Joshua Guthrie is the third of ten children, after Sam and Paige, born to Thomas Zebulon and Lucinda Guthrie in Cumberland County, Kentucky. One summer, when Joshua was ten years old, he caught a local girl skinny-dipping in Jacobsen’s Pond, a swimming hole near his house. Josh tried to shoo her away so he could swim. The girl, Julia, resisted. The two soon became well acquainted. They grew fond of each other and spent their whole summer together in the countryside, often staring romantically at the sky. Their innocent summer romance ended without either of them ever learning each other’s last names. [Uncanny X-Men #439]
After Josh’s father Thomas died, it fell on the oldest Guthrie child, Sam, to provide for the family. Sam went to work in the coal mines like his father but soon learned he possessed mutant powers and left Cumberland County to attend Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. However,he kept his mutant powers a secret from his siblings.
In Sam’s absence, Josh and the other siblings discussed exactly what Sam’s “gifts” were and why he qualified for such a secretive private school. Josh deduced Sam was in some way “different” - and grew envious, as his “difference” gave him a ticket out of a life of working in Cumberland’s coal mines. [ROM Annual #3]
Still, in the absence of both his father and his oldest brother, Josh grew accustomed to his role as the man of the Guthrie household. He became quite popular at school because of his good looks and remarkable singing voice. He was so comfortable in his position, that when Sam returned home for a visit Josh felt such resentment toward him that he could not even stomach his presence. Additionally, the anti-mutant hysteria of the time had seemingly changed Josh’s mind about wanting to be “different” like Sam. He now feared that he might manifest a mutation like his brother's. That changed the night Sam’s girlfriend Lila Cheney and her band were in a plane crash. Cannonball went to the rescue and brought Josh along. Joshua was able to experience the wonder of his brother’s power secondhand as they soared through the air. This rekindled his desire for a mutant power of his own. Josh's remarkable singing voice helped rescue the plane crash victims from their prison beneath a mountain of rubble by providing the sound necessary to fuel Dazzler's mutant light powers, enabling her to free herself and the other trapped members of Lila's crew. Josh began to wonder if maybe his equivalent to Sam’s gift was his singing voice - failing to realize his voice was actually a mutant-based ability. [New Mutants (1st series) #42]
When his older sister Paige's mutant powers manifested and she left home to join Generation X, Josh was the oldest sibling left in the Guthrie household. He had to work in the coal mines where both his father and older brother had worked, essentially becoming the family’s primary breadwinner. He also assumed responsibility for the well-being of his younger siblings. Like his sister Joelle, Josh resented Sam and Paige for leaving the family to pursue greater things and snubbed the X-Men when they visited. [X-Force (1st series) #32, 36, Uncanny X-Men Annual ‘95]
At some point, Josh's mutant ability manifested in full. In addition to his unearthly singing voice, angelic red wings sprouted on his back. Josh kept his wings a secret from his family and the entire town, unveiling them only on stage, supposedly as part of his singing act. At one of his concerts, Josh spotted a familiar girl in the audience – Julia - whom he had not seen since the summer they shared years earlier at Jacobsen’s Pond. Julia and Josh started talking after the show, their childhood feelings quickly returned and were compounded by adolescence. They were dismayed, however, when they learned each other’s last names: Guthrie and Cabot. Their families had been violently feuding for years. Despite admitting their true feelings for each other, Josh couldn’t convince Julia to be with him due to the pressure she felt from her father.
Making one last attempt to convince her, Josh begged her to meet him at Jacobsen’s Pond before sunrise to discuss their relationship. Unbeknownst to them, Julia’s family was staging an assault against the Guthrie Clan that night using salvaged anti-mutant armor - and Jacobsen’s Pond was right in the middle of their march. The Cabots caught Josh and Julia sharing a lover’s embrace. After a scuffle, the Cabots shot Josh through the chest, killing him. In her grief, Julia carried Josh’s lifeless body with her out to the middle of the pond, where they sank together. She drowned. Tragically, she had no idea that Josh’s blood contained a regenerative factor which healed his wound.
Josh returned to life at the bottom of the lake and found Julia’s drowned body in his arms. He frantically swam to shore but could not revive her. Josh was grief-stricken, heart-broken and suicidal but despite his best efforts, he was unable to take his own life due to his body’s healing factor. He had no choice but to live with the pain of losing Julia. In her memory, he wrote a ballad about her forever lying with angels in heaven. [Uncanny X-Men #437-441]
In the wake of Julia’s death, Lucinda Guthrie enrolled Josh in Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning. Although she told Josh she wanted him to get out of Cumberland and learn to use his powers like his siblings, Josh suspected his suicidal tendencies motivated the enrollment. He bitterly accused his mother of wanting to pass the suicide-watch duties onto someone else.
Reluctantly, Josh met his new peers. He also started going by the name “Jay” instead of Josh, as there was another new student by that name. Jay was clearly depressed about Julia’s death and had a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings. Despite his negative moods, his roommate Squidboy made a point of making him talk about his feelings and showing him around campus. [X-Men (2nd series) #157-159]
During his time at Xavier’s Institute, Jay stayed out of conflicts that didn’t concern him, tried to build bridges between his feuding teammates and provided company to his peers who seemed like they needed a friend. He became a member of Emma Frost’s training squad, along with Hellion, Tag, Rockslide, Mercury and Dust. Their squad name, appropriately, was the Hellions. Around this time, Jay chose the codename Icarus for himself, in reference to the figure from Greek myth. Although a member of the Hellions, Jay made a point to not participate in his squad’s petty grudge matches with their rivals, the New Mutants. He refused to play a game of mean-spirit basketball against the New Mutants and later walked away from an impending fistfight between the two teams. [New X-Men: Academy X #1-3]
During a field day competition of “capture the flag”, Icarus and the Hellions faced off against the New Mutants - this time in an official team challenge. Through a combination of Hellion’s strategy and Jay’s flight, the Hellions succeeded in reaching the flag first - only to discover the “flag” was actually the irate dragon, Lockheed. Icarus would have been singed were it not for his quick thinking. Using his angelic voice, he serenaded Lockheed with a soothing rendition of “Puff the Magic Dragon” and coaxed him into a friendly surrender. Thanks to Icarus, the Hellions emerged victorious. [New X-Men: Academy X #3-4]
Despite their field day victory, Jay still disliked his squad leader, Hellion. When the FBI arrested their peer Wither for murder, Hellion organized a prison break with his squad. Icarus not only abstained from participating but assisted their rival squad, the New Mutants, in stopping them. After the dust settled and the kids returned to campus, Icarus left the Hellions squad and joined the New Mutants. [New X-Men: Academy X #5-6]
Although now well-adjusted to his new surroundings, Jay continued to miss his lost love, Julia Cabot. He attended church once a week to hold vigil for her. During one of these candlelight vigils, Josh was approached by the Reverend William Stryker. He was surprised to discover the man knew so many specific details about his pain and the love he lost - knowledge Jay seemingly attributed to divine prophecy. Icarus found additional comfort in Stryker’s insinuation that he was an angel sent by God to be by Julia’s side as she died. Several weeks later, M-Day struck, depowering most of the world’s mutants including many of Jay’s classmates and his younger siblings Melody and Jeb. Jay was one of the few to retain his powers, though. The night of the disaster, Reverend Stryker appeared on the news and proclaimed M-Day a miracle. His words resonated with Jay, who already suspected the man to be a prophet.
Shortly thereafter, Stryker led Icarus to believe his depowered friends were in grave danger. He claimed he could save them, but needed Jay’s assistance. To save his friends, Jay agreed to Stryker’s terms- that he return his wings to God in order become His servant. Stryker’s men surgically removed Icarus's wings and sent him home. After the painful surgery, Jay crawled back to the Xavier Institute, his wings nothing but bloodied stumps. The X-Men found him and soon discovered that his blood no longer contained its regenerative properties. They tried to heal him but Icarus angrily refused their aid and that of their resident healer, Elixir. Miraculously, Icarus survived. While in the infirmary, he acted as Stryker’s informant, contacting him when a large group of depowered students boarded a bus to leave the Institute. Using the information Jay provided, the Purifiers launched a missile at the bus full of depowered students, killing all 45 students on board.
Jay felt devastated - among other things. Guilt-ridden with the knowledge that he may have helped terrorists kill his friends, Jay decided to get some answers - and make amends, if possible. He traveled to Stryker’s church, understandably confused, as the godly man had vowed to help his friends not kill them. He quickly learned the truth about Stryker and his anti-mutant Purifiers. The Reverend brought Jay into a room and revealed to him something he recognized from a Danger Cave scenario: an operational Nimrod unit from the future. Stryker’s revelations confirmed what Jay had dreaded- that the information he gave Stryker directly led to the deaths of his friends. At this point, Stryker decided Jay had outlived his usefulness. He put his pistol to Jay’s head and told him he was about to join his girlfriend who burned in Hell for loving a mutant. Just before pulling the trigger, he added that Julia Cabot’s death was no accident. It was Stryker who had led her family to the anti-mutant machinery that precipitated her death. [New X-Men (2nd series) #20-27]
Miraculously, Jay survived the gunshot wound to the head long enough to watch Nimrod escape from captivity. It spared Jay’s life simply because his death was imminent. With his dying act, Jay Guthrie scribbled a warning message on the floor in his own blood, but only managed to complete the first four-and-a-half letters of “NIMROD”. [New X-Men (2nd series) #28]
After another attack on the Institute by the Purifiers, Jay’s body was recovered and returned to his family. His mother, Lucinda, delivered the eulogy at his funeral and laid his body to rest at the Xavier Institute. [New X-Men (2nd series) #31]
After being dead for a significant amount of time, Jay was among many other deceased mutants to return through the resurrection system established on the new mutant homeland of Krakoa. Right after being reborn, Jay quickly established a pattern where formerly depowered mutant fliers instinctively and immediately took flight. [X-Factor (4th series) #5] Soon his little sister Melody would get the chance to share his feelings, as one morning, Jay and his two older siblings Sam and Paige greeted Melody with joyous news. It was her turn for the Crucible, the ritualistic battle to the death used to repower mutants that lost their gifts on M-day. It is likely that he watched the one-sided battle between his powerless sister and the immensely strong Apocalypse from the coliseum stands with the many cheering onlookers. [X-Men (6th series) #7]
Jay was probably living in the Akedemos Habitat's Zeta House with the other Academy X generation of New X-Men. It was in the Habitat that he trained with many of the other younger mutants in the use of new and creative combinations of their powers under the supervision of the original New Mutants. [New Mutants (4th series) #14] Additionally, he was among the rest of his Academy X friends when they went to greet his resurrected former teammate Wind Dancer, after X-Factor determined the cause of her suicide. Just like Jay and Melody before her, Wind Dancer immediately took flight. [X-Factor (4th series) #5]