Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Adventure Comics Special Featuring The Guardian #1 Adventure Comics Special Featuring The Guardian #1

Adventure Comics Special Featuring The Guardian #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 5, 2008

Cover date: January 2009

"New Krypton: The Worst Night of His Life"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Pere Pérez
Inker: Pere Pérez

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Click to enlarge

We jump back to the day Jimmy Olsen found the secret hiding place of one of Metropolis' greatest protectors - The Guardian.

Jim Harper opens his trailer door and comes face to face with a young man he and the Newsboy Legion once counted as a close friend. Their meeting was one expected - an inevitability and the past begins to unearth.

Jimmy demands before anything else... to know why The Guardian chose to run away and Jim relents transporting us back to that night.

Jim had discovered a secondary Cadmus site in Salem, Massachusetts, and infiltrated it. Two restless guards alone protecting a vault of unknown Cadmus secrets and Jim, with a sense of déjà vu unlocks it and makes a shocking discovery.

He finds what he assumes is yet another genetic stew tank with a mutated creature within but as it awakens he sees something on the creature's hand. A Legionnaire's ring, though he doesn't know it. Telepathically the Legionnaire asks him not to launch a rescue attempt as the Science Police would do that.

Jimmy backtracks the story nitpicking the facts... a delta facility in Salem? Cadmus was gone, and suddenly a mystery facility pops up in Salem a place hip deep in magic lore? Jim agrees but points out in such a place what better place to hide science...

Jimmy still can't believe the Cadmus coincidence so Jim backtracks further into the past.

Jim reveals that for years he's been haunted by his clone memories... his 'father' the original Jim Harper has memories that were haunting, warping and merging with his own, making Jim question his own mortality and humanity.

Seeking help in therapy he was able under deep hypnosis to finally clear his mind and separate the memories from legacy to his own. His first memory was in an amniotic tube and seeing his 'father' discover him... and then a murder.

Jimmy reveals the identity of the killer; Jonathan Drew aka Assassin. Jim is taken aback, ever since he unlocked his legacy memories he was unable to discover the killer he sought revenge on.

He points out that he thought Assassin would have been after him by now especially if Jimmy, a cub reporter could track him down on the Mexican border. He begins to question his identity in a vague ranting but Jimmy pulls him back in about that fateful night when he quit.

The Legionnaire in the tank reveals to Jim that Cadmus has some deadly plans ahead but only Jim could discover them through investigating. So being The Guardian he was easily able to spy, on the staff and the data files without security batting an eye.

And his discoveries led to the worst night in his life...

Cadmus apparently had a facility in twin cites and that is where the story begins.

Jim points out that a human suitable to be cloned is a rare thing, Jim Harper was one... Paul Kirk another. Jimmy asks about the Newsboy Legion... Jim whispers their fate is unknown...

Due to Jim Harper's genetic material he was cloned again and again, though each who took up the role were unstable and died within twelve months, to be replaced by another.

Only the original clone who sits with Jimmy now was cloned perfectly.

Jim reveals while scouting the Cadmus facility he discovered details of a secret operation, a project designed to kill Superman. He knew they'd been amassing several forces and experimenting extensively, but not enough to reveal to Jimmy as it was above both their comprehension. Jim opens one last door in the vault and discovers that his 'father's' genetic makeup was the basis and concentration of their anti Superman project.

An army of clones imperfect, in pain, and infused with a variety of terrifying grafts and manipulation. It was like looking at alternate versions of himself from different existences... any one of them could have been him. The entire project is an insult to the memory of James Harper, The Guardian.

Jimmy is stunned, especially when Jim reveals he destroyed the facility and all the clones within.

Jim thanks Jimmy for revealing the identity of his 'father's' killer, something he needed to know to make peace with himself. He asks Jimmy if he was able to help during their chat and Jimmy is thankful, his suspicions that the Atlas fight was a test and that cadmus and the military has dark secrets were confirmed.

Jim warns him it's not only cloning... magic, kryptonite and all manner of unearthly dealings were now in play to wipe Superman out. The how has been dealt with but the why is still to be answered. Jimmy thanks his friend and is about to leave when a little girl enters the trailer, Jim's daughter, Gwendoline.

Jimmy smiles and tells Jim he's a good man and one he's proud to know. Jim asks him to remember 7734, a number that is significant to his investigation and watches as his friend disappears back on the dirt roads.

Jimmy Olsen did more than awaken Jim Harper's memories, with the identity of his 'father's' killer, he woke up a hero who was once lost.

Jim remembers the night he blew up the Cadmus facility, it didn't happen quite as he revealed to Jimmy. Inside one of the amniotic tubes was a baby girl, one he rescued that night and hid away ever since.

Today, years later, that was about to change.

Jim and his smart mouth 'daughter' pack up and drive home... to Metropolis.

Gwendoline finds Jim's old Guardian helmet and is about to discard it when suddenly streaking through the air above them are several Kryptonians.

Realizing the battle lines have just been drawn, The Gaurdian is reborn.

5Story - 5: Even before New Earth, citizens of Metropolis have been discarded and forgotten about... Lena Luthor, Scorn, Clark Ross, Ashbury Armstrong etc. or damaged beyond repair... Brainiac, Supergirl etc.

This chapter of New Krypton was a welcome interlude and a fantastic reintroduction of The Guardian. Even better it links the missing years together with the original Jim Harper, the vanishing act of the current Guardian (an all the clones between) while strongly making Jim relevant to the Superman mythos again. I'm really looking forward to that chump Assassin resurfacing so we can see Guardian back in action.

It also went a long way - with the Jimmy Olsen Special to strengthen the Atlas arc to great effect. So for all the lazy whining "I wanted to like James Robinson's work, I weeeeaaaally weeeeaaaally did" take a bite out of this chapter and tell me the arc doesn't work or that you don't care for Jim Harper now.

One thing about James Robinson is he knows how to flesh out characters to make them emotive and endearing, his arcs, though sometimes feeling 'zippy' or 'rushed' with too many varying threads eventually irons its way towards a long term story with many levels as we've seen with Starman.

To be honest I used to yawn at Guardian stories - he never seemed anything more than a clone of Captain America (which in terms of comics publishing - he was) but with some cheeky sidekicks. This one shot made me like him a whole lot and gave him dimension with that was severely lacking.

I for one am glad the Golden Guardian is back in action, sad that Dubbilex and the Newsboys are gone but I'm intrigued with the addition of his daughter, her dialogue and apparent physical prowess (as per the cover) suggest she's every bit the Guardian her father is...

Bravo James.

4Art - 4: It's a difficult thing in comics when heroes aren't pounding the crap out of villains or one another to see an artist deal with what is essentially two people chatting in a darkened trailer for a whole issue. I couldn't see McG delivering the same issue with quite so much resonance as Pere Pérez did this issue. That may be unfair on McG but it's not meant as an insult, I personally think Pérez has done a fantastic job to make the book interesting when dialogue was its primary focus.

3Cover Art - 3: Both covers lacked. Why in the books is Jimmy a twenty something capable reporter but the covers he remains the geek introduced in "Man of Steel". For Guardian's triumphant return to continuity I expected much better. I prefer the Lopresti cover even if it didn't happen inside the book.

I like that they try to acknowledge The Guardian's legacy by naming this Adventure Comics, though perhaps it would have been better to name it Star Spangled Comics as that was where his father made his debut.... Ah reminiscing... lol.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2009

February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.