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The Imperial Guard were the defenders of the Shi'ar throne, sworn to serve the ruler of the empire without question. They were led by Gladiator.

Hunt for the M'Kraan Crystal

When the Shi'ar emperor D'Ken sought to use the power of the ancient M'kraan Crystal to become the ruler of the galaxy, his sister Lilandra stole the crystal and fled to Earth. D'Ken dispatched his agents to retrieve the crystal, eventually sending Gladiator to retrieve it. Gladiator was defeated by the Phoenix, ancient guardian of the crystal, prompting D'Ken and the rest of the Imperial Guard to travel to Earth.

The crystal was stolen by the Starjammers, whose leader Corsair offered to sell it to D'Ken. This was in fact a trap, as Corsair was hoping to kill D'Ken, but the Imperial Guard foiled the plot and claimed the crystal for their emperor. D'Ken cracked the crystal, causing it to consume him and to begin consuming the rest of the galaxy. Inside the crystal, D'Ken became a god. The Imperial Guard defected to Lilandra's side, aiding her allies the X-Men and the new host of the Phoenix; Jean Grey, in defeating D'Ken and rescuing the galaxy.

With D'Ken forever trapped within the crystal, which the Phoenix buried deep inside Earth's sun, the Imperial Guard returned to their home, now serving Lilandra as new empress.

Dark Phoenix

While Jean Grey was believed to have perished after taking the crystal into the sun, she was revealed to have survived. The Phoenix, intoxicated by the human emotions it was experiencing through Jean, had seized control of her and returned her to Earth, where she wreaked havoc. She eventually travelled to a deserted star-system monitored by the Shi'ar and consumed the native star, destroying all the orbiting planets. Concerned that the Phoenix's rampage would destroy an inhabited star-system next, Lilandra ordered the Imperial Guard to destroy the Phoenix.

The Imperial Guard arrived just as Professor X succeeded in repressing the Phoenix, trapping it within Jean's mind. The Shi'ar were undeterred however, unwilling to risk that the Phoenix might manifest again. Xavier managed to buy time by challenging the Shi'ar to trial by combat, pitting his X-Men against the Imperial Guard with Jean's life in the balance. The Imperial Guard were triumphant, but the battle awoke the Phoenix, which easily dispatched them.

Jean Grey managed to regain control long enough to kill herself. This allowed the Phoenix to return to its original, untarnished form. It resurrected Jean, and departed. With the galaxy safe, the Imperial Guard returned home.

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