With so many big names and big events plastered across the shelves of your LCS, sometimes great comics get left behind – buried in longboxes until someone comes along to find these Hidden Gems.
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Ernie Colón, Kyle Baker, Salva Espin & others
Published by Marvel Comics
Some ideas are just so brilliant you can’t believe they took so long to come about. In 1989, writer Dwayne McDuffie and artist Ernie Colón came up with one. With all the damage done in the Marvel Universe due to super-human battles, it makes perfect sense that there would be a construction firm that specializes in cleaning up the messes. And lo, Damage Control was born. Working out of New York’s Flatiron Building, the company was founded by businesswoman Anne Marie Hoag, and entrepreneurs Tony Stark and Wilson Fisk, and staffed with an eclectic but efficient group of characters. Over the course of four minis and two stories in anthology books, all written by McDuffie, Damage Control has remained an extremely fun part of the Marvel Universe. If you like to laugh when you read your comics, Damage Control is a great read.
Before the first mini was released, the group showed up in two different anthology series. Marvel Age Annual #1 first introduced the concept, wherein head of marketing Henry Ackerdson tries to recruit the Hulk (currently in his grey “Joe Fixit” persona) to be their spokesperson. Needless to say, it doesn’t end well. A short story in Marvel Comics Presents #19 followed, and introduced several of the main characters as well as reinforcing their role in the Marvel U. The first mini came shortly after, and among it’s highlights are a forgotten rebuilding of the X-Mansion, the team being coerced into wearing costumes to appear more appealing to the public, and comptroller Albert Cleary successfully confronting Doctor Doom about making overdue payments. One of the funniest moments in the whole series comes when, presented with Doom’s personal check, intern Bart Rozum asks to see the monarch’s ID, and Doom readily complies since rules and protocol must be followed.
The second mini ties into the “Acts of Vengeance” storyline, and sees our cast being joined by new intern Robbie Baldwin (who you might know better as the superhero Speedball), get stuck in the super-prison the Vault during a break-out, come into the cross-hairs of the Punisher, and survive a corprate takeover with some help from Ann’s old boy-toy Nick Fury. The group’s third mini sees not only the debut of Damge Control: The Movie, starring Simon “Wonder Man” Williams of course, but the return of an employee who gained incredible powers back in the first issue of the first mini. Calling himself Edifice Rex, he wants to use his god-like powers to clean up the universe, which involves erasing everything in existence. So who do the Silver Surfer, Galactus, and Eternity call for help? Why Damage Control, of course.
The group would pop up occasionally in various Marvel comics after that, most notably in the Wolverine tie-in issues to Civil War and the Irredeemable Ant-Man. McDuffie returned with a new mini set during the aftermath of World War Hulk. And rather than just ignore what other writers have done with his creation since his last work on it, McDuffie embraces it all, utilizing situations and characters that have been associated with Damage Control in recent years, like Walter Declun’s takeover and characters from Ant-Man. The mini itself saw the group dealing with the massive damage done to Manhattan during the Hulk’s rampage and the hero’s efforts to repair it. Along the way, they have to deal with the newly government sanctioned Thunderbolts (including the armored Penance, who for some reason seems to know a lot about them) and the Chrysler Building coming to life. Yes, you read that right. In the Marvel Universe, the Chrysler building is now a living, sentient being. This is why I love comics, people.
If you like your comics to come with a built-in sense of humor, you definitely need to track these series down. McDuffie’s characters are full of snark and wit, and it’s a damn shame he’ll never write them again. You’ll have to go back-issue hunting for the first three minis and the two anthology issues, as Marvel hasn’t gotten around to trading them yet. The latest mini is collected in the Hulk: WWH – Damage Control trade and should be easy to find. I implore you to seek them all out. I give all of Damage Control a collective 4.75 out of 5 Fluppys.