Behind its films, television shows and comic books, Marvel runs a secret empire of promotional comics made for companies who wish to spread awareness of things like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or in this case, good quality banking from Synchrony Bank. “Save Like a Hero” is a one-shot comic promoting the bank through quality banking advice from the Avengers themselves. You might assume Iron Man and Cap fighting against fiscal irresponsibility might come off boring, or worse, unintentionally silly, but somehow Marvel manages to make it work.
“Save Like a Hero” is another product of Marvel Custom Solutions, the comic book publisher’s in-house branded content division which lends its characters to consumer products. Synchrony Bank just happens to be an extension of Marvel’s deal with MasterCard.
Putting aside cynicism for just a moment, it’s actually possible to enjoy “Save Like a Hero”. Hawkeye is clearly based off of his mainstream comic book counterpart, the art is actually pretty good, and any time the Avengers aren’t weirdly talking about interest rates and electronic bank transfers, they’re instead given quality, quippy dialogue. “Save Like A Hero” isn’t an artistic masterpiece, but as far commercial tie-ins go, the comic isn’t half-bad.
The story begins with Hawkeye and Black Widow trying to scrounge for some cash after a mission. Unfortunately, Clint is Clint and he has no savings to speak of. Black Widow, ever the responsible member of the Avengers, wonders how Hawkeye could possibly not have a savings account. He is, after all, an adult man.
Eventually things go south when Titania and the Absorbing Man rob a convenience store, forcing the two heroes to jump into action, bad puns and all.
That’s when things get crazy. Turns out, Captain America and the Black Panther quickly join the fray, and Absorbing Man ends up absorbing both Captain America’s Vibranium Shield, as well as some ancient Wakandan artificats which give him mystical powers. The Avengers leap into action, but not before Black Panther explains the value of electronic money transfers.
What’s interesting is that the BBC produced a podcast highlighting certain African countries as one of the leaders in cashless transactions, so this is a case where promotional art imitates a unique reality. Who knew Wakanda was one of these countries?
Of course, the Avengers ultimately save the day thanks to more help, this time from Doctor Strange, and everything ends up fine, especially for Hawkeye, who decides to be an adult and open his first bank account.
Despite the comic’s intended purpose of promoting a bank, and certain banking practices, “Save Like a Hero” is oddly engaging. Marvel Custom Solutions won an advertising award in early 2016, and judging by this comic, it’s easy to see why.