James Jacob Harper (Guardian)

guardianfilmThere’s plenty of villains to chose from in the DC Universe, but the writers of Supergirl keep preferring taking a superhero and turning him/her into a bad guy; this time it’s the turn of Jim Harper, portrayed by Eddie McClintock. In the new episode Manhunter, Harper is an Army colonel with a deep grudge against aliens, who puts DEO on trial to dismantle it after the Martian Manhunter incident. Harper is also connected to the mysterious Project Cadmus, who our heroes are investigating on, and to the fateful night Jeremiah Danvers and Hank Henshaw died. In the comics, Harper is surely connected to Cadmus, but he’s not a villain at all, and he’s not even a military officer; he’s actually an ex-cop, better known as his heroic alter ego, Guardian. Let’s see together.

James Jacob Harper was born in Metropolis, during the years of the Great Depression. Orphaned at a young age, the boy had to take care of his younger brothers (three in total) and his younger sister, Mary…not exactly an easy task in his neighborhood, the Suicide Slum. The only way for a kid without parents to get food was through petty theft, and Jim, along with his best friend Leo, became pretty good at it. One day, however, the two kids were caught by a man, going by the name Nat Milligan (who was actually Joe Morgan, the former boxing champion who had trained the superheroes The Atom and Wildcat): Leo managed to run away, but Jim was captured. Seeing some potential in the boy, Milligan offered Jim an alternative to his miserable life: he would have turned him into an Olympic-level champion, so that he could have been able to make money with his skills in a noble and legal way, rather than becoming a criminal. Thinking to his family, Jim accepted, and trained for years under Milligan’s tutelage. Years passed, and Harper became an extremely proficient fighter and athlete; against Milligan’s advice, he eventually decided to come back to the Suicide Slum, to see how his family and friends were doing after all this time. Unfortunately, nobody else from the old neighborhood had the same opportunities Jim had, and Leo had become a gangster: Jim found his old friend guardiancomics1while he was hiding in the Slum, afraid of retaliation since he had killed a rival boss in New Jersey. The two friends reunited, but before they could even share a moment, Leo was gunned down by hitmen on a passing by car, and Jim could only watch as his best friend died in his arms. From that day, Jim Harper decided that his neighborhood, his city, needed him as something more than just another athlete: he quit with sports and with Milligan, and inspired by a local patrolman, he entered MPD, with his first assignment as a cop being the Suicide Slum. His old block looked completely different form a cop’s perspective, as everybody hated him and never hid it from him; during every beat, Harper was thrown tomatoes and other stuff at, but he ignored these outbursts: he was there to protect them, whether they wanted it or not.

With time, however, Jim Harper grew tired of all the limits he had as a cop in taking action: one night, after he was ambushed by some crooks, he decided it was the last straw. Recognizing one of the voices, he decided to take some “different” disciplinary measure; he entered a nearby costume shop, chose a blue-and-gold suit that offered him some protection, and ambushed the criminals in turn, beating them up…and solving an abduction case as well. He tied the crooks and called the police, then he left the scene…but he kept the costume if necessity required it. From that moment, every time Agent Harper couldn’t deliver justice, the masked Guardian did the job for him, keeping the Suicide Slum clean as never before. Harper also took under his protective wing a group of kids, later renamed the Newsboy Legion, whom he first arrested for petty theft, then took in custody to take care of them and avoid a future as crooks. Guardian made a name for himself as a hero, and even met the Justice Society of America (Wonder Woman, Wildcat, Green LanternThe Flash and The Atom) and joined them when World War II started, as a reserve member of the All-Star Squadron. Decades later, still in perfect shape, Jim Harper was on the verge of retirement, when one of the former members of the Newsboy Legion, now a renowned scientist working for the mysterious DNA Project (aka guardiancomics2Project Cadmus) asked him to be allowed to acquire a sample of his DNA, wanting to use his perfect genetics for “medical research”. The other ex-kids, however, didn’t want to lie to their mentor and savior, and informed him that his DNA had been used to create an army of clones out of him. Even if he was an old man, Harper donned the Guardian costume once again, and broke into Project Cadmus, trying to learn the truth. Here, he met his clone, still in stasis…and also Cadmus’ head of security, Jonathan Drew, who killed him as an intruder. Cadmus put up a story, telling that the original Guardian had been killed in action. Once he was activated, however, the clone had inherited the same memory, personality and skills of the original Jim Harper, and broke free of the laboratory: the world was about to remember what an old-school hero was like.

Jim Harper is a brave and strong-willed man, with a rock-like morality and a sheer determination that move him to seek justice in every way possible, as both a cop, a vigilante, and overall a good man. As Guardian, he’s one of the most accomplished martial artists Metropolis has ever seen, a proficient boxer and a talented gymnast; he’s also a skilled investigator and marksman, and he’s armed with a special, nearly indestructible shield which he uses as both an offensive and a defensive weapon. While the original Guardian didn’t have any superhuman ability, the first, perfect clone possesses enhanced strength, speed, stamina, agility and durability, and also an accelerated healing. A man of yesterday in the City of Tomorrow, Guardian is the hero the darkest corners of the city need, a shining symbol of hope and justice that knows no compromise in his crusade against criminality.

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2 Comments

  1. […] Of course, in the comics Olsen never becomes Guardian, and we already met the original one, Jim Harper, in the show, albeit as a villain…but there are many people who took the mantle of Guardian […]

  2. […] notorious gangster Steel Hand, all live on tv, but during his “mission” he met Guardian, who warned him not to underestimate Cadmus, as they wouldn’t have let him go so easily. When […]


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