Real Name: Aleksey Lebedev
Identity/Class: Human (1940's)
Occupation: Soviet agent
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Ally of Josef Stalin; uneasy ally of Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Spirit of '76 and the Patriot
Enemies: Red Skull (Johann Shmidt), the S.S., General Brinkhaus
Known Relatives: unnamed family (deceased)
Aliases: Volodymyr Fomin
Base of Operations: European Theater, World War II
First Appearance: Namor Annual#1 (1991)
Powers: Possessed no superhuman powers; the Red Guardian was skilled in hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship, usually armed with a pistol.
(Namor Annual#1 (fb))- The man who became the Red Guardian was a Soviet citizen who witnessed an explosion in a building. Bravely running into the building, which caught fire, he saved a woman and her child-as well as the Soviet flag. Draping the flag around himself to replace his clothes, which had been damaged, he was greeted by the husband of the woman he saved, apparently a general. Inspired by how the man wore the Soviet flag so proudly, the general informed Stalin of this bold comrade. Stalin appointed him the Red Guardian, Soviet analog of Captain America.
BTS- The S.S. killed the Red Guardian's entire family before World War II ended.
(Captain America Annual#13 (fb))- The Soviet spy Klaus Fuch discovered that Hitler had entrusted a special strongbox to the Red Skull, bringing the Red Guardian travels to the Skull's bunkern in April, 1945. The Guardian encountered the Patriot, Captain America, and the Spirit of '76, who had also been assigned to recover the strongbox from the Skull. The staunchly anti-Communist Spirit of '76 and Patriot made their disdain for the Guardian apparent, but the Guardian directed them all to a manhole that served as a back entrance to the Red Skull's bunker.
The Allied agents confronted the Red Skull and his men, with the Patriot and Spirit of '76 taking up the rear as Cap and the Guardian pursued the Skull deeper into the bunker. When the Skull pressed a special switch that opened the door to a side shaft where more S.S. men were hidden, the Guardian pushed Captain America out of the way, so that the bullets fell safely in-between them. The Guardian, holding a grudge against the S.S., attacked the ones in the side shaft, telling Cap to complete the mission.
Captain America confronted the Red Skull, who attempted to kill him with a grenade, but only managed to cause damage to the infrastructure of the bunker, causing himself to be buried under rubble. That, and a final air raid by Allied forces, separated the Skull from the strongbox. (The Skull survived due to the accidental release of experimental gasses as a result of the explosions.) The Sprit of '76, Patriot, Red Guardian, and Captain America fled the bunker.
Later, after the U.S. adventurers had gone, the Red Guardian surreptiously returned to the bunker to rifle through the rubble for the strongbox. He did not find it. Immediately upon returning to Moscow, Stalin summoned the Red Guardian. The Red Guardian explained what happened. Stalin, disappointed, informed the Red Guardian that only his status as a Soviet hero had spared him from execution for his failure, blew smoke in his face, and dismissed him.
(Namor Annual#1)- On the eve of the Postdam Conference, the Red Guardian served as Stalin's bodyguard, and had donned a slightly different costume at this time. He encounterd the Sub-Mariner and the new Captain America, who he did not recognize as William Naslund, formerly the Spirit of '76.
Meanwhile, a General Brinkhaus had gathered together a group of conspirators including psychics and mystics, intending to use them to gain mental domination of Stalin, Churchill, and Truman. However, some of his confederates felt too passionate about Germany's defeat, and decided to go on private missions to assasinate the Allied leaders. While Stalin was sleeping, the Red Guardian watched over him in his room in the Palace. Hearing a noise, the Guardian saw an assasin's reflection in the window, and shot the would-be assailant. Namor, hearing the shot, picked up the corpse.
Several blocks away, another would-be murderer tried to attack Truman, and Captain America defeated him. Cap brought his captive to the Palace. Getting the would-be murderer drunk, the Red Guardian coaxed him to reveal his secrets-- including Brinkhaus' whereabouts.
Meanwhile, Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt started the Conference. Namor, Cap, and the Guardian, using the info obtained from the inebriated captive, arrived at the secret base of Brinkhaus-- directly underneath the building where the conference was being held. They overheard Brinkhaus reveal that, all along, he intended to use the mystics and psychics to destroy the delegates at the conference, with the side effect that most of Berlin would be destroyed, as well as himself and his allies.
The trio of Namor, Cap, and the Guardian attacked Brinkhaus. Although the Guardian managed to wreck some of the devices of Brinkhaus, foiling his plan, Brinkhaus did manage to inflict intense structural damage to the building housing the Conference. Namor sent Guardian and Cap to help save the dignataries from debris as he attempted to stablize the building's supports. The Red Guardian managed to grab onto Stalin, but the floor collapsed under them. Stilling holding onto Stalin, the Guardian managed to clutch onto the remaining part of the floor, when Captain America pulled him up. The Guardian carried Stalin out of the crumbling building.
Namor, Guardian, and Cap met outside on the lawn afterwards. The spirit of collaboration ended when Cap warned Guardian that next time, they may meet as enemies.
Comments: Created by Mike Thomas, Dana Moreshead and Phil Hester.
From Mike Thomas, himself: We had intended the Namor Annual#1 costume to be the character's costume, with the original '60s version wearing an updated slicker version of it. When Roy wrote the Cap Annual he preferred to keep the Buscema designed '60s costume.
Not much has been said about the 1940's Red Guardian, so we can only speculate as to his ultimate fate. Maybe he was later demoted, or even liquidated by Stalin. Another, somewhat wilder theory of mine, occurred to me as I read Captain America Annual#13; the story gets set up so that we find out about Stalin's meeting with the Red Guardian in April 1945 when the Red Skull (Johann Shmidt) in the present day read the diary of the late Communist Red Skull, Albert Malik.
It occurred to me; how did Albert Malik know about this? Stalin and the Red Guardian seem to have been alone in the meeting room. It also occurred to me; Albert Malik became the Communist Red Skull in 1953 upon the death of Stalin and the ascension of Malenkov, mentioning that immediately previously he led a spy cell in Algeria.
The last depicted sighting of the original Red Guardian took place in 1945. That serves as eight years before the emergence of the Communist Red Skull. Maybe in the intervening eight years, the Red Guardian's fortunes had waxed and waned, and he was busted down to less glamourus intelligence work in Algeria...only to be recalled in 1953 upon the death of Stalin. Maybe the original Red Guardian was Albert Malik!
(Now of course, Malik refers to the original
Red Guardian in the third person when he writes about him:
"Immediately upon his return to Moscow, the Red Guardian was
summoned by Premier Stalin himself". However, elsewhere in
his diary, Malik does refers to his activities as the Communist
Red Skull in the third person: "How relieved they were when
told that this was not the original Red Skull". (Characters
often refer to their past identities or aliases in the third
Also per Mike Thomas: I don't know if I've ever read Roy's whole story, but the theory is interesting. If we had been able to continue with the character, he would have been killed by the communists during the purges in the 1950s, while opposing the early, brutal, experiments that eventually lead to the 60s Red Guardian <Alexei Shostakov>.
Red Guardian was named Volodymyr Fomin in Patriot (Mace)'s profile in OHOTMU A-Z HC#8. Mike Thomas later provided the name Aleksey Lebedev for the character making Fomin an alias.
Profile by Per Degaton
Clarifications: The Red Guardian of the 1940's should not be confused with:
Namor Annual#1 (1991) - Dana Moreshead & Mike Thomas (writers), Phil Hester (pencils), Don Hudson (inks)
Captain America Annual#13 (1994) - Roy Thomas (writer), Arvell Jones (pencils), David & Dan Day (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Last updated: 10/03/02
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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