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Lt. Gorky, Dragonsky & Sgt. Misha

GI Joe
by yo go re

We already told you how the Oktober Guard debuted in GI Joe #6, and why they eventually changed the spelling of their name. But they were actually supposed to show up three months earlier, with an entirely different name! Originally, they were going to be the Pravda Patrol.

Lt. Gorky was recruited for the Oktober Guard when reinforcements were needed to bolster the ranks of this formidable group, which is the Rusian equivalent of the GI Joe team. He comes to the Guard with extensive experience in land, sea, and air operations. Formerly a member of the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet, Lt. Gorky is a tough and versatile fighter who is utterly fearless in battle and capable of handling any situation thrown at him. The hard-nosed members of the original Oktober Guard reserved their acceptance of him until he had proved his mettle on a real operation. He more than earned his right to be part of the team during a treacherous mission in which the Guard teamed up with the GI Joe team in a joint operation against Cobra.

Gorky is part of the Oktober Guard's second incarnation, assembled after a mission went bad in everybody's favorite banana republic, Sierra Gordo. Upon being introduced, his first order of business was to piss off Flint by totally trying to get Lady Jaye to drop her government-issued panties. Way to promote international co-operation, Mikhail - I realize glasnost promoted "openness," but I don't think they meant it like that. Lt. Gorky showed up in the Devil's Due comics, where he was revealed to be a traitor, under the control of corrupt military officials.

Since he was a navy man, Lt. Gorky is wearing a nicely subdued uniform. It's a plain gray suit, with a striped shirt beneath. His blonde hair is capped by a black beret, and his belt is brown. The figure has a free-floating (non-functioning) holster over his chest, sculpted with a gun in place: sort of a halfway step between the old G1 figures and the new "G3" anniversary ones. His actual accessories include a pistol, a a submachine gun and - surprise, surprise - an AK-47.

Dragonsky can operate just about any form of wheeled transportation with impressive skill and just enough reckless abandon to scare the enemy into a hasty retreat. He's an expert with a flamethrower and prefers it above any other weapon. He can aim a fiery blast with amazing precision and never seems to be bothered by the intense heat. A former member of the Soviet Army, Dragonsky joined the Oktober Guard as the team's mechanic, welder, and incendiary weapons specialist. He has combined all three skills to build custom-designed fire-blasting attachments for the team's vehicles. Cobra forces have been unpleasantly surprised to find themselves blasted by a wall of flames where just moments ago there was only an innocent-looking transport vehicle.

Andrei Dragonsky is technically considered one of the "original" members of the Oktober Guard, even though he wasn't introduced until four years after the rest of the team. Maybe that's because he's the oldest: biographical information is scant, but it's been said that Dragonsky was 6 during the Battle of Stalingrad, meaning he would have been born in 1936, and would have been 50 during his first appearance. So hey, he's not bald by choice, by rather by the effects of age. Figure he was off doing other things during the team's early missions.

To protect himself from the heat of his flamethrower, Dragonsky wears a red and purple padded suit. Sadly, the figure doesn't include his helmet - a pretty important piece of gear for someone working with fire in a military capacity. He needs an oxygen supply to keep him standing when his flames have sucked all the air out of a room. Beyond that, it's just a pretty blatant weakness in the protective capabilities of his suit. The set does include a flamethrower for him, at least, a big gray gun connected by a black tube to the tanks which plug into the figure's back.

Sgt. Misha is a tough and determined soldier who sees beyond borders and rivalries. He believes that combining forces with the GI Joe team is the way to go if the two groups hope to defeat the Cobra organization. While his family expected him to follow in their footsteps and work in the family glass factory, Sgt. Misha had other ideas. He joined the Russian Army, then was recruited for the Oktober Guard after many of its original members met their demise during and ill-fated mission against Cobra. He's an expert with a variety of weapons from submachine guns to grenade launchers and laser-guided missile systems, and he advises the Oktober Guard on the most effective application of weapons in their confrontations with Cobra.

Sgt. Zubenkov, here, uses the same torso as Brekhov and Stormavik, but still manages to look distinct - the power of a good repaint! His uniform is camouflage, and he has a tan strap around his chest. The face is rather cartoony, and makes him look Asian: he has a triangular head, big circular glasses, short close-set eyebrows, a thin mustache and a gap in his mouth that could be interpreted as an overbite. He's like one step away from full-blown "Yellow Peril" caricature. And the thing is, he's from Smolensk! It might be different if was supposed to be from Vladivostok, but Smolensk is about as far west as you can get in Russia.

Anyway, Misha gets the short end of the accessory stick in this set, armed only with an AK-47 and a knife. Of course, he does have the inexplicable shoulder strap padding out his count, as well as a removable hat. Okay, that's kind of cool - even if in the comic, his hat looks like a pith helmet, and this one is obviously intended to be cloth. That's no major problem. Honestly, though? I would have prefered his hat was molded on, and Dragonsky got a helmet.

This set includes a reprint of GI Joe #101 with all references to Marvel expurgated. It's a good choice, as this is the story which introduces the new Guardsmen, but all told, they (and the Joes they're with) are the B-story: the main story is about Mutt, Spirit and some random civilian trying to fight brainwashing by using the power of streetgangs. Really.

So at the end of it all, why are these guys the Oktober Guard, instead of the Pravda Patrol? Well, besides it just being a less ridiculous name, it's a legal issue, and it also ties in to why their premiere was delayed three months. For more on that, you'll have to read The Untold History of the Pravda Patrol.


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