As part of a $1 million agreement with Marvel Comics, the Bartow-based Florida Department of Citrus has launched the first in a series of comic books that feature the Avengers with a guest appearance by Captain Citrus.
The comic tie-in is part of the department’s $8.7 million public relations program unveiled in June. It replaces nearly all of its advertising program, which last year spent more than $13 million advertising Florida orange juice mostly on television.
As part of the comic-tie in, the department resurrected Captain Citrus, who formerly had the roly-poly physique of an orange. The new superhero is sculpted, wears a skin-tight orange body suit, and is part of an anti-obesity campaign aimed at school children.
Marvel already had a presence in elementary schools that the department decided to tap, said David Steele, department director of public relations.
About a million of the print comics will begin to be distributed to schools this fall, according to a department news release. But a digital version already is available at the department’s website, www.floridacitrus.org/captain-citrus.
The comic will debut in October at the New York Comic Con, a trade show. Sequels are planned for January and March 2015.
Bill Rosemann, creative director and editor for Marvel Entertainment, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., oversaw the development of Captain Citrus.
In the first issue, Choosing Wisely, readers are introduced to John Polk, who is empowered by mysterious solar pods discovered in his family’s orange grove.
When trouble arises in nearby Orlando, the Avengers go into action and Captain Citrus joins them.
After some wild fights with a villain, orange super-hero ends the day, quipping, “I met the Avengers, fought one of their worst foes, and helped save the world. And just think, it all started off with a glass of orange juice.”