||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
|First appearance||The Punisher Vol. 5, #8 (November 2000)|
|Created by||Garth Ennis
|Place of origin||Earth|
|Team affiliations||Gnucci Family
General Kreigkopf's Army
|Supporting character of||Punisher|
|Notable aliases||The Ivan|
|Abilities||Near bulletproof skin
Considerable strength, stamina, and endurance
The Russian is a fictional supervillain, and enemy of the Marvel Comics antihero the Punisher. He was created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, and first appeared in The Punisher Vol. 5, #8 (November 2000).
The Russian debuted off-panel in The Punisher Vol. 5, #8, was fully introduced in the following issue, and appeared in every subsequent one up until his death in Issue #11. In the following series, the character was resurrected as a cyborg, and was featured in The Punisher Vol. 6, #1-5.
The Russian received profiles in Marvel Encyclopedia #5, All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #9, and Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #9
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
In his first storyline, the Russian possessed tremendous strength and durability; he singlehandedly wipes out a Bravo Force team, unintentionally crushes a man with a friendly gesture, smacks the Punisher with a toilet he had ripped out of its foundation, and tears apart a handgun, while also being unfazed by being kicked in the crotch, stabbed in the stomach, and bludgeoned with a chair. Additionally, he alludes to surviving freefalling from an airplane, and being repeatedly shot in the head. Despite his nigh-invulnerability, the Russian was sensitive to heat, becoming enraged when the Punisher successfully injured him with a stove, and a hot pizza.
When General Kreigkopf resurrected the Russian, he had his body augmented with plastics and adamantium, replaced most of his organs with ones taken from animals, and gave him olfactory sensors that increased his sense of smell to the level of a bloodhound's.
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.
A flashback sequence in The Punisher Vol. 7, #75 depicts the Punisher fighting the Russian, who tries to break his back. The circumstances surrounding the battle, as well as how it is resolved, are not revealed.
In Punisher Noir, the Russian is a soldier turned independent mercenary who, after World War I, is sent after Frank Castelione, who is on a locomotive headed for England. A fight ensues and moves to the top of the train, where Frank shoves a grenade into the crotch of the Russian's pants, and pushes him off of the vehicle. Years later, the Russian, now identifying as female, helps Jigsaw and Barracuda murder Frank at the behest of mob boss Dutch Schutlz.
Frank's son, Frank Castelione Jr., grows up to become the Punisher, and discovers the Russian's connection to his father's death after tracking down and killing Barracuda and Jigsaw. The Punisher confronts the Russian at the Bronx Zoo, and their fight brings them into the reptile exhibit, where the Russian is mauled by alligators. Despite losing an arm, the Russian continues to try and attack the Punisher, who finishs him off by emptying two fully loaded guns into him. Frank, Jr. then stages the scene to make it look like the Russian was the Punisher all along.
In other media
The Russian appears in 2004's The Punisher, played by Kevin Nash. He has no onscreen dialogue, and is sent after the Punisher by mob boss Howard Saint. Powering through everything the vigilante throws at him, the Russian beats the Punisher to near death with his bare hands, and numerous objects. The Punisher gains the upper hand when he hurls a pot of boiling water into the Russian's face; while incapacitated by pain, the Russian is knocked down a flight of stairs, the fall breaking his neck.
The Russian reappears in the video game sequel to the 2004 film, released in 2005. In the game, he is working for General Kreigkopf, has lines (most of them relating to his favorite superheroes) and no explanation is given for how he recovered from his neck being broken by the fall down the stairs. The Russian is fought twice as a boss, the second battle ending with him being blown up by a nuclear device that was smuggled onto Grand Nixon Island.
- The Punisher vol. 5, #11 (February 2001)
- The Punisher vol. 6, #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. 6, #4 (October 2001)
- The Punisher vol. 6, #5 (December 2001)
- Peter Milligan (w), Goran Parlov (p), Goran Parlov (i). "Father's Day" The Punisher v7, #75 (14 October 2009), United States: Marvel Comics
- Frank Tieri (w), Paul Azaceta (p), Paul Azaceta (i). "Punisher & Son" Punisher Noir #2 (16 September 2009), United States: Marvel Comics
- Frank Tieri (w), Paul Azaceta (p), Paul Azaceta (i). "Two Down..." Punisher Noir #3 (21 October 2009), United States: Marvel Comics
- Frank Tieri (w), Paul Azaceta (p), Paul Azaceta (i). "The Last Words of Dutch Schultz" Punisher Noir #4 (9 December 2009), United States: Marvel Comics
- Jonathan Hensleigh (Director) (16 April 2004). The Punisher (Motion picture). United States: Lions Gate Entertainment.
- Volition (16 January 2005). "The Punisher". PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows (v1.0). THQ.