RaceWarrior #5 is a comic book published by Custom Comics of America. Rather than explain this comic in linear fashion, I will explain it hermeneutically, describing my process of discovery. Having recently found Mr. T #1, I was looking forward to finding other trinkets of ironic inexplicability in my Dollar Tree comic book grab bags. When I saw the title of this one, I was wondering if I had actually found a White Supremacist comic book, which would far overshadow anything else I have found as far as comic book marginalia (and I've found a lot!).
But at the top of the cover, I found a line that dashed my hopes/fears of finding such a thing: rather than being a Storm Saxon like comic, this is simply:
The 7-Up Comic Book for Racing Fans
Yes, this is a comic book set in the world of NASCAR
racing. Nothing wrong with that, after all racing comics
are a regular genre in Japan, and one of the first animes to come to America was the famous Speed Racer
. But on top of that, a big part of the premise of this comic is 7-Up. Because in the grim future of 2020
, a grim future of vaguely cyberpunkish racing, all the race cars are sponsored by 7-Up, and associated brands. The plot of this issue seem to borrow a lot from Speed Racer, with the mysterious figure who enters the race for vengeance being reminiscent of Racer X
, the estranged brother of Speed Racer
. Only he is dressed head to toe in a robotic uniform with the Sunkist
logo. He races against the villain
of the series, who in a bit of marketing that I can't quite understand, actually drives the 7-Up branded car. Also, the comic book has real biographies of NASCAR pit crews in it, as well as fake biographies of cyberpunk race teams in the year 2020
, one of whom is a nun
, who doesn't actually appear in this issue. Also, the only advertising in the comic is four full page ads for 7-Up
I don't know what to think about this. I know the word random gets thrown around a lot, but I am trying to figure out the marketing decisions behind this. And this isn't a one-off thing. On the cover it says "collect all 38 issues". Neither was this a promo or a freebie: this comic book had a suggested retail price two dollars and ninety nine cents. At some point an entire marketing team decided that not enough racing fans were drinking 7-Up and Hawaiian Punch, and the best way to rectify that was to sponsor 38 issues of comic books about racing rivalries in a cyberpunk future. And that same marketing team seemed to overlook the unfortunate implication of giving this vehicle of non-caffeinated soda evangelism a name that sounds like neonazi literature.
Seriously, I challenge anyone to find me an example of something more incongruous than this.
Oh, and as for the quality of the comic itself? Its actually not badly done. The plot is, as mentioned, taken from Speed Racer, and the art is pretty good, especially since penciling racing action is a skill that most comic book artists don't specialize in. I have to admit that I spent more time wondering about the premise than actually reading the comic.