Fictional Unit History
In December 1979, nearly 100,000 soviet troops crossed the Amu Darya River into northern Afghanistan. Among them, a small, elite unit.
The Pravda Patrol was tasked with securing a road so that infantry elements of the soviet army could advance safely. When Captain Yuri was shot by a sniper, he was examined by the team medic (and lone female), Sachi. Unable to treat him properly, Big Bear carried him into a nearby village where the team found an Afghani doctor.
As the soviet team defended themselves from the mujaheddin, the doctor found himself in a quandary: fulfill the oath he took as a doctor and save a life, or eliminate an enemy combatant. As he raised a knife, he is shot dead by Sachi.
Having been left by the Afghani fighters to attack the soviet team, the road was now clear for a soviet tank and its support troops to pass, and they came to the aid of the Pravda Patrol in the town. As the village burned and the team celebrated its victory, Captain Yuri was loaded onto a helicopter for medical evacuation.
For issue #31 of Bizarre Adventures, Editor Dennis O'Neil went to "every talented person I could find and asked them to do a story about violence. Any kind of story, any kind of violence. What I was hoping for - and what I got - was reaction to the fact that violence, in one form or another, pervades our news, our media, our very culture."
Tom DeFalco and Herb Trimpe teamed up to create a five-page story based on professional soviet soldiers devoted to their comrades and their mission. This would continue in the portrayal of the Oktober Guard. In addition to this even-handed approach, DeFalco and Trimpe were still able provide commentary on the USSR’s involvement in Afghanistan.
A Real American Hero
While the Pravda Patrol does not appear in G.I.*Joe fiction, they were slated to appear in To Fail is to Conquer... To Succeed is to Die! and its sequel, although at the time they were issues #3 and #4.
Before the Marvel Comics series established its on-going story, Trimpe and DeFalco created a two-part story introducing the characters they’d worked on five months before. The soviet team seemed like a natural foil to the G.I.*Joe team.
During the approval process for the issues, it was made clear that DeFalco and Trimpe held the copyright on the Pravda Patrol – not Marvel or Hasbro. The version of the issue submitted to Hasbro for approval included a note in the legal text on the bottom of the first page that the characters belonged to the pair and were used with permission. However, use of the characters was not approved. The story and the concept of a soviet team were approved, meaning all names and art pertaining to Pravda Patrol had to be reworked. Larry Hama created new, Hasbro-owned characters inspired on the original designed and the issues were re-lettered and re-drawn. That delay pushed the issue back from #3 to #6. See Gallery for details.
- In the transition from Pravda Patrol to Oktober Guard, Captain Yuri was changed to Colonel Brekhov, Sachi to Daina, Big Bear to Horrorshow, Striker to Schrage, and The Mouse to Stormavik. See gallery for details.
- Sachi sports a telogreika-like coat, which in the transition was given to Horrorshow.
- Big Bear wears a hat similar to a Gorlatnaya or Papakha, and wields a saber, implying he may have Caucasian Cossack heritage.
- Big Bear’s code name may be a tribute to one of the original inspirations for the Oktober Guard. Or not. Associating bears with Russians isn’t exactly an original idea.