This is a feature called "A Political World," where we spotlight 20th Century comic book stories that came out back when comic books were not political at all, unlike comic books nowadays. Today, we look at a Defenders story that dealt with the Refuseniks.
I featured this years ago, based on a suggestion from reader Omar Karindu, as a Foggy Ruins of Time, but it applies here, as well.
One of the most clever things that Steve Gerber would do as a writer is that he would take these topics that were absolutely incendiary topics and wait a little bit until they were a little bit out of the news and THEN he would build storylines based around them, so that he would be able to do commentary that would probably have been far too controversial had he written about it when it was JUST in the news, but since he waited a little bit of time, he was able to get his points across without freaking people out. Especially since a number of readers probably didn't even know what he was talking about!
That's what he did in Defenders #40, which was drawn by Sal Buscema and Klaus Janson.
The set-up of the issue is that the Defenders had recently added Red Guardian, the Soviet superhero (basically the Russian version of Captain America. She was the second Red Guardian and the first one to be female). She was now living in the United States for the first time.
As you might imagine, not everyone was thrilled with a Soviet superhero joining an American superhero team...
Red Guardian chases down the vandals and after capturing one of them, he is injured. for!
She goes to a nearby apartment for help and she doesn't know what she is in
Red Guardian takes on the leader of the group and ultimately defeats him and gets away from their attempts to capture her and then blackmail the USSR over her identity...
So, what was Gerber referencing here exactly?