First announced and reported by Bleeding Cool last year at MCM London Comic Con, Marvel's greatest publishing division, Marvel Custom Solutions, has created a full graphic novel starring a new superhero team called The Unbeatables, designed to raise awareness for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), in partnership with pharmaceutical company Takeda. Designed by Marvel and a panel of IBD sufferers around the world, the final two chapters of the comic have been released and are available to read now at IBDUnmasked.com.
Unless you're inside the United States. If you're in the U.S., you can only see the image below (thanks Trump!), but everyone else can see it right now.
The book features five superheroes — Samarium, Switchback, Luminaria, Datawave, and Rubblerouser — who suffer from Chrohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, or take care of someone who does, fighting a villain named Technonaut. A press release explains the importance of the cause:
There are more than five million people worldwide who live with IBD. Everyday activities like getting together with friends and family or going to the cinema may be challenging for them. IBD affects people of all ages, and diagnosis is most common in early adulthood.
"When we launched IBD Unmasked, we wanted to provide inspiration for people living with IBD, and to recognize the truly heroic journey they go through in an authentic way," explained Elissa Johnsen, Senior Director, Global Product & Pipeline Communications, Takeda, in the press release. "During the past year, IBD Unmasked and our partnerships with patients, physicians and Marvel have enabled us to support those living with IBD in a meaningful and creative way."
Written by Fabian Nicieza and with art by Ariel Medel, JL Giles, Fernando Blanco, Chris Sotomayor, and Kirbi Fagan, The Unbeatables is the latest in a long line of comic book concepts that, frankly, blow away the creative output of the regular Marvel Universe over the past few years. Here's just a small sampling of Marvel Custom Solutions' offerings from the past few years, as explained via spectacular hyperbole from former Marvel Custom Solutions editor Bill Rosemann:
- One is the ferocious leader of the legendary X-Men and world-famous star of comic books, cartoons, video games and movies…the other is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, a six-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team…both are the best they are at what they do.
- What's more jaw-dropping, the majesty of the Imperial Court…the dynamic dance of their martial arts display…the overwhelming might of the invading archer army…the desperate fight for survival in the storm-tossed seas…or the tantalizing glimpses at the future threats that await the Twins?
- Marvel and Benefit both know that humor and intelligence can be a heroes' greatest strength, especially when faced with life's modern problems. SpyGal dispenses justice, beauty tips and witty life advice with an effortless grace, while also grappling with work and dating worries. Can SpyGal ever find Mr. Right…or must she sacrifice romance to the demands of her job helping powerful women spread their influence around the world?
- Like the Marvel heroes who pull off last minute victories, Tim Tebow has fans around the world on the edge of their seats and believing that–in our own lives–when time is running out and all looks lost, we can dig deep inside and use our various strengths to triumph over insurmountable odds.
- In an uncertain world, understanding how to save and properly budget your hard-earned money is one of the keys to personal success. The Avengers are not only the world's greatest heroes, but they also know a thing or three about financial health. After all, Iron Man hasn't managed his vast wealth of Stark Enterprises by accident, and, as Spider-Man learns in this story, you don't have to be a millionaire to be a saving hero.
- Thanks to his armor, Iron Man can fly through the air and fire repulsor rays, but inside that hi-tech suit is Tony Stark, who, like us, is always learning new ways to make healthy decisions. […] All of us at Marvel are proud to help readers of all ages realize that everyone—even Super Heroes—need to practice positive habits each day. And thanks to the unique mix of the power and relatability of the Marvel characters, we do it via an exciting and entertaining comic book!
While Rosemann himself has since moved on from Marvel Custom Solutions to become Marvel Games' Executive Creative Director — a well-deserved promotion — it's clear that the division has continued to carry on its important work.
If only this same level of creativity could be applied to Marvel's regular superhero output, the comics industry would be a far less depressing place. No heroes fighting heroes. No reboots. No super-mega-crossover events. How refreshing! What would you rather read? A comic where Captain America is a Nazi, or a comic where Iron Man teaches Spider-Man about the merits of financial responsibility? It's not a difficult choice.
The only remaining question is: who wants to chip in and get one of these custom Marvel comics made for ourselves? Let us know in the comments.