“The Mind Control Menace,” a new title created out of Marvel Comics, tells the tale of a plague that has descended upon a city and its residents. It seems that town locals as well as students at the local high school, including successful jocks and brainiacs, have gradually become mere shells of their former selves, distracted, unfocused and devoid of the passion they used to have for their favorite pursuits. At first, the change seems slight, but eventually, it becomes extreme, with the denizens taking on zombie-like form, glowing green with glassy, pupil-less eyeballs.
Just as it appears their sickness is about to spread to the others, one student taps the sophisticated creation of his science-pro classmate to “re-program” the accursed. Finally, at the end of the comic, it seems this town is safe, but the fate of other high schools is yet to be determined.
The story is a sci-fi-style metaphor for nicotine addiction, specifically, that tied to teens who start out vaping. It's the latest push from the FDA Center for Tobacco Products’ “The Real Cost” platform. The initiative debuted in 2014 as an effort to fight cigarette smoking among teens and has since expanded to teen vaping.
The idea was conceived by FCB New York and with a team of Marvel creators, including Marvel Creative Lead Darren Sanchez.
“For most teens, high school is a time to enjoy more independence and self-reliance,” said Gary Resch, EVP, Executive Creative Director at FCB, in a statement. “With our partners at Marvel, we’re framing addiction as an entity that subverts that freedom—which, for a 16-year-old, makes for a perfect villain.”
“Marvel stories have always reflected the world around us, which allows us to find meaningful ways to reach fans of every age,” addedd Dan Buckley, President of Marvel Entertainment. “As a brand, we recognize the impact of the FDA’s mission to combat nicotine and the effect it can have on youth, and we are honored to contribute to such an important campaign to raise awareness about the addictive nature of vaping.”
The campaign exists in various forms, including a printed comic book, a digital static comic and an animated comic (above) that lives on Marvel.com and YouTube. Other assets include online videos, social posts, a landing page on TheRealCost.gov as well as a behind-the-scenes time-lapse video of the comic book’s creation.