Comics tend to be a special place for marketing. Sometimes they’re genuinely wonderful stories that take us on fun adventures. Sometimes they’re horrible slogs blatantly pushing a product.   Then there are some issues that are fun blatant ads with speech bubbles. Meet Combo Man.   In the mid 1970’s a new branded snack food hit the shelves of America. Combos Snacks. They are essentially little edible tubes with various flavored fillings. The tubes range from pretzels to tortilla chips to crackers, and the flavors are too numerous to list. One of the more popular ones is pizza.   In 1996, Marvel Comics teamed up with Combos Snacks to create a new superhero to help sells these delicious edibles (#notsponsored). And so Combo Man was born.



Now in any other circumstance, this would be a terrible costume. It’s way too busy. Way too many colors. It’s hard to find an actual pattern or flow to the costume. It’s like Jarvis made a memory quilt using old torn up costumes from the Avengers’ laundry room and someone decided to wear it out in public. But when in context, the suit is PERFECT. It’s so ridiculous it works. You see Combo Man and you can’t forget him. That image is seared into your memory.   His origin is definitely one for the record books. One day, a student named Rick Wilder was in his school’s science lab. He stumbled upon AIM soldiers who were trying to steal some new invention from his professor. When AIM finds Rick, he is then affected by the professor’s new invention. While holding a stack of comics and Combos snacks. THAT’S how it happens.



When the energies of the machine mix with the Combos, Rick gains the abilities and “combo-ed” costumes of the characters in the comics he was holding. In a dramatic fashion, out of the fog steps a new hero. COMBO MAN. The AIM soldiers then have him fight the Super Adaptoid, but of course Rick wins.



This whole issue is super weird yet incredibly fun. It slaps the Combos name into so many sentences you’d think they were getting paid per mention. The silliness is so insane but in just the right way, making the comic feel like something out of the Silver Age (like Dial H but that’s a comic for another day). It’s a rare comic so if you can find it, definitely grab it.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some delicious Combos to eat.


Banner art by Alli White (@Skirtzzz on Twitter)