Mikhail Ursus was one of the first known mutants born in the Soviet Union in the 20th Century to survive past childhood. Up until the time of his birth, the Soviet government had been performing euthanasia on all mutants at the first manifestation of their superhuman powers. The government was made to see the potential value of superhumans serving the state due to the efforts of scientist Pieter Phobos.
Phobos opened a private school to train mutants and Mikhail was one of the first of many mutants to join the school. Unknown to the students and the government, Phobos had built a device to siphon the energy from his students to give himself artificial powers. The process was killing many students and Phobos would explain their deaths to the Soviet government as training casualties. Phobos had three students left, Mikhail and two siblings, Laynia Petrovna and Nikolai Krylenko who later be known as Darkstar and Vanguard when the second Red Guardian discovered Phobos's activities. Phobos went into hiding but gave two totems to Laynia and Nikolai so he could still siphon their powers. Mikhail and Nikolai would join the Soviet army for a brief time.
Ursa Major was created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema in 1981 and first appeared in The Incredible Hulk # 258.
Mayor Story Arcs
After certain field work, the three remaining mutants from Phobos's school would be reunited by the Soviet government and become the Soviet Super Soldiers. Ursus was given the code name Ursa Major and one of their first assignments was to investigate the contained radioactive area of Khystym known as the Forbidden Zone. They discovered that their former teacher was planning to radioactively contaminate all of the Soviet Union in order to foster the birth of more mutants so he can eventually siphon off their powers. The plan was thwarted by the Soviet Super Soldiers and the Hulk. Phobos was brought to the government to stand trial.
The Soviet Super Soldiers resolved to remain together as a team but vowed to never again unquestioningly serve the state. They existed as a quasi-independent band of crime fighters based in the Soviet Union. As a member of the Soviet Super Soldiers, Ursa Major would face various enemies. The Super Soldiers would team up with the spaceknights Rom and Starshine against the Dire Wraiths. His team would also battle the X-Men and the Avengers over the mutant, Magneto. Ursa Major, Vanguard and Darkstar would defect to America and are nearly killed by the Supreme Soviets when they disguise themselves as the Avengers. The Soviet Super Soldiers would eventually disband and merge with members of the Supreme Soviets to form the Winter Guard. Ursa Major is currently a member of the Winter Guard.
The Winter Guard would fight a group of superhuman Soviet revolutionaries called Remont Six. This group is led by Iron Maiden and they come into conflict with the Guard when they raid an AIM facility. Ursa Major would fight the Snow Leopards and Volga. The Winter Guard prevail and defeat the Remont Six.
When the Avengers reassemble under Wakandan rule and headquartered in the North Pole, they get a lot of attention from a number of different teams. One such team is the Winter Guard, however, Ursa Major had his doubts about the team. He contacted the Agents of Wakanda, the newly established Avengers support staff, to trade intelligence on the Winter Guard for Avengers protection.
Gorilla Man was assigned to be his contact point. Unfortunately, Gorilla Man's curse of immortality was depressing him. Behind the Avengers back, he had been making deals with both Dracula and the Winter Guard in exchange for them officially killing him. After letting the Winter Guard into Avengers Mountain, Red Widow betrayed Gorilla Man. She left him alive to face the consequences of his action and tried to kill Ursa instead.
Ursa was moved to a veterinary facility on a Wakandan nature preserve, where he remained in a coma.
The God Quarry
Upon waking from his coma, Ursa was convinced by Gorilla-Man to return to Avengers Mountain for a second chance. They found it empty, as the Avengers had gone into the timestream to track and defend the legacy mantle holders. This led the Avengers to The God Quarry where Amazon Prime, a sorcerer supreme variant of Loki. put out a call to all Avengers, including the Deathloks he had sent to find recruits. One of those Deathloks had uploaded himself to Avengers Mountain, which he started to pilot. Ursa and Gorilla-Man rode the Celestial to The God Quarry to join the Avengers in battle.
An army of Dooms wanted to take control of Loki's Avengers Tower, but Mephisto wanted to break through the barrier of the quarry to the raw energy leftover by the previous cosmos. After stopping both Doom and Mephisto, Fei, Ursa returned to his homeworld with The Avengers.
Powers & Abilities
Ursa Major has the ability to transform into a large anthropomorphic bear. The transformation takes about 10 seconds and Ursa Major possesses superhuman strength in bear form. He can lift about 15 tons in bear form and has the reflexes, stamina and resistance to injury of an adult Siberian bear. Ursa Major also retains his human intelligence and the ability to speak in bear form. Ursa Major can maul his opponents with his sharp claws and a powerful bite.
In Other Media
- Ursa Major appears in the Avengers Assemble episode "Secret Avengers" as a member of the Winter Guard. He has no dialogue.
- Ursa Major appears as an unlockable playable character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2.
- Ursa Major was featured in the HeroClix figure game.
- Ursa Major was featured as a Build-a-Figure in Hasbro's Marvel Legends line. The pieces needed to complete the character were packaged with the figures of an Iron Man-themed wave.