Marvel backs out of partnership with weapons developer

A project involving Marvel's Avengers and weapons developer Northrop Grumman was canceled after fans expressed outrage. (Marvel)

Following a swift and severe online backlash Friday, Marvel Entertainment has canceled a planned partnership with military contractor Northrop-Grumman.

The publisher had planned to reveal more details of the collaboration at New York Comic Con on Saturday, but it was apparently intended to promote science and technology education.

The cover of a promotional comic featuring the Avengers--including fictional former military contractor Tony Stark--and the "Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus" team was not well received by fans or by some Marvel creators. Within hours of announcing the Comic Con event on Twitter, Marvel confirmed that it had been canceled.

“The activation with Northrop Grumman at New York Comic Con was meant to focus on aerospace technology and exploration in a positive way," Marvel said in a statement. "However, as the spirit of that intent has not come across, we will not be proceeding with this partnership including this weekend’s event programming. Marvel and Northrop Grumman continue to be committed to elevating, and introducing, STEM to a broad audience.”

The book, written by Fabian Nicieza with art by Sean Chen, was briefly available online, and it featured the two teams of heroes fighting giant robot Red Ronin to save New York City. Nicieza responded to fan complaints on Twitter Saturday, saying he had been unaware of the controversy but would discuss it in more detail once the convention is over.

Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada said at a panel Saturday that he learned about the partnership at the same time as the general public.

"I’ll be honest with you, I saw it for the first time as you guys," he said. "I think there were some messaging issues. It was really about science and education.”

The book was a product of Marvel Custom Solutions, the company's in-house ad agency.

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