Mike Grell originally created Starslayer: The Log of the Jolly Roger for DC Comics, but those plans were halted after the mass cancellation of titles known as the "DC Implosion." Instead four years later, Grell offered it to Pacific Comics, who released it as a six issue limited series in 1982. The series introduced the main character Torin Mac Quillon, a warrior from the time of the Roman Empire. Just before he is killed while fighting a group of Roman soldiers, he is pulled into the distant future by Tamara, a descendant of his wife after she remarried. Torin is asked to join the crew of the spaceship Jolly Roger in their fight against the oppressive regime that is ruling the Earth. Torin agrees, and he and his his new shipmates successfully save the Earth's dying sun by the end of the first series.
First Comics eventually continued the series after Pacific went out of business, starting with issue #7 in August 1983, however Grell left the series after issue #8. The final issue, #34, came out in November 1985. When First Comics restarted the series, Torin and his shipmates travel throughout the galaxy and end up in Cynosure, the nexus of all realities for First Comics, and gain an entire crew of pirates. At some point Torin travels back to the solar system with a device that can cause a star to implode into a black hole. He uses this weapon on the sun during the course of battle in order to destroy his enemies. Just at the point of implosion Torin speaks the name of the Celtic goddess of death, Morrigan; effectively sacrificing the star to her, which brings her back into existence. She proclaims Torin to be her avatar and orders him to go into the galaxy and kill in her name. Torin rebels, which is the basis of the remainder of the title's run.
In issue #10, the character of Grimjack was introduced as a backup feature; he would later receive his own title. Other characters that appeared as backup features were Groo the Wanderer (who had also originally received his own title at Pacific) and Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer.