Andrew Stewart

is creating Fascist Smasher and the International Brigades

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THE QUESTION OF SUPERHEROES IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR

From the outset, it is worthwhile to emphasize that this is not the first time this issue has been discussed. However, there has yet to be English-language academic scholarship on this topic.
This can be attributed to two factors, the cultural dichotomy created by the Cold War and the aversion to studying what was for years considered a child's topic. With the exception of blatantly pro-or-anti-Communist materials generated by Cold War hawks on both sides of the NATO-Warsaw Pact divide, most scholars find the matter too controversial and not worth bothering with. Otherwise, academics think this is simply a kitsch moment of juvenile nostalgia that is not worth the time. 
Both arguments are fundamentally mistaken. It is possible to study this issue now, especially thanks to the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The brief window opened by the Yeltsin era to researchers allowed scholars to access and study previously unavailable materials that shed new light on the motivations and strategy that dictated the behavior of Soviet advisors in Spain. This is valuable for gaining a better understanding of the factional rivalries between the Communist, Trotskyist, Socialist, and Anarchist groups that ultimately undermined the efforts of the Republic and led to Franco's victory. 
This is especially true of the experiments with radiation that both created several superhero media stars and defined the Communist torture of those who fell into disdain of the Moscow-aligned party. The later events in the lives of both the American Avi Finkelstein, who fought under the nom de guerre Fascist Smasher, and Russian Boris Gulyanov, nom de guerre медве́дь (translit. Medvyeht/trans. Bear) take on new dimensions and meaning after reading materials in the Russian archives, including the role of the sometimes-repressed Russian Cosmist philosophical and scientific movement that helped create these Soviet superheroes and the mysterious episode, which Finkelstein said was a moment where he travelled into the future, known for years only as the Dialectical Time Machine affair.
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