Comic book showcase: Octobriana

So I went to go see a movie called The Death of Stalin over the weekend.

Image result for the death of stalin

It was a legitimately funny movie about a very terrifying and violent subject matter that I find very interesting and fascinating to study and while I might complain that the entire cast all spoke with impeccable British and American accents, I don’t think any other group could have made something as terrifying as Stalin’s purges so funny.

Also, it’s based off of a much more serious comic book so yeah, it does have a place on this blog.

Image result for the death of stalin comic book

This inspired me to go looking for another Russian superhero to write about and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Russia is not a land where comic books thrive.  For starters, comic books are a modern American thing, and the people running the Soviet Union at the time couldn’t have such a vulgar, capitalist art form corrupting their youth.

Image result for cold war

It’s also worth mentioning that Russia’s contribution to literary art isn’t the comic book.  It’s the incredibly long, and incredibly depressing novel.

Image result for war and peace

Finally, the simple fact of the matter is that when comic books were becoming a thing, Russia was in the middle of fighting for its life,

Image result for eastern front ww2

It’s difficult to care about an upbeat, optimistic superhero when you’re fighting in your neighbor’s abandoned house for scraps of food.

That’s not to say that Russia doesn’t have superheroes.  A few years ago they introduced the world to the Guardians, Russia’s first superhero team.

Image result for guardians superhero russia

Heh, Man Bear.

But that doesn’t exactly fall under the purview of this blog.  Granted, neither does today’s superhero but she’s interesting and this is my blog so I can make the rules.

Today we’re going to talk about Octobriana, underground hero of the Soviet Union and the leggiest blonde in the entire USSR.

Image result for octobriana

Origin and Career

So strap yourselves in for a long ride, because her origin is a doozy.

This is the cover of Octobriana’s first appearance in the West, a book entitled Octobriana and the Russian Underground.

Image result for octobriana

The author of this book was one Petr Sadecky.

Image result for peter sadecky

I have no idea if this is him, it’s just the best image that came up.

Sadecky claimed that Octobriana had been created by a secret dissident political group that had cells across the Soviet Union called the “Progressive Political Pornography”.

Image result for progressive political pornography

Apparently the group believed that the current Soviet government had betrayed the ideals of socialism and sought to return the Soviet Union to its original and pure form.  They fought against the system by publishing Octobriana stories in hand printed samizdat publications, which was literature published by hand and distributed from person to person in secret.

Image result for Samizdat

Also, the PPP claimed to be descendants from Vikings.

If this sounds a bit ludicrous it’s because it is.  Her actual origin story was that Petr  contracted two Czech illustrators to create a comic strip with him about a comic strip, but he wound up screwing the artists over and fleeing to the West, where he tried to sell the book on his own.  When it didn’t work, he gave the book a more political bent and it wound up becoming a success.

Image result for octobriana

It’s kind of a shame that she wasn’t the product of a top secret anti Soviet political movement because Octobriana is nuts.

The closest thing I can compare her to is Wonder Woman, but Diana ain’t got nothing on this Soviet babe, even with her invisible jet,

Image result for wonder woman invisible jet

Octobriana was the child of Viking,

Image result for vikings

and Toltec people.

 Image result for toltec

How the hell the Vikings made it to Mexico and South America I have no idea.

Anyway, Octobriana was given radiation treatments to make her immortal (huh?) and she leapt into a radioactive volcano which made her a superhuman.

Image result for octobriana volcano

Her stories involve her kicking all sorts of butt across history.  In one particularly famous instance, she…”swims into a radioactive volcano to kill a walrus with her kris.”

Image result for octobriana volcano

And how about that costume?  There is no way those scraps of cloth could keep everything covered, especially when fighting a walrus.

So what happened?

She was an independent comic book character published in the West, based off of stolen artwork and spouting far left political ideals…there just isn’t that much of an audience for that.  Also, since it was allegedly published in a top secret underground comic book scene she wasn’t copyrighted.  That’s right, anyone can use her.

Image result for octobriana volcano

The two Czech artists that Petr had screwed over sued him in court and won, although they never got their artwork back.

As for Octobriana herself, she did get something of a cult following in certain social circles, especially in Great Britain.  The late great David Bowie was a fan,

Image result for david bowie

and Billy Idol actually has a tattoo of her on his arm.

Image result for billy idol octobriana

Also, since she is definitely available for anyone to use, various artists have used her in their stories.  She appeared in the Luther Arkwright series,

Image result for octobriana luther arkwright

and she had a story in the British comic anthology 2000 AD.

Image result for octobriana 2000 ad

But if you ask me it’s not enough.  Like I’ve stated before, she’s definitely free for anyone to use and let’s face it, we could certainly use a little bit more of a blonde haired, long legged, time travelling, amazon goddess spreading the word of Marx and Lenin in our lives and I say it’s time she got the attention that she deserved.

So go forth comrades!  Spread the word to the mountains, the valleys, from the coldest depths of the oceans to the hot and steamy jungles yet unexplored by man!  Spread the word to the masses and bring down the oppressive bourgeois!

Image result for soviet military parade

Long live socialism!  Long li…okay I may be getting ahead of myself here.

Anyway, Octobriana is awesome and deserves more attention.

Image result for octobriana


Golden Age Showcase: Doctor Poison

Today we continue our feeble contribution to the marketing campaign of the new Wonder Woman movie by talking about one of the villains of the movie: Doctor Poison.

Image result for dc comics doctor poison

Now, it’s widely accepted that the Ancient Greek god of war, Ares, is going to make an appearance as well and will probably be the actual main villain of the movie,

Image result for wonder woman movie ares

(and before you go complaining about spoilers, understand that he’s credited in the movie’s Wikipedia page so it isn’t exactly a secret) and this makes sense.  After all, Ares is probably Wonder Woman’s greatest and most powerful foe from a comic viewpoint and a moral viewpoint (we’ll cover that later) but today I want to talk about Doctor Poison.

Why?  Because it’s my blog and because her Golden Age comic debut was a bit…well…

Image result for dc comics doctor poison


Origin and Career

Dr. Poison made her first appearance in Sensation Comics #2 in February of 1942.


This was one of the earliest issues of Wonder Woman which makes Dr. Poison one of her first true villains.

Fun fact: this was also the first appearance of Etta Candy, a long standing Wonder Woman side kick of the Golden Age and character in the new movie.

Image result for wonder woman etta candy

Dr. Poison was created by Wonder Woman’s creator: William Moulton Marston,

Image result for william moulton marston

and artist Harry G. Peter.

Image result for harry g. peter

Marston in particular has a very interesting backstory, but we’ll get to that later.

In her first appearance, Dr. Poison’s role was very straight forward.  She was working for the Nazis and was tasked with disrupting the Allied war effort through her knowledge of poisons and toxins.

Since this is a superhero story, which practically requires the villain to kidnap someone, she manages to hold off Wonder Woman by kidnapping her “friend” Steve Trevor.

Image result for dc comics doctor poison

Her plan was to dose Allied soldiers with a chemical she called “Reverso”, a chemical compound which messed with people’s minds and forced them to do the opposite of what they were ordered to do.

Image result for dc. comics dr. poison reverso

It’s a very comic book style plot but who knows?  Maybe it could have worked.

By now I’m sure you’re noticing something peculiar.  I’ve been calling Dr. Poison “she” and “her” while all the pictures suggest that it’s a man under those robes.  Well, after Wonder Woman foils her plot (because of course) it is revealed that “he” is actually a woman named Princess Maru.

Image result for dc comics dr. poison japanese golden age

She did manage to escape (because again, of course) and she would make two more appearances in the 1940’s.  First in 1943 where she tried (and failed) to help the Japanese by developing a gas that would clog up the engines of the Allied planes.

Her final Golden Age appearance was in 1948.  After the war was over Wonder Woman imprisoned a whole bunch of her villains on an Amazonian prison called “Transformation Island”.  In Marston’s last book, he had several of the bad guys escape and form a group known as Villainy Inc.

Image result for dc comics dr. poison villainy inc.

So what happened?

Doctor Poison was the polar opposite of Wonder Woman in every way.  While Wonder Woman sought to bring justice to man’s world, Doctor Poison sought to bring tyranny.

While Wonder Woman embraced her feminine side and challenged the men around her to accept her as a woman, Doctor Poison actively suppressed it and attempted to use her disguise to convince the men around her she was worth keeping.

While Wonder Woman believed in honorable combat, Doctor Poison believed in using cheap and underhanded tricks to win the day.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that the two should have gone one to become long standing rivals.  Sort of like Lex Luthor and Superman or Batman and the Joker.

Image result for superman lex luthor batman joker

Sadly, this was not the case.

The well known backlash against comics in the 1950’s hit Wonder Woman hard, especially given her…well let’s just say some of her early stuff wasn’t really for kids.

Image result for wonder woman bondage

Like I said, we’ll get to that.

Dr. Poison wouldn’t make another appearance until December 1999 in Wonder Woman #151.  The new villain was actually the granddaughter of the original Dr. Poison and…

Image result for dc comics dr. poison villainy inc.

yeah…yeah that’s terrifying.

In an interesting twist, she revealed that her grandmother had actually been killed when she was doused with Reverso and discovered that the drug made her younger and younger until she was just a baby.

The new and revived Dr. Poison also joined the new and revived Villainy Inc.

Image result for dc comics dr. poison villainy inc.

‘before moving on and joining another group, the Secret Society of Super Villains.

Image result for dc comics dr. poison secret society of supervillains

While this might have worked out DC Comics had other plans.

When the company launched a massive reboot of their comic universe known as “The New 52”.

Image result for dc comics rebirth

Dr. Poison was brought along.

Image result for dc comics dr. poison new 52

She lost the costume and the Japanese heritage and became a Russian biological and chemical weapons expert with a grudge against the United States.

If you ask me this was a poor move.  She went from intimidating and creepy bad guy to stereotypical comic book scientist with a grudge and that seems like just a waste.

Thankfully, DC seemed to get the idea that the entire New 52 universe was a bad idea and rebooted their universe again with an event called “Rebirth”.

Image result for dc comics rebirth

Once again, Dr. Poison was brought along for the ride.

This time the writers brought back the Asian heritage and her original name, only this time she was a soldier in charge of an organization called Poison and went around infecting people with a rage inducing bio weapon known as “The Maru Virus”.

Image result for dc comics dr. poison rebirth

Sure, it’s a step in the right direction, but someday comic book creators are going to have to come face to face with the fact that sometimes readers actually LIKE crazy backstories and weird costumes.

So that’s an abridged history of Dr. Poison, one of the main villains for Wonder Woman in the new movie that’s coming out soon.  Honestly, I think this is a good move.  She’s got a great set of of skills, she’s intimidating and can provide a great challenge for our hero, and she’s intimidating as all hell.

Image result for dc comics dr. poison

New mythologies for comic books: Russian legends and myths.

Last week I wrote an article talking about how most of the comic book industry draws upon four mythologies for most of their divine or god-like characters.  While Greek/Roman, Norse, Japanese, and Christian mythology (I debated throwing in Egyptian mythology but I decided it would make too good of an article so for now let’s just pretend that there aren’t enough Egyptian themed characters out there) are all fun and good there are plenty of other mythic traditions that deserve a lot more attention and would make awesome comic book characters and worlds.

Here’s how this is going to work.  I am going to divide each article into three parts.  The first part will talk about any history the mythological tradition might already have within the tradition of comic books.  Second, I’ll give a brief description of a couple of established heroes, gods, or creatures that would make interesting characters.  And finally, we’ll delve into the hypothetical and explore what a character or comic book series could look like.

With that being said, let’s take a look at Russian mythology and folklore.


Russia in comics

Now many of you are probably quick to point out that there are plenty of Russian characters in comic books and you’d be mostly right.  There are plenty of famous comic book characters that speak Russian, work/kill for Russia, and live in Russia.  Characters like the Black Widow


Colossus (my personal favorite)


and the Crimson Dynamo


Here’s the thing though.  If you wanted to get technical all of these characters aren’t technically Russian, they’re Soviet.

For anyone who might not know the Soviet Union was a collection of Eastern European and Central Asian nations that shared a common system of government and were all bundled together under the “benevolent” protection of their biggest and most powerful member, Russia.


Granted they all used the Russian language and currency and they all banded together to use Russian technology and education defend and develop but each member state did have it’s own history and culture before joining the Soviet Union.

What’s interesting is that the Soviets were only around for about 80 years.  It all started with this guy: Vladimir Lenin

download (1)

who helped kickstart the Russian Revolution of 1917 which was supposed to look like this


However, the Revolution was taken over by this guy: Joseph Stalin


who did a lot of this


Millions of people died, even more millions starved to death, and pre Soviet Russian culture suffered and was almost completely erased in an attempt to make room for the new and modern Soviet system of thought.  Couple that with some old fashioned Cold War antagonism and paranoia and it’s easy to see why many people, especially in the West, don’t know much about pre Soviet Russia.

I want to talk about the gods, heroes and monsters of pre Soviet Russia: a land of forests, rivers, and the kind of vast isolated landscape that would leave a person feeling very small.


Thankfully I am not the first person to recognize the amazing stories of pre Soviet Russia for what they are, people like Neil Gaiman have included Russian folklore into their stories since the beginning of their careers.

download (2)

If you’re a fan of Mr. Gaiman’s work than you have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to talk about but for the rest of us, let’s delve into the creepy, strange, and wonderful world of Russian folk lore.

Examples and showcases:

Here’s where I showcase certain parts of Russian mythology.  Naturally I can’t go over it all, there’s enough material for an entire book but for now let’s look at three parts: the old gods, great folk heroes, and mythical beasts and beings.

Now before the Soviets came to power Russia was Christian, really REALLY Christian.


While the Soviets  tried to stamp out the Russian church (it’s making a come back now) there was a time when Russia was ruled by the old gods.


Not a whole lot is known about these gods (nothing was written down and the Christians were just as happy to destroy the remnants of the old world as the Soviets were) but they do continue to live on through their names.  You have the main god, the god of thunder, Perun


The god of light, Belobog


and his much darker companion, Chernobog.  Fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods may recognize Chernobog as “that guy with the hammer” whereas fans of Disney’s Fantasia might recognize him as the guy at the end of the movie that gave you nightmares.


As I said before though, we don’t know a whole lot about these gods.  This is because around 980 A.D Russia became a Christian nation thanks to this man.


That’s Vladimir of Kiev, the man who would make Russia Christian and shape it into what it is today (technically he’s Ukrainian but shh!  That part of the world is already in enough trouble as it is).  Let’s make one thing clear, Vladimir was not a nice man.  He used violence and fear to build his empire and it was reported that he had five wives and over 800 concubines, but since he made Russia Christian (by forcing entire populations to baptize themselves in rivers) the Church liked him and made him a saint.

Anyway, Vladimir ruled from the city Kiev which became very wealthy through trade.  Wealth attracts rivals and rivals means war so Vladimir surrounded himself with his knights or bogatyr in Russian.


These men were romanticized into early Russian superheroes and the epic tales (or byliny in Russian) about their deeds read almost like a Thor comic.

The three men pictured above are three of the most famous bogatyr: Illya Muromets, Dobrynya Nikitich. and Alyosha Popovich.  Here’s a small taste of their alleged exploits.

  • Illya travels from his hometown to Kiev in order to serve Prince Vladimir.  While Kiev is over 500 miles away he vows to accomplish the journey in six hours and nearly succeeds, if it wasn’t for the fact that he was delayed fighting a supernatural forest bandit.
  • Dobryanya fought a multi headed dragon by himself for three days and nearly drowned in its blood.
  • Alyosha fought the monster Turagin but beating him to death with a staff, cutting him into tiny pieces, and presenting his body to Prince Vladamir.


It’s worth mentioning that we should probably take these stories with a grain of salt but there is some speculation that these great deeds were metaphors and representations of actual people who fought against some of Russia’s many, many enemies.

Lastly we’re going to talk mythical creatures and beasts.  While the south of Russia is dominated by plains and steppes the north of ancient Russia was covered in dark, deep, and cold forests.

1890 Dark Forest

These were the kinds of places where demons lived and where a Russian peasant would think twice before venturing out into the woods at night.  Naturally places like these were the breeding ground for all sorts of mythical creatures like the child snatching leshii 

download (3)

and the seductive and tempting rusalka


But it would be terrible form not to mention the queen of Russian folklore, the witch that rules them all: Baba Yaga


She lives in a house that walks on chicken legs, flies around on a mortar and pestle, and in a couple of accounts has no qualms about eating people.  That being said Baba Yaga is an interesting case study.  In some stories she is definitely evil but in other cases she lends her help and powers to the hero of the story.  Basically she’s awesome and more people deserve to know about her.

How to use Russian mythology in comics

This is the part where I offer my own personal opinions on the folklore of the day and how they could be used in a comic book.

I mentioned that these stories would be right at home in a Thor comic and I meant it.  Gods walking among the people, legendary heroes who can kill dragons and travel hundreds of miles in hours, and mystical creatures are Thor’s bread and butter. In fact, inserting Russian folk legends into Thor comics would work really well considering that the Vikings and the Slavic Russians have a long history together.

But let’s say that Marvel doesn’t want to add Russian mythology to Thor, what happens when you try to make a Russian comic book hero stand on its own.  Personally I think that having one of these legendary bogatyr travel forward in time to modern day Russia would make an interesting story.  Something like that could be a “fish out of water” story where the hero attempts to fit into modern Russia while coming to grips with the fact that he is a relic.  The hero would have to cope with the centuries of violence and persecution that Russia has undergone and struggle to be a hero in a society that has all but forgotten him.

As for the mystical elements of Russian folklore I don’t see any reason why there couldn’t be a modern story with these elements in them.  One of the most popular types of stories are the stories where a protagonist, usually a young child, travels to a mystical realm where the creatures and gods of ancient Russia exist.  Think of it like Alice in Wonderland only with woodland sprites and witches in chicken feet shacks.

Anyway, that’s a brief description of Russian folklore and how it could be made into an epic comic.  Let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

History and Legends of Game of Thrones: An Introduction to Essos

So now we’re at a point in the history of Game of Thrones where we can take a break from Westeros and explore some of the other parts of George R.R Martin’s universe.  Before we go on there is a quick correction.  I stated in previous posts that Aegon the Conqueror was born in Essos, the continent across the sea from Westeros.  It turns out that several very kind and helpful people have pointed out he was actually born on Dragonstone, a small island technically part of Westeros.  I was wrong and the internet was right.

Aegon’s lineage is interesting because while he was born in Westeros his family legacy places him firmly in the neighboring continent of Essos.

download (15)

Now if you thought Westeros was big, Essos is even more massive.  Essos plays an important part in several key subplots of the books and show serving as the base of operations for Daenerys “I am a goddess among men because I have the last three dragons and I am drop dead gorgeous” Targaryen and as a nice and busy stopover for any character that needs to either run away from Westerosi political intrigue or hire someone to make their problems go away.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of diverse and interesting ethnic groups and cultures to look at and observe and most excitingly (and welcoming considering I need at least six more weeks of material for this blog) it has a long and detailed history of mighty empires and great works of art, culture, and magic created while the First Men and Andals were still fighting in Westeros.  Starting with the slave masters of the Ghiscari Empire and ending with the Doom of Valyria and the beginnings of Aegon’s Conquest, we are going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about the pre history of Essos.

This blog post may seem strange and short since we’re simply laying the ground work for future posts but it just wouldn’t be complete without a historical comparison.  It’s been widely alluded to before, and you probably won’t be too shocked to hear this, but Essos is basically Continental Europe and Russia.


You can see the resemblance in shape and if we look at the history of Europe, especially everything east of Germany and around the Mediterranean Sea, there are quite a few similarities.  While the Celts still ruled Britain and the Saxons hadn’t arrived, the rest of Europe had already seen some of the greatest empires and civilizations known to world history rise and fall.  Starting with the Golden Age of Greece and ending with the Saxon invasion of Britain, we are going to compare the pre history of Essos to the long and detailed history of pre Medieval Continental Europe.