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8th December 2011

One of the very first super teams to emerge from the Soviet Union / Russia, the Soviet Super-Soldiers had all the good intention in the world of working for the betterment of the people of their nation. Unfortunately for them, corrupt government officials often manipulated the Soviet Super-Soldiers for their own personal gain. Darkstar, Vanguard and Ursa Major formed the core of the team, and proved compassionate and true heroes, until persecution by their government led them down a different path and eventually caused them to go into exile.

Darkstar, Vanguard, Crimson Dynamo V, Ursa Major, Titanium Man II / Gremlin

First Appearance: Iron Man (1st series) #109 [unnamed]
First Appearance: Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258 [named]
Last Appearance: Soviet Super-Soldiers One-Shot [merged with Exiles/Siberforce]


  • The Soviet government had long been suspicious of super powered beings and even went as far as euthanizing mutants at birth. This practice ended shortly before the births of Darkstar and Vanguard. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #259]
  • Darkstar, Vanguard and Ursa Major were raised and trained by Professor Phobos at the Soviet Super-Soldiers School. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #259]
  • When Professor Phobos “graduated” his pupils, Darkstar went on mission to the States with several other Russian super beings and later served with the Champions for a short-time, before returning to the Soviet. Her initial stay in the States was approved by the US Government. [Champions #7-17, Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #17]
  • Meanwhile, Ursa Major and Vanguard were drafted into the Soviet military. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #259]
  • The son of a Russian mutant scientist called the Gargoyle, Gremlin inherited both his father’s looks and intellect. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #163]
  • The Soviet government owned the Crimson Dynamo armor, which was often used for villainous purposes. The armor was created by its first user, Anton Vanko. Vanko died fighting alongside Iron Man, sacrificing himself to stop the armor‘s second wearer, Boris Turgenov. [Tales of Suspense #46, 52] Alex Nevsky made his debut as the third Crimson Dynamo in Iron Man (1st series) #15. He romanced Iron Man’s girlfriend, Janice Cord, who was later slain by the Titanium Man, who had sent to kill Nevsky. Nevsky was later killed by the KGB. [Iron Man (1st series) #21-22] Nevsky’s successor was Yuri Petrovich, who was sent to the States with Darkstar to retrieve several perceived defectors. Petrovich went mad during this mission, and was returned to Russia and exiled to a Siberian labor camp. [Champions #7-10]

Darkstar, Vanguard and the new Crimson Dynamo were sent to the Blue Area of Earth’s moon when the Soviet government detected signals coming from that area. After their ship was shot down, they soon encountered Iron Man and Jack of Hearts and assumed it was they who shot their ship down. Darkstar tried to be the voice of reason by pointing out a strange, large, metal egg, which seemed to be the source of the mysterious signals. Nevertheless, the Soviet’s anti-Americanism and Iron Man’s rage at the Dymon being responsible for the death of his lover led to a battle, which only ended when the Crimson Dynamo revealed himself to be not the same that had a part in the death of Iron Man’s lover.

The animosity laid to rest, the Soviets wanted to investigate the strange large metal egg. However, when it suddenly started making a strange noise, a panel on the side of the egg opened and Iron Man and Jack of Hearts flew inside, worried that it could be a warning. Before the Soviets could follow, the panel closed behind them and the noise subsided. From the Soviet’s point of view, however, the two Americans had been disintegrated and they believed the duo had sacrificed themselves. The Dynamo in particular surmised that the word “hero” was separate from one’s nationality.

Contacted by their government, the Soviets were ordered to stay on the moon and watch over the egg in case of further developments, while their government worked with the United States to learn more about the egg. Dutifully, the trio kept watch and Darkstar alerted Iron Man’s associate, Madame Masque, on Earth when the egg began to glow intermittently. After a long wait, Iron Man and Jack of Hearts suddenly emerged from the egg, accompanied by an alien legion of Rigellians. The Soviets joined Iron Man in combat against the aliens, who were soon defeated. [Iron Man (1st series) #109-112]

Due to their patriotism and dedication to their homeland, the Soviets were often easily manipulated by their government. For instance, they were once approached by a disgruntled ex-general named Kutzov, who falsely claimed that the United States was preparing to launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. At Kutzov’s direction, Darkstar, Vanguard and the Crimson Dynamo ventured to the United States and kidnapped Professor Ironwood and his daughter, Cissy. Spider-Man (who was romantically involved with Cissy) enlisted the Hulk to help rescue her from the Soviet team. Eventually, Spider-Man convinced Darkstar that there was no planned nuclear strike by the American government, after which he and the Hulk successfully stopped Kutzov’s plot to create an anti-matter bomb. [Marvel Team-Up Annual #2]

Darkstar, Vanguard and Crimson Dynamo were soon joined by Ursa Major and the quartet was officially dubbed the Soviet Super-Soldiers. Their new handler sent the group into the deadly Forbidden Zone, an area in Khystym where a nuclear accident had taken place. The radioactivity of the region was now growing thanks to the powers of a man known as Sergei aka the Presence and his companion, the Red Guardian. As soon as the Soviet Super-Soldiers reached the Forbidden Zone, they encountered the Hulk, who had happened upon the facility by chance. Initially believing him to be a monstrous product of radiation, the group attacked the Hulk, who angrily responded in kind.

During the ensuing battle, both Vanguard and Darkstar were separated from their comrades by a mysterious cloaked figure, who soon revealed himself to be none other than Professor Phobos – the man who raised Darkstar, Vanguard and Ursa Major. He explained that he had abandoned them after a chance in reins of government power had threatened him. Now, years later, he intended to save his country against the Presence, who planned to spread radiation in order to mutate others into beings like himself. Ecstatic fighting beside their former mentor, the Super-Soldiers attacked the Presence and the Red Guardian, while Phobos and Banner attempted to turn the Presence’s instruments against him. However, during the battle, the Super-Soldiers come to understand the spreading of the radiation had been Professor Phobos’ plan, not that of the Presence, who had been trying to stop him. Worse, Phobos had been siphoning power from Darkstar for years for this very purpose. Immediately, the Super-Soldiers turned against the former mentor and joined forces with the Hulk, the Presence and Red Guardian to stop his plan. Their combined forces succeeded, but not before Phobos let slip that the Presence was Vanguard and Darkstar’s father. Unfortunately, they had no time to connect with their long-lost parent, as the Presence was forced into a daring gambit. With his instruments destroyed in the battle, he and the Red Guardian absorbed all of the radiation in the Forbidden Zone themselves and then departed for space. Having now been lied to by both their government and their mentor, te result of which was losing their father for a second time, Darkstar and Vanguard pledged never to blindly follow any state or leader again. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258-259]

Upon learning of a threat to her homeland (and all of Europe) from a nuclear reactor threatening to explode, Darkstar contacted the defected Russian mutant Colossus of the X-Men to aid her and the Super-Soldiers in addressing this crisis. Unfortunately, at the small airstrip where they were picking him up, the Super-Soldiers were attacked by Wolverine, who had driven a jealous Kitty to follow Colossus and now mistakenly believed his teammate was being kidnapped. The Super-Soldiers managed to beat back Wolverine but were forced to take Kitty with them after she infiltrated the plane. Fortunately, after they explain the nuclear threat to her, Kitty agreed to assist them and, upon arriving at the facility, Kitty phased Colossus into the ground so that he could deflect the core from the aquifer. However, instead of just a reactor core, Kitty and Colossus discover that the nuclear facility was actually another of the Soviet government’s attempts at creating super-beings to serve their interests. With the help of Kitty and Colossus, a nuclear disaster was averted and the surviving mutants held there were liberated. Disgusted by how their fellow mutants had been abused, the Soviet Super-Soldiers vowed to bring the government officials responsible for this facility to justice. [Wolverine: First Class #7-8]

While battling the villain Red Ghost, the Soviet Super-Soldiers were summoned against their will, along with nearly every other super hero on Earth, to take part in a contest of cosmic proportions. Darkstar was chosen for the Grandmaster’s team, while Vanguard was forced onto Death’s team. The stakes in the contest were high - as everyone on Earth was placed in suspended animation, forcing the Super-Soldiers and the rest of Earth’s heroes to partake in the contest. Darkstar proved valuable in combat, facing off against Sunfire. Though her team won their part of the contest, Vanguard did not dare so well against the Thing. The Grandmaster’s team eventually won the contest, and the Super-Soldiers and the rest of Earth’s heroes were returned to Earth, which was also freed from suspended animation. [Contest of Champions #1-3]

In between

  • For unknown reasons, the Crimson Dynamo attacked the Black Panther and Human Torch in the United States. He was defeated by them and turned over to the FBI. [Marvel Team-Up Annual #7]
  • The Crimson Dynamo mysteriously appeared as a member of Mephisto’s Legion Accursed, with the intention of killing the Beyonder, although they were not successful. [Secret Wars II #7]
  • At some point, the Crimson Dynamo severed ties with the Soviet Super-Soldiers. [off-panel]
  • Under orders of the Soviet government, the Crimson Dynamo was sent to deal with the American mutants known as X-Factor, who were attempting to liberate mutant prisoners who were being experimented upon at a top-secret government facility. Dynamo seemed to be a match for X-Factor but was tricked into retreating by means of duplicity from Iceman. Had he stayed around longer, he would have encountered the Russian mutant underground faction led by Father Alexi Garnoff. [X-Factor Annual #1]

Chronology continued
The Soviet Super-Soldiers were now adamant that they no longer serve the State after all their lies and deadly manipulations. However, their patriotism would not allow them to abandon the people of Russia if they were imperiled. When the Soviet government claimed that the entire Soviet Union was threatened by the schemes of the genius scientist code-named the Gremlin, the Super-Soldiers reluctantly agreed to track him down in Khystym, now called the Dead Zone. Darkstar and her fellow Super-Soldiers were unaware that the KGB agent who recruited them was truly an alien infiltrator from the shape-changing Dire Wraiths. Teleporting to Khystym, the Super-Soldiers encountered the mutant scientist Gremlin and his companions Rom and Starshine. A misunderstanding led to an extensive battle between the Super-Soldiers and the others. Ursa Major managed to follow Gremlin into the facility and discovered that the Dire Wraiths were resurrecting prehistoric creatures with their Wraith magic. When Ursa Major returned to his teammates, the misunderstanding was resolved and the Super-Soldiers allied themselves with Rom in taking down his arch foes, the Dire Wraiths. Fortunately for the people of Russia, the Soviet Super-Soldiers and their allies were successful in defeating the Dire Wraiths. In the aftermath, Gremlin suggested that the Super-Soldiers take the facility as their base and the group agreed, believing they could serve the people of their country without the State interfering. Darkstar invited Gremlin to join the team, which the disfigured mutant accepted. [Rom #45-46]

While responding to a railway catastrophe, the Super-Soldiers were approached by the Crimson Dynamo, who had remained loyal to the Soviet government. He informed his former teammates that the disaster had been caused by a fragment of Magneto’s asteroid base falling to Earth. Despite their differing allegiances, the Super-Soldiers agreed to join the Crimson Dynamo in bringing Magneto to justice for his crimes against the Russian people, most notably the sinking of the submarine Leningrad and the destruction of the city of Varykino. Darkstar teleported her teammates to Magneto’s location - however, upon arriving in Kampuchea, they discovered that the Avengers had already apprehended Magneto on behalf of the World Court, which intended to try him for his crimes against humanity. They also learned that Magneto was now a member of the X-Men, who were unwilling to see Magneto captured. While Darkstar seemed content to allow the Avengers to deal with Magneto, her teammates were not willing to let the situation be controlled by foreigners. Naturally, a battle between the three super teams followed during which Magneto and the X-Men were able to escape. Before long, the Super-Soldiers tracked Magneto and the X-Men to a freighter in which they were attempting to escape. Egged on by the Crimson Dynamo’s fervor, the Super-Soldiers engaged the X-Men, resulting in the sinking of the freighter. The Avengers arrived in time to assist in the ship’s rescue and, after aiding the assembled heroes, Darkstar proved instrumental in the capture of the Crimson Dynamo, who was responsible for sinking the freighter. At that point, Darkstar pulled the Super-Soldiers out of the situation and assured the two other teams that they would turn the Crimson Dynamo over to maritime authorities and allow the World Court to deal with Magneto. [X-Men vs. Avengers #1-3]

In between

  • Darkstar embarked on a solo diplomatic tour of the United States, where she and the Black Widow were attacked by Starlight, formerly known as the Red Guardian, who was completely under the control of the Presence. Darkstar learned that she and the Black Widow were to return to Russia with Starlight so that the Presence could have a “harem” of Russian super-women. Darkstar was deeply disturbed that her own father would desire her in this way and eventually brought Starlight to her senses using the Darkforce. Starlight explained that the Presence was mentally ill but assured Darkstar that she would help him recover his sanity and keep him under control. [Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #70]
  • During the event known as the “Armor Wars,” both the Crimson Dynamo and Gremlin, still wearing the Titanium Man armor, became targets of the increasingly unstable Iron Man, who was seeking out as many armor-wearers as he could. Crimson Dynamo was defeated by Iron Man, however the Titanium Man armor proved too powerful against the weakened Iron Man. Gremlin pursued Iron Man when he fled, only for Gremlin to be killed when Iron Man’s boot jets overheated, combusting the Titanium Man armor. [Iron Man (1st series) #229]

Chronology continued
With their roster reduced to the trio of Darkstar, Vanguard and Ursa Major, the mutant Super-Soldiers found themselves under constant pressure from their government to serve as sanctioned agents, but still they preferred to remain independent heroes. When the Soviet government sent their new team, the Supreme Soviets, after the Super-Soldiers, they concluded that the best way to serve the people of Russia was to defect to the West. The Supreme Soviets also included the Soviet Super-Soldiers' former member, the Crimson Dynamo, whose anti-mutant stance had not changed. The Super-Soldiers arrived on Avengers Island, where they presented their plea for political asylum to Captain America. Cap listened to their story and offered them temporary sanctuary at Avengers Island while he contacted the US government to discuss the legalities of the matter. During Cap’s absence, the Super-Soldiers were attacked and gravely injured by the Supreme Soviets. Lingering on the brink of death, the minds of the three Soviet Super-Soldiers were somehow linked and given form through Darkstar’s connection to the Darkforce. Taking the form of a giant bear composed entirely of Darkforce their merged consciousness returned to Russia and sought revenge against the Supreme Soviets. The “Great Beast” encased the Supreme Soviets in Darkforce and began to drain their life-forces in order to restore their own waning vitality. When Captain America told the Super-Soldiers that they would no longer be worthy of calling themselves heroes if they killed the Supreme Soviets, Darkstar asserted control over the “Great Beast” and ended the attack. The stolen life-forces were sufficient to revive Darkstar and her teammates and the Supreme Soviets recovered. When they awoke, Darkstar and her teammates remembered their collective actions as if it were a dream. [Captain America (1st series) #352-353]

Darkstar, Vanguard and Ursa Major remained in the States for a short-time recuperating from their injuries while Captain America made efforts to secure them political asylum. Unfortunately, the negotiations were unsuccessful and the three mutants were shipped back to Russia in stasis capsules. For weeks, they were held in a research facility before being liberated by a Russian group of mutants calling themselves the Exiles. Forced to go underground, the Soviet Super-Soldiers still attempted to make a difference for the people of Russia and protect the other mutants affiliated with the underground. However, enraged by the Soviet Super-Soldiers’ escape, the Soviet government engaged the assassin called Firefox to hunt them down. Firefox upped the stakes by slaughtering any mutants he encountered during his pursuit of the Soviet Super-Soldiers, including many of their newfound allies. In the end, the Soviet Super-Soldiers and the Exiles were able to defeat Firefox and take away his cybernetic implants so that he no longer posed a threat. With only three of the Exiles still alive, the Soviet Super-Soldiers merged their team with the Exiles into a new team called Siberforce. [Soviet Super-Soldiers One-Shot]


  • Unfortunately, any hopes of using the changing political climate in Russia for their cause seemed futile. Even more so, when the more public Supreme Soviets were renamed the People’s Protectorate, successfully riding the wave of political change themselves, it seemed as if all the hard work Darkstar, Vanguard and Ursa Major had put in over the years making a difference for the people of their country was for nothing, and that they were now once and for all, in exile.
  • Darkstar became the most publicly active member of the Exiles/Siberforce, participating in many local and overseas missions. When the Russian government changed, and their outlook on super-beings improved, Siberforce and the People's Protectorate were folded into one restructured team known as the Winter Guard. [Darkstar & the Winter Guard #1-3, Iron Man (3rd series) #9-10] Laynia remained one of the more prominent members of the team, and even pulled double-duty as a member of X-Corporation Paris, until her death. [New X-Men (1st series) #128-130] Following her demise, the Russian government created replacement Darkstars using genetic engineering. These new Darkstars served on a further restructured Winter Guard, before Laynia was returned to life. [Hulk (4th series) #1, Darkstar & the Winter Guard #1-3]
  • While on a mission with Siberforce, Vanguard was slain in combat. [Starblast crossover] He was later ressurected, just in time to join the newly formed Winter Guard. [Avengers (3rd series) #44, Iron Man (3rd series) #9-10] He and several other members resigned from the team following Darkstar's death, and they formed the Protectorate, where he spent some time in Immortus's Limbo. Upon returning to Earth a significant time later, the Protectorate went head-to-head with the restructured Winter Guard, and Vanguard rejoined the team as the new Red Guardian. [Darkstar & the Winter Guard #1-3]
  • Ursa Major served with the Exiles/Siberforce for a time, although was not particularly active. He was never actively shown to be a member of the original Winter Guard, but was revealed to have been a member of the team. He later served as one of the core members of the restructured Winter Guard. [Darkstar & the Winter Guard #1-3]
  • Bukharin continued to operate as the Crimson Dynamo for some time, while serving with the People's Protectorate, later being given a new armor of his own, the Airstrike armor, after Colonel General Shatalov set Bukharin up, and took the armor for himself, becoming the sixth Crimson Dynamo. However, Bukharin would continue to wear variations of the Crimson Dynamo armor while the Airstrike armor was being finalised [Soviet Super Soldiers one-shot, Avengers (1st series) #319-324, Incredible Hulk (1st series) #393] Bukharin's anti-mutant views led him to being exluded from the original Winter Guard line-up, but he remained affiliated with the team, and eventually became the new Winter Guard's liaison. [Iron Man 3rd series) #9-10, Darkstar & the Winter Guard #1-3] Successors to the Crimson Dynamo armor or versions of the armor include: Colonel General Shatalov, an unknown wearer, Gennady Gavrilov, another unknown wearer with armor created by the Tinkerer, two more unknown wearers (as the tenth and eleventh Crimson Dynamos), Boris Vadim as the twelfth wearer, and finally Galina Nemirovsky, as the first known female wearer. Both Vadim and Nemirovsky served with the recent Winter Guard incarnation.


Crimson Dynamo V (Dimitri Bukharin)

First Appearance: Iron Man (1st series) #109
First Soviet Super-Soldiers Appearance: Iron Man (1st series) #109

All Soviet Super-Soldiers appearances: Iron Man (1st series) #109-112, Marvel Team-Up Annual #2, Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258-259, Wolverine First Class #7-8, Contest of Champions #1

Powers: exoskeletal battle suit utilizes Vanko generators for superhuman strength, armored resistance to injury, electrical blasts, plasma bolts, and boot rockets for flight

Darkstar (Laynia Petrovna)

First Appearance: Champions #7
First Soviet Super-Soldiers Appearance: Iron Man (1st series) #109

All Soviet Super-Soldiers appearances: Iron Man (1st series) #109-112, Marvel Team-Up Annual #2, Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258-259, Wolverine First Class #7-8, Contest of Champions #1-2, Rom #45-46, X-Men vs. Avengers #1-3, Captain America (1st series) #352-353, Soviet Super-Soldiers one-shot

Powers: tap into an extra-dimensional source of Darkforce energy, which she can direct as concussive blasts, protective force fields, solid energy constructs, and inter-dimensional flux that can propel her through the air or enable transportation from place to place by creating portals through the Darkforce Dimension

Titanium Man II / Gremlin (Kondrati Topolov)

First Appearance: Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #163
First Soviet Super-Soldiers Appearance: Rom #46

All Soviet Super-Soldiers appearances: Rom #46, X-Men vs. Avengers #1-3

- malshapen form hides a super-genius intelligence, carries pistol that fires armor-piercing rounds
- exo-armor includes superhuman strength, radar and electromagnetic scanners, titanium-alloy protective shielding, stasis beam, optic thermal bolts, and shatter-blast rays that produce force, combustion, and disintegration, boot jets enable flight

Ursa Major (Major Mikhail Urlokovitch Ursus)

First Appearance: Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258
First Soviet Super-Soldiers Appearance: Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258

All Soviet Super-Soldiers appearances: Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258-259, Wolverine First Class #7-8, Contest of Champions #1, Rom #45-46, X-Men vs. Avengers #1-3, Captain America (1st series) #352-353, Soviet Super-Soldiers one-shot

Powers: peak human strength and endurance, transmorph able to assume the form of a bi-pedal grizzly bear with great strength, resilience, animal senses, and razor sharp claws

Vanguard (Nicolai Krylenko)

First Appearance: Iron Man (1st series) #109
First Soviet Super-Soldiers Appearance: Iron Man (1st series) #109

All Soviet Super-Soldiers appearances: Iron Man (1st series) #109-112, Marvel Team-Up Annual #2, Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258-259, Wolverine First Class #7-8, Contest of Champions #1,3, Rom #45-46, X-Men vs. Avengers #1-3, Captain America (1st series) #352-353, Soviet Super-Soldiers one-shot

Powers: projects an energy wave around his body that repels any force directed at it, including kinetic impact, various forms of electromagnetic radiation, and gravity so that he can fly, carries hammer and sickle that act as lenses to focus his repulsive field into energy bolts, and contain gyroscopic circuitry to return to his grasp after thrown