The Winter Guard was born from the remains of two of Russia's most powerful teams, namely the Soviet Super Soldiers and The Protectorate. The initial line-up included Fantasma, Sibercat, Powersurge, Vanguard, Vostok, Steel Guardian, and Darkstar. The Winter Guard was a team formed by the new Russian Government, but free of the past of the Cold War.
The Winter Guard was created by Kurt Busiek and Sean Chen and first appeared in Iron Man Vol.3 issue 9 (1998).
Major Story Arcs
A New Powerfull Team
The Winter Guard made it's way into America where they first revealed themselves as the newly formed team. The team fought alongside the Avengers during a number of crisis. They where seen protecting their homeland during the events of Maximum Security also held off the forces of Kang when he assaulted the earth in an attempt to conquer it. At one point, Darkstar left the team for an unknown period of time to join the X-Corperation, a team of mutant with branches all over the world.
Death of a Teammate
After Darkstar's apparent death during a mission with the X-Corperation in Paris, the team began to experience greater discord among its members. Vanguard, Vostok, Powersurge, Fantasma, Steel Guardian, and Sibercat resigned in disgust - and were considered 'missing' by the Russian government. Ursa Major and Crimson Dynamo (Dmitri Bukharin) remained. Red Guardian (Krassno Granitsky) who had briefly teamed up with Maverick to stop mobster, Ivan Pushkin, was brought on to replace Steel Guardian in the roster, but he was later killed.
After this incident and the tragic death of Darkstar, the Russian Executive Security Committee saw value in the public reputation established by The Winter Guard and stepped in to help reassure the Russian people that the Winter Guard was still as robust as ever.
The New Guard is Born
Quickly, they assembled an elite pool of candidates that would step into the shoes of Russia's most iconic heroes if they were ever to fall in battle. After elaborate physical and psychological testing, a sixth hero stepped into the role of Red Guardian. Sasha Roerich became the second Darkstar when it was clear that she best matched the 'power profile' of the original Darkstar.The Russian government also took elaborate steps to reclaim all of the rogue Crimson Dynamo armors that had been used for illegal purposes (the armors used by Gennady Gavrilov, and the 9th, 10th, and 11th Dynamos, and the Airstrike armor, etc...).
As Dmitri Bukharin reached his retirement age, he was given his own personal suit of armor as a reward for extraordinary service and he was assigned as the Winter Guard's new liaison. Qualified test pilot, Boris Vadim stepped into to fill his shoes as the 12th Crimson Dynamo.
This 'NEW' WINTER GUARD is supported by the Russian Executive Security Committee - they are given the same status and glory that the Avengers or Fantastic Four had - they are the 'officially sanctioned team' - their headquarters is stationed in the old Dire Wraith Science Citadel (which they just call 'The Citadel'). Their supersonic aircraft is called the Sovereign.
Unlike other superhero teams, The Winter Guard currently has a rotating pool of candidates to fill one of four roles on the team: Darkstar, Crimson Dynamo, Red Guardian, and Ursa Major. The current roster consists of a third Darkstar, seventh Red Guardian, thirteenth Crimson Dynamo and the one-and-only Ursa Major.
Meeting the Hulk
Recently, the Winter Guard encountered She Hulk, Doc Samson and General Thunderbolt Ross who were investigating the death of Emil Blonsky aka the Abomination.
The Winter Guard and Return of Dark Star
Over the last several months, the team has tussled with Iron Man, War Machine, the Lady Liberators, the Skrulls, the Mandarin, Presence, Igor Drenkov and Remont Six.and the Dire Wraiths.