Yesterday, it was announced that Marvel were publishing a comic book in association with defence contractor Northrop Grumman. The news did not go down well. And the comic, an adventure story featuring young scientists that managed to bypass much of the realities of war, and presented itself as a recruiting tool for the company. And both Marvel and Northrop Grumman teases an event happening at the Marvel booth at New York Comic Con later this afternoon.
It caused much distress online. With many drawing a comparison with Tony Stark, the arms manufacturer-turned-superhero, while others countered this asking how GI Joe fit into this. But Marvel were getting a lot of heat, with plenty of commentators asking what on earth they were thinking, creating a comic recruiting for an arms manufacturer?
Truth is, it appears they weren’t. Thinking that is, or at least not all of them. Marvel is a big company and this comic and promotion came from the Special Projects wing of the company, that takes on commissions and sponsored publishing deals away from the rest of Marvel Editorial. The recent M&M Marvel comic books? That kind of thing. Of course, arms manufacturers are a world away from that. The optics look very different indeed.
Yesterday, Bleeding Cool directly informed certain Marvel executives what was happening, that such a comic had been commissioned and published, digitally and in print, and that there was to be an event on the main Marvel stage on the showfloor tomorrow. The people we talked to simply didn’t know about it. And they weren’t happy.
Within hours, the digital comic had been pulled down from Marvel’s servers. And we now understand that the promotional event teased later today from Northrop Grumman and Marvel had been withdrawn and is no longer happening. I wouldn’t expect any more of the print copies to be given away anymore either. And Northrop Grumman has withdrawn the previous Marvel branding from their twitter account as well.
Such a change will likely be very expensive for Marvel, and may involve large amounts of compensation repaid to Northrop Grumman. But for Marvel, as with the change of the Netflix Punisher panel, replaced with a Stan Lee and Joe Quesada screening, given the circumstances, it was clearly the right thing to do.
Nice one, Marvel. And I expect those Special Projects guidelines will be getting an update on the kind of projects they may be expected to take on.