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Vanguard of the Soviet Super Soldiers (Marvel Comics)

Vanguard

(Nicolai Krylenko)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

An operative of the Soviet State, as can be readily discerned, who appeared in 1978. He and his fellow Soviet Super-Soldiers was portrayed with a bit of nuance, and after 1989 he became a Russian more-or-less super-hero.

His mutant power is chiefly defensive, but it scales really high.


Background

  • Real Name: Nicolai Krylenko
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Laynia Petrovna (aka Darkstar, sister, deceased), Sergei Krylov (aka Presence, father), Marya Karlova (Mother, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Winter Guard ; former member of the Soviet Super Soldiers, former member of the KGB, former member of the Exiles (Father Garnoff’s), former member of Siberforce.
  • Base Of Operations: Khystym, Russia
  • Height: 6’3” Weight: 230 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Reddish brown


Powers and Abilities

Vanguard is a superhuman mutant, who possesses enhanced strength and vitality.

A superior capacity for reflection

Yet his main mutation remains his ability to deflect or even reflect all sorts of energy hitting him. It includes almost everything from massive kinetic force (including a freight train crashing into him, or punches from an incensed Hulk) to exotic radiations.

Initially, he used cybernetics (a special hammer and sickle he would cross over his chest) to channel his repulsion power. He later learned to do without them. In fact his control over his power became fine enough for him to repulse himself off the Earth and fly with solid power and proficiency.

During the late 1980s there was an intermediary phase where he still needed to wield his weapons to deflect attacks, but no longer needed to cross them over his chest.

Vanguard’s ability to return aggressive might seems practically limitless. He once defeated the Hulk by standing there and just returning his increasingly powerful blows as the jade giant raged on. However, this proved harrowing to Vanguard as well.

Other assets

Even though he no longer needs them to deflect/reflect attacks, the hammer and sickle remain powerful and sophisticated weapons. Vanguard continues to use them ever since he joined the Winter Guard. He uses those weapons chiefly as thrown weapons, as they then fly back to him. He did so even back when throwing his weapons meant losing his chief defense while they were in flight.

From a remark he made, Nikolai seems to be trained as an electronics technician, and possibly as a pilot. Some evidence also indicates that his physical structure is altered, with chromosomal alterations (likely rendering him infertile) and an abnormal ATP cycle .


History

Nicolai Krylenko and Laynia Petrovna are superhuman mutant siblings. They are the children of Sergei Krylov a.k.a. the Presence, but were raised in foster families since they were very little – hence the different last names.

When the USSR stopped killing mutants on sight, they became the star pupils of Professor Piotr Phobos’ Super-Soldier School. For more about Phobos and his School, see our profile for Ursa Major (Mikhail Ursus).

As Vanguard, Nicolai and his sister joined Mikhail Ursus (and, regularly, the Crimson Dynamo) to form the Soviet Super-Soldiers. The two men being on the impetuous side, it was Laynia who was the brains on the team.

Soviet Super-Soldiers

This early version of the Super-Soldiers was first seen investigating the Blue Area of the Moon after some signals emanating from there had been detected by Soviet space centers. Their space shuttle was shot down when they approached, and they quickly ran into a gutted Quinjet carrying Iron Man and the Jack of Hearts.

The situation swiftly degenerated, but thanks to Darkstar the two factions eventually allied. Eventually, the Super-Soldiers and Jack of Hearts, allied with New Men from Wundagore II, defeated an invasion force of Colonizers from Rigel. Meanwhile Iron Man intercepted their master weapon, the Punisher robot once used by Galactus.

The Soviet trio was later manipulated by an important KGB official, General Kutzov. He told them that he needed their help in conducting a desperate mission in the US to prevent Americans from annihilating the USSR with nuclear fire. However, the rogue officer’s plan was actually to have the Super-Soldiers steal the plans for an American anti-matter bomb.

Despite Peter Parker’s interference the Soviet mutants were successful and followed their orders. They detonated the prototype in its hidden base in the Rockies, unknowingly running a considerable risk of destroying the Earth as a result.

The Super-Soldiers started realising something was wrong with the story Kutzov was feeding them. But at that point, they were attacked by the Hulk and Spider-Man. Vanguard eventually knocked the Hulk out, but the Soviets were exhausted from the battle. It was thus Spider-Man and a recovered Hulk who saved the world from Kutzov’s demented plan.

Enters the Presence

Eventually, the Super-Soldiers were transferred under the command of Colonel Yuri Brevlov, the head of the KGB. The Crimson Dynamo stayed with the group, both as an operative and as a political commissar . Ursus also rejoined his childhood friends Nikolai and Laynia as the fourth Soldier.

The foursome were assembled just in time for a last-ditch mission in the Forbidden Zone to stop the Presence. The Presence’s energy was causing the radioactive wasteland of the Zone to expand at rapid rate, threatening to engulf the USSR. During that mission, the Super-Soldiers allied with the Hulk.

The Presence halted the growth of the Forbidden Zone after hearing out the Soldiers. During the confrontation, Vanguard and Darkstar learned they were siblings, that the Presence was their father, and what Piotr Phobos’ real agenda had been all along.

The Super-Soldiers continued to conduct some missions for the State. But after the Phobos revelation they resolved never to blindly obey the authorities again. Most of their missions were conducted on an unsponsored super-heroic basis, without the Crimson Dynamo. This part of their career is largely undocumented.

They were teleported off Earth for the Contest of Champions between the Grandmaster and Death. Both Vanguard and Darkstar were active contestants.

Drifting away from the KGB

The Super-Soldiers had suspicions about the KGB, but it was the Gremlin who discovered the truth. The directorate had been taken over by alien Dire Wraiths. The Gremlin allied with the spaceknights Rom and Starshine, and via the KGB the Wraiths sent the Super-Soldiers against them.

Ursa Major discovered the truth about the Wraith during the fight. The Super-Soldiers thus allied with the Gremlin and the spaceknights, and destroyed the Dire Wraith base in the Forbidden Zone. Once the battle was over, the Gremlin joined the Super-Soldiers. He soon became the second Titanium Man.

The four Super-Soldiers continued to protect the USSR, and remained wary of the KGB. They and the Crimson Dynamo attempted to apprehend Magneto, but the Soldiers discovered that the Dynamo had lied to them and they stopped chasing the mutant master of magnetism.

The Gremlin was then accidentally killed by Iron Man. Mere months before the fall of the Wall in Berlin, the Super-Soldiers ended up defecting to the West. They were tricked and killed by the governmental force the Supreme Soviets, but came back as a giant, indestructible darkforce  bear – see the Ursa Major profile for details.

As they recovered they were returned to Russia. However a mutant underground railroad led by Father Garnoff intercepted them. Mutants throughout Russia were being killed off. Garnoff offered sanctuary, and the three Super-Soldiers agreed to join and help.

Soviet no more

Though they were originally too weak to oppose the military or the mutants-hunter Firefox, the Super-Soldiers greatly stiffened the mutants underground. Along with Sibercat and Stencil they formed a small group called Siberforce. None of their exploits were chronicled.

Some years later, the motley crew of deadly aliens called the Starblasters started propelling the moon toward the Earth. Detecting the disturbance, Garnoff sent Vanguard and Darkstar to investigate. Since they had already been to the moon, Darkstar could teleport them there.

Like nearly all investigating heroes, they were assaulted by the Starblaster’s mind control devices. Darkstar managed to rescue herself and drag her brother out of the main area of effect. Vanguard was freed from the mind control by Adam Warlock after a brief clash with Quasar (Wendell Vaughn).

Vanguard and Darkstar accepted to aid Quasar again after he explained the Starbrand situation (see Quasar’s profile).

Death and return

Vanguard and Darkstar accompanied Quasar on a deep space mission, to infiltrate the ship of the Starblasters. During a subsequent fight, Vanguard was killed by Threkker after the alien drained his powers.

Darkstar killed Threkker in retaliation and brought her brother’s corpse to the Presence. Blaming Quasar’s for Mikhail’s seeming death, they assaulted him until he had to fake his death.

Vanguard’s preserved body (with the Soviet circle on his costume’s chest restored) and his weapons were kept in a glass sarcophagus in the Kremlin as a national hero. The Presence eventually managed to revive him by shrinking into his body, inspecting his molecular structure and infusing him with a gigantic amount of energy.

However, as he witnessed his resurrection of Vanguard from the inside, the Presence came up with a demented plan to change all Russians, starting with his son, into nuclear-powered life forms. Nuclear people could turn others into nuclear persons sharing the same mind with a touch, and soon Vanguard “converted” many scientists, then the intervening Winter Guard.

The Avengers were called in, but initially failed. Most of them were also converted into nuclear life forms. The Presence relented when Kang launched a major assault on the Earth. All nuclear people, including Vanguard, were returned to their normal state.

The Winter Guard is coming

Laynia Petrovna was more recently captured by Colonel Tskarov, formerly the dreaded KGB officer known as the Snow Wolf. Tskarov then manipulated Ursus and Krylenko into furthering his agenda – see the Ursa Major profile for details. During this case, Vanguard clashed with the Black Widow and Daredevil.

Vanguard, his sister and Sibercat then joined the ranks of Russia’s main superhuman team, the Winter Guard. The other members were former Supreme Soviets members (later rebranded as the People’s Protectorate) – Steel Guardian (formerly the Red Guardian), Vostok and Fantasma.

Along with new member Surge and unexpected ally Iron Man, the Winter Guard and the Red Army repulsed a powerful invasion of Russia by an high-tech army assembled by the Mandarin.

Iron Man was defeated and captured, but the Winter Guard was reinforced by the Black Widow, quickly followed by the Avengers. Even all of their combined might proved unless against the Mandarin’s humongous, dragon-shaped flying flagship, however, until Iron Man crashed it from the inside.

Death of Laynia

Laynia resumed working with foreign agencies. She joined the X-Corporation as, presumably, a part-time agent. There she was heroically killed whilst containing the spread of a viral super-weapon in the Chunnel.

The inconsolable Vanguard was further hurt when the Russian government started using gene splicing techniques to confer the powers of his beloved sister to a succession of young women who became new Darkstars.

The Winter Guard later intervened when a plan by the new Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer) and her Masters of Evil triggered worldwide extreme weather. They protected numerous Russian civilians from a huge sandstorm.

When a legion of alien criminals was sentenced to be marooned on Earth, with the entire planet serving as their prison, a new worldwide crisis was triggered. The Winter Guard again protected Russia, fighting alien felons in Smolensk and other locations.


Description

After the Super Soldiers joined Father Garnoff’s Exiles, Krylenko became so angry at the government that he tore the Soviet symbol from his costume. This symbolically left a torn hole over his chest.

When he returned to the Party, he adopted the red and gold costume with, again, a prominent hammer and sickle chest symbol.


Personality

Krylenko is a hotheaded man who usually thinks with his fists rather than with his head. He’s quick to anger and revels in the glory of a good battle for The Cause. He will listen to his sister and his best friend, though.

He is also highly protective of his sister. He will attempt to help her if she’s threatened no matter what, and even if she opposes it.

Vanguard is prone to making inflamed speeches and vigorously patriotic statements. During the 1980s nothing passed his lips that wasn’t thundering and definitive, and did not end with at least one exclamation mark.

By the mid-90s, Vanguard became one of those who longed for the order of old. He became an ardent militant of the reconstructed Russian Communist Party. He changed his costume to a red and gold, hammer and sickle-adorned one patterned after the old Soviet flag, and once again proudly used his signature weapons.

He also reverted to a bit of his previous anti-American attitude, though this seems to be mostly rhetorical.


Quotes

“You know nothing of power, American ! For Vanguard has yet to reveal the true strength imbued in the overlapping symbols of the worker’s state !”

“Stalin’s ghost… look !”

“I sense a battle brewing… a chance to use my power !”

“Monster, you’ve hurt Laynia ! You’re very impressive when it comes to fighting women. Let’s see if you’ll do as well against Vanguard !” (engages the Hulk in combat}

“We are the only ones with the power to dare try !”

“Have no fear on that score, woman ! Vanguard’s power, focused through these overlapping symbols of the workers’ state, turns the aggressive might of an enemy back upon him !”

“They seek to destroy some secret installation that undoubtedly stands to safeguard the motherland !”

“Fear not, my sister! I will not lose the only family I have !” (SPLAAAANGG !!)

“No ! Where my sister goes, I go !”

“If that is the case, they who perpetrated this deception shall answer to the might of Vanguard !”


DC Universe History

A Russian guy with a hammer and sickle pretty much inevitable, really. And he’s far from a major character. Just insert him in.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Vanguard — classic

Dex: 05 Str: 05 Bod: 06 Motivation: Uphold the Motherland/Thrill of battle
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 016 HP: 040

Powers:
Reflection/Deflection: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
Reflection/deflection works against hand-to-hand/melee attacks (+2)

Skills:
Gadgetry (Repairs and maintenance): 04, Vehicles: 04, Weaponry (Hammer and sickle): 06

Advantages:
Language (Russian), Schtick (Paired hammer and sickle)

Connections:
Soviet Super-Soldiers (High)

Drawbacks:
MIA toward impulsiveness, MIA toward distrusting Americans

Equipment:

  • Cybernetic Sickle [BODY 12, Claws: 11, Flight: 08, Reflection/Deflection: 24, Bonuses & Limitations: Flight only to extend thrown range and return flying to Vanguard, Reflection/Deflection only works if the user has at least 1 AP of Reflection/Deflection of his own, and requires both weapons to be crossed over the chest, Reflection/deflection inherits the Bonuses & Limitations of the user’s Reflection/Deflection. Note: the APs of Claws are probably somehow powered by Vanguard’s mutant power.]
  • Cybernetic Hammer [BODY 12, EV 11, Flight: 08, Reflection/Deflection: 24, Bonuses & Limitations: Flight only to extend thrown range and return flying to Vanguard, Reflection/Deflection only works if the user has at least 1 AP of Reflection/Deflection of his own, and requires both weapons to be crossed over the chest, Reflection/deflection inherits the Bonuses & Limitations of the user’s Reflection/Deflection. Note: the weapon’s EV is probably somehow powered by Vanguard’s mutant power.]

The overlapping symbols of the worker’s state — Early Vanguard

In his earliest appearances, Vanguard’s Weaponry score was but a 05.


Revolutionary vanguard — Modern Vanguard

The “classic” Vanguard above is the version seen throughout the 1980s. By the 1990s he has improved his control over his powers and no longer relies so much on his weapons. To reflect this, make the following changes to his stats:

Powers:
Reflection/Deflection is now 22 ; also add Flight: 08, Contingent upon Reflection/Deflection

Connections:
Add Father Garnoff/Siberforce (High) and later Winter Guard (Low)

Drawbacks:
Delete the MIA toward distrusting Americans

Equipment:
During his time with the Exiles, Vanguard did not have his weapons. The government did, and gave them to Perun after his axe was incinerated by the Unicorn. When he joined the Winter Guard, Vanguard has his hammer and sickle again.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

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