(Recently re-reading Watchman I was struck by how it is principally an American tale this missing Watchman is an attempt to bring another perspective. This character was a winning entry in the Geeksyndicate ‘missing watchman’ technology of a few years ago. It would be an appropriate bit of background for any Superheroic universe.)
The Soviet Union had a notable lack of reaction to the Minuteman phenomena. Whereas some Western nations produced pale imitations, there was no room in Stalin’s workers’ paradise for such individualism. This changed however when Nazi Germany invaded and made rapid advances into the Mother Russia on 22 June 1941
Just as Stalin was prepared to relax the state restriction on religion in order to provide a morale boost, so by January 1942, with American having entered war, was the propaganda benefit of a Soviet costumed adventurer was realised. A ‘super soldier’ to rival the US’s Comedian Colonel October started to appear in propaganda films, at the front and battling saboteurs and subversives in a flurry of activity.
‘Not for the Proletariat’s champion the excessive colours and flamboyance of a yankee crime fighter. Colonel October wears the plain khaki rubaha (shirt), kaftan (greatcoat) and pilotka (cloth side cap) of the common honest fighting man. The People’s hero does not look for plaudits or fame and modestly hides behind a full face cowl blood red to represent the martyrs to Nazi aggression, and wears breeches the same colour. Black leather gauntlets and boots completed his ensemble. For his weapons he used the triumphs of Soviet industry the solid fighting tools of the Soviet Infantry and his heart is shaped by a righteous anger against the despoilers of the Motherland.’ Soviet Propaganda Ministry 12 February 1942.
Of course the USSR did not have the infrastructure or the facilities for individual training that could produced a costumed adventurer of the style described. Instead a flurry of above average Army and Secret Police recruits where taken, given some higher level training and political officer public relations minders and sent to the front. Examination of military and home front newspapers show Colonel October was capable of being in multiple places at the same time. Some of the stories are pure propaganda fabrication; others are the earnest efforts of under trained and unrewarded young men trying to live up to a big lie. This was a simple consequence of their being an army of Colonel Octobers in existence simultaneously. Each believing they were the only Colonel October.
The short version is that during the great Patriotic War, as Russians call World War 2 over 2,000 Colonel Octobers were either killed by enemy fire, killed once they came under suspicion of secret police or killed after the war to stop them detracting from the myth of Stalin having won the war single handed.
That was all that was heard of Colonel October until the arrival of Doctor Manhattan. Anxious of a Superhero gap the Russians rapidly began to recruit new Octobers, loyal party volunteers who died instantly atomised or from hideous cancers due to Soviet attempts to recreate the August 1959 incident. The project was quietly shelved, with bitter resentment as the USSR suffered Cold War reverses in Vietnam and beyond. When Doctor Manhattan abandoned Earth in November 1985 the Kremlin saw it’s chance to avenge twenty five years of Super being disparity…beginning in a little place called Afghanistan. You may have heard the story.
I also have the idea of a former Super Soviet defector as an NPC in a cold war spy game with shades of James Ellroy’s American Tabloid characters,)