This article is about the third Guardian, Mal Duncan. For the golden age Guardian, see Jim Harper I, and for his immediate predecessor, see Jim Harper II.
Malcolm "Mal" Duncan was a member of the Team and the third hero to go by the moniker of Guardian. A former classmate of Superboy and Miss Martian at Happy Harbor High School, he started out as the Team's mission control, and took up the mantle of Guardian when a dire situation forced him to. He is romantically involved with Karen Beecher, a.k.a. Bumblebee.
In high school, Mal had a dominant demeanor and appearance, and facing him down was generally considered unwise.
Mal is a rather tall and muscular African-American male with short black hair and brown eyes. He normally wears form-fitting shirts. He had a penchant for wearing Superman T-shirts in high school, but reportedly changed his wardrobe when he turned eighteen.
When he became the Guardian, he wore Jim Harper's costume without visible changes. It consists of a dark blue jump suit with a golden helmet and golden shoulder and wrist pads.
By 2019, Mal had a completely shaved head and a fully grown beard.
During the Team's "alien invasion" training scenario, Mal, along with the rest of the students and faculty hid below the school's underground bunker and watched the Team's speech about how they would win and build from what they've lost, after the Justice League had been killed.
When Bumblebee arrived back from a mission, Mal wanted to tell her all about his plans for their date that evening. He was disappointed she didn't have time, as she needed to work with Doctor Palmer.
The Team sent out three squads to apprehend Kroloteans that had hidden all over the globe: one to Philadelphia, one to Vlatavastok, and one to New Orleans. Mal monitored them from the Cave, and though Alpha and Beta Squads could not capture their targets, Gamma Squad hit the base in New Orleans. at their request, Mal sent back-up, but it didn't arrive until the base was destroyed.
Mal witnessed the activation of the Zeta-Shield with Jaime and Superboy. Superboy asked him where Nightwing was, and Mal replied he was out on personal business. Mal objected when Superboy appropriated Jaime for his own personal business, but could not press the issue.
Mal talked with Nightwing and Superboy about Speedy and Impulse. Mal believed that they would end up being their responsibility, but Nightwing assured that they are taken care of. Mal still believed that they would wind up to their responsibility, and Superboy agreed. When Artemis returned to the Team, Mal welcomed her back.
Mal listened to Nightwing's briefing of the mission, to defend the Earth-Mars communication satellite. He wondered why Nightwing was joining the mission, which he answered that he wanted some action.
In the Cave, Mal hugged Karen to comfort her after they heard about Artemis's death. Superboy told him that they would find La'gaan and Aqualad. Mal wondered where Nightwing was, Superboy answered that he went to tell Wally, which worried Mal and Karen.
Mal had ridden out to Ivy Town in the hopes of a date with Karen. She was surprised to see him, and liked the prospect of a date, but had a few more hours of lab work ahead of her. He offered to keep her company. Karen knew he'd be bored.
After waiting for her to finish, Mal indeed grew bored. Just as he had made plans, Doctor Palmer arrived. After showing him the test results, Karen predicted they would have to work two or three hours more, and that was too much for Mal. He silently left the lab and rode back to Happy Harbor.
Just as he drove through the town center, Mount Justice exploded. He watched in horror, and quickly contacted the Watchtower for assistance. He then headed to the wreckage to look for survivors. He detected Sphere's presence in the water, and found Nightwing, Superboy and Wolf lying on top of her as she was sinking. He hauled Nightwing up, and woke Superboy. Together, they made it to shore.
Nightwing brought Mal Duncan, Superboy, Miss Martian and Wolf to a warehouse that would serve as their place to live now that Mount Justice had been destroyed. Mal was initially impressed until he saw the interior of the warehouse. He told Nightwing he wanted to make other arrangements. Nightwing reminded Mal that he and the others needed to go to the Hall of Justice to pick up belongings that were salvaged from Mount Justice.
At the Hall of Justice, Mal asked to stay with Karen, but was rebuffed. L-Ron then appeared outside the Hall, announcing the arrival of Despero. With the Hall surrounded by a force field, Mal attempted to communicate with the outside, but failed. He and Miss Martian moved to join Superboy and Captain Marvel fighting Despero. Mal encouraged M'gann to use her psychic abilities on Despero, but she refused. One of Despero's attacks broke Jim Harper's old Guardian suit from its display case. Mal donned the costume and distracted Despero by posing as Earth's Guardian, buying time for Conner and M'gann to come up with a plan. He was able to evade Depsero for a time before being caught, but was saved by Superboy. After Despero was defeated, L-Ron engaged a self-destruct device, but Mal and the others were saved from being crushed by the collapsing Hall by Captain Marvel.
Guardian and the rest of the Team infiltrated the Warworld. He, Bumblebee and Sphere formed Gamma Squad, who would attempt to shut down the ship's power core. They were attacked en route by battle drones, and Mal took the opportunity to vent his frustration with Karen.
The Warworld May 26, post-12:40UTC
Gamma reached the power core room. With the Super-Cycle fending off the approaching battle drones, Mal continued to bait Bumblebee, until she entered the core itself, and he quietly wished her luck. When it became clear she couldn't deactivate the core, Guardian suggested routing the power somewhere useful. She sent it to the helm, overloading Mongul's control device.
Gamma reconvened with the rest of the Team at their entry point. After celebrating their victory, Guardian congratulated Bumblebee on saving the day, and admitted she had outgrown him. Karen told him she had been an idiot for taking him for granted and they kissed, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Alpha Squad. Blue Beetle then attacked the rest of the Team. Mal pushed Karen out of the way of his first sonic attack, but was hit himself and knocked out. He was stored in a stasis cell aboard the vessel.
Along with Superboy and Bumblebee, Guardian shadowed the Light-Reach summit held in an underground cavern. After Aqualad's betrayal was discovered, the Team sprung their trap, and Mal's squad sealed off the entrance used by the Reach. During the ensuing melee, Mal fought against League of Shadows agents, using his shield to deflect their sword strikes. His training paid off, and he successfully held his own with his boxing skills. The battle ended with the heroes victorious, with the capture of the Reach ambassador, Black Manta, the Brain, and Monsieur Mallah.
When magnetic field disruptors planted by the Reach threatened the Earth, Guardian joined 39 other heroes of Earth in a briefing in Metropolis. The heroes would use a computer virus provided by Lex Luthor to safely disable the disruptors. The heroes were paired off with another into twenty squads: one member would run interference against weapons guarding the disruptors, allowing the other to get close enough to plant the virus.
Guardian was paired off with Bumblebee, as Kappa Squad. Within thirty minutes, all squads had succeeded in their mission.
Aqualad summoned everyone to the mission room, where Batman informed the Team that they would now operate side-by-side with the Justice League from the Watchtower. Not because Mount Justice was destroyed, but because they earned the right to do so. Aqualad assigned Guardian to Beta Squad to investigate LexCorp's reuse of the Reach soft drink under a new name, and instructed them to gather evidence.
Mal Duncan was one of the first black DC superheroes and a former member of the Teen Titans and Doom Patrol. He has gone by various names, including Guardian, Herald, Hornblower and Vox. He is married to Bumblebee. Like Bumblebee, Mal was a technical genius who created a horn that would allow him to open dimensional portals.
Young Justice marks Mal Duncan's second animated appearance. He previously appeared as a minor supporting character during the last few episodes of the Teen Titans animated series, where he used the identity of Herald, and was voiced by Khary Payton.