Day 30: The Golden Guardian!

Talk about an in-your-face ending to this ish! Here, comin’ rightacha, is the return of one of Jack and Joe Simon’s great 1940s super-hero creations (the last costumed hero the pair initiated for DC during the WWII era), The Guardian! Originated as a guardian angel of a group of paperboys, in 1942’s Star Spangled Comics, the adventurer is actually Suicide Slum beat cop Jim Harper, who apparently can justify his nightime vigilantism. The group headlined SSC until their disappearance after the war.

To be frank, The Guardian was a bald-faced swipe of S&K’s greatest creation, Captain America, right down to the shield (though the DC character’s accessory was in the shape of a police badge), only without the “Old Glory” color scheme and Harper didn’t have just one kid sidekick — the rookie-by-day had four: Scrappy, Gabby, Tommy and Big Words!

Admittedly, The Guardian, with his great cyan-&-gold ensemble (was the helmet gold-leafed?), served as permanent guest-star within the breathless exploits headlined by The Newsboy Legion, but the audacity of S&K of virtually transplanting Timely’s “Sentinel of Liberty” and making a home for him at their new publisher, The House of Superman, was exhilarating and apropos of the creative team’s tenacity and chutzpah. (The duo suspected they were being cheated out of royalties by Timely publisher — hence their move — and they only produced ten issues of Captain America Comics… but, boy oh boy, what star-making issues they were!). Here was a S&K action hero smashing, punching, flying, exploding from the page… Yowza!

I’ll confess, too, that though I had zero prior knowledge of the character, upon first seeing this very same final page of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #135, The Guardian instantly became one of my favorite super-heroes (a very short list). Why he’s never caught on in the “DC Universe” to much of a degree is a shame; maybe because he’s a Cap rip-off? But that’s one of the main reasons I dig the hero — it’s S&K stealing from… S&K!!!

But, wait, this isn’t the original Guardian. This one has been grown from the dead cop’s DNA in The Project from a test tube by Harper’s former wards. And, there is something even more different about Guardian 2.0… The clone complains of feeling out-of-sorts… Doc Big Words worries that the resurrected Harper has “some strange unidentifiable activity in the brain area,” and later agrees that though, “He’s physically perfect and well-adjusted mentally! But in his brain is something common to all of the living products of our genetic labs! Something still elusive!”

Alas, Jack never expanded on these tantalizing hints of storylines to come, and while the hero only guest-starred in a small handful of JO stories during the Kirby run, The Guardian of Metropolis was a joy to behold!

Coming Soon: After tomorrow’s JO #135 round-up, we finally advance to the second title in Jack’s Fourth World opus, The Forever People, so grab your Mother Boxes, buckos, cuz the Super-War heats up Big Time! (Remember, we’re dissecting the 4W chronologically, looking at each issue in the order they were published.)

10 thoughts on “Day 30: The Golden Guardian!

  1. John S.

    I hate to say this, but I never liked this second version of The Guardian. He seemed to have no personality whatsoever–one of the most unrealistic, one-dimensional characters Jack ever wrote. Even his debut line, “Let me out! I sense trouble!” seems exceptionally inappropriate for a man who has basically just been born in a test tube! It reminds me of the “Captain American” dialogue in Joe Simon’s SICK Magazine parody story, “The New Age of Comics”: “Huh? Wha-a? Where’s the action? Lemme at ’em — I’ll kill ’em all!” I think this was one of those rare occasions where Jack dealt fairly insensitively with one of his characters, treating him as a cardboard cutout rather than as a real flesh-and-blood person. And even the helmet re-design is inferior to the original Simon & Kirby version. This may be “The Golden Guardian” of the modern age, but it’s definitely not the real S&K Guardian of the Golden Age!

  2. JonBCooke Post author

    Well, you say tomatoh, I say tamatah! I know it’s what I bring to the character which makes me like ’im so much and that includes sentimental fondness for Jack’s Jimmy O run… Me, I hated the Golden-Age jockey-like helmet; love the (ever-evolving) upper-face covering version. I guess I saw him as an empty vessel, a stranger in a strange land kinda dude, and I can only pine for that “strange brain activity” storyline that never materialized. And that blamed color scheme… Yow! Different strokes…

    1. John S.

      Someone should ask S&K blogger Harry Mendryk what he thinks of Jack’s revival of the Newsboy Legion and the Guardian. It would be interesting to get his take on it. Come to think of it, someone should ask Joe Simon what he thought of it (if he read it, that is). But I agree with you: diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. Not even Kirby fans can always be in total concord on everything.

      1. JonBCooke Post author

        SOMEbody should… John! Hint-hint!

        Hopefully interviewing Joe soon and I’ll do my best to remember to ask. I personally doubt he read the title, but cha never know!

        1. John S.

          LOL. Okay, I’ll keep monitoring H.M.’s fine Simon & Kirby blog, and the next time he does a posting on the Newsboys, I’ll ask him what he thought of Jack’s ’70s incarnation of the team and their musclebound mentor!

  3. patrick ford


    Maybe it’s that “unidentifiable activity in the brain area” which explains the Guardian’s kind of blank slate persona.

    The Guardian himself admits something is not quite right, seems in a bit of a fog.

    The memories he was grown with he doesn’t see as his own; they belong to the “original Guardian.”

    It would have been interesting if Kirby had time to continue on with the Guardian, and the Legion, but their connection was with the Jimmy Olsen book.

    The publishing history of the Fourth World books is a little strange.

    New Gods, Forever People, and Mister Miracle started off as bi-monthly books with Olsen the only monthly. The Olsen book as a result was carrying a lot of freight in terms of linking events.

    Kirby was first asked to create Kamandi and The Demon to fill the open slot in his schedule when he left Olsen. Oddly enough, New Gods and Forever People had increased publishing frequency to a near-monthly basis with four issues of each title being published over the last six months each.

    1. JonBCooke Post author

      Speaking of potential spin-offs, I’ll never forget the day I received in the mail an announcement from TwoMorrows about the newly-discovered Infinity Man unpublished comic book. Dude, it was early April but I SO wanted to believe it, I was so elated that I fell for John Morrow’s April Fool’s joke, hook, line and you know what… Damn that jokester!!!!

      Technically, Jack’s Jimmy Olsen started off as an eight-times-a-year title, but by #142, it did indeed go monthly (with a planned reprint special, I assume, in August, making it a 13-times-a-year comic). I’m sorry, it’s my OCD kicking in…

      1. patrick ford


        I remember that hoax well.

        Earlier I mentioned an old issue of Graphic Story World which printed Kirby’s unused cover intended for Jimmy Olsen #133. That same issue had this bit of news:

        “There is talk of reviving The New Gods as Orion. The climax of The New Gods (#11) is said to be one of the most powerful issues in the series.”

  4. R Drew

    I can see it now; Infinity Man and Captain Marvel sitting around in limbo playing Monopoly while they await the magic word.

    Or, have them and a few others sitting around in a waiting room flipping through magazines and making small talk. Get Brian Bendis to write it, add some potty mouth, and you’ve got a hit in today’s market.

    1. John S.

      The fanboys would love it! In fact, I’m sure it’d sell upwards of thirty thousand copies — a blockbuster by today’s standards!

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