||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
Art by Steve Dillon.
|First appearance||The Punisher vol. 4, #8 (November 2000)|
|Created by||Garth Ennis
|Alter ego||Ivan Vassilovitch Dragovsky|
|Team affiliations||The Gnucci family|
|Notable aliases||Ma Gnucci|
|Abilities||Considerable strength, stamina, and endurance
Near bulletproof skin
Fictional character biography
The man known as the Russian was hired by the crime boss Ma Gnucci to eliminate the Punisher. He located him while the Punisher was moving out of his latest safe house, still recovering from severe wounds suffered in a previous battle with the Gnucci army. Almost unarmed and weak, Frank Castle is beaten severely by the Russian, who took the chance to enlighten Frank about his views on capitalism and American comic heroes and enjoyed the exercise immensely.
During the course of the fight, though, the Punisher learns that the hired killer has a serious aversion towards hot things. When the fight ends up in the apartment of Frank's obese friend, Mr. Bumpo, the Russian is stunned when Frank hits him with Bumpo's fresh pizza. Frank then has Bumpo lay on the Russian's head for many minutes. The Russian's severed head is later used as an intimidation tactic against the remnants of Ma Gnucci's army.
Several months after his death at the hands of the vigilante, a secret paramilitary organization retrieves his body parts. Using technology stolen from S.H.I.E.L.D., they "reattached" his head onto his body and augmented him with super-hard alloy coating to his skeleton. The Russian receives many other internal augmentations, rendering him resistant to injury. A side effect of this surgery is that he is required to regularly take large quantities of female hormones, preventing the rejection of his implants, causing him to develop large breasts. The Russian becomes quite enamored with these, even wearing a dress in his next encounter with Castle.
He enthusiastically agrees to serve the organization's head, General Kreigkopf, only to be allowed to take a one-off attempt at revenge on the Punisher. His efforts lead to throwing Frank Castle off the Empire State Building, but the vigilante is rescued by Spider-Man, who becomes deeply involved in the fight. Spider-Man refers to this version of the Russian as "Giant-Sized Ma'am Thing" (a pun on Giant-Size Man-Thing). Frank, using Spider-Man as a human shield, fills the Russian's mouth with webs and pushes him off the building. The Russian smashes through the pavement, is hit by a subway train, and manages to escape in the confusion. Though heavily damaged, he is eventually repaired. Though willing to follow the General via his old bargain, he cannot wait to clash once again with his adversary.
Grand Nixon Island
Later, the Russian is given his opportunity when the Punisher, having learned who was behind the Russian's resurrection, travels to the mercenary and criminal populated Grand Nixon Island to take out its leader, General Kreigkopf. The deranged general is about to crash a Boeing 747 brimming with commandos into a European Union council to prove, once and for all, that he was not a man to be trifled with. The Russian is on board, too, and when the Punisher blasts the plane before it could even take off, it crashes into a fuel depot. The Russian emerges, the only survivor.
Kreigkopf gives the Russian the order to take over a French atomic bomb test plane that had stopped on Grand Nixon island for refueling. The General wanted to take the bomb and drop it on the European Union in lieu of the 747. Frank, on the plane as well, briefly fights the Russian, then literally hooks the bomb into the Russian's face and sends both out the cargo door to the island below. Amused by the Punisher's boldness, the Russian literally laughed all the way to the ground. The entirety of Grand Nixon Island is destroyed in the atomic blast; presumably the Russian is killed as well, but his survival rate to date suggests a return from even such a cataclysm may not be unimaginable.
Powers and abilities
The Russian is a gigantic man (officially, he is 8 feet (2.4 m) tall and weighs 500 pounds) with tremendous strength and endurance. It is possible that the Russian himself does not know the exact limits of his abilities. He was seen crushing a man to death when attempting to give him a "friendly" hug. During his first appearance, the Russian was able to rip a toilet out off the wall and beat the Punisher with it. He was also seen punching through walls with apparently no loss of stamina, and due to his incredibly strong body, he is nearly impervious to bullets.
Obsession with American culture
In his initial comic appearances, the Russian was shown to have a minor obsession with American pop culture. His first thoughts upon being offered $10 million to kill the Punisher was a realization of how many pairs of Levi's and Compact Discs he could buy with that amount. The Russian is also a self-confessed superhero fan. He is the president of "The Daredevil, Man Without Fear, Fan Club" of Smolensk. He also wished to gain autographs from the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man before his death at Frank Castle's hands. He also believes Thor would make a good communist because of his big hammer.
In Punisher Noir, the Russian is a Russian soldier turned independent mercenary during World War I, who is sent to murder Frank Castelione while on a train headed for England after the end of the war. A fight ensues and moves to the top of the train, where Frank shoves a grenade into the crotch of his pants and pushes him away. Years later, the Russian has taken to wearing women's clothing and, along with Barracuda and Jigsaw, murder Castelione at Dutch Schutlz's orders.
In other media
The Punisher (2004 film)
The Russian appeared in 2004's The Punisher, portrayed by professional wrestler Kevin Nash and had no dialogue other than growls and snarls. He is dressed in a Spetznaz-type costume that he wears during his first comic book appearance. He is hired by Howard Saint to kill the Punisher following the death of the first assassin Harry Heck. Forcing his way into the Punisher's apartment, the two engaged in a brutal fight which mirrors their first encounter in the comics. Despite sustaining a superficial knife wound to his shoulder, the Russian manages to give the Punisher a severe beating that includes returning the shoulder wound, tossing him through several layers of drywall, and hitting him with a toilet he ripped out of the foundation.
In addition like the comics, the fight takes a turn for the better when the Punisher throws a pot of boiling water in his face which causes severe burns. This gives the Punisher the opportunity to knock the Russian down the apartment stairs. The Russian dies of a broken neck and his body is later discovered by John Saint and Quentin Glass when they arrive with Howard Saint's men at Punisher's apartment to see if Punisher is dead or not.
The Punisher 2005 (video game)
The Russian also appears in the 2005 Punisher video game, which is a game based on the comic books. In the game, he has speaking lines (referring to the Punisher as "Big boy"). He references other Marvel heroes, with phrases such as "Russian Smash!" (a classic tagline of the Hulk), "It's clobbering time!" (the favorite saying of the Thing of the Fantastic Four), and "Big superhero in Russia!" In the game, he is similar to his comics counterpart working for Kreigkopf. He manages to knock out Nick Fury and he serves as a stage boss twice in the game before being defeated for good.
- The Punisher vol. 3, #11 (February 2001)
- The Punisher vol. 4, #1 (August 2001)
- Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 49–51. ISBN 1-4165-3141-6.
- The Punisher vol. 4, #4 (October 2001)
- The Punisher vol. 4, #5 (December 2001)
- Punisher Noir #2-4