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Guardsman was the name of a supervillain/superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The name was later applied to a squad of agents who wear suits of power armor while working security at the Vault. The character first appeared in Iron Man #43 (Nov 1971).[1]

Fictional character biography

Kevin O'Brien

Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceIron Man #31 (November 1970)
Created byAllyn Brodsky (writer)
Don Heck (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoKevin O'Brien
Team affiliationsStark Industries
AbilitiesPowered armor grants:
Superhuman stamina and physical resistance
Repulsor rays

Kevin O'Brien was born in Chicago. He became an engineer and inventor working for the newly opened Lakani Island plant of Stark Industries who came to the attention of Tony Stark when he invented a stun-ray that managed to harmlessly disperse a crowd of violent protestors. Tony invited Kevin to transfer to the main plant on Long Island, and he accepted. Despite a careless streak that once caused the laboratory he was working in to explode, he became a close friend of Tony and was soon appointed head of Stark Industries' research department.[2]

On several occasions, Kevin assisted Tony and the supposed bodyguard Iron Man, notably against the Spymaster and the assistants the Espionage Elite, saving Tony's life on more than one occasion. Tony then decided to reveal to Kevin his secret identity of Iron Man, and to build for him a second suit of armor for use in the event of an emergency. That emergency would come a short time later, when Iron Man and girlfriend Marianne Rodgers were taken captive by the superhuman madman Mikas the Soulfather. Putting on the armor before being fully tested, Kevin fell prey to a malfunction in the cybernetic circuitry controlling the armor which apparently stimulated the regions of the brain where rage and jealousy originate.[3]

Kevin found himself seized with sudden attraction for Marianne and became extremely jealous of Tony's power, looks, and fortune. At the same time, Simon Gilbert, then Chairman of the Board of Stark Industries' stockholders, grew alarmed that Tony was moving out of munitions production and mapped strategies with the board to seize controlling interest in the firm from Tony as principal stockholder. Clad in armor and calling himself the "Guardsman", Kevin offered to aid the board in their plot against Tony.[4] As a show of support, he agreed to quell a protest rally outside the plant. The Guardsman aimed his repulsor rays at the crowd, injuring four protestors. Sickened by what he did, Kevin turned on the renegade board members, physically assaulting them. However, seeing Tony with Marianne caused him to once again become unbalanced, and he went outside to vent his rage on the growing crowd of protestors. Tony donned the Iron Man armor and engaged the Guardsman in battle to prevent him from doing more damage. Losing, the Guardsman sought refuge in an experimental tank. In an attempt to stop him without hurting him, Iron Man's repulsor rays were trained on the vehicle and accidentally hit its fuel supply. The tank exploded, killing Kevin.[5]

Michael O'Brien

Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceIron Man #82 (January 1976)
(as Guardsman) Iron Man #97
Created byLen Wein (writer)
Herb Trimpe (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoMichael O'Brien
Team affiliationsAvengers
Iron Legion
Project: Pegasus
The Vault
AbilitiesPowered armor grants:
Superhuman strength and physical resistance,
Repulsor rays

Michael O'Brien was also born in Chicago, Illinois. Some months after Kevin's death, when the details of the incident came to public light, Michael, a sergeant in the New York City Police Department, decided that the official investigation exonerating Iron Man's actions was a cover-up. Reopening the investigation without official sanction, Detective O'Brien confronted Tony Stark, interrogated several employees, and declared his intention of proving Stark responsible for his brother's death.[6]

O'Brien finally hired Harry Key, an unscrupulous private investigator, to get him inside the Long Island plant. There O'Brien located the Guardsman armor and put it on, determined to use it to bring Iron Man to justice. However, the malfunction in the cybernetic circuitry that affected his brother's brain also affected Michael's brain, and he flew into a rage seeking to kill Iron Man. Iron Man confronted his attack and finally convinced him that the armor was causing him to act insanely. O'Brien collapsed on rebelling against his own urge to kill Iron Man. Stark took O'Brien into custody rather than press criminal charges, hoping to convince the man of his innocence in Kevin's death. While Stark worked on a new set of armor, the Japanese mutant Sunfire attacked the plant. Stark was unable to put on his new armor since it had not yet cooled, and unable to find any of his spare suits of armor since a saboteur had stolen them. Hence, he was forced to put on the Guardsman armor to fight off Sunfire. O'Brien witnessed Stark's heroic attempts to save lives over a video monitor, aware that Stark was risking a major heart attack by the strenuous activity. Escaping confinement, O'Brien decided he was wrong about Stark and determined to help him by donning the now-cooled Iron Man armor. Thus clad, he was mistaken for the real Iron Man and kidnapped by the Mandarin. Stark discovered an old set of Iron Man armor that the saboteur had overlooked and went to China to rescue O'Brien. Upon rescuing him, Stark chose to reveal his true identity to O'Brien before he went off to battle the Mandarin. O'Brien flew back to New York where he took custody of the Guardsman armor once more.[7]

After Iron Man defeated the Mandarin, Stark fixed the malfunction in the Guardsman armor's circuitry so it was safe to wear.[volume & issue needed] Michael O'Brien was determined to use the armor to vindicate both his brother's and his own senseless actions. When Stark International was taken over by the criminal Midas, the Guardsman joined with a number of Stark's other friends and allies to battle Midas' men. He was turned to gold by Midas' power, but was later restored to flesh.[8] Having quit the police force, O'Brien interviewed for the position of security director at Project: Pegasus, the government energy research facility, after its previous director Quasar quit. With a high recommendation by Stark, O'Brien got the job.[9] Sometime later, while guarding the Project, O'Brien's Guardsman armor was damaged in a battle with the subhuman Lava Men.[9] It was later repaired at the Project's expense. O'Brien, as the Guardsman, has been living and working full-time in the Project since his appointment and has performed his duties capably.[volume & issue needed]

Later, he was the security chief at Avengers Island.[10] He also participated in the Iron Legion against Ultimo, wearing a re-creation of the Silver Centurion armor.[11]

Ozkar Waters

A new Guardsman, Ozkar Waters, appears during the King in Black tie-in miniseries Planet of the Symbiotes. He is a mercenary for Alchemax and father of Bren Waters (the new host of the Toxin symbiote).[12]

Other known Guardsmen

Current members

Former members

Powers and abilities

Both Guardsmen wore powered armor designed by Stark Industries. The Guardsman armor contained a powered exoskeleton that gave the wearer superhuman strength, allowing the operator to lift 40 tons under optimal conditions for about 3 minutes. The Guardsman armor's high-carbon steel-alloy mesh and radiation shielding also offer protection from most ballistic and even energy weapons. The Guardsman armor can fly via chemically-powered boot jets at a maximum speed of 250 mph (400 km/h) for 3 hours, and contains 30 minutes air supply for submersion or high-altitude flight.

Each palm of the Guardsman armor's gauntlets contains a charged ion "repulsor ray" emitter, capable of 45 seconds continuous discharge at a range of 40 feet (12 m) before irregularities in the plasma cone diffuse the beam.

Kevin O'Brien had earned a Ph.D. in Engineering and was a gifted inventor. He also used a "stun-ray" device as a weapon.

Michael O'Brien is a good hand-to-hand combatant and was coached by Captain America. As a policeman, he carried a police-issue handgun and, as Avengers Security Chief, he used stun guns and other advanced weaponry.

Both Kevin and Michael suffered from emotional instability that was exacerbated by the cybernetic circuitry in the original Guardsman battle-suit, causing both men to go insane. Michael O'Brien was able to wear the Guardsman armor safely after psychologically coming to terms with his trauma over his brother's death. The armor circuitry has since been modified by Tony Stark to prevent its causing such adverse effects.

The Guardsman armor was replicated by Stane International for use at the Vault, and retained similar abilities to the original version. When the original armors were destroyed by Iron Man during the Armor Wars, Stane International attempted to re-create the Guardsman armor without Stark's designs; however, they proved inferior to the Stark-based models. Stark Enterprises replaced the second-generation Stane models with an improved design from Tony Stark. Although superior to the Stane models, the new Stark Enterprises suits were limited to operation within the vicinity of the Vault, as a security measure to prevent misuse of their Iron Man-derived technology.

In other media




  1. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Sanderson, Peter; Brevoort, Tom; Teitelbaum, Michael; Wallace, Daniel; Darling, Andrew; Forbeck, Matt; Cowsill, Alan; Bray, Adam (2019). The Marvel Encyclopedia. DK Publishing. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-4654-7890-0.
  2. ^ Iron Man #36, April 1971
  3. ^ Iron Man #43, 45-46
  4. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Super-Villains. New York: Facts on File. pp. 151–152. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.[1]
  5. ^ Iron Man #43, 45–46
  6. ^ Iron Man #82
  7. ^ Iron Man #96–100
  8. ^ Iron Man #108
  9. ^ a b Avengers #236
  10. ^ The Avengers #301
  11. ^ Iron Man #300
  12. ^ King in Black: Planet of the Symbiotes #3 (April 2021)
  13. ^ a b Iron Man #228
  14. ^ a b c d Avengers: Deathtrap - The Vault #1
  15. ^ a b c d e f Cage #9
  16. ^ a b Avengers Spotlight #26
  17. ^ a b Darkhawk #5
  18. ^ Deathlok vol. 2 #8
  19. ^ Captain America #354
  20. ^ a b Web of Spider-Man #109
  21. ^ Venom: Lethal Protector #2
  22. ^ Thunderbolts #60–61
  23. ^ The New Warriors #21
  24. ^ Venom: Along Came a Spider #1
  25. ^ Behind the Voice Cast: Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  26. ^ Iron Man: Armored Adventures, episode "Seeing Red"
  27. ^ Iron Man: Armored Adventures, episode "Enter: The Iron Monger!"
  28. ^ "Civil War, Part 3: The Drums of War". Avengers: Ultron Revolution. Season 3. Episode 25. January 28, 2017. Disney XD.
  29. ^ "Prison Break". Avengers: Secret Wars. Season 4. Episode 4. August 27, 2017. Disney XD.
  30. ^ "Vibranium Curtain Pt. 2". Avengers: Black Panther's Quest. Season 5. Episode 15. January 6, 2019. Disney XD.