|"Guan is a cunning strategist with a keen mind."|
|— Kuvira describes Guan.|
Commander Guan was the head of the Earth Empire's southern forces during the rule of Kuvira, and led an armed holdout following the latter's surrender. A cunning strategist, Guan conspired to restore Earth Empire influence by entering the Gaoling Election of 174 AG.
Early career and refusal to surrender
At some point, Guan joined Kuvira's army, and rose in the ranks because he was regarded as capable and intelligent. He was eventually appointed commander of the Earth Empire's southern forces and tasked to keep the regions under his control in line. As part of his mission, he was also placed in charge of a reeducation camp at Gaoling where he was supposed to train soldiers whom were regarded as unreliable by the Earth Empire's leadership.
As firm believer in the Earth Empire's cause, he was sure that Kuvira's invasion of the United Republic of Nations in 174 AG would result in a great victory. Instead, one morning his daily shave was interrupted by his comrade and confidant, Dr. Sheng, who told him that Kuvira had surrendered and ordered all Earth Empire officers and soldiers to lay down their arms. Furious, Guan attempted to understand why his superior had given up, and concluded that Kuvira had betrayed her followers on the eve of victory. Accordingly, Guan ordered Dr. Sheng to continue with her experiments, proclaiming that while Kuvira's reign had ended, the Earth Empire would never die.
Entering the Gaoling election
With the first Earth Kingdom elections coming up, Guan told his forces that he would never abandon them as Kuvira had and that they would bring the Earth King to his knees and make the Avatar yield. He believed that the Earth Empire would rise from defeat and become more powerful than it had been.
When Commander Guan rolled into Gaoling with his forces, he was first greeted by Avatar Korra, who told him she came to see his forces peacefully surrender, to which he replied she came a long way for nothing. Kuvira was brought to reason with Guan, but Guan only saw her as doing the Avatar's bidding. He accused her of disgracing the Earth Empire for giving up the fight for Republic City. When Kuvira said that people would be enjoying the benefits for their work after them and that their great experiment had ended, Guan disagreed, saying that there was much more progress to be made and questions why others should reap the rewards of the Earth Empire's accomplishments. He subsequently stated that it was Kuvira who had been defeated, but he and his soldiers still stood. When Kuvira gave a final order to Commander Guan's troops to surrender, they instead chanted their support to him, showing her that they were no longer loyal to her. Guan was challenged to a one-on-one fight where if she won, he surrenders, but Guan didn't accept, informing Kuvira that she was now seen as a spineless coward, rather than someone who invokes fear. As he had his collar choked by Kuvira, he proclaimed that he would rather die as a martyr than surrender and live as a traitor in the eyes of his soldiers.
After Kuvira was stopped by Team Avatar, Korra proclaimed that she would not allow Guan to interfere with the elections. On that note, Guan revealed that the Avatar misunderstood his presence because rather than stop the democratic process, he intended to take part in it. He admitted that Kuvira was right about the Earth Empire holding no real power, as it had never been viewed as a legitimate nation. Yet he approached Mayor Rhee of Gaoling to officially declare his candidacy for governor. Although Earth King Wu protested, the mayor conceded that the election is open to all candidates and the paperwork was in order. Guan then revealed his plan to have Earth Empire candidates run in every state, taking power in a legitimate way so that the world cannot question the Earth Empire's right to rule.
Back at his base, Guan lamented to Dr. Sheng how disappointed he was at how Kuvira was no longer the commanding woman who inspired them, and stated his belief that Korra's influence had corrupted her mind. When Dr. Sheng suggested recalibrating her mind, Guan did not rule it out, but chose to focus on winning the election. He asked whether the first campaign recruits had arrived, prompting the doctor to bring him to a tent. All of the "recruits" were being brainwashed, repeating Guan's campaign slogan.
Graphic novel trilogies
- Ruins of the Empire trilogy