No form of entertainment is safe from advertising tie-ins -- that's how the industry makes its money, and if an advertiser wants to pay to have its product actually in a television show rather than just promoted during a commercial break, they are not likely to be refused. Comic books are no exception, and over the years big publishers have been more than happy to peddle out their most famous icons in ridiculous stories centered around virtually any product imaginable. Like ...
#6. The Justice League and Craftsman
In an effort to appear at least somewhat relevant to America's apathetic youth, struggling retailer Sears teamed up with DC Comics to produce a comic book that would prove to the world that they, too, could be cool, despite the fact that no young person has thought Sears is cool since the Eisenhower administration. And what's cooler than smearing your product all over the Justice League?
And so we wind up with a comic in which The Technician, a scruffy handyman tasked with replacing light bulbs and keeping toilets unclogged in the Hall of Justice, masterfully showcases his indispensable Craftsman Bolt-On Tool every chance he gets. Even if it means putting the actual superheroes in their place now and then:
"Let's not lose sight of what's really important, OK, Batman?"
So, the Justice League goes out on an emergency mission, leaving the Technician by himself to tighten doorknobs or whatever, when villainous super-genius The Key invades with an army of robot henchmen. However, The Key fails to account for the Justice League's trusty janitor, a man in a Craftsman onesie packing a villain-thwarting Craftsman Bolt-On Tool.
Which still leaves him at least 80 percent more menacing than Aquaman.
The sequence of events that follows proves that either The Technician really does have the handiest tool in the universe, or that The Key is the worst super villain ever conceived (or that both of these truths collided on a timeline of Fate to bring us the plot of this comic).
"I don't even know what this tube is for."
Armed with nothing but his rugged looks and a motorized hand tool with multiple attachments, The Technician manages to repeatedly irritate The Key and send a distress signal out to the Justice League, because apparently nobody in this organization carries a cell phone.
Wow, learn how to finish a sentence, The Key.
The Key and his battalion of robot soldiers are inexplicably powerless to stop a man running around the base with a power drill, giving The Technician ample opportunity to show off the many applications of the Craftsman product, such as drilling through panels and unscrewing things.
"DRILLS FIX ALL ELECTRONICS!"
Eventually, the Justice League arrives (even though The Technician clearly had everything under control at that point) to boot The Key and his friends the hell out of their base.
"Wait, we have a janitor?"
The Technician takes the last panel of the comic to assure us that all would have surely been lost had it not been for a piece of retail garage equipment.
"Never mind the fact that Batman is a techno-genius and half of you people are from space, and all you buy for me to use around here is a freaking cordless drill."
If this cannot sell power tools, indeed nothing can.
#5. The Avengers and Harley Davidson
In mid-2012, as part of an effort in no way meant to shamelessly cash in on Marvel's recent explosive film successes, the Avengers teamed up with Harley Davidson, despite the fact that both Thor and Iron Man can fly and Hulk cannot possibly ride a motorcycle.
The story begins with Captain America and Black Widow cruising around on their standard-issue Harleys (that have never been seen before or since in any iteration of the Marvel universe), looking for Hawkeye, who apparently got lost somewhere in Russia on his way back to the Avengers tower.
"Could you repeat that, Natasha? I couldn't hear you over your breasts."
Assuming he can't be far, the duo proceeds to explore the blasted remains of an eastern bloc city on a pair of the loudest vehicles commercially available.
"Keep opening your throttle, maybe Hawkeye will hear the noise and come out from wherever he's hiding."
Cap and Black Widow eventually hone in on Hawkeye's signal, tracing it to an abandoned warehouse where he is currently tied to a chair and getting his ass beaten by Baron Zemo. They speed off on their motorcycles to save him, once again ignoring the fact that 30 percent of their team can fly and probably could've found him without driving aimlessly around Russia all afternoon.
"Yes, these crude engines strapped to wheels sure do look impressive next to gods and indestructible power armor."
Unfortunately, the warehouse was also full of giant naked monsters, who apparently hate justice and the free-riding spirit of a quality American chopper in equal measure. The resulting battle (wherein the rest of the team finally arrives) quickly turns against the Avengers, because hulking gray space demons have a knack for gaining the advantage in a melee.
In the next panel, Iron Man just turns around and leaves.
Just when it seems like our heroes are on the ropes, reinforcements arrive in the form of a fleet of Harley Davidsons. Because clearly, the problem here was that the Avengers just didn't have enough motorcycles.
"Thor! Go fetch us some gasoline."
Fighting side by side with the Road Force, wielding what appears to be rainbow-colored motorcycle noises, Cap and the gang proceed to force the monsters back into the stygian dimension from whence they came.
Although the Captain himself appears to be content to simply ride his Harley and point at things.
Another successful advertising tie-in executed with flawless precision. Wait, comic book geeks ride Harleys, right?
#4. The Fantastic Four and Hitachi Data Systems
Released worldwide in 2011 in partnership with Hitachi Data Systems, Fantastic Four: Trapped in the Data Vortex warns us all about the of the dangers of sub-par data storage while somehow managing to be less entertaining than a corporate training video.
The plot is that irritable giant head thing M.O.D.O.K. is trying to screw with humanity yet again, this time by slowing down the world's data centers. That's right -- slowing them down. Not destroying them, just making them a little shittier. However, his plans are halted by Hitachi's ultra-kickass data storage service, the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform, which is so intensely awesome not even the superhuman psionic powers of M.O.D.O.K. can touch it. So instead, he has to bully around some Hitachi IT guy named Ray (after straight-up murdering the kid's boss).
"The $11.50 an hour you make puts you in an elite caste of humanity."
Luckily, the Fantastic Four shows up just in the nick of time to rescue Ray from what would assuredly have been the mightiest headbutt in history.
M.O.D.O.K. is a sore loser, as befitting a giant floating head with a horrible face, so he blasts Ray into a virtual data stream (instead of just melting him into photon dust like his boss). This leaves the Fantastic Four no choice but to go into the data stream after him.
"If we abandon him, tens of people might be somewhat bummed."
The virtual data stream looks exactly how you would expect one would look, which is another way of saying it looks like a giant lava lamp full of weird metallic boner spheres.
This is pretty much how we've always pictured the Internet.
The boner spheres are actually pieces of corrupted data that have been clogging up the system, so Ray suggests that they clear them out by having Johnny Storm blow them all up with blazing meteorites of destruction. This is apparently how Hitachi's Virtual Data Storage Platform is supposed to work.
"Like this! But quietly and in a cold, dark room!"
But then, the damaged data spheres ooze together to form a giant purple monster called Datazilla, because this comic book sucks.
Seeing that Datazilla might actually contain important information, the gang decides to handle the situation in the most delicate way possible by sending the Thing screaming across the dataverse to punch it in the face.
Not enough IT workers know how to punch.
Somehow that does the trick, and the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform teleports everyone back to safety (and a passive-aggressive Reed Richards).
"All I did was beat the hell out of everyone in this room while you guys were gone. The real credit goes to Hitachi for ... whatever it does."