Live Kree or Die." They appear as one of the Kree's enemy races.
  • In the second season of Legion, Cary describes a piece of technology of "advanced," but "not Shi'ar."


  • The Shi'ar will appear in the upcoming 2019 film Dark Phoenix.

Video games[edit]

  • In X-Men for the Sega Genesis, the X-Men visit the Shi'ar empire.
  • In Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, the heroes travel to a Shi'ar warship to obtain a shard of the M'Kraan Crystal. Unfortunately, some of the Shi'ar soldiers and the Imperial Guard have sided with Deathbird in overthrowing Lilandra Neramani. The heroes had to fight Deathbird, the Imperial Guard members on her side, and an army of Shi'ar Soldiers, Shi'ar Soldier Commanders, Shi'ar Gunners, Shi'ar Gunnery Sergeants, and Shi'ar Trackers in order to restore Lilandra to the throne.


  1. ^ Uncanny in Space - Talking X-Men With Ed Brubaker Archived 2007-10-15 at the Wayback Machine, Newsarama, February 12, 2007 (accessed 15 Feb 2007)
  2. ^ Astonishing X-men v3 57-58
  3. ^ starting in Uncanny X-Men #475
  4. ^ War of Kings: Ascension #2
  5. ^ War of Kings: Darkhawk #2
  6. ^ SDCC '08 - Abnett & Lanning on Marvel's 'War of Kings', Newsarama, July 27, 2008
  7. ^ Infinity #3
  8. ^ a b Mighty Thor Vol. 2 #8. Marvel Comics.
  9. ^ Mighty Thor Vol. 2 #15. Marvel Comics.
  10. ^ Mighty Thor Vol. 2 #17. Marvel Comics
  11. ^ Mighty Thor Vol. 2 #19. Marvel Comics.
  12. ^ Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #2
  13. ^ a b Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #3
  14. ^ X-Force Annual (October 1993) #2
  15. ^ X-Men #122
  16. ^ Wolverine and the X-Men #1
  17. ^ a b c X-Men #97
  18. ^ Ms. Marvel #9
  19. ^ Avengers #363
  20. ^ a b Uncanny X-Men #478
  21. ^ Uncanny X-Men #484
  22. ^ a b Starjammers #1
  23. ^ X-Men #107
  24. ^ Nova (Vol 4) #18
  25. ^ Generations: The Marvels #1
  26. ^ X-Men #10
  27. ^ Uncanny X-Men #479
  28. ^ Uncanny X-Men #154
  29. ^ X-Men: Legacy #220
  30. ^ X-Men Vol. 2 #198

External links[edit]