Robot 6

A Cold Day In December: Gallaher talks Winter Guard

This was my first introduction into THE SOVIET SUPER SOLDIERS – Ursa Major, Darkstar, and Vanguard – the team that would eventually become THE WINTER GUARD. I was only a few months into collecting and reading comics at that point – and I got the book admittedly because of the Speedball cameo in the beginning of the story. As a teenager, I found the cover disturbing – could the Avengers really have murdered this team of Russian superheroes? The truth, of course, was a little more complex – and, of course,  I was hooked on the revelation!

Behind the dastardly demise of the SOVIET SUPER SOLDIERS was none other than the SUPREME SOVIETS – Red Guardian, Perun, Crimson Dynamo, Sputnik, and Fantasma. This team, who would later become the PEOPLE’S PROTECTORATE, wasn’t bad in the traditional sense – they acted more like analogues to characters like Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Vision, and Scarlet Witch. They certainly weren’t the most complex characters in the Marvel stable, but in my young mind, these were characters whose futures had yet to be truly written.

Based on the strength of those two issues, I was hooked on the further adventures of Marvel’s Russian superhero teams.

And, I continued to follow their appearances throughout the Marvel Universe – watching as both teams developed and evolved.


As I picked up their various appearances, I found that through their limited history, both teams fought valiantly against foes like the Hulk, the Dire Wraiths, The Combine, and The Presence!


As the political climate changed, the internal structures of both teams evolved – and the groups soon merged into THE WINTER GUARD. In IRON MAN #9, Vol 3, Kurt Busiek  re-introduced readers to characters like Powersurge, Sibercat, Steel Guardian (previously the Red Guardian), Ursa Major, Vanguard, Vostok (previously Sputnik), and Darkstar – and it was cool to read about them again in the pages of MAXIMUM SECURITY, and THE AVENGERS.

But, as the Marvel timeline progressed so did the character’s personal storylines! Darkstar was murdered by Fantomex in the pages of NEW X-MEN. Steel Guardian disappeared – only to be replaced by a Red Guardian who was slain at the hands of Aleksander Lukin. Vanguard, Perun, Powersurge, Sibercat, and Vostok all went missing, while Crimson Dynamo had several different pilots and several different adventures (and even briefly a limited series illustrated by HIGH MOON’s Steve Ellis).

Crimson Dynamo

Years later, when THE WINTER GUARD appeared again in the pages of HULK #1 – the core membership had changed once more – suddenly there was a new Red Guardian and a new Darkstar – and a new era was born!

The Winter Guard

As months went by, the WINTER GUARD would appear again in WAR MACHINE: WEAPON OF S.H.I.E.L.D. and SHE-HULK. All of which sets the stage for the upcoming HULK: WINTER GUARD one-shot – written by myself and illustrated by the hyper-talented Steve Ellis!

Winter Guard

Due out in December, HULK: WINTER GUARD one-shot examines the lives of four brave Russian heroes – The Red Guardian, Darkstar, Crimson Dynamo, and Ursa Major. Who are they? What are they? Those are the central themes to a story that stars a were-bear, a patriot, a high tech hero, and darkness-wielding heroine. There is shield-slinging, biting, gnashing, chomping, blasting – and some wicked twists and turns! It is written with affection towards these characters – acknowledging their pasts – while looking towards their futures.

And, in December, you’ll see why the Winter Guard aren’t the Russian Avengers –
But rather something far more glorious.



I hope the new one shot includes Perun, Sputnik AND Fantasma.

Winter Guard versus Ultramarines. Ho’od win? Prepare to back up your answer with examples.

Winter Guard. Ursa Major turns into a bear and eats the Ultramarines.

Tough to argue with. Can you pull that off in a Y7 rated book?

>> Can you pull that off in a Y7 rated book? >>

Sure :-)

I think you’d have to leave enough to the imagination to make the artist kinda bored…

That Captain America issue was my first encounter with the Winter Guard too. And I also got it for Speedball’s small appearance!

Clearly we’re soul mates.

Looking forward to the one-shot. Hope it leads to more.

Hurray! I really really really really miss Laynia Petrovna now, though.

If anything, this has caused me to cruise for mid to late 80s Cap backissues.

Rogerio Carvalho Saraiva

September 28, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I love russian characters. Cannot wait!

I have a suggestion, Mr. Gallaher. Make Ursa Major drop his somewhat uninspired nickname in favor of something like “Tsar Medved” the King Bear of Russian Myth.

Here are some mentions of the character on Russian folk tales (sorry, that was all I could find on a quick Google search):

It’s a bit indifferent in english, but the “Ursa” word (and derivations) in most latin-derived languages means a FEMALE bear, thus making the character a laughingstock on the main foreign markets for US comics. So Ursa Major is the big russian transexual werebear.

Bill Mantlo probably never worried about doing a bit of research before creating the character, but you have a chance to fix it. Please do so.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Any chance for an appearnce by the Bogatyr or Peristrike Force?

>> Bogatyr or Peristrike Force? >>

Do you want me to tell you *or* would you rather read it?

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