Earlier today, Marvel tweeted out a promotion this Saturday at New York Comic Con involving weapons manufacturer Northrop Grumman.
Under their “Custom Edition” printing arm, the company will see N.G.E.N. (Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus) meet the Avengers in a story called “Start Your N.G.E.N.S.!“. The comic is marked as “all ages” and written by Fabian Nicieza with art by Sean Chen.
Marvel’s “Custom Edition” allows the company to work on special comics like this for instance they’ve produced a comic for a pharmaceutical company to promote their drugs to treat IBD.
In this comic:
When RED RONIN emerges from the Hudson, the Avengers assemble to stop his destructive march toward New York City. But when the mechanical behemoth proves to be a match with seriously upgraded technology, a call for assistance goes out to a new super group. Northrop Grumman’s Elite Nexus is a team of scientists who specialize in cutting edge, hi-tech adventures. The new squad of heavy hitters, known as N.G.E.N. rushes in to assist the Avengers. But who could be behind Red Ronin’s mysterious attack?
Why doesn’t this sit well?
Northrop Grumman is a leading U.S. military contractor and aerospace company known as the producer of the B-2 Stealth bomber and fighter jets like the F-14 Tomcat (a competing company to Lockheed Martin) and also been fined for hundreds of millions of dollars for charges such as bribery, fraud, workplace safety issues, wages, and more.
There’s numerous reasons this corporate team-up is disappointing including it goes directly against Marvel’s “progressive” claims. It’s a help to mainstream part of the military industrial complex through comic propaganda.
The company is no saint and unlike Tony Stark has not seen the light when it comes to their death merchant ways.
In the 1970s the company was embroiled in controversies over illegal campaign contributions as well as $30 million in bribes it paid to foreign governments to win contracts.
During the 1980s there was numerous investigations about mismanagement over their work on the MX Missile and B-2 Stealth Bomber (defrauding upwards of $2 billion in this case alone) and in 1989 they were indicted on criminal charges of falsifying test results. Instead of a trial the company plead guilty to 34 fraud charges and paid a fine of $17 million. In 1992 the company paid $4.2 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit over padding invoices regarding the MX missile system.
The company then paid $1.4 million in 2000 to settle another whistleblower case about overcharging the Air Force. 2003 saw a $111 million settlement about overcharging the Pentagon for work on several programs. 2003 also included an $80 million settlement regarding two False Claims Cases. 2004 saw a settlement of $1.8 million over a whistleblower case from the 80s involving cruise missiles. 2005 saw $62 million paid to settle claims about overcharging for the B-2 bomber program.
The company was awarded a contract after the U.S. invasion of Iraq for $48 million to train the new Iraqi army. They did such a horrible job the Jordanian Army was brought in to take over.
In 2007 the Justice Department said Northrop would pay $8 million to resolve allegations about improperly testing equipment used in night vision goggles and sniper scopes sold to the Pentagon. 2008 saw a whistleblower bring a lawsuit about overcharges regarded the Joint STARS radar aircraft program.
The 00s weren’t done as the company then paid $325 million to settle charges that it failyed to test out parts for spy satellites. They wound up being defective.
They kicked off the 10s with a $12.5 million settlement that they neglected to test electronic parts it supplied for military aircraft and submarines.
Beyond fraud they’ve also destroyed the environment. A former complex in Bethpage, New York was contaminated with carcinogenic solvent and named a superfund site in 1983. The cleanup didn’t work.
There’s also labor abuses that led to strikes and in 2007 guest workers employed by a contractor were being held against their will.
A subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, Litton Industries, provided parts of source code for guidance and navigation systems aboard Air Force One to a company in Russia in 1998. They paid $15 million in fines for 110 violations of the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulation. They also failed to notify the U.S. State Department about guidance systems transfers to Angola, Indonesia, Israel, China, Ukraine, and Yemen.
Northrop Grumman also owns the Vinnell Corporation, a defense contractor who’s also a mercenary outfit that’s worked in fifty countries and allows US support with “official” United States involvement. Vinnell has trained other military organizations and in the case of training in Saudi Arabia it was used to crush unrest in Bahrain regarding the Arab Spring. This is the subsidiary that failed to train the Iraqi army.
The company has also been in a legal dispute with the city of Richmond, Virginia over IT infrastructure, showing off even more deplorable business actions.
We’ll of course have a full review of the comic as soon as possible.
Update: Marvel has cancelled the NYCC event and pulled the comic from Marvel Unlimited. References to Marvel have been removed from Northrop’s end. It’s unknown if the entire partnership has been dissolved.