After making their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the film Black Widow this July, the characters Yelena Belova and Alexei Shostakov are reconnecting in comic books for a four-issue series titled Winter Guard.
No, they aren't rejoining the Russian superhero team - they're being hunted by them.
As first reported by Syfy Wire, Winter Guard by writer Ryan Cady and artist Jan Bazaldua will find White Widow (played by Florence Pugh in the MCU) and the Red Guardian (David Harbour) on the run from the Winter Guard, who have appeared recently in Jason Aaron's Avengers run.
"Fans of the Black Widow movie should find our Yelena Belova and Red Guardian pretty familiar - though in this cat and mouse series, they're the ones on the run," Cady tells Syfy Wire. "They've crossed back over the border, and now they're Russia's most wanted; the top of the Winter Guard's hit list."
Winter Guard #1 unlettered preview
Cady describes Yelena and Alexei as "two disillusioned super-spies who want to kind of 'redeem' their homeland in ways that the standard 'find villain, punch face' approach can't handle."
So who are the heroes in this - the hunters (Winter Guard) or the hunted (Yelena and Alexei)? Well, both.
"Ostensibly, [the Winter Guard] are the good guys - and they're trying to be. You've got classic heroes like the Crimson Dynamo, the siblings Darkstar and Vanguard (Red Guardian's spiritual successor), and of course, everyone's favorite Russian Mutant - no, not Colossus - Ursa Major!" says Cady. "He's a drunk who turns into a bear, and I love him with all my heart. There are also two Slavic deities on the team, Perun the stormbringer and Chernobog of blood and darkness, and as any Marvel fan will tell you, it's always a bad idea to put two gods on one team."
While the current Winter Guard might be sympathetic to Yelena and Alexei as former team-members, their boss, Red Widow, "seems "seems to be taking this mission a little personally…" says Cady.
No mention is made of Yelena and Alexei's MCU allies Black Widow and Melina Vostokoff - although in comics Vostkoff (played by Rachel Weisz in the movie) is much much different, as the villain Iron Maiden.
Winter Guard #1 (of 4) goes on sale this August. Look for Marvel Comics' full August 2021 schedule later this month on Newsarama.
Get more on the superhero side of Marvel U's Russia in the best Black Widow stories of all time.