|"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 a 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 did not 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.
Guan's forces waited until Korra and Wu left to attack Asami Sato's Future Industries airship. Asami, Mako, and Bolin were overpowered by the Earth Empire forces, and Guan triumphantly greeted Kuvira after boarding the ship. Guan's prisoners were brought to the reeducation camp, where he asked Kuvira if she was ready to return to the Earth Empire and serve it once again. When the former Great Uniter refused, Guan told her that she had left him with no choice, and metalbent the tent wall to reveal Asami, Mako, and Bolin bound, gagged, and hooked up to brainwashing technology. Guan reminded Kuvira about Sheng and her close work with Baatar Jr., and told her that the brainwashing machinery was how the Earth Empire would regain power and keep it.
Guan and Sheng explained the latter developing a highly effective brainwashing technique by combining the Dai Li's ancient methods with modern technology. Guan ordered Sheng to begin brainwashing Asami, Mako, and Bolin. The process proved successful, and the commander ordered the scientist to brainwash Kuvira next. However, Kuvira immediately tried to escape once Mako and Asami released her restraints, and Guan bent strips of metal to try to recapture her. Kuvira bent the tent's metal wall onto Guan, pinning him to the floor. After he emerged from the tent, he asked his soldiers where Kuvira was, but his soldiers informed him that they had lost sight of her. Guan noted that she could not have gotten far, and gave an order to search the area.
Guan gathered his soldiers, including Asami, Mako, and Bolin, behind a set of earthbent walls near the Future Industries airship. Guan, growing wary about the time, asked Bolin about Korra's plan to meet them at the ship in the afternoon, which he confirmed. At that moment, a soldier radioed Guan to inform him that Kuvira showed up and intercepted the Avatar before she could reach the airfield. Smiling, Guan inquired where they were now.
Guan's army approached Suyin Beifong's Metal Clan airship and prepared to attack. He told the brainwashed members of Team Avatar that Korra was their enemy, and ordered them to bring her to him. The three obeyed, with the commander noting that the fight would be fun to watch. When Suyin, Wei and Wing tried to capture the brainwashed soldiers with metal cables, Guan snapped them with his own metalbending, telling them that they would not be taking them anywhere. He ordered his forces to move in, and soldiers and mecha suits began advancing toward the airship. Although the Avatar's party managed to escape and take Asami with them, one of the king's brainwashed guards informed the commander that they had captured Wu as he requested, to which Guan affirmed that the day had not been a total defeat. Guan returned to the camp, and had Dr. Sheng prepare to brainwash the Earth King.
Guan won the election by a landslide after a brainwashed Wu issued a royal decree to move up the election. Shortly after taking office as governor, he chose to arrest Mayor Rhee, telling him that he was no longer needed. As the door closed, behind him, a hidden Kuvira emerged and revealed herself to Guan. He commended her on her cunning in entering without him noticing, and asked if she was there to try to stop him again. Kuvira denied this, commending him on resurrecting the Earth Empire, adding that he had always been a shrewd leader. She proposed a deal that she claimed would benefit them both.
She told him that in her quest for power, she had alienated everyone she considered family, and that it was clear that no matter what she did, things could never go back to the way they were. She decided that the only path she could follow was his. Guan asked if she wanted to rejoin the Earth Empire, and she agreed on one condition. Guan told her that he would not let her reclaim the title of Great Uniter, but Kuvira assured him that he would not challenge his authority: she wanted to forget the painful memories about her biological parents, the Beifongs, and the people she had hurt. Guan considered that this would put her under his complete control, and was surprised that she would yield so willingly. Kuvira stated that it was not the first time she had surrendered, and him brainwashing her was the only way he could fully trust her. Kuvira reiterated the deal, and asked Guan if he would accept.
Guan took Kuvira to a reeducation camp and ordered Sheng to begin the brainwashing process. However, as soon as she began the process, Kuvira used metalbending to levitate brainwashing helmets above Guan and Sheng, trapping their heads in them as she used metalbending to free herself from her restraints. Kuvira told Guan and Sheng that she was beating them at their own game, and they would have no choice but to surrender and tell the world about how they stole the election. Sheng raised that Kuvira did not know how the machine operated, but she informed her that she did, as Baatar Jr. figured out how Sheng's brainwashing worked in a matter of hours. However, Mako and Bolin quickly entered, ordering Kuvira to release them, Mako shooting fire at her and giving enough time for Guan and Sheng to remove their helmets.
Guan made use of the moment to try to escape in a jeep, but Kuvira noticed the commander and threw the vehicle with metalbending, sending the commander flying out of the vehicle. Guan bent metal strips from his uniform to Kuvira, which she avoided, and readied her metal cables to try to attack Guan. However, he elevated himself on an earth platform and sent a rock flying toward Kuvira, striking her on the shoulder. He told her that she never had the potential to lead the Earth Empire, unlike him, and threw the jeep at her, though she split the vehicle in two and bends metal strips to pin Guan against a tent. He surrendered to Kuvira, but she told him it was too late, and that she would make sure he never rose again, levitating a sharp piece of metal in his direction. However, Su approached, telling Kuvira that killing Guan would not solve anything, nor bring her any peace. Kuvira accepted the truth of Su's words, lowering her metal, but telling Guan that he was finished, and the Earth Empire was permanently over. The commander subsequently ordered his entire army to stand down.
Graphic novel trilogies
- Ruins of the Empire trilogy
|Leader of the Earth Empire|
| Succeeded by|
|Governor of the State of Gaoling|
| Succeeded by|
Vacant; elections to be rescheduled
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer), Wong, Michelle (artist), Ng, Vivian (colorist). Ruins of the Empire Part One (May 21, 2019), Dark Horse Comics.
- ↑ DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer), Wong, Michelle (artist), Ng, Killian (colorist). Ruins of the Empire Part Two (November 12, 2019), Dark Horse Comics.
- ↑ DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer), Wong, Michelle (artist), Ng, Killian (colorist). Ruins of the Empire Part Three (February 25, 2020), Dark Horse Comics.