WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Winter Guard #3, now on sale
One incarnation of the Red Guardian — played by David Harbour — made his big-screen debut with Black Widow. The out-of-shape super soldier quickly became a fan favorite and escapes the film with his life — setting up his possible return at some other point in the future of the franchise.
His comics counterpart however is also making serious waves in Winter Guard #3 by Ryan Cady, Jan Bazaldua, Federico Blee, Fernando Sifuentes, and VC’s Ariana Maher — and his plan might end up bringing about global chaos.
At the core of Winter Guard has been Red Guardian and White Widow trying to stay ahead of the rest of the Russian super-soldiers in the titular team. They’ve been on the hunt for something known as Operation Snowblind, which according to Red Guardian has the potential to radically change the world. After reaching the Vampire Nation in Chernobyl, the Winter Guard and the pair end up sharing dinner with Dracula — with the vampiric villain ensuring the two sides don’t come to blows. It turns out that Dracula possesses one of the drives containing all the Operation Snowblind data — which even someone as high-ranking as the Red Widow isn’t privy to see. As Red Guardian explains, he spent years as a champion of Russia and battled the forces of the west — including the Avengers.
But during his career, he was assigned to Operation Snowblind, and ordered to help ensure the information remained buried. Red Guardian was told this was done to ensure state secrets remained hidden from the public. Accidently killing the last remaining analyst after arriving, Red Guardian discovered she’d made copies of the drives that could only be decrypted when they were brought together. Deciding he owed it to the woman he killed to find out what she was willing to die for, he looked into the files, expecting necessary evils his leaders had committed. Instead, it proves to be far more benign and heartbreaking: Operation Snowblind was nothing more than a criminal coverup, an attempt by the rich and powerful members of the Russian government and military to cover their tracks.
They’d even collected evidence of how the oligarchs and corporations from across the globe had wrangled control of the world at the dawn of the century. After hiding the drives across Russia, Red Guardian entrusted the final one to one of his greatest enemies — Dracula, knowing the vampiric villain would be able to keep it safe to be used himself later. If that information is exposed to the public, it could bring down governments, ruin businesses, and set off chaos all around the globe. Red Guardian vows to do just that with the drive — with the hope that Russia and the rest of the world can pick themselves up from the chaos and become better. Reasoning either a successful attack on the world’s current structure (or his likely death in case of failure) is a win, Dracula gives Red Guardian the drive and the chance to escape.
Red Guardian’s intentions may be pure and could be a crucial tool in bringing down the power structures that have made the world such a difficult place. With this information, forces like Roxxon or potentially even the conspirators involved in Orchis could be exposed, and their attempts to control and destroy aspects of society could be stopped. But in the process, the ensuing chaos could allow for forces like Dracula’s vampire nation to gain a greater foothold in the world. It could even lead to overt conflict across the world and set off a war that no one has a chance of surviving. It isn’t clear yet if Red Guardian will actually succeed — but if he does, the Marvel Universe might be in for some serious changes.
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