There's a cool twist at the end where certain characters from the Winter Guard's history return and I'm curious as to what their reappearance will mean for the current team, thematically. I got a kick of seeing Ursa Major in action - - this big bear just kicking ass. It's such a bizarre, unique visual and much of that has to do with how Ellis renders him. I did like the team dynamics rendered here, especially the give and take in Red Guardian and Crimson Dynamo's relationship of power.
I'm not sure what the hook for this series is aside from it being about Russia's answer to the Avengers, what sets it apart from being just another superhero book. The twist at the end might be interesting to parlay this into some commentary about modern Russia dealing with its Soviet history. I wasn't really feeling the back-up feature from an old X-Men Unlimited issue, either. I'm not sure why it's even included here other than just to throw in another Darkstar story, since it's close to 10 years old and it's going to be serialized, even though it's just small snippets.
The Verdict - 3/5
While it's cool to see Marvel stories that aren't specifically set in New York city, but I would've liked to have seen a little more of a unique gimmick for the Winter Guard to make it stand apart from other tiles on the shelves. Again, I don't want to blow this surprise twist at the end, but it changes the premise that might prove to be more interesting in the remaining two issues.