Star-Lord made his first comic book appearance in Marvel Spotlight vol. 2 #6 (May 1980).
Peter Quill is born during an unusual astronomical phenomenon when many of the planets align. Seeing no resemblance, the man who believed he was Quill's father accuses his wife Meredith of infidelity and attempts to kill the infant, but dies of a sudden heart attack.
Quill is raised by his single mother until she is killed by an alien when he was eleven. Quill is placed in an orphanage but escapes and eventually becomes a trainee NASA astronaut. An alien entity called the Master of the Sun eventually visits the space station that Quill and other astronauts are inhabiting, and offers the mantle of Star-Lord (an interplanetary policeman) to a worthy candidate. Quill volunteers, but is rejected in favor of a colleague he once treated badly. Quill is outraged, and NASA orders his return to Earth and discharge for his conduct.
Instead, he steals a scoutship, returns to the space station, and takes his colleague's place. Quill becomes Star-Lord, with the Master of the Sun first creating an illusion in which the character is able to find and kill the aliens that murdered his mother to free him of his past. Equipped with a sentient vessel called "Ship", Quill commences his role as Star-Lord.
Years later, Star-Lord becomes involved in stopping a group of slavers who are destroying worlds. His efforts lead him to discover a conspiracy to replace the emperor of the Spartoi Empire with his uncle, Prince Gareth. In order to thwart the takeover, Star-Lord travels to the imperial throneworld Sparta where he encounters and kills the alien who killed his mother. Star-Lord then meets Emperor Jason who reveals that he is Peter's father. Jason explains that he had crashed on Earth decades earlier and been rescued by Meredith Quill. During the year that he had spent repairing his ship, Jason and Meredith fell in love. When it came time to leave, Jason, for Meredith's safety, had placed a mindlock on her memories of him, causing her to remember their year together as only a dream.
This origin was later retconned and the astrological phenomena and murderous not-father were removed. Instead, J'son of Spartax - an alien with a human appearance - crashes on Earth and strikes up a relationship with Meredith. He leaves her a short time later, with his gun and pregnant with his child. Ten years later, Meredith is killed by members of the alien race known as the Badoon. Peter kills both assassins with a single shotgun blast, then finds the alien gun in his mother's closet. Realizing that the alien ship is about to attack, Peter gets out of the house just before it is destroyed. Believing that they have killed their target, the alien ship leaves. After being found by the authorities, who believe the Quill house was destroyed by a gas leak explosion, Peter is taken to a hospital where a nurse brings him the only thing that survived the explosion, his "space toy", which is J'son's gun.
The character encounters the former Herald of Galactus the Fallen One and is almost killed defeating the entity, and in addition Star-Lord's vessel "Ship" is destroyed in the conflict. The pair are subsequently imprisoned in the intergalactic prison the Kyln. Star-Lord is freed by the hero Nova during the "Annihilation War" storyline and aids in the war against villain Annihilus. Quill later acts as military adviser to the Kree general Ronan the Accuser.
When the Kree homeworld of Hala is conquered by the Phalanx, Star-Lord leads a band of rebels against the invaders until the war is over. In an effort to prevent another interstellar war, Star-Lord forms a new version of the Guardians of the Galaxy. They are "proactive" and try to end emerging galactic threats early.
During the war with the Cancerverse, Star-Lord supposedly sacrifices his life to stop Thanos. Despite this, he later reappears with a new Guardians line-up on Earth to aid the Avengers against the returned Thanos. After this, Star-Lord and his new team of Guardians engage in conflicts with the Badoon.
Chris Pratt will play Star-Lord in the live-action film Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014.