Russian scientist Anton Vanko designs and dons armor to protect his country as the Crimson Dynamo. When his superiors try to have him killed, he betrays them and befriends Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man.
Born in Armenia when it was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Anton Vankonian grows up to study physics and earns a Ph.D. in the subject. He eventually shortens his surname to Vanko, a less ethnic form. While working with low-loss electrical capacitors at Moscow State University (MGU). Minister of Defense Suslov sees the potential of Vanko’s work to develop a parallel to the new American Hero Iron Man. Suslov has Vanko start work at Arsenal Tomska 44, a Siberian research station, where he develops cutting edge work in non-nuclear small electromagnetic pulses (the device that created these would later become known as a Vanko Generator), remote controls, and robotics. He creates various weapons for the government, including the Unicorn’s power horn, and builds his first Crimson Dynamo armor (code named Krasni Denamit) with the support of an extensive research team, which includes propulsion expert Alex Nevsky and Boris Turgenov.
Using his expertise in electricity, and after years of experimenting on himself, he manufactures a way to control electricity. He creates an exoskeleton armor replete with circuitry to control electricity and electromagnetism and dubs it Crimson Dynamo—a moniker that he also uses for himself.
Vanko earns a Ph.D in Physics and is an expert in electricity. He designs and creates an exoskeletal armor powered by electricity and outfitted with numerous weapons. Its circuitry enables him to disrupt electronic devices and fire electrical blasts from his fingertips. The armor’s rheostat attached to his glove emits enough electricity to short-circuit, dismantle, or override and control any electronic contraptions, from Iron Man’s suit to a tank.
The armor’s construction of a metal alloy gives Anton superhuman strength (lifts 1 ton) and durability. His boots are equipped with jets, enabling flight. The suit is also outfitted with missiles which shoot out from the armor’s backside, as well as computer technology and radio for communications.
Capitalist and Communist Enemies
The Soviet leader “Mr. Big” treats Vanko with disrespect, calling him arrogant and often puts him down, but Vanko still reports to him. Through Iron Man’s efforts, Vanko comes to believe his superior wanted him dead. Little did Iron Man know that Mr. Big actually planned for Vanko’s demise since he thought Vanko would turn on him one day.
While working for Stark Industries, Vanko comes up against Russian agents Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, and Boris Turgenov. The latter ends up causing Vanko’s death.
Vanko defects to the United States from Russia, joining the capitalists and revealing sensitive information about his communist comrades. But before Vanko defects to the West, Vanko designs a costume for the Unicorn, whom he also trains, and ultimately goes up against Vanko’s friend and colleague Stark.
A Scientist’s Report
Over time, Vanko suspected Nevsky of being a KGB agent and grew to distrust the Russian government; he began diverting funds to build a Mark II Crimson Dynamo in secret. This second prototype included vastly improved weaponry, highly protective armor, force fields, enhanced computerized systems and most of the equipment from the first suit, albeit miniaturized. It did, however, lack the flight capabilities that Nevsky had built into the first suit. The second armor also included remote control capabilities and the ability to draw supplemental power from the Dynamo Sputnik, a new satellite built to Vanko’s specifications specifically for the Dynamo Project. While Vanko was correct that a KGB spy was observing him, the spy was in fact Boris Turgenov, not Alex Nevsky. Turgenov reported fully on Vanko’s successes and his growing distrust of the government, leading Vanko’s superiors to demand a test of the Dynamo suit.
When “Mr. Big” of the Iron Curtain arrived at Vanko’s laboratory, Vanko’s guards introduced him as the Crimson Dynamo. Mr. Big immediately insulted Vanko but Vanko handled it with grace, giving him the benefit of the doubt that he was joking. Vanko then gave him a private demonstration of his scientific creation, donning his new armor. He walked Mr. Big through how it worked, presenting him with a Iron Man-like figure which he proceeded to destroy with his armor’s electric blasts. He then demonstrated what his armor could do against a steel tank by overriding the controls and stopping it in place just before it was going to crush Mr. Big. He then fired an electric bolt from his fingertips and destroyed the tank.
Impressed when the Mark I exceeded expectations, Mr. Big ordered him to go to America to disrupt American factories and defeat their armored hero, Iron Man. Before leaving, Vanko placed the Mark II armor’s helmet in storage in Moscow and had the bulk of that armor hidden in a Siberian storage facility (disguised as a tractor engine).
Vanko traveled to America where he started sabotaging all of Stark’s plants, burning everything electrical to a cinder. Vanko finally met Stark’s alter ego Iron Man face to face and in a fight, surrendered to him. He then received a transmission meant for his comrades from Mr. Big ordering them that Vanko must be eliminated. Little did Vanko know though that Iron Man sent a fake transmission, and little did Iron Man know that Mr. Big had intended to kill Vanko since he was threatened by his genius. Iron Man then invited Vanko to defect to the U.S. to, which he agreed to and soon shared pivotal intel on the Red Spy Network.
As a result of Vanko’s betrayal, Russia sent agents Black Widow and Boris Turgenov to kill him. Turgenov stole his Crimson Dynamo armor, sabotaging Stark Industries and going up against Iron Man in the process. Vanko entered the fray to defend his new country and fired an experimental gun at him. It killed Turgenov but a following explosion killed Vanko.
But this wasn't the end for the Crimson Dynamo name. Teenager Gennady Gavrilov stumbled across Vanko’s long lost helmet from the Mark II Dynamo and became a vigilante hero.