Soviet Super Soldiers #1
Issue(s): Soviet Super Soldiers #1
But then the Soviet Union began to collapse, and i guess this story was put on hold while those events were unfolding. That didn't stop the Supreme Soviets from appearing in Avengers #319-325, though. That story was also written by Fabian Nicieza. In it, playing off of the events here (which were not yet published), the Supreme Soviets had changed their name to the People's Protectorate, and some of the team members had changed their names as well (really just Sputnik to Vostok and Fantasia to Fantasma).
Avengers #319 will (re-)introduce the name changes well enough, so we didn't miss out too much by not having this in realtime, but this story does get the original Soviet Super Soldiers out of their coma, and Nicieza does make up an effort to build up the ecology of Russian super-characters. In addition to the Super Soldiers and the Supremes, Nicieza also revisits the Soviet mutants that we saw in X-Factor annual #1, and he brings the original Titanium Man and the (or a) Unicorn back from the dead. For the most part, the Soviet super-characters have been monolithic, but Nicieza resists cherry picking the best of these characters to form a new and improved single team and instead creates multiple factions within Russia. But Fabian Nicieza was also in the habit of writing overly convoluted plotlines at this point, and this was originally a Marvel Comics Presents story, so the pacing has the usual fits and starts even though it seems to have been modified to have only three official "parts" instead of what would have been 8.
The USSR manages to have the Soviet Super Soldiers extradited back to Russia, where they are brought to a laboratory for research (and isn't Ursa Major just adorable here?).
The Super Soldiers are rescued by the mutants from X-Factor (with some help from sympathetic scientists): Blind Faith, Mentac, Concussion, Iron Curtain, and Siberian Tiger (now Sibercat).
They are then hunted by Russia's answer to Cable, Firefox.
Yes, one of his hands is actually a gun.
Meanwhile, the current Crimson Dynamo, Dimitri Bukharin, is called back from the Supreme Soviets (he was on loan from the army) and sent to the United States to recover Titanium Man. We last saw Titanium Man in Thor #358 where he had transformed into card form and the card was trashed. Crimson Dynamo recovers the pieces of the card, but not before accidentally setting the Green Liberation Front (also from the Thor story) free and getting into a battle with them. To save himself from the GLF, he's forced to restore Titanium Man without restoring all the pieces of the card.
The result is that Titanium Man is unstable, but at least he can defeat the GLF.
The other Supreme Soviets are sent to investigate an attack on the city of Leningrad, and they find a similarly unstable Unicorn.
He turns out to be bizarrely mutated.
In fact, while the intention here seems to be that this was the original Unicorn (who died in Iron Man #154), according to the MCP this is a new version that only appears in this issue. I assume some later writer (or Handbook editor) decided that this was too silly. After all, he's a unicorn, not a triclops. He should be growing an actual horn, if anything.
This Unicorn goes out of control again when he's brought back to the lab for study. The two scientists that were sympathetic to the Soviet Super Soldiers earlier reveal that they have super-powers as well; they merge into an entity called Synthesizer.
But they wind up getting knocked out and it's Titanium Man who approaches Unicorn with "an offer you can't refuse".
Meanwhile, when Crimson Dynamo returns to the Soviet Union, he finds that the big fight that he caused in the US has gotten him in trouble, and he's forced to relinquish the suit. It is handed over to Valentin Shatalov, who we will see has become a new Crimson Dynamo in Iron Man #255.
Going back to the group that was being chased by Firefox, the mutant called Concussion is killed, and the rest escape into the mutant underground network. We meet some more Russian mutants.
Firefox eventually catches up with them, and is defeated.
And that's basically where things are left. The story jumps ahead three weeks to show Dmitri Bukharin getting a new suit of armor. He can't be Crimson Dynamo anymore, but he can still be active as Airstrike.
This won't last. When we get to Avengers #319, it will be Bukharin back in the Crimson Dynamo armor, possibly because of Shatalov's (or rather Tony Stark's) actions in Iron Man #255.
We jump ahead another "two months" to show Titanium Man getting fully reintegrated and with a new power allowing him to transform his armor into a little card without affecting his organic material. He, Crimson Dynamo (Shatalov), Firefox, and Unicorn seem to be forming a new group called Remont 4, dedicated to restoring the Soviet Union to "the glory days of Stalin", although Firefox is injured and Unicorn is currently being held in a straightjacket.
Then, "seven weeks" later, we see the name changes for the Supreme Soviets. Interestingly, we learn that Perun has a human side. He's also given hammer and sickle weapons to replace his axe, which was destroyed in the fight with the Unicorn.
Beyond that, their team name is changed to the People's Protectorate, and Sputnik's name is changed to Vostok (the first manned space launch). Fantasma was called Fantasia in her previous appearance, but she's actually called Fantasma throughout this story, even while Vostok is still Sputnik.
The combined remnants of the Soviet Super Soldiers and the mutants resistance become the Exiles. Among their number is a new character called Stencil who has the power to absorb someone's consciousness and memories (and she's unstable, with multiple personality disorder, because of it).
So that's it. It's more set-up than actual story, with Nicieza having set up multiple factions within Russia. There is a lot to keep track of, especially considering we're dealing with mostly unfamiliar characters. And not much actually comes of all of this, perhaps because of the delays in getting it out or because real world events continued to change. Or maybe just because it's a bunch of characters that were never more than occasional guest stars or villains prior to this.
I am not sure how the art credits play out. I think it is Angel Medina all the way through, with Javier Saltares perhaps making revisions to ease the flow between what would have been an 8 part story with 8 pages per part. In any event, the art is not bad at all, with lots of cool panels, albeit of characters i barely care about. Fabian Nicieza does manage to get in a few moments of humor and character, but when you are dealing with so many characters and such a dense plot, there is not a lot of room left.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The name change for the Soviet Super Soldiers (both their team name and the names of the individual characters) happens here, before their appearance in Avengers #319. The story starts at least "three months" after Captain America #352-353, and then soon after that a period of "two weeks" passes and then more time as the story continues. Captain America and Raymond Sikorski only appear in the opening segment and since that takes place so long before the rest of the story, i'm treating that segment like a flashback (i.e., i haven't included them as Characters Appearing).
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBlind Faith, Concussion, Crimson Dynamo V, Crimson Dynamo VI, Darkstar, Fantasma, Firefox, Fyodr Shelkov, Iron Curtain, Mentac, Perun, Red Guardian (Steel Guardian), Sibercat, Stencil, Titanium Man, Ursa Major, Vanguard, Vostok
A character so painfully 90s he might as well have been created by 90s Kid, working for the Soviet Union? There's a very specific time in history this comic could have been written...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | September 8, 2015 1:08 AM
Curiosuly, it's hinted here that Vostok was once a human being. The People's Protectorate military liaison guiy says he remembers a time when Vostok went by a regular first name.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 8, 2015 9:50 PM
I actually quite like the Airstrike design. Has that ever been repurposed for someone else? If not, it should be.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 4, 2016 5:22 PM
Nope, but it did feature a bit during the Darkstar and Winter Guard series.
Posted by: AF | April 4, 2016 7:10 PM
Airstrike was an extra costume for Crimson Dynamo in the Marvel Super Hero Squad game. That's how I found out about the armor.
Posted by: Enchlore | April 4, 2016 7:15 PM
Well, at least it's not completely forgotten. That's good to know.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 4, 2016 8:29 PM
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