The Commissar is a tough robot who appeared in an early — 1965 — adventure of the Avengers.
He’s not genuinely notable, but :
- I like robots.
- Discussing him involves an intriguing bit of Marvel Universe history.
However, the story itself was just bog-standard Cold War propaganda. With the added “charm” of having inherited a few visual shorthands from anti-Japanese World War Two propaganda.
- Group Affiliation: Proxy of Major Hoy.
- Base Of Operations: Sin Cong.
- Height: About 10′ (3 metres). Weight: At least 1540lbs. (700 Kg)
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: Black.
Powers and Abilities
The Commissar is extremely fast, strong and tough.
He was programmed with a remarkable skill in hand to hand combat. Against most opponents he prefers wrestling, which brings his superior strength and weight to their full use.
The maximum range between the controlling console and the Commissar is unrevealed. Probably no more than a few kilometres, if that.
My guess would be that the Commissar was built by Half-Face (Trung Tuấn). But it’s a complete hypothetical, without support.
The Commissar appeared to be the superhuman dictator of the small country or province of Sin Cong. More about it below.
In actuality, he was a lifelike robot. The real dictator was Major Hoy, who secretly remote-controlled the Commissar.
(The name “Commissar” derives from the function of political commissar in many XXth Century Communist militaries. In Mandarin Chinese it’s pronounced cheng-way. Well, more or less – I suck at tonal languages.)
In 1965 Hoy decided to strike a great blow for Communist propaganda. He lured the Avengers to Sin Cong, and captured them using gas.
Holding the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) hostage, Hoy organised one-to-one fights between the Commissar and the Avengers (Captain America (Steve Rogers), Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) and Hawkeye (Clint Barton)).
The Commissar won every duel. But Captain America guessed what was going on. He challenged the Commissar to meet the Scarlet Witch in an all-or-nothing fight.
Wanda, briefed by Cap, uncovered the place where Hoy was remote-controlling the Commissar. She then blew up the console with an hex, winning the duel and exposing Hoy’s deception.
One step beyond
Major Hoy retained power after this defeat and exposure. In fact, it made him even more determined to have superhuman operatives – and even bigger super-weapons than the Commissar.
The dictatorship remained a militarised rogue state, apparently with ties to Hydra.
Hoy’s son eventually took over, with the country becoming an expyFictional character heavily based on another character for North Korea rather than Việt Nam.
The Sin Cong mysteries
The country of Sin Cong was an obvious fig leaf for Việt Nam.
This 1965 story was published as US ground deployment there started shifting from instructors and advisers to combat troops. By the next year, the number of US ground troops sent there would explode.
Decades later, continuity researchers suggested using it as a Việt Nam stand in. That was because the actual Việt Nam invasion was receding into the past, yet was still closely tied to the background of many active characters.
(If this “sliding timeline” quandary is new to you, see our explanations in our article about aging in the Marvel Universe).
At first, this suggestion did not make it in official continuity. As per the 2007 Marvel Atlas, Sin Cong had no special historical presence beyond its few appearances in the comics. Mostly it was mentions of the 1965 Avengers story.
During the 2010s, writer Kurt Busiek used and developed that notion in continuity.
It doesn’t replace every tie to the Việt Nam war with Sin Cong, the goal remaining to cool continuity conflicts for some characters. Such as Tony Stark, or Spider-Man (Peter Parker)’s friend Flash Thompson.
As of this writing (late 2020) this process is still ongoing, but :
- The country’s spelling has changed to Siancong. This is presented as a better transliteration of its name in English. That occurs a lot with Sinitic names, such as “Peking” now being spelled “Beijing”. It also sounds more credible and less 1960s.
- The History of the Marvel Universe (HMU) published in 2019 further officialises the Busiek developments. Its author Mark Waid adds that the likes of James Rhodes and Frank Castle, but also Ben Grimm and Reed Richards, fought there. In the 1960s stories, Grimm and Richards were veterans of the war in Korea.
- The HMU notes that the Siancong War lasted for decades.
- The HMU explains that one layer of this quagmire was control of a mystic energy called the Dragon’s Breath. It is part of the backstory of Night Thrasher (Dwayne Taylor). See the Left Hand character profile for more.
Alles klar, Herr Kommissar ?
Apparently there’ll be more material in the 2021+ Busiek series The Marvels. If so we’ll likely spin this section off into a full article.
A hulking, overconfident Red Menace out to crush the capitalist imperialistic running dogs.
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 09||Str: 13||Bod: 09|
|Int: 04||Wil: ///||Min: ///|
|Inf: ///||Aur: ///||Spi: ///|
|Init: 015||HP: 000|
Density increase: 01, Growth: 01, Self-link (Gadgetry): 09
Bonuses and Limitations:
All Powers are Always On and Already Factored In.
Charisma (intimidation): 05, Martial artist*: 09, Weaponry (melee)*: 09
No Weak Points, Misc.: The person controlling the Commissar can animate the robot, speak through him in a convincing manner and uses his Hero Points on the Commissar.
Attack Vulnerability (-3CS OV/RV vs. attacks on his controlling console).
DC Adventures RPG
Commissar — Averaged PL 12.5
I, Communist robot ● 73 points (Subtle) ● Descriptor: Technology
– Immunity 60 (Will, Fortitude).
– 1 Rank of Lifting-Only Strength.
– 10 Ranks of Impervious for Stamina.
– Feature 1 (the Commissar is superhumanly large).
Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+14), Intimidation 5 (+5), Perception 3 (+3).
Sword ● Strength-based slashing damage 2, Imroved Critical 1 ● 3 pts
Light pistol ● Ranged ballistic Damage 2 ● 4 pts
|Unarmed +14, Close, Damage 13.|
|Scimitar-ish sword +12, Close, Damage 15, Crit 19-20.|
|Pistol +5, Ranged, Damage 2.|
- Appearance The Commissar is readily noticeable.
- RC dictator The Commissar robot needs to be remote-controled in order to take significant initiatives.
- RC dictator If the hidden remote control console is attacked, its Toughness is but 03.
- Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 14, Dodge/Toughness PL 12, Parry/Toughness PL 12, Fort/Will PL N.A.
- Points total 173. Abilities 80, Defences 12, Skills 5, Powers 73, Devices 0, Advantages 3. Equiv. PL 12.
Source of Character: Marvel Universe.
Helper(s): Doug Barnes, Darci.