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Manhattan Guardian of the 7 Soldiers (DC Comics)

Manhattan Guardian


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“The Manhattan Guardian. We don’t just report crime — we fight crime !”

(For a larger version of the lead picture, click here.)


Context

Seven Soldiers was an epic Grant Morrison metaseries for DC Comics, in 2005-2006. It features a motley ensemble of minor characters who find themselves in a position to save humanity without quite knowing it.

The Manhattan Guardian is one of the titular Soldiers. He draws from the legacy of Golden Age  super-hero the Guardian (Jim Harper), a very Captain America-like character (but it’s okay, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby  created him) who first appeared in 1942.

The Manhattan Guardian touches most aspects of the Seven Soldiers epic, but like the others he can only clearly see part of the sweeping plot. His profile explains the aspect of Morrison’s Seven Soldiers mythology that are the most relevant to him, but you’ll have to read our other Seven Soldiers profiles to learn about the rest.

Even if focusing on the Manhattan Guardian, we recommend the following reading order :

  1. The Newsboy Army.
  2. Big Ed a.k.a. Baby Brain.
  3. The Manhattan Guardian (this here writeup).

Background

  • Real Name: Jake Jordan.
  • Marital Status: Married.
  • Known Relatives: None (through Carla may have become his fiancée after the failed Harrowing).
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the NYPD, reporter and super-hero for the Manhattan Guardian.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 6’3” Weight: 225 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

The Manhattan Guardian is a veteran NYPD police officer. He seems to have served with the riot squad. Not the NYPD Mounted Unit  though, since it was the Manhattan Guardian newspaper that paid for his horse-riding lessons.

He’s a remarkably powerful athlete, with an impressive musculature and fitness level. His moves imply a solid mastery of American football offensive moves, probably learned as a college athlete. He fights riot cop-style, with the shield held firmly in position (no fancy Captain America-style manoeuvres) and heavy blows from his nightstick.

This man is a *machine*. He’ll charge into his opponents like a ton of bricks, and his blows are bone-crunching. With his billy club, he’ll demolish robots. Despite his extraordinary momentum and the force of his blows, he just keeps going and going.

Strength of personality, too

His extraordinary, single-minded sense of duty will make him take huge physical risks without any hesitation. One example involves jumping from one subway train to another at very high speed to battle large numbers of bloodthirsty pirates, in the dark, with both trains practically bouncing on and off the tracks. Tony Jaa, Vin Diesel and Wesley Snipes can only wish they were this guy.

Manhattan Guardian of the 7 Soldiers (DC Comics) smiling, white background

The Guardian is particularly resourceful, professional and experienced from his time in the mean streets and his rumbles in the Bronx. He can be relied upon to come up with a clever and daring solution, no matter what, and to stay impeccably focused. Even when overwhelmed he thinks clearly and intelligently.

He’s a charismatic man, especially in situations of high stress. He looks calm, large, strong, confident and full of authority in his uniform. Scared people will instinctively follow him for protection and leadership.

He even rallied terrified Manhattanites into a very large, well-disciplined mob arming itself on the go and conducting a jihad against horrible alien invaders and possessed people, but at this point the Spell of Seven seemed to be feeding all Soldiers with extra Hero Points .

Gear

This vehicle was seen once, but soon experienced mechanical difficulties due to its experimental nature. Thus, its performances are unknown (besides, a car may not be that useful in Manhattan). Still, it looked cool. Jake mentioned that a horse and an helicopter were scheduled once he’d be trained to handle those.

The Guardian’s costume includes built-in flashlights (behind the plates on either side of his chest logo). It also *seems* to include a built-in digital camera, mike and digital recorder that the Guardian can activate very discreetly – perhaps it has integrated controls in his sleeves, like some iPod accessories back then.


The Manhattan Guardian newspaper

The Manhattan Guardian — By The People, For The People looks like a cheap and downright lurid tabloid. It appears to chiefly cover local New York City news.

As Jake’s girlfriend Carla observed, it’s “full of stories about pirates in the subway, albino alligators in city hall, demonic possessions, rampaging robots with rifles, black bayous haunted by nests of killer fairies, headless corpses haunting hospitals, and the like”. The twist is – it’s all true.

The best-known schtick of the paper is that the readers are also the reporters. They can get their reporting edited and published when they witness newsworthy events (hence the paper’s “By The People, For The People” tagline). The paper is pro-Democratic Party.

Every single reader of the Manhattan Guardian seen throughout the Seven Soldiers series is Black. The only White person associated with the MG seen in the stories is Big Ed, the secretive owner and Editor-in-Chief.

The Manhattan Guardian’s circulation went up 40% after the Guardian cracked the subway pirates case (and skulls), and Big Ed expected numbers to grow even further. The Manhattan Guardian apparently published everything Big Ed knew about the Sheeda in its special Harrowing edition, likely boosting sales even higher.

“We are not responsible for the offbeat actions of our freelance street reporters !”

All the Newsboy Army “freelance street reporters” seen in the story were Black teenage boys, about 13 to 15. They seem very dedicated to the newspaper (and in particular to its namesake superhero), quite disciplined, and unafraid to take physical risks.

The Newboy Army's card, and a crew in action

In fact they seem to be quite adept at it. Some, the Base Jumping  Crew, were proficient streetfighters trained even at parachuting. They all proudly carry a Newsboy Army ID card, and do their best cinematic FBI agent impersonation whenever they flash it.

This Newsboy Army is a throwback to the kids’ gangs that existed in New York City in past decades, and particularly their depiction in 1940s comic books. They also draw from 1960s fan clubs for kids, such as the one Rick Jones belonged to or the Merry Marvel Marching Society , and the tradition of cub reporters (like Jimmy Olsen).

They can also be seen as a street gang, though of course most people will reliably jump to the wrong conclusions if a bunch of Black kids gets described as such.


History

Jake Jordan is a former NYPD beat cop. In 2003, his partner was shot four times in the face by a teenage drug dealer. In hot pursuit, Jake entered a convenience store and stumbled on Tyree Plantain, 13, about the same age and wearing the same clothes as the murderer. He opened fire and killed the innocent kid.

After the incident, Jake left the force and spiralled into depression and unemployment for two years. His relationship with his girlfriend, Carla Marcus, was steadily falling apart as a consequence. As money ran out, the threat of poverty further added to the tension

Carla Marcus and the Manhattan Guardian newspaper and helmet (DC Comics - 7 soldiers)

Carla Marcus.

However, Jake was kept afloat through the support of Carla’s parents, Larry and Lauren. They thought that he was a good man and would make a great husband for Clara. Unknown to Jake, Larry Marcus had been in his teens an associate of the Newsboys from Nowhere Street, a group of teen adventurers with special talents. As a Newsboy, Larry Marcus went by “El Mar”.

Trying to salvage the relationship of his daughter and would-be son-in-law, Larry encouraged Jake to apply for a weird job offer at the Manhattan Guardian. This niche newspaper was looking for ex-military and ex-police types. Larry was very supportive, helping Jake overcome his depression to apply.

It was a setup.

We do need another hero

Larry had always considered Jake to be “a future super-hero, just waiting for an origin story”. He admired his extraordinary courage, authority and physical power. Larry and his reclusive childhood friend Big Ed engineered the whole thing.

Unbeknownst to them, another party was a work. The fate manipulators, the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp, were scheming to put an end to the Sheeda invasions. They weaved the origins or revitalisation of seven super-heroes, including Jake Jordan.

To protect them from Sheeda preemptive strikes, these seven soldiers would never assemble, and in many cases not even know of the existence of the others. They would be guided by engineered fate to strike in seemingly random, unpredictable ways. The magic making this possible was called the Spell of Seven.

Hiring interview

After he entered the building and walked past a wounded man being taken away by EMTs, Jake discovered the “hiring interview” was actually a combat exercise.

The scenario was that the paper’s building was being attacked by terrorists, à la Die Hard. Jordan punched out then evaded the receptionists (Lena and Lars) when they opened fire on him, and dove into the escalator. He then took out the riot-equipped bouncer guarding said lift, taking his equipment.

The Manhattan Guardian (Jake Jordan) charges with shield and truncheon

Jake then fought a golem and two armed “terrorists” before meeting Big Ed, the publisher. Jordan was furious, but Big Ed convinced him that taking the job (which paid five grand a week, plus benefits) was the right thing to do.

Jake and Carla’s relationship greatly improved as Jake kicked his depression, recovered his pride and solved all their financial problems.

In one of the Guardian’s first cases, the existence of subway pirates was discovered.

Subway pirates, part 1

Those were brutal marauders of the underground – complete with hooks and eye-patches, and wielding cutlasses as well as a variety of illegal handguns. They rode stolen subway trains filled with cruel killers, robbing, killing and taking tube passengers as slaves.

During their most daring attack so far, Carla’s father, Larry, was fatally wounded. Carla herself was kidnapped by one of the pirate kings, All-Beard.

The Guardian allied with All-Beard’s greatest rival, No-Beard. The two pirate warlords were in a race to find a certain treasure and be crowned king of all under-pirates. Both had independently just found maps of New York’s subsecret underground trainway lines, built by “tricky Masonic architects”.

The subsecret underground was populated by subterranean monsters, radioactive lakes, a civilisation of intelligent rats, feral hivemind children and other chthonic horrors. Hidden somewhere was the Foundation Stone of New York City, the mystical heart of New York.

Subway pirates, part 2

The Guardian came in to the rescue, fighting through pirate rabble, interviewing their leaders for the Manhattan Guardian and locating Carla. It was almost too late, as the subway pirates destroyed themselves and their hapless slaves in their greed. Both No-Beard and All-Beard trains jumped from the rails and crashed into a radioactive lake.

Jake Jordan only had time to save Carla and another passenger. But despite the horrific death toll the subway pirates had managed, for a while, to become something greater and more spectacular than a bunch of dying, nameless, homeless street persons.

Though our hero was unaware of it, this encounter played into the Spell of Seven :

  • The Guardian delayed one of the pirate subway trains *just so* it rammed a monster that was about to kill Klarion.
  • The subway pirates having destroyed each other after the Manhattan Guardian’s intervention, they could only loot the artefact they had been questing for a brief time before dying. This magical dice was then soon found by Klarion to become his master weapon.

It’s a small world after all

Jake’s next big case was when a floating theme park near Ellis Island went rogue, with a host of tourists inside. It was a miniature Earth with small replicas of monuments and natural features, populated by 100 robots who were a statistical representation of Earth’s population.

The Manhattan Guardian (Jake Jordan)'s car

The husband, a dangerous psychotic, hated his wife. As a result, he turned the theme park into a heavily-armed terror dome to kill her and give her a lesson in realpolitik. The Guardian parachuted in and guided the survivors to safety, smashing the well-armed robots along the way. A small team of armed Newsboys came to reinforce him, and all survivors got out alive.

However, tension resumed with Carla. The loss of her father had badly hurt her, and she couldn’t handle having Jake risk his life every day on top of this. Distraught, Jake decided to quit.

Harrowing

To convince him to stay, Big Ed explained the story behind the Newsboy Army, the terrible Time Tailor (eight of the Seven Unknown Men) and the Manhattan Guardian.

At this point, the Harrowing commenced and Sheeda troops started invading New York City. To reach Carla and defeat the horrific invasion, the Manhattan Guardian rode out in the streets of Manhattan on a retired police horse and rallied New Yorkers to him.

Armed with whatever weapons they could find, the mob followed the Guardian, killing monsters across their bloody path. He was soon backed by Big Ed driving a bus and commanding the newspaper’s security guards, his surviving golem and a posse of the Newsboy army wearing radiation suits and wielding baseball bats.

Unknown to any of them, the Sheeda they were fighting were but an unsupported advance force. The heavy units had been destroyed by Frankenstein at the End of Summer before they could time-jump on the heels of the advance force. Those forces were still considerable and superhuman. Brutal, high-intensity street fighting raged for hours.

The Spell of Seven

For a while, the Guardian concentrated his resistance efforts around the Hero Museum on Broadway and Lennon. There they were reinforced by the much-needed and considerable firepower of a S.H.A.D.E. assassin and elite gunfighter, the Bride of Frankenstein.

The Manhattan Guardian (Jake Jordan) punches a subway pirate

At this point, the secret scheme of the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp had beautifully clicked into place. Although the Seven Soldiers did not even know of each other’s existence, they started riding the synchronistic energy of the Spell of Seven.

None realized this save for the magically-atuned Zatanna, who completed the Spell of Seven. This ultimately resulted in the completion of Aurakles’s spear strike 42,000 years before, and the death of Gloriana Tenebræ.

The Guardian has not really been seen since the completion of the ekirts sreidlos neves spell by Zatanna (appearances of Seven Soldiers characters during 52/WW3 were an editorial mixup).


Description

Due to his vaguely police-like costume and his authority, frightened onlookers will often assume he’s some kind of SWAT officer.


Personality

Jake is a simple, working class bloke. His everyday concerns (chiefly making Carla happy, living the good life and making Carla happy) contrast starkly against his amazing adventures as the Manhattan Guardian. As the Guardian, he’s an incredible professional and truly one of New York’s finest.

He’ll take any situation, not matter how weird or dangerous, calmly in stride and do his best to protect people and bring back the scoop.

Unlike some policemen, he seems to have a lot of respect for the press and his role as a reporter. He often assumes that other will have the same respect for his mission to inform the public. He fell very naturally into his role despite never having been a journalist, and may even occasionally conduct short interviews of notable players.

The Manhattan Guardian and the Newsboy Army

It seems he always brings back photos along with the story, with the writing presumably being done by Big Ed.

Jake is very proud of his job, and seems to actually thrive on the danger. He knows that what he does is both unique and important. He seems to be very honest — when he had to steal some wheels in the subsecret parts of the New York City tube system, he left his golden helmet behind as compensation, hoping that was OK with the etiquette of the underground.

He feels terribly guilty about the persons he cannot save (such as Larry and most of the victims of the subway pirates and the Harrowing), even when it is obvious there was nothing he could do.


Quotes

(Crashing into a crowd of murderous, degenerate subway pirates torturing passengers while he rides a pizza delivery moped down the stairs)
“PRESS !”
(Kicks a pirate in the head at full speed from his moped)

“Golem ? That’s… number ten in the movie monsters… trading cards series.” (wipes out the inscription on the brow of the golem bear-hugging him).

(Pointing a handgun at two armed ‘terrorists’) “All right ! Now stand away from the door and don’t make me have to use this weapon !”

(Puffing his chest to draw attention toward the sign on his tac vest from his girlfriend, with a proud smile) “Read the label, baby. I’m a working man again.”

“Reporter ! Press, for God’s sake !”

“I’m the in-house superhero of the Manhattan Guardian newspaper. Right now my girl is in the hands of those animals ! They went straight through solid rock.”

No-Beard: “He’ll make [your girlfriend] walk the plank, you know. Tippy-toes off the front end of his speeding wagons.”
Guardian (calmly brushing away No-Beard’s wicked hook from under his throat) : “I don’t think so… tell my readership something about the [Pirate King] treasure.”

“Superhero confidence. Superhero cool. You’re gonna DO this, Jake. GUARDIAN COMING THROUGH !” (hurls himself from one speeding subway train into another, passes precisely through the door, pounds five armed pirates into paste, starts charging through the rest)

“But that’s my job, right ? To get the story.”

“Carla… listen. It’s not about the job or the money, it’s about being in the right place at the right time to do the right thing. And knowing you’re gonna do it even if you don’t want to. Something real bad comes up and there’s only me downtown. But sit tight : I’m coming to get you.”

(Facing a horrific, mind-controling alien invasion of New York, he grabs his shield and truncheon) “Call out the Newsboys. We’re taking this to the streets.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The Manhattan Guardian

Dex: 07 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Public servant
Int: 07 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Super-hero, journalist
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 024 HP: 075

Skills:
Acrobatics: 06, Animal handling (Horses): 04, Detective (Legwork, police procedure): 04, Martial artist*: 07, Medicine (First aid): 04, Vehicles (Land): 05, Weaponry (Police): 05, Weaponry (Shield and nightstick): 08

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (New York City), Credentials (Media ; Police, Low ; Newsboy Army, High), Familiarity (Popular movies), Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Local Hero (His direct and indirect readership, and people he led during the Harrowing), Rich Friend (Big Ed).

Connections:
NYPD (Low – not demonstrated, and probably but a few beat cops), Manhattan Guardian newspaper and the Newsboy Army (High).

Drawbacks:
Dependents (Carla and her mother Lauren).

Equipment:

  • MEDIUM SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 14, EV 03 (05 w/STR, 08 w/Martial Artist), Recommended STR 03, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 2 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 2 APs]. The Guardian normally keeps the shield to defend and rarely uses its EV.
  • TAC VEST AND HELMET [BODY 06, Data storage (audiovisual): 04, Flash (Steady illumination only): 03, Skin armour: 02, Invulnerability: 05, Partial coverage (-2 CS), Drawback: Real armour.].
  • Nightstick [BODY 10, EV 03 (05 w/STR, 08 w/Martial Artist)]. This nightstick actually seems to be solid steel with a thin rubber skin — it was used to smash robots to bits with about the same force as a baseball bat, which would be impossible with a normal police issue truncheon.
  • Cell phone.
  • When he parachuted on to the Ellis Island science park, he had a Parachute (duh) [BODY 02, Gliding (Winged): 02] and a mini-rebreather with its own lateral air tanks [BODY 02, Sealed systems (respiratory only): 05]. Big Ed seems to have a cache of similar gear that he had prepared for the Harrowing, though it was largely survival and exploration equipment rather than weapons.

Average Newsboy Army reporter

“Newsboy Army base jumpin’ crew !”

Guardian (cop voice): “Outta my way, kid !”
Kid (flashing his card): “Chill. Newsboy Army. Ed said you needed transportation and I was nearest to your location”

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Uphold the Guardian
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Varies
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 008 HP: 002

Skills:
Vehicle (Land): 03, Weaponry (Street): 03

Advantages:
Rich Friend (the paper will sometimes loan them equipment, such as a news copter to parachute from).

Equipment:
Most of the Newsboys are armed with Baseball Bats [BODY 04, EV 04], though one had a sort of super-soaker with a backpack reservoir that had been converted into a light flamethrower [BODY 03, Flame project: 05, Range: 01, Limitation: Flame Project has No Range and uses the listed Range Instead, Bonus: Autofire].

They likely communicate with the paper via cell phone (presumably paid for by Big Ed) ; nowadays it presumably would be a good smartphone.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Seven Soldiers (2005) and in particular Manhattan Guardian 1-4.

Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Gareth Lewis.

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