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Alexi Shostakov (Earth-616) from Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 2 19 0001.png
Red Guardian (Alexi Shostakov)
Hah! To think that one of the accursed Avengers should be captured in my very stronghold ... lured here by his love for the Black Widow! What could better prove how superior to all Americans is the one they call... the Red Guardian!!
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Hawkeye
And a hotsky-trotsky to you, you long-winded creep!
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Appearing in "The Valiant Also Die!"

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Synopsis for "The Valiant Also Die!"

The Black Widow is subjected to a lie-detector test to determine where her true loyalties lie. Although she is really still an ally of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., she beats the test and is set free. Hawkeye and Hercules remain captives though.

The rest of the Avengers arrive at the base and attack. They gradually make headway through the communist troops. Hawkeye manages to escape and joins in the fighting.

Captain America is separated from his team mates and challenged to a one-on-one fight with the Red Guardian. In the midst of the duel, Cap loses his shield but gains the upper hand, until Colonel Ling electrocutes him. The Red Guardian is unhappy that Captain America was defeated so dishonorably.

While her opponents are distracted, the Black Widow tries to disable the Psychotron, but is caught in the act and shot at by the Colonel. The Red Guardian leaps in the way and takes the shot, however, and the Black Widow completes her task. She is then shot just as Hawkeye runs in and catches her.

With the Psychotron disabled, Hercules breaks free. He, Cap and Hawkeye (carrying an injured Black Widow) follow. United once more, the entire Avengers team retreat from the base.

Colonel Ling tries to kill the Avengers one last time with a rocket launcher but is stopped again by the Red Guardian. The rocket blows up the base and the Avengers barely escape. Back in the U.S., the Black Widow is rushed to the hospital. The Avengers, and especially Hawkeye, are relieved to learn she is expected to make a full recovery.

Notes

  • This story continues in part in Avengers Annual #1.
  • Although Red Guardian dies in this issue, other individuals had previously and will later assume the role Red Guardian. The next will be Tania Belinskaya in Defenders #35.
  • The characterization of the Red Guardian is a rare depiction in mid-60's Marvel Comics of a somewhat sympathetic Russian. In general, any communist character was either an unwilling pawn (such as Hawkeye and the Black Widow used to be) or a cowardly, craven and thoroughly disreputable villain. The Red Guardian is shown to be a true believer in Soviet communism, but still has a sense of honor and integrity, leading him to turn against his allies at a crucial moment because he respects Captain America and refuses to attack an enemy who is in retreat.
  • References: Avengers #42

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