Cover art for Darkstar and the Winter Guard #1 by Clayton Henry
|First appearance||Iron Man vol. 3 #9 (October, 1998)|
|Created by||Kurt Busiek (writer)
Sean Chen (artist)
The Winter Guard are noted for being "Russia's answer to the Avengers". Several members of the group formerly belonged to the Soviet Super-Soldiers, the People's Protectorate and the Supreme Soviets. Unlike those teams, which were often adversarial towards other costumed superheroes, the Winter Guard is much more heroic and representative in nature.
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The team made infrequent appearance in the Marvel Universe until Jeph Loeb brought them to attention in Hulk #1. The Winter Guard soon appeared in She-Hulk and War Machine: Weapon of SHIELD.
David Gallaher brought the team back in Hulk: Winter Guard which first appeared as a Marvel Digital Comic and was later reprinted as a comic book. Gallaher returned to writing the team with a 3-issue limited series called Darkstar and the Winter Guard in 2010.
Fictional team history
The Winter Guard made their debut in Iron Man vol. 3, #9, and fought alongside the Avengers during both the "Maximum Security" crossover,[volume & issue needed] and the "Kang War".[volume & issue needed]
Whilst investigating the murder of the Abomination (who was killed by Red Hulk), Doc Samson, She-Hulk and Thunderbolt Ross encounter the revitalized Winter Guard, consisting of Ursa Major, Red Guardian, Darkstar and the Crimson Dynamo. When She-Hulk points out that Darkstar and Red Guardian were dead, Iron Man tells her that they were replaced with new people. It is unknown if the other members of the team are new as well.
After teaming up with War Machine to fight the Skrulls, the team was later seen clashing with She-Hulk and the Lady Liberators - and again with The Presence and Igor Drenkov. This version of the team uses an old alien ship, from the Dire Wraith race, as a headquarters.
They were mentioned by Storm as possible back-up while Rachel Summers was investigating in Madripor. 
Their current membership is:
- Ursa Major - A mutant who can transform into a humanoid bear.
- Crimson Dynamo V - Russia's answer to the Iron Man armor.
- Darkstar - Laynia Petrovna, a mutant who can draw power from the Darkforce Dimension. She has died once and was later resurrected.
- Red Guardian - Nicolai Krylenko, also known as Vanguard, leads the current roster of the Winter Guard as the Red Guardian. A mutant with the power to reflect energy at his attackers. The original Darkstar's brother, he has also died once already and was later resurrected.
- Darkstar II - Sasha Roerich, a red-haired & short-lived replacement for Petrovna who was bestowed Darkstar's power.
- Darkstar III - Reena Stancioff, who was killed by a Dire Wraith.
- Steel Guardian - Russia's counterpart to Captain America. The fourth Red Guardian (Josef Petkus), he briefly used the name Steel Guardian.
- Fantasma - A sorceress and illusion-caster. Also known as Fantasia. Revealed to be a Dire Wraith.
- Powersurge - A nuclear-fueled giant, who sacrificed his life to destroy the Russian supervillain, The Presence.
- Sibercat - A ferocious feline mutant.
- Vostok - A robot with the power to control machines. Also known as Sputnik.
- Crimson Dynamo XIII - The identity formerly worn by Galina Nemirovsky.
|Darkstar and the Winter Guard||Darkstar and the Winter Guard #1-3; Hulk: Winter Guard #1; X-Men Unlimited #28||2010||978-0785148678|
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes tie-in miniseries has the Winter Guard appear in issue 2. They were called in by the Swiss government to arrest Crimson Dynamo, who is being pursued by the Avengers and into a fight with them. Their line-up consisted Vanguard, Darkstar, Ursa Major, and Titanium Man.
- In X-Men '92 The Winter Guard are called "The Poeple's Protectorate". They consist of Ursa Major, Omega Red, Darkstar, Vostok, and Red Guardian. They are turned into Vampires by Dracula's son, Janus, but rescued in the end.
In other media
- The Winter Guard appear in the Avengers Assemble episode "Secret Avengers". Its members consist of Red Guardian, Darkstar, Crimson Dynamo, Ursa Major, and the Russian Radioactive Man. Crimson Dynamo had obtained a key to a capsule that had imprisoned Radioactive Man and had to evade Captain America's group and Power Princess in order to get to the Winter Guard. During the fight between Captain America's group and the Winter Guard, the Russian facility they were in started to become destabilized causing both groups to work together to keep it from destroying a nearby village. Crimson Dynamo and Falcon freed Radioactive Man who dissolved the facility. When it was commented by Falcon how a bunch of villains helped save the nearby village, Red Guardian is the one who told Captain America's group that the Winter Guard are Russia's superhero team and work for Central Command (which is the Russian counterpart of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
- The Winter Guard is mentioned in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. In the briefing that follows the Wakanda incident, Captain America and Iron Man mention that the Winter Guard has been absorbed into The Fold.
- She-Hulk #34 (2008)
- Beard, Jim (November 4, 2009). "Winter Guard: Cold Warriors". Marvel.com. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- Gourley, Jim (April 20, 2010). "The Sword and Script Interview: David Gallaher". Sword and Script. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- Mahadeo, Kevin (May 21, 2010). "Gallaher Thaws Out the Winter Guard". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- Rogers, Vaneta (May 25, 2010). "From High Moon to DARKSTAR: Zuda Alums Talk Russian Heroes". Newsarama. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
- Amazing Spider-Man 676
- Hulk #1 (2008)
- Iron Man: Director Of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34
- Darkstar & the Winter Guard #1 (2010)
- Wolverine and the X-Men #27
- Monsters Unleashed Vol. 2 #2
- Darkstar and the Winter Guard #2-3
- X-men '92 1-4