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Winter Guard - Marvel Comics - Russian super-team

Winter Guard


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

Context

The Winter Guard is the official superhuman force of the Russian Federation in the Marvel Universe.

It first appeared in 1998. This profile covers their first decade, and stops as 2018 does.

This profile is to be read after :

  1. The Soviet Super-Soldiers team profile.
  2. The Siberforce team profile.

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Profile

Organisation

Full Name:
Winter Guard. “The Guard” for short.

Purpose:
Superhuman defense of the Russian Federation.

The Guard is usually seen responding to superhuman crises and invasions, abnormal catastrophes, and the like.

Modus Operandi:
In-force superhuman response.

The team has a solid budget and is thus provided with high-tech bases, vehicles and the like.

Historically, the Guard has been depicted as benign, though with occasional struggles against callous and counterproductive orders. In 2019 there was an out-of-nowhere heel turn, which may or may not stick.

Extent of operations:
Primarily the Russian Federation.

Bases of Operations:
Formerly the Citadel, in unspecified Russian wilderness.

Subsequent bases are unrevealed.

Major Funding:
Russian Federation.

Known Enemies:

Known allies:

  • Russian military and security forces.
  • Occasional cooperation with current and past members of the Avengers.

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Membership

Organizational structure:
The Winter Guard operates under the authority of the Russian Executive Security Committee. The RESC is represented by Colonel Alexi Vazhin.

Dimitri Bukharin is the executive officer running the Guard and its support structure.

There will also be a field leader.

Roster (1998):

Roster (seen in 2002 just before Darkstar’s death):

  • Crimson Dynamo (Boris Vadim).
  • Fantasia a.k.a. Fantasma.
  • Powersurge (Illarion Ramskov).
  • Red Guardian (Josef Petkus) (team leader).
  • Ursa Major (Mikhail Ursus).
  • Vanguard (Nicolai Krylenko).

Roster (seen in 2008):

  • Crimson Dynamo (Boris Vadim) (original team leader).
  • Darkstar (Sasha Roerich).
  • Red Guardian (Anton) (subsequent team leader).
  • Ursa Major (Mikhail Ursus).

Roster (2010):

  • Crimson Dynamo (Galina Nemirovsky) – replaces the slain Vadim.
  • Darkstar (Reena Stancioff) – replaces the slain Roerich.
  • Red Guardian (Anton) (team leader).
  • Ursa Major (Mikhail Ursus).

Roster (late 2010):

  • Crimson Dynamo (Dimitri Bukharin).
  • Darkstar (Laynia Petrovna).
  • Red Guardian (Nicolai Krylenko).
  • Ursa Major (Mikhail Ursus).

Roster (2019):

  • Crimson Dynamo (Dimitri Bukharin).
  • Czernobog.
  • Darkstar (Laynia Petrovna).
  • Perun.
  • Red Widow (name unrevealed, not Ava Anatalya Orlova).
  • Vanguard (Nicolai Krylenko).
  • Ursa Major (Mikhail Ursus).
  • Vostok.

It seems that both Perun and Czernobog soon left, but it’s not clearly established.

Membership requirements:
Unrevealed.

Winter Guard - Marvel Comics - Russian super-team - 2008 roster quartet

2008 roster.

Equipment

The team flies using a Quinjet-style aircraft, called the Sovereign.

All members have miniature radio headsets. These seem to have a nationwide range. Or at least the field leader’s does.

The Guard’s base was the Citadel. This was a former Dire Wraiths base, lost in remote snowfields. It had a support staff of unrevealed size.

The Citadel remained a trove of Dire Wraith technology, which was gradually getting analysed.

The Citadel also had specialised medical facilities, and high-tech prison facilities. The latter could hold even the Presence, though the power dampeners couldn’t entirely neutralise his telepathic abilities.

The armory/workshop had enough workspace for multiple small vehicles and power armour  suits. Plus walls reinforced with carbonadium.

There was an AI assistant, which Dimitri Bukharin can access from any corner of the Citadel via vocal commands.


History

The Winter Guard was probably created in 1998. It was a fusion of :

  1. The People’s Protectorate. Which had been the official team during the 1990s.
  2. Siberforce. Which had until recently been a Siberian covert mutant unit opposing Russian mutant policies.

As noted in our Siberforce profile, it is *possible* that this unlikely fusion was brokered by Colonel Alexi Mikhailovitch Vazhin of the SVR . Changes in anti-mutant policies were also presumably involved.

Guarding the Federation

In 1998, the Winter Guard and Russian units clashed with the invading Mandarin. They fought his army for hours. They were eventually reinforced by the Iron Man (Tony Stark) and the Black Widow, then the Avengers.

Winter Guard - Marvel Comics - Russian super-team - airdrop

In 1999, the Guard responded to brutal, worldwide weather manipulation by the Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer). They protected civilians from sandstorms in Irkutsk.

In 2001, the Guard fought the Starblasters (including an inexplicably returned Threkker) in Smolensk.

This was during the Maximum Security events. When Earthlings realised that their planet had been covertly turned into a prison for many of the galaxy’s most wanted.

The Guard was also part of the hundreds of super-heroes that Graviton (Franklin Hall) held prisoner for a while.

Attack of the corruscating Forbidden Zone radiation zombies

After the Presence returned to Universe-616 , he came up with a new none-too-sane plan. It was based on what he had learned whilst resurrecting his son.

Soon, a cloud of radioactive fire rolled from the Forbidden Zone. Those it touched were turned into a zombie-like army, infused with deadly radiation. The Presence wished to convert all Russians thus, to restore a form of national unity and purity.

He overwhelmed the Winter Guard — only Darkstar managed to evade him — then the Avengers.

However among the Avengers, Firebird (Bonita Juarez) and Thor (Thor Odinson) still stood. Thor went ballistic, defeated the Presence and almost executed him. However, Starlight volunteered to absorb the radiation if he’d spare the Presence.

Starlight was successful. A major effort by Russian physicians and soldiers then saved the lives of the Presence’s victims. That included the Winter Guard and the fallen Avengers.

Dancing in the dark

In 2002, the Guard fought an invading U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. army in Novosibirsk. These were actually backed by Ancient Babylonian god Marduk.

Winter Guard - Marvel Comics - Russian super-team - Battle guardian darkstar dynamo

Darkstar was detached to the X-Corporation. She joined the Paris team. What led to this partnership is unrevealed.

(Here too Colonel Vazhin may have brokered the deal. His ties to the X-Men go back to the 1970s, via Colossus (Piotr Rasputin)).

Darkstar was slain by Fantomex (Charlie Cluster-7) during a catastrophic clash with Huntsman (Weapon XII). However, the Winter Guard’s handlers had been exploring ways to replace fallen operatives.

In Darkstar’s case, her dual nature made it possible to harvest her body to implant her powers and DNA in another woman. But this led to a crisis within the team. All members but Ursa Major and Crimson Dynamo (Boris Vadim) left.

Vanguard formed a new independent team, the Protectorate.

A word from our sponsors

The Guard presumably worked for a while with a small roster. But by 2008 at the latest, a new Red Guardian and a new Darkstar were in the field.

The Russian Federation also started a media push about the Guard – perhaps during the mid-2000s. They received pervasive and favourable coverage, and had a camera crew assigned to them.

There even was merch. Such as Ursa Major teddy bears, or Crimson Dynamo plastic mecha dolls.

Wintertastic Four

In 2008, there was a brief showdown with She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) and Doc Samson. These were investigating the death of the Abomination (Emil Blonsky) in Russia, but there was a dispute about boundaries.

Winter Guard - Marvel Comics - Russian super-team - base and airplane

During the (not-so)-Secret Invasion, the Guard stood with the Russian military at Tatischevo. Enhanced Skrulls were attempting to steal nuclear weapons. War Machine (James Rhodes) came in to help, but the Guard was ordered not to help him. Rhodes was thus captured by the aliens.

After Rhodes escaped, the Crimson Dynamo opted to ignore orders. The Guard teamed up with War Machine. They and Russian troops vanquished the Skrull contingent.

2009

In 2009, the Winter Guard was sent to the tiny nation of Marinmer. They were to block an illegal earthquake relief effort by the Lady Liberators (She-Hulk, Invisible Woman (Susan Richards), Thundra, Valkyrie (Brunnhilde), Jazinda Kl’rt-spawn).

Team leader the Red Guardian eventually decided that his orders were unethical. The Guard instead helped the Liberators.

(Presumably, the Guardian was team leader since the Dynamo had been demoted for ignoring orders).

Some months later, the Guard fought against a global rise of cancerous horrors. These had been summoned by the Elder God Chthon, who was in possession of Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff). The Mighty Avengers eventually defeated Chthon in Transia.

In early 2010, the Dynamo and the Guardian arrested Iron Man (Tony Stark), who was accused of massacring an entire Russian village.

глюк

In 2009, most former Soviet Super-Soldiers were tricked into working for the Neo-Soviets, a strike force assembled by the Red Barbarian (Andre Rostov). The plot was to strike at Iron Man.

This story poses continuity issues. In particular, it collides with the timeline for the Protectorate. I don’t think it’s supposed to be in continuity. Maybe ?

If it is meant to be in-continuity, here’s my proposed No-Prize Hypothesis. The Red Barbarian and his agents were actually magic-using Dire Wraiths imposters building up cover.

They were fleeing Limbo and trying to establish a base on Earth, but their intel wasn’t the best.

One advantage of this *hypothesis* is that it can also explain a 2010-19 continuity glitch around Ursa Major. See his profile for more.

Upheaval

The Guard then clashed with the Presence. The madman had turned spy Igor Drenkov (best known for his role in creating the Hulk) into a rampaging gamma monster.

During this battle, the Dynamo (Vadim) was slain. Darkstar (Roerich) was also forced to absorb the gamma monster into her Darkforce. The Presence was then defeated, and the Dynamo replaced.

The Winter Guard was soon called to defeat the Remont 6 terror cell (Titanium Man, Iron Maiden, Unicorn, Volga, two Snow Leopards – individual identities uncertain for all). However, Darkstar was still recovering. Undermanned, the Guard was losing.

Sasha Roerich teleported in. She sacrificed herself by letting out the Drenkov gamma monster, suffused with Darkforce. This abomination took down Remont 6, then was neutralised by the Red Guardian.

Sasha Roerich was replaced by a new Darkstar, Reena Stancioff.

Dire threats

2010 also saw the Winter Guard ally with the Agents of Atlas in Vladivostok. They repelled Warlord Krang of Atlantis, who was attacking with Atlantean soldiers and giant sea monsters.

Uzbekistan was then attacked by King Hyperion. The Winter Guard was outmatched, but Blue Marvel (Adam Brashears) came in just in time.

Fantasma then returned to Earth via a dimensional breach. She now knew that she was a Dire Wraith. Using her alien heritage, she took over the Guard’s Citadel and birthed an army of lower order Dire Wraiths.

At this point the survivors of the Protectorate (Vanguard (Nicolai Krylenko), Starlight (Tania Belinskaya) and Powersurge (Illarion Ramskov)) also returned to Earth. They were hot on Fantasma’s trail, and allied with the Winter Guard to fight her.

In the wake of this huge battle :

  1. The Citadel had been destroyed.
  2. Red Guardian (Anton) had been beheaded, though one suspects he can be restored.
  3. Galina Nemirovsky was expelled for having disobeyed orders. She absconded with a number of Citadel resources, plus Anton’s head.
  4. Reena Stancioff was slain.
  5. Fantasma was hurled back into Limbo. But she managed to drag Starlight in with her.
  6. Powersurge and the Presence seemingly perished in a huge explosion.

The OGs are back

In 2012, the team attempted to apprehend the Intelligencia. It was a trap, and they were shot into orbit. But the Guard survived.

The team also fought in various global crises. Such as :

  • The attacks by Father’s nanomachine Descendants.
  • The otherdimensional  monsters unleashed by the Wizard from Franklin Richards’ dream world.
  • The 2017 giant monsters global invasion, unwittingly unleashed by Kei Kawade.
  • A 2018 Weapon X intrusion targeting the S.I.C.K.L.E. super-organisation.

In late 2018 Dimitri Bukharin, fed up with it all, retired to a hidden dacha  in the Urals.

(If you are using our No-Prize Hypothesis about Dire Wraith impersonators to explain the “Neo-Soviet” and 2010s Ursa Major glitches, perhaps Bukharin killed the Ursa Major-impersonating Wraith, then retired in disgust).

The OGs are back (redux)

The Winter Guard wavered for a time. But they soon landed on their feet :

  • The enigmatic Red Widow joined the team.
  • Ursa Major was reinstated after years in a gulag.
  • The twins convinced Dimitri to re-up.

Winter Guard - Marvel Comics - Russian super-team - 2019 roster

2019 roster.

When the Guard was next deployed, two old hands (Vostok and Perun) had rejoined. Plus another Slavic god – Chernobog. Perhaps Mr. Bukharin called in markers.

In 2019, Namor and a horde of powerful undersea terrorists took another stab at attacking maritime bases. They wrecked a Russian facility in the Black Sea.

The Winter Guard went after them. They found Namor’s gang at Hydropolis, in the South Pacific. The Guard allied with the Avengers. However, the two teams then got into a brief but acrimonious brawl after Perun and Chernobog started fighting.

During this operation, it became clear that the Red Widow was acting as a political commissar . The Dynamo was doing the bulk of the leading, but she was the higher authority representing Moscow’s interests.

Throne of the damned, part 1

Soon, a huge civil war erupted among vampires. It pitted the factions of the Shadow Colonel (Xarus) against his father Dracula.

Some vampires tried to flee into Russia via Ukraine. The Winter Guard was posted at the frontier to stop these.

Dracula soon came in, and surrendered. Petrovna and Krylenko took him to a huge max-security prison, in Sol-Iletsk.

Dracula planned to negotiate. To assert strength, he used his magic to start a prison riot. The Guard put an end to it, with some assistance from Iron Man (Tony Stark).

Throne of the damned, part 2

The Red Widow then rejected negotiating with Dracula. She butchered most of his vampiric entourage to establish dominance. Dracula was exiled to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

The Shadow Colonel and his lieutenants then attacked Sol-Iletsk, turning the entire penal colony into a vampire army. Even the Guard was overwhelmed.

The Avengers came in and attacked what was left of the vampires. A good part of their eventual victory came from She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) detonating.

A few weeks later, a recovered Winter Guard fought enhanced gamers from eScape, yet another Tony Stark project gone haywire.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 2nd of August, 2020.

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