Vanguard is the codename of Lt. Nick Bailey, a new Cobra recruit.
A Real American Hero continuity
Marvel Comics continuity
Devil's Due Comics continuity
Nick's parents both worked two jobs to support him and his brother Isaiah. When Isaiah became an Army Ranger, their sacrifices seemed to have vindicated. Then came the "black hawk down" incident in Somalia, when the government abandoned the people Isaiah died protecting, yet Nick decided to follow in his footsteps. Nick was top of his class in the Army Ranger school.
Cobra Commander kidnaps Lt. Bailey and, after having the blindfolded Nick recall his life story, takes him to Darfur, where are happening horrors not so different from the carnage Isaiah tried to stop, as the Janjaweed Militia has been terrorizing the region for years unchecked. Cobra Commander gives Nick a weapon and offers him to join the Cobra Troopers in stopping the militia. Hours after the battle, Cobra Commander convinces Bailey that Cobra stands against laws that disregard injustice like that in Darfur, and gives Nick a gun to execute the leader of the militia.
The Plague Troopers make their official debut after the G.I. Joe Team successfully prevents the assassination of the Israeli prime minister during the early stages of Cobra Commander's ultimate plan to dominate the world. Several small fights break out, but the Plague has the upper hand.
Vanguard is surprised to know that the Joes will counter-attack despite being outnumbered, but Guillotine tells him that it was to be expected from professionals. Guillotine refuses to call Bailey "Vanguard" until he's earned the codename - by killing a Joe. Eventually the Plague is facing off against just Spirit, Gung-Ho and Wild Bill. Holding the high ground and with the three Joes trapped in a narrow alleyway, the Plague has no trouble herding them northeast. When they run into a building, Black Out and Velocity collapse it with bazookas. There is no time to search for bodies, however, as the Plague is recalled to New York City.
During Cobra Commander's "Scorched Earth" endgame, the Plague Troopers are divided into two squads. Vanguard is part of the squad stationed in Antarctica. Both teams guard nuclear weapons, and when they are activated, the Plague retreats. Agent Delta finds himself at point-blank range of Vanguard's rifle, and is surprised to see Vanguard is just a kid. Instead of killing Rourke, Vanguard hits him with the butt of his rifle and leaves. Regrouping in the Appalachian Mountains, the Plague awaits orders. Velocity says they should all just escape while there's time. When he uses his jetpack to fly off, Blackout shoots him down, which is seen by Vanguard in silent disapproval.
- Of the four Plague Troopers not taken from known Viper-like divisions, Vanguard is the only one not availabloe in toy form.