Jim Harper was born and raised in Suicide Slum, a rundown and dangerous neighbourhood in Metropolis. He and his best friend Leo engaged in petty crime as youths, and would have continued in this way had they not been caught by a man named Nat Milligan, later revealed to be ex-boxer and superhero trainer Joe Morgan. Though Leo escaped, Harper remained with Milligan, who became determined to turn the boy into a future Olympic champion, which he saw as the boy's only way of escaping poverty.
As an adult he returned to Suicide Slum. There, he learned that his old friend Leo had become a gangster. Soon after, Leo was cut down by rival in front of Harper's eyes. This spurred him to become a police officer, and as a rookie Harper was assigned to work in Suicide Slum. While off-duty, he was beaten by vengeful gangsters. Frustrated by traditional law enforcement's inability to deal with the myriad criminals that ran rampant through the streets, Harper turned to vigilantism. Soon, he took a group of orphan boys, the Newsboy Legion, under his wing. As the guardian of the entirety of Suicide Slum, and of society itself, Harper took the name Guardian.
Guardian was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.
Major Story Arcs
Early in his career he was a member of the All-Star Squadron. However, he retired his identity as the Guardian when he was promoted to the position of detective in the Metropolis Police. During this time the Newsboy Legion had grown up up, and become involved in Project Cadmus. Jim Harper was killed, initially in the line of duty. However, following Infinite Crisis he was revealed to have been killed by Jonathan Drew, the head of Cadmus security at the time, when he discovered that a clone of himself was being created by Cadmus. This clone took up his identity and adopted a new name- the Golden Guardian, though he eventually reverted to simply the Guardian. The clone took over duties as the head of Cadmus security, and remained there for several years, even after the Newsboy Legion parted ways with the Project. The clone soon died, and was replaced by yet another clone, who retained all the memories of his former incarnations.
Following Infinite Crisis it was revealed that the first clone had actually parted ways with Cadmus much earlier than had been revealed, and had instead found work with Sheriff Greg Saunders in a town called Warpath in the southern United States. All other appearances by the Guardian at Cadmus were revealed to be other, short-lived clones. This original clone eventually returned to Metropolis along with Gwen, an adopted daughter who was revealed to be a gender-swapped clone of himself. During the New Krypton arc he became involved with the Science Police, and was soon appointed Field Commander. Around this time he also became a mentor for Mon-El.
When the Justice League was attacked by Prometheus he was present on the Watchtower, and was briefly blinded in the attack. After this he was recruited into the Justice League by Dr Light. While a member of the League he participated in a single mission, fighting against Doctor Impossible and several other villains. Soon after he was dropped from the story. After the War of the Supermen he disappeared along with his grandniece Jamie Harper, a Gotham City Police officer, who was pregnant with Mon-El's child. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Powers & Abilities
Guardian is in peak human shape, and is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, agile, and adept marksman, capable of holding his own against the likes of Batman. He also is an expert tactician, and even mentored Mon-El. Guardian wears protective armor, and a powerful shield to protect him from severe injuries/damage.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Guardian is killed by Dick Grayson
Guardian appeared on Young Justice in the two-part pilot episode "Independence Day". There, he was the Head of Security for Project Cadmus, and suffered brainwashing at the hands of Roland Desmond. He later took over Cadmus with the intention of turning it into a "gentler" organization. He was voiced by Crispin Freeman.
A teenage character based on the Guardian appeared on the Teen Titans series. There, he was called Private H.I.V.E., and was a pupil of the H.I.V.E. organization. He was later a member of their version of the Fearsome Five, the H.I.V.E. Five. He was voiced by Greg Cipes.