Back in the sixties, it was common for most Marvel supervillains to be from Russia. Russian spies, Russian agents, just… Russians. There were Commies everywhere, and American superheroes fought against them. Whether that was the Fantastic Four beating the Commies into space, dealing with the Red Ghost and his apes when they went to space, the Russian agent Igor who caused the accident that caused the Hulk, even the Black Widow was introduced as a supervillain. Armoured Russians Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man were early Iron Man villains. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev showed up occasionally. We could go on.
That changed over the decades as the situation became more nuanced. Black Widow joined the Avengers, Colossus joined the X-Men, as part of a sales plan to increase Marvel sales in Russia, we had Russian superheroes and super-teams and American actions against Russia weren't always portrayed in the most flag-waving fashion. The Punisher would show the CIA to be far more corrupt and dangerous than the KGB ever was. Even the reveal of The Winter Soldier and the revival of the Black Widow programme were seen as a remnant of Russia's past rather than current political policy.
But of late, there has been a bit of a reversal at Marvel, and it has been the X-Men leading the charge. In House Of X #1, the first issue of the current almost reboot of the X-Men, the mutant island and home to the new mutant nation Krakoa, is visited by ambassadors, including from Russia…
…but on the Security Council, they only abstain from recognising Krakoan independence. But as the Dawn Of X books kicked off, it all got a bit leary in Marauders #1…
And then in Wolverine #3. Russians have refused diplomatic relationships with the mutant island of Krakoa and throughout the X-books – though mainly Benjamin Percy's titles. Russia has been the big bad.
Percy has described the X-Force team as the CIA of Krakoa. Russians have attacked Krakoa, attached mutants around the world and enforced anti-mutant policies in its homeland. The Beast seems to want to keep Colossus and Omega Red onside regarding this.
But a few short months later, the Beast has turned around rather. And X-Force #12 showed us Colossus being interned on Krakoa because he was Russian. In front of everyone.
With Hank McCoy's written notes for an explanation. At the time, this was considered an egregious overreach and a sign of the Krakoan pupulist fascism that The Beast seemed to be embracing.
But then Krakoa is then attacked by Russian nesting doll assassins…
Then the Russian ambassador seems to be instrumental in turning Britain away from diplomatic relations with Krakoa as well.
Leading British representatives to make their new position very clear in a parallel with Brexit.
While in Russia over in X-Force #23, while they talk big about mutant rights…
…and walk big of mutant duties…
… they do appear to have a history of doing quite the opposite.
While Colossus's brother Mikhail, working for and with the Kremlin, has his own methods.
With X-Force #24 revealed that Colossus was being influenced by Russia and Mikhail using a controlling mutant known as The Chronicler, which also smacked of an unhealthy corporate/creative relationship somewhere along the line.
So while in Inferno, a new member of the Quiet Council is recruited…
In X-Force #24, the offer is made…
Someone the Quiet Council implicitly trusts.
Colossus is a member of The Quiet Council of Krakoa, but also being directly manipulated by Russian forces, without anyone else on Krakoa being aware of this, not even Colossus himself. Looks like Hank McCoy Was Right. Someone should get T-shirts made. While over in The Avengers comics written by Jason Aaron, the Kremlin had other plans in play away from the Xbooks.
The Avengers saw She-Hulk captured by Russian agents, putting her through a similar Red Room indoctrination that Black Widow originally underwent. But also portraying Russia as destabilising international relations by invading Atlantis.
And this assault is meant to go directly to the Kremlin., culminating in a nuclear assault on Atlantis.
Then going even further back into history, bringing up some Soviet gods of old.
And as She-Hulk is captured, put through the Red Room and turned into a Red Hulk, it is she who ultimately stops a great Russian atrocity on Atlantis.
With She-Hulk using the whole scenario as a way to, basically, get the Russians off her back, with their own court system.
And even Daredevil wants to remind Kraven of his heritage given the opportunity.
This leads us to X Lives Of Wolverine, written by Benjamin Percy, which has seen Mikhail weaponize Russian mutant Omega Red against Krakoa, trying to wipe its existence and that of Professor X and Wolverine from the timeline itself.
And when that finally fails, washing his hands of the whole thing, Omega Red is now exiled totally.
And for that New Russia? They have an embedded X-Men on the Quiet Council… ready to do Russia's bidding.
How might the events of 2022 in Ukraine affect how this particular storyline plays out? Or have the Marvel Comics writers just been ahead of the game? Maybe we might have another letters column like this from 1965's Fantastic Four #29.
X LIVES OF WOLVERINE #5
(W) Ben Percy (A) Joshua Cassara (CA) Adam Kubert
TIME TO DIE! WEEK 9 – OMEGA RED has threatened the past, present and future of mutantkind. Today, WOLVERINE puts an end to it. The unbelievable climax to X LIVES OF WOLVERINE is an experience comic readers won't soon forget and sets the stage for the ultimate finale in X DEATHS OF WOLVERINE #5! Parental AdvisoryIn Shops: Mar 16, 2022 SRP: $4.99