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Red Guardian

Real Name: Alexi Shostakov
Occupation: Former test pilot, special operative for the intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union and of the People's Republic of China
Identity: Secret, known to his superiors in Soviet and Communist Chinese intelligence
Legal Status: Citizen of the Soviet Union with no criminal record
Other Aliases: None
Place of Birth: Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Place of Death: A secret military, base at an unrevealed location in the People's Republic of China
Marital Status: Married
Known Relatives: Natalie "Natasha" Romanova (wife)
Group Affiliation: KGB
Base of Operations: Various KGB and military headquarters in the Soviet Union, later a secret military base in the People's Republic of China
First Appearance: AVENGERS #43
Final Appearance: AVENGERS #44

History: Alexi Shostakov was one of the Soviet Union's most acclaimed test pilots. Because of his extraordinary skill, Shostakov was chosen for the most secret and dangerous tests and new aircraft for the Soviet Union. However, the Soviet state controlled news media greatly publicized certain other missions of his, and Shostakov was decorated as a hero of the Soviet Union. Shostakov was also successful in his private life, having married the equally famous ballerina Natalie (familiarly known as Natasha) Romanova.

It was decided at the KGB, the department of the Soviet government, which serves as its intelligence agency and secret police that the Shostakovs would make particularly good special operatives. While Alexi Shostakov was away from home on a mission, he was informed of the state's new plans for him, and told that from then on he could have no contact with any of his past friends and acquaintances, or even his own wife. Meanwhile, a Soviet official told Natalia Shostakova that her husband had died in the explosion of an experimental rocket he was testing. Distraught, Natalia Shostakova said that she wanted to do something to be worthy of the memory of her heroic husband. The KGB had anticipated her reaction, and trained her to become the spy known as the Black Widow. Eventually the Black Widow, who was again using her maiden name, defected to the United States.

The KGB trained Alexi Shostakov to become the Red Guardian, a special costumed agent who was intended to be the Soviet Union's counterpart to Captain America. During the years of his training, Shostakov became a cruel, ruthless man, very different in personality than he was while living with his wife.

The People's Republic of China developed a device called the psychotron, which could induce mass hallucinations. This gave the Red Chinese a weapon against which the United States and the Soviet Union had no defense, and therefore with which they could conquer one of these superpowers, eliminating it as a rival and threat. However, the Red Chinese needed a means of bringing the psychotrons within range of the countries they intended to conquer with it. They realized that they therefore could not attack both superpowers, since they would need the submarines of one nation to carry the psychotrons near the shores of the other. Deciding that the Soviet Union would be more likely to help them conquer the united States than the United States help them conquer the Soviet Union, the Red Chinese government informed the Soviet government about the psychotron and their plan to conquer America. Intrigued at the idea of so easily ending their rivalry with the United States, the Soviet Union sent a high ranking military officer, General Yuri Brushov, and Shostakov, now known as the Red Guardian, to the secret military base in China where the prototype of the psychotron was kept. Brushov was to determine the effectiveness of the psychotron, and the Red Guardian was to protect both him and it. For this assignment, the KGB made the Red Guardian subject to orders from Colonel Ling, the head of the Red Chinese military base; the Red Guardian had had no previous contact with Brushov.

The Black Widow came to the base on a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D., and was captured. Her then current lover Hawkeye followed her along with fellow Avenger Hercules. The Red Guardian captured Hawkeye and lured Hercules into the psychotron, where he was beset with hallucinations. The Red Guardian then unmasked before Hawkeye and the Widow, and she realized with horror he was her husband. The Avengers, led by Captain America, then arrived at the base. The Red Guardian saw his long awaited opportunity to prove himself the superior of his American counterpart, and the two fought. Captain America was defeating the Red Guardian when Ling electrified a grid that the Captain was standing upon, rendering him unconscious. The Red Guardian was outraged at Ling's action. The Black Widow escaped and climbed toward the nerve center of the psychotron to destroy it. The Red Guardian, who still loved her, tried to stop Ling from killing her, but Ling then shot him instead. The Widow used her electronic "widow's bite" to destroy the psychotron, thereby also starting explosions and fires in the complex. Ling saw Hercules carrying the unconscious Captain America to safety and, determined on vengeance, aimed a laser gun at the Captain. However, the dying Red Guardian would not allow Ling thus to kill a brave but helpless opponent, and, with his last energy, shoved Ling's gun aside. The laser beam hit some gas pipes, and the resulting explosion and fire triggered an eruption by the supposedly dead volcano upon with the base had been built. The base, including the Red Guardian and Ling, were consumed in the resulting catastrophe, while the Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hercules, Captain America, and the other Avengers all returned safely to the United States.

Height: 6 ft. 2 in.
Weight: 220 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Red

Strength Level: The Red Guardian possessed the normal human strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engaged in intensive regular exercise.

Known Superhuman Powers: None

Other Abilities: The Red Guardian was a superb athlete with remarkable agility, who was trained in many forms of unarmed combat by the KGB.

Weapons: On his belt the Red Guardian wore a disc, which, when detached from the belt, he could hurl as a weapon. Special magnetic devices inside the disc and belt caused the disc to return to the Red Guardian after he had thrown it.

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