The Newsboy Legion consisted of four orphans who lived on the streets of Suicide Slum, attempting to support themselves by honest means- selling newspapers. However, this business could not always support the group, and they occasionally turned to less licit means, generally stripping cars and selling the parts to Frankie the Fence. Eventually they made an attempt to rob a hardware store for tools to fix up the shack in which they were living, but failed. They had been frequently in trouble with the law because of their extra-legal activities, and this final crime had them brought before a judge who was about to sentence the boys to reform school until they came of age. However, Officer Jim Harper, who had a soft spot for the boys, stepped in, and they were instead placed under his guardianship. The boys suspected that their guardian was in fact the superhero Guardian, however they remained unsure of his secret identity for much of their time together.
The Newsboy Legion was created in 1942 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. They were changed for the post-Crisis universe by Roger Stern and Ron Frenz.
The original Newsboy Legion consisted of Tommy Thompkins, the team leader; Big Words (name later revealed to be Anthony Rodriguez), the smart guy of the group and also the tallest of the four boys; Gabby (name later revealed to be Johnny Gabrielli), the most talkative member of the group; and Scrapper (name later revealed to be Patrick MacGuire), the tough guy who loved to fight. The boys eventually grew up and attended college, where each became a scientist. All of them found work with the DNA Project. They eventually married, and each had a son who was identical to his father. These boys formed their own incarnation of the Newsboy Legion, with the only major difference between the incarnations being the addition of a new member, Walter "Flipper Dipper" Johnson Jr., an African-American boy who was fond of underwater maneuvers. The team was also briefly joined by "Famous" Bobby Harper, the niece of the Guardian, but she was soon sent to stay with other relatives.
Post-Crisis the younger Legion was retconned as identical clones that were created by the DNA Project as part of an abortive plot. These Newsboys had the memories of their fathers, but only up to their present age, leaving them occasionally unfamiliar with much of contemporary life and technology. Eventually, both versions of the Legion parted ways with the DNA Project, now known as Project Cadmus, because of changes being made to Cadmus. The younger Newsboys were involved in rescuing Kon-El from Cadmus, and later they rescued Jimmy Olsen from the sewers during Countdown. They again aided Jimmy, this time in obtaining evidence of the Black Racer's death using the Whiz Wagon. The original Legion was killed by Codename: Assassin. The current status of the clones is unknown.
In Other Media
The Newsboy Legion appeared in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Patriot Act", wherein they made an unnamed cameo appearance at a parade. There, they expressed discontent that none of the "good" heroes were present, and later witnessed the fight between various Leaguers and General Wade Eiling. When the rest of the crowd fled the scene, the Newsboys remained behind and attempted to aid the Leaguers, their major effort involving throwing bits of debris at Eiling and commandeering a wrecking ball. They were assigned to crowd control by Vigilante, who was hoping to keep them out of harm's way. At the end of the episode they were shown playing at being the members of the League that they had earlier disparaged.