A Russian state company that distributes comic and graphic novels of Marvel has asked a federal media watchdog to investigate Marvel for denigrating Soviet symbols and amounting to “propaganda of a cult of violence.”
Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has agreed to investigate the books and is considering giving the publisher an official warning, two of which within a year is grounds for revocation of its license, the Ekho Moskvy news outlet reported.
The specific comic in question is The Avengers, issue #1 poised to be released in August 2014. It was designed for middle school age children and Russian officials are concerned over the use of Soviet symbols, the presentation of the characters as Russian service personnel, and the incitement of violence and cruelty,” the press and mass media agency wrote in its letter.
According to Izvestia, the request was likely filed because one of the characters, Vanguard (Krasnogvardeets in the Russian version), has the Soviet symbol – the hammer and sickle – on his breastplate. Vanguard is affiliated with the Winter Guard: three human mutants and a bear, a group of superheroes based in Russia. When the Avengers ask who they are, Vanguard answers: “We are servicemen for the Russian Federation.”
Marvel’s own site makes it clear that his real name is Nikolai Krylenko and his alias is Great Beast. He apparently joined the “KGB-sponsored Soviet Super-Soldiers and a “staunch communist.”
Is it possible that a Marvel Ban could be employed in Russia? Comic books could be considered art in many circles and acquiescing to demands could compromise the artist process and could open the floodgates for more vanilla stories.