ICEMAN #6
SINA GRACE (W) • ROBERT GILL (A)
Cover by KEVIN WADA
CHAMPIONS REASSEMBLED Part 1
ICEMAN, one of the most powerful mutants within the Marvel Universe, discovers his powers and his outlook on life evolving. He needs to lead the charge with a team who stand proudly by his side in the war to “protect those who can’t protect themselves.” Hercules, Ghost Rider, Black Widow, Darkstar, and Angel re-unite with Marvel’s fearless frozen fighter setting ICEMAN on an all-new path. As more unexpected enemies emerge, can Bobby mature into the warrior he’s destined to become? Hope he survives the experience!

Anton: Rest assured, citizens. Krang foolishly believed he could invade our temperate waters to spawn. Let his defeat be a lesson to all those who oppose the Russian Federation. The Winter Guard will stand against you— and we will triumph!
Reporter 1: Crimson Dynamo, could you beat Colossus in a fight?
Reporter 2: Darkstar, whatever became of your bother, Vanguard?
Reporter 3: Ursa Major, are you secretly dating Black Widow?
Ken: Camera crews? They get camera crews? I need a better agent.
Namora: Theirs is a very different world from ours, Ken.
Bob: A very alien world.

So, the Winter Guard are big time in Russia, with a state sponsored program and a press junket that follows them around. Natasha’s reputation in her native country is very inconsistently portrayed— sometimes she’s hailed as this legendary hero figure, sometimes an urban legend, and sometimes she’s despised as a traitor!! I imagine given the time that’s passed since the Cold War and the commodification of the Black Widow identity there’s a big plausible deniability gap between the mysterious Khrushchev-era espionage program and the western immigrant superhero. For all their popularity, the public aren’t especially well informed about the Winter Guard. The Darkstar here is Reena Stancioff, when it was the original Darkstar, Laynia Petrovna, who had the brother Vanguard.

And Natasha remains of interest to the Russian press because, I suppose, she’s a prominent Russian abroad, and also because she might be dating a giant bear. ПРЕВЕД МЕДВЕД!

From Darkstar and the Winter Guard #1, by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis.