Comic Book: The New Guardians
The year is 1988. Marvel's New Mutants
, a team of young multi-ethnic super-heroes, has become quite popular. DC Comics
, looking over its mostly-white starring line-up, decides that it was time for an Alternate Company Equivalent
, just like the Global Guardians
tried to be for the Uncanny X-Men. Thus came the Millennium Crisis Crossover
. At the center of the story was a team of twelve special humans from all over the globe, chosen by the Guardians Of The Universe
whose offspring would eventually come to replace them. Of course, like usual, the Guardians hadn't done their homework. One of the chosen (Terra
), was already dead. Another was senile. Two more were killed by The Manhunters. And one more, Janwillem Kroef, was a racist Afrikaner
who wanted nothing to do with having to team up with other ethnicities. So, by the end of the Cross Over
, the group was down to seven and, surprise, surprise, they ended up with super-powers:
- Betty Clawman, an Australian aborigine granted vast and unspecified powers connected to The Dreamtime.
- Extraño, a homosexual Peruvian magician, with energy powers and every gay stereotype you can think of. Presumably the Guardians had also failed in their research when choosing him for a breeding partner. Was eventually revealed to be HIV positive, possibly as a result of an attack by the AIDS-powered vampire Hemo-Goblin. Go ahead and read that last sentence again.
- The Floronic Man, also known as Jason Woodrue. An American villain of The Atom that had just been given a boost of popularity after appearing in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, and went through a Heel-Face Turn. Had the power to control plants, and, indeed, was made of plants himself, and y'know, unable to breed with humans. Way to go, Guardians.
- Jet, an Jamaican woman living in England, granted powers over electromagnetism. Became HIV positive, definitely as a result of an attack by the AIDS-powered vampire, Hemo-Goblin, and would later die from the condition. Would later pop up alive, several Cosmic Retcons later.
- Gloss, a Chinese woman able to draw vague energy from the world's "Dragon Lines". Disappeared for a while before showing up in One Year Later to be killed by Prometheus.
- Ram, a Japanese man turned into a not-able-to-breed-with-humans robot and granted the ability to communicate with electronic equipment. Was last seen as a portrait in supervillainess Roulette's underground arena, making him presumably killed off-screen.
- Thomas Kalmaku, also known as Hal Jordan's Inuit friend. Originally resisted the Call, but eventually joined the team after he unlocked the power to "Bring The Best Out In People". After the team disbanded, he would go back to being a Badass Normal cast-mate in Green Lantern, and his supposed power would never be mentioned again.
- Also on the team was Harbinger, an agent of the Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths, apparently because she was a semi-popular character that no one was doing anything else with at the time.
The team faced off against a number of antagonists, including the aforementioned AIDS-powered vampire Hemo-Globin; Snowflame, a drug kingpin with cocaine-theme and fueled super powers; Guy Gardner, who would attempt a hostile takeover of the group's leadership; and Kroeff, who had created a race of slave-beings to be his personal army, and would put The New Guardians under his mind control.
A dozen issues in, their book would be quietly cancelled. Though the team would pop up every now and again, eventually, a Cosmic Horror Story
version of Krona would apparently kill five-eighths of the team, and leave the remainder (Harbinger, The Floronic Man, Tom Kalmaku), to return to the casts of Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing
, and Green Lantern
respectively. A couple of lines in Legion of Super Heroes
hand-waved the team's supposed destiny as a miscalculation by the Guardians, and the whole thing was quietly put to rest. While the team would never reform, Comic Book Death
combined with Never Found the Body
and the occasional Crisis Crossover
meant that the "dead" members would pop up alive from time to time, without explanation, and usually to be killed soon after.
All in all, a genuine, even somewhat courageous, attempt to use a multicultural super-team explore the important issues of the late eighties in a super-hero comic, but fully undermined by stereotypical characters, laughable plots, and terrible writing. We're not likely to see another super-team that's 25% HIV+ though, at least without Judd Winnick
having something to do with it.
The name would later be used for a Green Lantern
team with little connection to the original.
Tropes Displayed in The New Guardians include:
- Addiction Powered: The one-shot villain Snowflame was a crazed druglord in South America who literally got superpowers by snorting cocaine. His body would light up with white fire, he'd get stronger and tougher and faster—especially when he buried his face in the stuff.
- The Bronze Age of Comic Books: If any series was the Bronze Age incarnate, this series was its evil twin, embodying all the ways to handle the social issues covered in comics at the time in the worst way possible.
- Captain Ethnic: Nearly the entire team.
- C-List Fodder
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Snowflame is supposed to be a case of Drugs Are Bad, but people seeing him would more likely make them WANT to do cocaine than stay away from it.
- Drugs Are Bad: Oh, Snowflame...
- Eight Token Band
- Light 'em Up: The apty named Snowflame, who can generate light powers from cocaine.
- Mystical White Hair: Snowflame. Presumably, his pure white hair is a sign of his power.
- Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Sort of. The New Guardians were supposed to breed until there were enough to watch over the universe. How some of them could breed (one was gay, others had no organic bodies) was not explained.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Kroef, a South African white supremacist.