With news that Marvel has a new show in the works about the clean up team called Damage Control, I figured I would dive in to the Marvel Unlimited app and see if I could find some Damage Control stories. I was familiar with them from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon that appears on the Disney Channel but as of yet I had not had a chance to read any of their stories.
The idea is brilliant. It allows Marvel the chance to address the biggest plot hole you encounter in superhero comics and that is simply the aftermath. How the hell does the world get back to normal? It makes sense that a team in in place that would come on the scene after a superhero fight and clean things up in time for the next issue. If the plan for the television show is in line with what I have read in this particular issue than we’re in for a treat.
The comic starts at the end of the events depicted in World War Hulk. The CEO of Damage Control is on a helicarrier speaking with Tony Stark about the price to fix up New York after the attack from The Hulk. While we’re thrown into the story pretty much smack dab in the middle of everything that is going on I at no time felt lost. While these characters are definitely well lived, having previous adventures that are not referred to in this issue, that never gets in the way of the focus of this issue and that is getting the team together to repair New York. There were even characters that had previous issues with others in the story that was told in such a way that you never had to know exactly why they were upset at each other to appreciate what was going on in the story.
Too many writers, not even exclusive to comics, are hell bent on trying to throw so much into their stories that they forget just what it is they are bringing to the table in order to get people interested. They want to focus either on convoluted back stories that have nothing to do with the story or lead the reader along a path that will ultimately confuse them and leave them disappointed. I think of season 2 of one of my favorite shows 24. Season 1 had done a pretty decent job in making sure that everything going on had something, even if it was minor, to do with advancing the main plot, which was the plot from Victor Drazen to try and kill Jack Bauer and David Palmer as revenge for the murder of his family. Season 2 started out with promise in all but one area. Kim Bauer. She was a nanny with a family that it turned out was dealing with a very abusive husband. The fact that Kim was apparently staying with these people for months and the fact that not only was he abusing his family but also hitting on other women and she was oblivious to this is one area that makes you shake your head in disbelief. There is no way someone acting like this guy did would not have been noticed. The big problem though was the fact that, based on season 1, I thought until the very last episode that what was happening to Kim somehow had to do with the main plot of season 2 which ended up not being the case. If you removed all of Kim Bauer’s scenes from that season you would miss nothing of importance. That’s not a knock on her. That’s a knock on producers shoehorning her into a story that she didn’t belong in.
When it’s done right though, when you’re introduced to characters smack dab in the middle of their lives you find yourself immediately lost and immersed in the world and it’s great. Take the original Star Wars. The war between the Empire and the Rebellion had been going on many years before Darth Vader’s Star Destroy attacked the Tantive IV and that knowledge actually helped strength the characters and their motivation when we first meet them. While this story is by no means a classic, much like Star Wars you’re diving into the deep end with this story and brought along for a ride.
The art was pretty good especially with the fact that the story revolved around a construction clean up crew. Apart from the characters themselves there was no superhero action in this piece. It was either boardroom meetings, meetings in homes, or exterior shots. But the art was vibrant and went a long way toward making you care for the characters.
As always I have to focus on something that didn’t quite sit well with me. This is more quibbling at this point but when it came to how they glossed over the fact that we were in a post Civil War era where superheros either had to have registration cards or face jail time, it seemed silly for a company that so far in the comic had gone out of their way to follow the rules and be safe would suddenly decide that it was ok to get superhero involvement without checking their registration cards. Argue all day about whether the cards are right or not and that argument would be irrelevant because for a company that wanted to continue to get government money in order to continue as a business, I don’t buy that they would let something this big slip. Some may say that this may mirror how some companies hire illegal immigrants but I would disagree. Superheros are very much legal citizens. As long as they plan to use their powers they’ve been required to be registered for just such situations that New York had faced in the battle against The Hulk. Again, argue whether that was needed or not but this should not have happened. All it was was a glaring transparent plot device that allowed the Thunderbolts to appear at the end of the story to see if people were registered. You could see something like that coming from a mile away.
The only issue I had with the art was around the CEO of Damage Control. Everyone but her was drawn in such a way as to make them appear as comic book versions of magazine models. But not the CEO. She’s overweight and looks like my foot if it swelled up to look like a walking hippo. Not everyone on Earth has to be depicted as pretty in a comic but you can do better in terms of making people at least appear normal.
This comic made me more excited to see a potential Damage Control television show. I really want Marvel to consider posting more Damage Control stories as well apart from the three they have. It goes a long way to explain how things work behind the scenes in the Marvel Universe. It’s also a great study on average people dealing with the aftermath of superhero actions. I give the story an 8.
The art was good for all but its depiction of Mrs. Hoag, the CEO of Damage Control. Again, not everyone has to be pretty and a model but if they’re just a normal schlub, please don’t go out of your way to make them look deformed. I give the art a 6.