|Current Affliations||Balakov's Auctions|
|Former Affiliations||Unknown Circus Troupe|
|Real Name||Teodor Vasiliyevich Balakov|
|Known Aliases||Artos, Black Grizzly, Crazy Russian, Bol'shaya Medveditsa (Russian: Большая Медведица; Great Bear), Papa Bear, Teddy, Ursus Major|
|Place of Birth||Krasnoyarsk, Russia|
|Current Location||Millennium City, MI|
|Relatives|| · Ania Vasiliyevna Balakov (Mother)|
· Isabella Balakov-Clemonte (Wife)
· Artur Teodorovich Balakov (Child)
· Tana Teodorovna Balakov (Child)
· Lev Teodorovich Balakov (Child)
|Apparent Age||Late 30's|
|Height||6'5" (1,96 m)|
|Weight||232 lbs (105 kg)|
|Hair||Dark Brown, Graying|
|Notable Features|| Well-Groomed Facial Hair,|
Turns into an Ussuri Brown Bear
|Occupation||Art Mogul, Business Owner|
Acting and Performance Skills, Art Expertise, Business Instinct, Hand-to-Hand Combat, (No Spin) Knife Throwing, Sambo
"I would have had no luck, if not for misfortune."
Teodor Vasiliyevich Balakov is someone you may refer to as a crazy Russian. As a young man, Teodor possessed a talent for being reckless and doing stupid things. He has had some brilliant business ideas, but has also known more than his fair share of foolishness. One great example of this is when he decided it would be entertaining to get drunk on vodka with his friends and wrestle a real bear. It was in this moment of recklessness and bravado - through a combination of adrenaline, strong liquor and circumstance - that Teodor triggered his latent mutation and became one with an Ussuri brown bear.
After discovering his mutation, which he was initially finding rather difficult to control and get a handle on, Teodor withdrew from society for a while. In part out of necessity, as Russian law does not typically approve of the use of superhuman abilities. His version of laying low (or arguably doing rather the opposite) was to join up with a traveling circus troupe, where Teodor performed both in the role of strongman and circus bear. Unbeknownst to the audience or anyone other than the circus' main staff and performers, of course. He stayed with the small circus for a couple of years, at which point he was pretty much running the show.
The reason Teodor left the life of a performer and mother Russia behind was classic; love. He fell head over heels for an American, an artist and ballerina who was studying Russian ballet. They met in an alleyway, after Teodor (in bear form) stopped a few lowlifes from harassing the lady. When a young man with a poorly buttoned shirt sped to her rescue so soon after the almost mugging followed by a sudden bear attack, she saw right through the performance. For reasons beyond Teodor's comprehension, she did not flee the scene. She instead berated him for such a reckless display of aggression in her name, insisting she had the situation well in hand. Teodor still swears he immediately knew she was the one in that 'passionate' moment.
Sure enough they officially ended up together after a couple months of romantic courtship. And when she returned to the states Teodor followed her there. Fast-forward some years later, they continue to be happily married and have several children together. Two beautiful, strong boys and a fiercely independent young lady, who obviously take after their mother.
"Everything changes, nothing disappears."
Today, Teodor Balakov stands at the head of a renowned auction house in downtown Millennium City. Of course none of it would have been possible without the unmissable support of his artistic and amazing wife - both in business and at home. Their three young children are healthy and growing up fast. Fortunately their grandmother (Teodor's mother, who came to live with them a few years back) is there to help raise the little troublemakers and keep them in line. Woe the day one of them (or Heaven's forbid, all of them!) manifest superpowers of their own.
As if his life was not hectic enough, Teodor on occasion dons a heroic costume at night and tracks down vile scum. He does this in part because it provides a 'healthy' outlet for the beast within; the bear has to be let out from time to time, it helps keep any predatory urges in check. Artos primarily hunts art thieves and smugglers, playing to his strengths and sticking predominantly to the territory he knows best; the art world. Any criminal that crosses paths with a bear would do well to head back in the direction they came from.
To protect his family, Teodor keeps his nocturnal activities a close-guarded secret. Even, or especially, from his children. Only his beloved wife, his dear old mother and a select few (superpowered) individuals know of the link that connects the man and the predator. Though it is a juggling act that is becoming increasingly more difficult as his children grow older.
As of late, Artos has been known to stray from his solitary behavior to, on occasion, team up with others much like him; those who hunt for justice evermore.
"One meets people by their clothes, and says farewell by their mind."
Teodor Balakov does not need to turn into a hulking bear to strike an imposing figure. Even in his human form he stands taller than most men with a build that would make one think twice before throwing an insult. On top of that, he is typically very well-dressed, color coordinated and impeccably groomed. Putting a special amount of consideration into the styling of facial hair. If he ever smelled of bear, the scent is sure to be masked by a manly cologne or an expensive aftershave, if not the smell of a fine luxury cigar.
When donning the more feral persona of Artos, Teodor wears a themed costume of classic superhero design. His time with the circus has clearly influenced parts of its design, as has his love for the golden age of heroics. The attire has a bit of a gladiatorial feel to it that goes hand in hand with his hand-to-hand fighting style. Apart from perhaps the bear head that adorns his shoulder, most notable is the fact that part of his torso remains exposed to the elements. This does not seem to phase Artos.
While speaking when in costume, unless in the presence of those that are aware of his true identity, Artos shifts his voice to become deeper with more of a low guttural sound to it.
"When you have done the job, you may take a walk boldly."
Bold, charismatic, extravagant, theatrical. These are only a small selection of the many colorful words used to paint Teodor Balakov in broad, vibrant strokes. When Teodor does anything, he does everything within his power to do it well and holds very little back; expressing himself with unbarred intensity, unbridled passion or by choosing to spare no expense. That said, his passion does not necessarily translate to loud or boisterous behavior at all. And the culture of masculinity he was brought up with does reign him in, to some extend, as do parenthood and his more sensible life-partner. He has wizened up a lot compared to his younger self back in Russia.
Unfortunately his intensity does not only extend to his favorable traits and characteristics. Teodor can be a little (or a lot) impetuous, proud, temperamental, unreasonable or even a bit possessive at times. He could choose to simply blame the territorial behavior and his lesser instincts on the bear, but he never does. One of Teodor's more redeeming qualities is that he admits to (almost) all of his many faults, believing that a real man always owns up to his mistakes. Though there is a slight gambling concern that he remains willfully ignorant of.
As a parent he is surprisingly patient, supportive, attentive and (over)protective. He can be strict, but prefers to leave that role to the children's mother and grandmother.
"A cat uses its paw, a bear all five fingers."
- Animal Intuition - Given his unique insight into the psychology and behavior of ursines, Teodor is highly intuitive when it comes to dealing with animals (or at least mammals). He has a (super)natural affinity for reading, understanding and staying in tune to the body language of large, mammalian predators and their usual prey; woodland critters and the like. This ability is far less reliable and often ineffective when trying to interpret the behavior of non-mammals, such as birds, fish, reptiles or amphibians.
- Enhanced Senses/ Tracking - Teodor possesses extraordinary senses not unlike those of a bear, namely his sense of smell and hearing. His acute hearing is almost twice as sensitive as that of your average human and covers a large range of frequencies. And his sense of smell allows him to pick up scents from over a mile away. This makes him a remarkable tracker. Like most bears, Teodor also has nocturnal vision; the ability to see in low light conditions.
- Enhanced Strength - Apart from outright becoming a bear, Teodor is able to tap into his raw ursine power at all times. Sometimes doing so almost passively, without fully realizing it. This allows him to perform amazing feats of strength, with displays of power roughly equivalent to the strength of a large brown bear. That is around five times as strong as most man.
- Hibernation - Teodor can enter a state of inactivity characterized by a low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and a suppressed metabolic rate. This allows wounds to recover faster and leave hardly any scarring. While the ability offers no immediate advantage in combat, it may allow him to feign death or shorten any time spend unconscious.
- Ursine Mimicry - Teodor's power allows him to manifest as an enormous Ussuri brown bear (Ursus arctos lasiotus) of approximately 650 kg or 1433 lbs. When his mutation triggered it caused him to absorb or assimilate the essence of another being. So rather than shape shifting into a bear, it is more like he produces a psychic manifestation of a bear to temporarily assume his place or surround his human form. He calls forth and channels his inner beast. While in this form, Teodor retains his human intelligence and personality.
"A bear is strong, but it can be led on a chain."
- Familial Bonds - Teodor's strong family ties can be seen as a strength, but it is also a vulnerability that many villains would not hesitate to use to their advantage. Being the father of three with lots of parental responsibilities also complicates matters when it comes to maintaining his secret identity. PTA moms are the worst adversaries to have.
- Mortality - While possessing the ferocity and endurance of a bear, including its thick hide when taking on the form of a bear, Artos is far from invulnerable. He may drown out the pain through an adrenaline-induced frenzy, but will ultimately succumb to his wounds or be forced to acknowledge the severity of his injuries when the battle draws to a close.
- Predatory Instincts - Particularly when manifesting himself as a bear, Artos is prone to 'seeing red' or moments of blind rage. Assuming the shape of a ferocious predator for prolonged amounts of time poses the risk of losing one's self in the process. It may lead him to give in to his baser instincts or to lose sight of the true objective.
- Sensitivities - Extraordinary senses come with extra vulnerabilities. For example, Artos improved sense of hearing makes the use of sonic weaponry more effective against him. And his superb sense of smell can leave him more responsive to certain (bio)chemical weapons that utilize scent to incapacitate. Bears also do not see reds and oranges very well.
- Zoolinguistics - When manifesting in the form of a Kamchatka brown bear, Artos does not retain the ability to speak or verbalize like man would. This can make communication in the field a little complicated or problematic and could potentially lead to miscommunication with dire consequences. And no, he does not possess the power to speak with animals.
"Everything genius is simple."
- Clawed Gloves - Unlike a bear's actual claws, the sharpened claws on these gloves are not nearly as blunt, even if slashing is not actually their primary use. While Teodor may use swiping motions in his attacks, the gloves are mainly there to offer protection for his hands and additional grip strength. Plus they reinforce the whole bear theme.
- Comm Device - An easily concealed earpiece and corresponding wristwatch communications device. Independently the earpiece still functions as an audio input and output device, but it does not offer a display nor does it provide access to many of the watch's extra features; possibilities that are comparable to a state of the art smartphone device. Teodor is fairly old school when it comes to tech, as such he seldom uses the watch's full array of features.
- Custom-Made Suit - Next to his ursine-styled gauntlets and the bear fur boots that allow him to move silently, Artos wears a bear fur mantle draped over his shoulders (complete with bear head) that partially obscures a strapped leather chest harness meant to protect mainly his neck and heart. He wears leather pants of a bold design, dyed in crimson and navy colors, with additional carbon fiber reinforcements to protect some of the areas most susceptible to injury (like the nether regions). His identity is also protected by a Venetian domino mask. For added anonymity or extreme weather conditions, Artos may pull up a crimson hood to shroud himself. It has a pair of menacing (read: adorable) bear ears sewn onto it.
The design is clearly meant to intimidate or to leave a strong impression first and foremost, and to protect second; the suit leaves a large part of his well-defined torso purposely exposed. Despite the seemingly savage and very asymmetrical look, all of it is custom tailored to his exact measures and fashioned from the finest (superhero) materials/fabrics on the market.
- Luxury Cigars - While he prefers expensive Russian cigars, for their taste of home, Teodor often lets his whims or the surrounding culture influence his choice of tobacco.
- Old School Espionage Tools - The disappearing ink pen, a shoe with a heel transmitter, the jacket button compass, a wristwatch camera, cufflinks that conceal micro film, dead drop bolts, decoder lockpicks, umbrellas with hidden features and so on. Teodor tends to go for the good old classics that have been used, successfully, since the Cold War era.
- Throwing Knives - Made out of balanced and tempered stainless steel, the professional throwing knives Teodor uses are simple, elegant and aerodynamic in their design; they do not have the thin parts or edges that many other knives do and they come with a matte black finish. Their weight is shifted slightly towards the handle, to make for ideal throwing. Throwing knives are usually not all that effective in combat, as such Teodor mostly utilizes them as a gap closer. A means to balance out his predominantly melee orientated combat repertoire.
Especially during missions in the wilderness, Teodor is known to swap out one of his standard throwing knives for a large survival knife because of the added utility it brings.
"Good brotherhood is the best wealth."
"The apple falls not so far away from the apple tree."
She may be getting a day older, but no less sharp; nothing ever slips past dear old mother's attention.
More fierce and powerful, and beautiful, when angered than any supervillain they will ever face.
Artur Balakov is a well-mannered teen, who sometimes struggles with standing in his father's shadow.
Daddy's little warrior-princess, Tana Balakov might just be tougher than both her brothers put together.
Little Lev Balakov is the cutest little baby, though he can sometimes be a little bit of a nightmare to babysit.
"Beware of the goat from its front side, of the horse - from its back side, and of the evil man - from any side."
Teodor suspects she is one of the PTA moms at his children's school.
A big, mutant cat burglar who preys on the high-profile art world.
"If you learn a lot, you'll age soon."
- Color Psychology - The red and blue of Artos' original costume are a homage to the flag of Russia, but also a nudge to a red and blue DNA helix.
- What's in a name? - Artos was also the name of the circus bear Teodor assumed the role of when he used to be part of a traveling cirque troupe.
"An old friend is better than two new ones."
- Circus Troupe - Artos used to be part of a circus troupe that traveled Russia and Eastern Europe, he played both circus bear and strongman.
- A Family Man - A father first and foremost, Teodor may be spotted at a parent-teacher conference or taking his children to swimming lessons.
- Mother Nature - Given his relative wealth, Teodor regularly attends charity functions and especially contributes towards nature preservation.
- Mother Russia - Though he is less boastful of the kind of crowd he spend his time with when he was younger, Teodor is proud to be Russian.
- Russian Mafia - Teodor allegedly has ties to the Bratva, enabling them in order to prevent other criminal organisations from running rampant.
- The Art World - As he runs an auction house for art, the name Teodor Balakov bears some name recognition around the high profile art scene.
"It's better to see once than to hear a hundred times."
- Artos - Character Reference Sheet
"A word is not a sparrow - once it flies out, you won't catch it."
"There's more to Artos than meets the eye. A level head, a good sense of humor to keep his allies on their toes, and the ability to shape shift into a powerful behemoth. He's more than just a super powered Russian, he's a force of nature." - Sparrowhawk
"When I say he's a bear of a man, I mean that pretty literally." - Specter
| Team Leader: |
| Agents: |
Artos • Facade • Inquisitor • Marauder • Specter • Tesseract • Warhound • Watchman