(Photo: Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

Marvel announced today that it was teaming up with defense systems manufacturer Northrop Grumman for a new all-ages comic book, finally combining the American child’s two favorite things: Flashy comic book superheroes, and extremely expensive missile defense systems and “battle management” technology. The company did so by revealing a new team of heroes powered by the company’s military technology, the awkwardly backronymed Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus (or N.G.E.N.). Teaming up with the Avengers, they basically look like the currently discontinued Fantastic Four, except with a lot of real-world defense tech for various superheroes to ooh-and-ahh over. Shockingly, though, a number of the company’s fans didn’t take news of this particular sponsorship very well:

Northrop Grumman bills itself as the world’s fifth largest defense contractor, selling bombers, cybersecurity systems, and other military hardware, mostly to the U.S. government. The partnership with Marvel will apparently extend beyond this single book, too; the company has said it’s planning some sort of big N.G.E.N. reveal at its booth at New York Comic-Con tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Marvel recently pulled its planned panel for the upcoming Punisher TV show from the same convention, over fears that it would be seen as an endorsement of gun violence. (To be fair, Northrop doesn’t seem to manufacture guns, just other, more advanced defense systems; also, we have to admit that “Start Your N.G.E.N.s,” the name of the storyline in the just-announced book, is some top-notch bad comic book title punning.) The company is also running a “code-breaking” contest within the promo book’s pages, in order to allow kids to earn a chance to be drawn into the book, the better to get America’s youths really excited for every child’s favorite kids-friendly weapons manufacturer, those wacky, fun-loving clowns at Northrop Grumman.

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[via Bleeding Cool]