Guardian (DC Comics)
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The Guardian and the Newsboy Legion.
Art by Jack Kirby.
|First appearance||Star-Spangled Comics #7
|Created by||Joe Simon (writer)
Jack Kirby (artist)
|Alter ego||James Jacob "Jim" Harper|
|Place of origin||Earth|
|Team affiliations||Science Police
Exceptional hand to hand combatant and tactician
Carries golden helmet and shield
Use of customized motorcycle and a set of video-cameras
Enhanced strength and reflexes
Accelerated healing factor
Access to the Whiz Wagon
Guardian (James Jacob "Jim" Harper) is a DC Comics superhero, created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. He first appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #7 (April 1942). Guardian resembles an earlier Kirby and Simon character Captain America (first published in March 1941 by Marvel Comics) in that he had no super powers and carried an indestructible shield.
Fictional character biography
Jim Harper is a police officer in Metropolis' Suicide Slum who became a vigilante to catch crooks that the law could not prosecute, describing himself as guarding society from criminals. He was trained to fighting condition by ex-boxer Joe Morgan (the same man who trained two other mystery men, Wildcat and the first Atom). He was aided by a group of boys known as the Newsboy Legion, to whom he was, literally, a guardian, having volunteered to take them in rather than allowing them to be sent to prison; he did so on the grounds that they were basically good kids who just needed a chance. The Legion grew up to become the heads of the Cadmus Project, subsequently saving Harper's life by transferring his mind from his old, dying body into a younger clone of himself.
Other relatives include his niece Roberta "Famous Bobby" Harper, who was briefly a member of the second Newsboy Legion  and Jamie Harper, his grandniece working for the Gotham City Police Department. She worked as Robin's personal contact in the GCPD, similar to the role Commissioner James Gordon plays for Batman. After helping Robin and Jason Bard expose two dirty cops in the GCPD, Jamie Harper was promoted to Detective Specialist and has since transferred to the Metropolis Science Police.
In Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #135 (January 1971), Jack Kirby reintroduced the boys of the now grown-up Newsboy Legion as supporting characters connected with the DNA Project (later Project Cadmus), a genetics research laboratory. One of the Project's experiments was a clone of the late Jim Harper, who took up his predecessor's role, and became the Project's Head of Security as the Golden Guardian. Post-Crisis this character was simply known as the Guardian.
Harper remained Cadmus' Head of Security even after the former Newsboys had left. Eventually, he too was killed, although another clone was created and rapidly aged to adulthood, retaining all his predecessor's memories. This Guardian disappeared along with the rest of Cadmus following an altercation with Amanda Waller and President Luthor, and his whereabouts are unknown.
Following Infinite Crisis, the Guardian clone's backstory was retconned. As Dubbilex explained to Jimmy Olsen, Jim Harper was not killed in the line of duty, but shot by Cadmus' first head of security, Jonathan Drew, upon discovering the clone was already being created.
It was also revealed that the original Guardian clone had left Cadmus early on, and was now living in the town of Warpath on the Mexican border, where he assisted Sheriff Greg Saunders. Subsequent appearances of the Guardian had been new clones, each of which died within a year.
Science Police team leaders DuBarry and Daniels, along with several prison guards, were killed during the events of New Krypton when a team of Kandorians led by Commander Gor assaulted Stryker's Island and demanded custody of Parasite. The Science Police Control 'Rachel' tasked Guardian to act as a liaison between the Metropolis Police Department and a coalition of superheroes in bringing justice for the fallen science police officers and prison guards. After the Kandorians left Earth, Guardian was appointed Field Commander of the Science Police, as replacement for DuBarry and Daniels, due in part to his cloned memories of Jim Harper as a police officer and Guardian as a superhero. He was asked by Superman to help Mon-El, offering him a job with the Science Police and mentoring him on how to be a hero.
The issues of Detective Comics published during the One Year Later event, reveals that Harper has a grandniece, Jamie, formerly a detective of Gotham City Police Department and a former associate of Robin III.
The Guardian later travels to the JLA Watchtower to warn the Justice League after finding a teleportation device in Metropolis. While on the Watchtower, the heroes are attacked by Prometheus, who blinds the Guardian. In the aftermath of the attack, Guardian and Mon-El are recruited by Kimiyo Hoshi to join the Justice League. On his first and only mission with the team, the Guardian helps battle Doctor Impossible's gang of villains. After a mere three issues, the Guardian was written out of the book due to writer James Robinson's desire to work with a smaller cast.
In Teen Titans #44 (November 1976), the previously uncostumed Titan Mal Duncan took the name of the Guardian, wearing the original's outfit and an exoskeleton with strength augmenting abilities. The two Guardians finally met in Superman Family #s 191-193 (Sept 78-Feb 79), when Mal helped rescue the Harper clone from Adam, an evil clone created using genetic material from both Harper and Dubbilex who had taken control of the DNA Project.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths removed Duncan's career as the Guardian, although he did appear briefly in his Guardian costume during the Crisis itself.
Mal made appearances in the two season show Young Justice. Mal was shown to be the boyfriend and later fiancé of Bumblebee. He took the identity of Guardian (after Jim Harper) in order to protect Hall of Justice from an attack.
Powers and abilities
The Guardian possesses exceptional combat and tactical skills. He was trained in many forms of fighting, and excelled at gymnastics, thinking quickly on his feet, and deduction. His only weapons are his golden helmet and shield. Guardian often used a customized motorcycle equipped with autopilot and a set of video cameras filming from various angles and recorded on videodisc.
The Harper clone possesses enhanced strength and reflexes, and an accelerated healing factor. The Harper clone's exact strength level is unknown but has demonstrated the ability to hurt Superboy (who he trained in hand-to-hand combat) and Kryptonians from Kandor. As an agent of Cadmus, Jim Harper also has access to the wondrous Whiz Wagon. The Hairies (a super-advanced tribe of techno-wizards, originally genetic creations of Donovan, who left Cadmus) built the Whiz Wagon to handle every situation. It can adapt to every terrain, fly, and even go underwater. The Wagon can be remote controlled or pre-programmed and is equipped with a set of powerful weapons and various gadgets.
In the Frank Miller graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, the Guardian is one of the superheroes killed by Dick Grayson. It is implied that he had a daughter with Lois Lane named Lana Harper-Lane, a television reporter.
The Guardian's golden shield survives to the alternative future of the 853rd century; it is kept by that timeline's Batman.
A bearded version of Guardian exists on the post-Flashpoint Earth-23 as a member of a predominantly African American Justice League.
In other media
- A teenaged version of Guardian appears as a supervillain under the name of Private H.I.V.E. in the Teen Titans animated series voiced by Greg Cipes. As his name implies, he is a student of the H.I.V.E. Academy (as opposed to Cadmus) and is a member of the show's version of the Fearsome Five. Private H.I.V.E. possesses an identical costume and shield to Guardian's albeit with a H.I.V.E. crest located on his chest, belt and the center of the shield. Like Guardian, Private H.I.V.E is extremely disciplined and militaristic, often ending sentences with the word "Sir".
- Guardian appears in Young Justice voiced by Crispin Freeman. In the two-part episode "Independence Day", he is shown as a member of Project Cadmus but Aqualad mentions that he is a known superhero as well. Guardian ends up fighting Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash in the sub-levels of the Cadmus Building and appears to be controlled by Dubbilex' Gene-gnomes on Mark Desmond's orders. He was with Desmond and Dubbilex when they corner Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash in the room where Superboy was being held. When Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash and Superboy end up near the main floor of the Cadmus building, Dubbilex has the Gene-gnome remove its control on Guardian. To help with Dubbilex' freedom, Guardian vows to deal with Desmond only for Mark to arrive and drink a formula that turns him into Blockbuster. Guardian is knocked down by Blockbuster. After Blockbuster is defeated by Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash and Superboy and then taken away by some of the Justice League members, Guardian takes over the Cadmus Building to make it a gentler version of Cadmus along with Dubbilex and Doctor Amanda Spence. In the episode "Agendas", he is questioned as to his resemblance to Red Arrow (Roy Harper) to which Guardian states that he was Red Arrow's uncle. After it is revealed that Red Arrow is a clone and the original Roy Harper was captured years ago as seen in "Auld Acquaintances", Guardian is mentioned by Batman to be tracking down the original. Between seasons one and two, Guardian learns that he is a clone of Roy Harper. Jim (clone) tells Roy (clone) that Cadmus policy was to destroy source material and that he has to honor the original Roy. Roy's clone refuses and continues to look for Speedy (original Roy Harper). Unfortunately for the Justice League, the Light compromised Guardian and the other Project Cadmus members to steal their store of clones, including the original Roy Harper—cryogenically frozen and minus one arm. In the episode "Salvage", Guardian accompanies Green Arrow, Black Canary, Nightwing, and Kid Flash into holding an intervention for Red Arrow (who is still looking for the original Speedy). Guardian even admits that he is not sure who his identity of Jim Harper was. In the episode "Cornered", Mal Duncan officially takes over as the new Guardian after finding Jim Harper's costume and shield in the Hall of Justice during an attack.
- James Harper appears in the Supergirl episode "Manhunter", portrayed by Eddie McClintock. In this episode, Harper is a colonel in the United States Marine Corps, and arrives with Lucy Lane to investigate the disappearance of Hank Henshaw and his subsequent replacement by the Martian Manhunter. At the end of the episode, Harper tries to take both the Martian Manhunter and Alex Danvers (DEO agent and foster sister of Supergirl) to be experimented on at Project Cadmus only to be thwarted by Supergirl and Lucy Lane. At the end of the episode, Martian Manhunter erases Harper's memories of the event and learns that Alex Danvers' father is also at Project Cadmus. It was announced by executive producer Andrew Kreisberg that James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) would become Guardian in Season 2. In the Supergirl episode "Changing", after Olsen helps battle Parasite while wearing a specially designed suit and wielding the shield created for him so he could be a hero, reveals Guardian as his chosen code name. A vigilante later uses Guardian as a scapegoat to kill murderers let go on technicalities; however, James manages to get the imposter arrested.
- Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Guardian", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 150, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Wallace, Daniel; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1940s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby took their talents to a second title with Star-Spangled Comics, tackling both the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion in issue #7.
- Superboy #82 (January 2001) DC Comics.
- Guardians of Metropolis #1 (November 1994) DC Comics
- Detective Comics #817 (May 2006) DC Comics
- Superman #687 (June 2009) DC Comics.
- Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen one-shot (October 2008)
- Adventure Comics Special #1 (January 2009) DC Comics
- Superman #682 (January 2009). DC Comics.
- Superman #683 (February 2009). DC Comics.
- Superman #684 (March 2009). DC Comics.
- Detective Comics #819
- Justice League of America (vol. 2) #41 (January 2010)
- War of the Supermen #4
- Superman/Batman #79
- Supergirl - Episode 1.17 - Manhunter - Press Release' - SpoilerTV
- Swift, Andy (October 11, 2016). "Supergirl EP Reveals James' Future as DC Comics' Guardian, Explains Why He and Kara Are 'Best as Friends'". TV Line.