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Did Marvel Really Just Partner With Arms Dealers?

CN: guns, weapons, war, the military-industrial complex, the Las Vegas shooting, the President, racism

Update: Marvel has retracted the partnership, per PolygonAce of Geeks will be releasing an article with our thoughts as soon as we can.

So, I was having a pretty good day, all things considered, when this came across my social media feed. I stared at it for a minute, but googling “Northrop-Grumman” does indeed turn up confirmations from New York Comic-Con that say that Marvel and this manufacturer of weapons technology are teaming up. Supposedly there’s even going to be a comic where the Avengers partner with this weapons (and aerospace, I guess) company. As the Twitter feed says, this is literally propaganda for the military-industrial complex.

Marvel: What are you thinking?

We are less than a week out from the massacre in Las Vegas; the bodies of the people killed with guns modified by a legally obtained piece of weapons technology (from a company much like this Northrop-Grumman) are not even all properly buried, much less mourned. And Marvel decides that now — now — is the time to announce that by the way, our IP is now entangled with a company that is part of that war machine. This is the political stance Marvel chooses to take; it may not be explicitly political, but it sure as heck is political.

It is not yet clear what the extent of the partnership is; there is a part of me that is hoping this is all some kind of misguided, Secret-Empire-like attempt to whip up controversy so they can drive some sales. But given that we know Ike Perlmutter, former CEO, now Chairman, of Marvel, is a supporter of the current President (and according to rumors, super-racist, not that those are unconnected opinions…)…and that their aforementioned recent event showed such tone-deaf understanding of our current political climate (no surprise from a writer who is on record as loving broken-window policing and having at minimum some paranoid ideas about black people)…

And that no matter how hard they backpedaled they did try to claim that readers don’t want diversity

It’s really, really hard for me to believe that this isn’t a sign of exactly how right-wing — and not simply right-wing, potentially extreme right-wing — Marvel’s higher-ups are.

I am not the only one at AOG who feels this is a mistake; Raven adds “I get that ya gotta make a buck, but…this is not the way and this makes zero sense. I mean, unless Marvel is gonna buy controlling stock in that company and announce that they will be no longer making weapons, but they’re going to start working on projects that actually improve the world, then I don’t get it.” Me too, Raven. Me too.

We don’t know yet how intertwined Marvel and Northrop-Grumman are; apparently there is some sort of event at their booth on Saturday that might explain more. It is possible the partnership is entirely cosmetic, or that they really are just pulling a horrible, Perlmutter-and-Friends-fueled P.R. grab that they’ll backpedal on when it explodes in their faces the way it is right now. And as always, all our faves are problematic — it is OK to decide to still read comics you love and support creators you agree with even though their contracts are with people whose politics make you gag! But given this announcement, with this timing, right on the heels of Secret Empire, I don’t blame anyone who pulls completely away from Marvel, and I know I might be among that number.

They have some beautifully diverse books, and some beautifully diverse authors (though nowhere near proper representation); but I am going to have to watch this story as it develops and ask myself hard questions about each and every one of my Marvel subs. I definitely want to keep my Ms. Marvel subscription going, but the others…I don’t know. I just don’t know.

We’ll keep an eye on this story and update as we can. We hope it’s with good news. For now…as a long-time Marvel fan…you might want to look at some DC books.

Tyler Dent Hayes
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Tyler is a professional writer of speculative fiction and an enthusiastic lover of comics, tabletop games, pro wrestling, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, literary criticism, ice hockey, and basically every genre of fiction and music, but especially anything about superheroes, mythology, or both. Hailing from the wilds of Mendocino County, Tyler is lucky enough to have attained an advanced degree in talking about writing and to have married his favorite person in the world. He blogs about writing, life with anxiety, and occasionally movies and comics at his website, www.tyler-hayes.com. He'd love to play Sentinels of the Multiverse with you if you're interested.

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