When Joe Cartelli was a boy, he and his father Frank witnessed mobsters attempt to murder rival gangster Bo Barrigan, and when Frank tried to assist Barrigan, the hitmen gunned him down. Barrigan felt responsible for Frank's death, and Joe, having vowed to destroy the mob, kept in touch with the crimelord, eventually joining his organization, secretly working to bring it down from within. Joe obtained a belt that generated a force-field, and donned an identity-concealing outfit to become "the Blue Shield."
Blue Shield was created by Tom DeFalco and Frank Springer, and debuted in Dazzler #5.
Joe plays the role of a criminal for several years while he rises up through the ranks of Barrigan's organization, even keeping his true motives secret from his widowed mother, Anita, who becomes estranged from her son because she believes he has become a criminal just like those who had killed her husband. Meanwhile Blue Shield becomes a major thorn in Barrigan's side, until he eventually steals the army's new Terror Tank as a means of stopping the bulletproof vigilante. While in the hospital dying from a broken heart, Anita shares a room with the superpowered singer Alison Blaire (Dazzler), who had been admitted following a recent battle with a superpowered opponent. Overhearing Anita crying out in the night for Joe, Dazzler learns of her sad story, and agrees to deliver a message to Joe, to tell him his mother still loves him. Her first attempt to approach Joe is rebuffed, so Dazzler follows his limousine, and witnesses his alter ego battling the Terror Tank. She comes to his aid, and, now aware of Joe's dual identity, delivers Anita's message, prompting Joe to reconcile with his mother, which in turn facilitates Anita's recovery.
Later, while visiting Los Angeles, Joe Cartelli is targeted for assassination by rival mobsters. However, they choose to strike while he is attending a Dazzler concert, and Dazzler helps prevent the assassination. Soon after this, he returns the favor, coming to Dazzler's rescue when mobsters kidnap Dazzler and her stage manager Lance Steele, having mistakenly concluded that Steele is Blue Shield. Blue Shield is among the assembled heroes at the contest between the Grandmaster and Death.
With the destruction of Barrigan's crime family, Joe drops his pretense of criminality, and tries out for the Avengers, alongside fellow would-be recruits Speedball, Gladiatrix and Mechanaut (Fabian Stankowitz). Captain America is evaluating their test when the Soviet Super-Soldiers arrive, and Blue Shield faces off against Darkstar. All the volunteers are turned down due to their inexperience, and Blue Shield instead replaces Quasar as security director for Project: PEGASUS.
However, when an alien Omnivore, from the Beyonder's Battleworld, threatens the base, Blue Shield proves ineffective against it. After the creature is defeated by Quasar, Blue Shield announces he will be resigning, feeling responsible for the deaths of 15 other security officers. Since prolonged exposure now meant he no longer needs the belt to generate his force field, he is convinced to stay on at the facility for a time as a test subject. The new security director, Firebolt, ultimately proves to be a Roxxon double agent bent on destroying the facility, and Blue Shield redeems himself by stopping him. He subsequently battles the alien Geometer alongside Quasar and the Squadron Supreme.
Some time later the Corruptor takes over Project: PEGASUS, controlling the minds of all within, including Blue Shield. When the Avengers arrive at Project: PEGASUS, Blue Shield, as head of security, is there to greet them. After ticking off Hawkeye, he escorts them in. Blue Shield tells the Avengers that in addition to their research into alternate energy sources, the project has been collecting data on all super-powered individuals. Discovering the Corruptor's influence, the Avengers defeat him and free the PEGASUS staff. Blue Shield later quits PEGASUS, handing over security to Darkhawk, and when the Superhuman Registration Act is passed, he signs up to it as an independent hero based out of New York City. Working with Jackpot, he captures the unlicensed hero Spider-Man, but the wall-crawler soon escapes.
Powers and Abilities
A natural athlete, Blue Shield's bio-energy has been amplified to make him ten times stronger than a normal man, giving him low level superhuman strength and endurance, as well as enhanced reflexes and the ability to run at roughly 50 mph for brief periods. He can generate a glowing blue bio-energy force field capable of blocking bullets. Originally he needed his belt to achieve this, but after prolonged exposure to the device the powers became innate.