Damage Control #1-4
Issue(s): Damage Control #1, Damage Control #2, Damage Control #3, Damage Control #4
This is a comedy book, and Ernie Colon's art is not conventional either, but i do admit checking that the whole series wasn't drawn by Baker and feeling relieved that Colon was back starting with issue #2.
Even in the lettercol in issue #1, they seem to acknowledge that Baker's art is odd.
Ernie will be back next month... but in the meantime, how about that fab Kyle Baker artwork? Spider-Man looks... ah, well, he looks... uh...
We'll get to the Hulk in a minute. For now let me observe that Dwayne McDuffie continues to show interest in Thunderball, and then move on to the plot of this mini-series, which is that Damage Control are getting alerted to incidents that will lead to the need for repairs before they happen. That attracts the attention of police lieutenant Steve Sure of the Superhuman Crimes Task Force...
...who suspects that Damage Control are somehow causing these events to occur so that they can increase their profits.
Speedball, who works at Damage Control in his civilian identity, hears the charges against the company...
...and calls in the New Warriors to investigate.
Bart Rozum seems to know Speedball's secret ID, maybe because Robbie talks to himself out loud.
Meanwhile, Damage Control get another mysterious tip about upcoming damage, and they go to Yankee Stadium to wait for it. The Hulk is also there, watching the game.
But there's no potential for a fight until the New Warriors show up.
Ok, we are now into the Colon art. The Hulk is still looking weird, and i'm sure that's because this was originally intended to be the grey version.
The New Warriors, especially the anger-challenged Night Thrasher...
...take some convincing that Damage Control don't need to be beaten up. I am actually surprised that McDuffie doesn't have more to say about Night Thrasher, but he does get in a dig at his skateboard.
The guy instigating the fight has been hired to make a movie about Damage Control. More on him in a bit.
Even with that skateboard insult, the "battle" devolves into silliness and a lot of geeking out about Star Trek...
...and Lt. Sure becomes convinced that Damage Control aren't really behind the mysterious damage incidents.
That turns out to be the work of the construction worker that "had an origin" in the very first issue of Damage Control. He returns as Edifice Rex, a cosmic being.
He's obsessed with things being tidy (we'll learn that he's become an agent of Master Order). And he's been sending telepathic messages to Damage Control's secretary, which is how they've been learning about repair needs in advance. To get rid of Rex before he causes trouble on Earth, John Porter suggests that he go clean up the Asteroid Belt. So Rex leaves Earth, but that won't be the last we see of him.
One bit of fallout from this is that Robbie Baldwin is fired because he keeps leaving the job to be Speedball.
The third issue deals mainly with the movie. The idea is to create a film that will promote Damage Control and restore its popularity. In the movie, John Porter is portrayed by Wonder Man (and he has a naked butt scene).
The others are played by celebrities. Robin Chapel is played by Shelly Long. Kingpin is played by Marlon Brando. Albert Cleary is horrified to find out that he's being played by a stereotypical pimp character played by Jimmie Walker.
I don't really have a lot to say about the movie, but i'll note that the end credits show that Nightcat played herself in the film.
Nightcat was an actress that Marvel based a comic on (written by Stan Lee!). The question of whether or not that comic is part of the Marvel universe has come up, but this panel seems to be the only reference to it. And i don't think we need to take that any more seriously than the idea that Tom Brevoort is a bit part actor in the Marvel universe. Nightcat was a real person, like John Candy, so the reference to her here doesn't mean much.
Anyway, let's get back to Edifice Rex. Rex comes to the conclusion that instead of just cleaning up the asteroid belt with a dust pan and a broom, he can simply reshape the universe with his cosmic powers. This alarms Lord Chaos, who goes to Galactus.
And Galactus summons the Silver Surfer and tells him to deal with it (Nova is said to be too young to deal with the issue).
So the Surfer shows up at the end of the movie screening, and even though a contingent of Avengers are there, he says he wants Damage Control.
The final issue is therefore a parody of Infinity Gauntlet.
All the cosmic beings meet to hear from Damage Control and decide what to do about Edifice Rex.
But there's nothing they can do about the wielder of such cosmic power.
And they get scared when he says that to clean up the universe, he's going to "put everything back in the egg", essentially ending the universe (except for Master Order/Mister Clean).
So the heroes of Earth assemble (bolstering their ranks with a couple of characters from outside the Marvel universe).
But things end very quickly when Robin Chapel simply fires Rex.
As i've said before, i think this book works best when it's satirizing something directly from the comics, not just doing zany stuff. I think the Infinity Gauntlet satire is pretty weak. It's just really just "hey look at all these cosmic guys being silly" as opposed to actually making fun of problems with the characters or with Marvel's crossovers. I think McDuffie misses a similar opportunity to poke fun at the New Warriors and the Hulk. And the Thunderball section is practically earnest writing of the character. I think it's actually a good take on him (but very different than the scheming interpretation from other books of this era), but it's not satire.
Bringing back Edifice Rex is something i have mixed feelings about. I like the callback and the use of him here. But i also liked the impression i got from his prior appearance, which is that in the Marvel universe people just find weird objects and become super-characters all the time. That is actual satire, poking fun at the ubiquitousness of super-heroes to the point where a construction company can't even get a job done without someone turning into one. That's funny. Bringing him back and making him special defeats the point of that scene. But it does allow for other cute moments, like Galactus chomping on the planet, and depicting Master Order as Mr. Clean. In the end these books just never were what i really wanted them to be, but they have fun moments.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Thor is beardless, placing this before Thor #431. Many of the characters appearing here are also in Avengers #332-333, so placing this near that makes sense. And that's after the Muir Island Saga, making the X-characters available as well. This does put us in the unusual situation of having a parody of Infinity Gauntlet taking place before Infinity Gauntlet itself, but Thor's beard makes that a necessity. This also means that we are seeing Infinity and Oblivion in this series before they are properly introduced in Quasar #19-25, but it's not like the characters wouldn't have existed. Iron Man appears only in armor, so this can fit during the long period where he was technically paralyzed, and there's no indication that the thing is or isn't in his exoskeleton (right now i'm placing it after he's restored to his true rocky self, but it wouldn't matter either way).
The hardest character to justify here is the Silver Surfer. Basically any time after the Dynamo City arc in Silver Surfer #40-43, the Surfer should be trying to warn Earth's heroes about Thanos. But the Dynamo City arc begins with the Surfer handing over the body of the fake Thanos to Mentor, and that occurs after Silver Surfer annual #3, which is part of the Lifeform event that the grey Hulk participates in (whereas the Hulk is supposedly green and smart in this arc). So while i could push all of Silver Surfer #40-47 after Avengers #332 (or at least some point after Hulk #377-382), that would mean that the Surfer was holding on to Thanos' corpse for a long time. So here is my view: we see in Damage Control #3 that the Surfer is pulled through a wormhole by Galactus to deal with the problem of Edifice Rex. I say that at that point Galactus put a geas on Silver Surfer so that he could only perform actions related to dealing with Edifice Rex. And at the end of this story, Galactus pulls the Surfer back through the wormhole, dropping him back where he started. Making this appearance for him yet another delay on the way to warn Earth's heroes about Thanos, ironically even though he was able to see the heroes in this story (and, based on my placement, also ironically right after the Surfer left Galactus in Silver Surfer #48). If this sounds implausible, well, it's a comedy book and everything about it is implausible.
Finally, we have Her/Kismet, who makes a brief non-speaking appearance as part of the group of heroes collected at the end (granted, Groo and Richie Rich are there too, but forget that). Since Her is on Earth and since Alpha Flight #97-101 was her first return to Earth since Marvel Two-In-One #61-63, it seems this should take place after the Alpha Flight issues. The MCP actually place this between Her's appearance in Marvel Comics Presents #35 and Alpha Flight #97, when she should be being pursued by the Consortium. After my geas/wormhole theory for the Silver Surfer, i'm in no position to judge, but it seems like shifting the Alpha Flight issues back to accommodate this story is feasible.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAlbert Cleary, Andrew Chord, Andromeda, Anne (Damage Control secretary), Bart Rozum, Beast, Black Panther, Captain America, Cyclops, Death, Deathlok (Michael Collins), Edifice Rex, Eternity, Firestar, Galactus, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Hawkeye, Henry Ackerdson, Hulk, In-Betweener, Infinity, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Jean Grey, John Porter, Jubilee, Justice, Kismet (Her), Lenny Ballinger, Lord Chaos, Master Order, Mockingbird, Mr. Fantastic, Namorita, Night Thrasher, Noble Kale, Nova (Rich Rider), Oblivion, Psylocke, Punisher, Quicksilver, Ray Lippert, Robin Chapel, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, Speedball, Spider-Man, Storm, Thing, Thor, Thunderball, Tigra, Uatu the Watcher, Vision, Wasp, Wolverine, Wonder Man
Ah yes, Edifice Rex...a character whose Official Handbook Profile has "anal awareness" listed as one of his powers. Oh my.
The Damage Control movie--and Wonder Man's role in it--actually gets referenced again a few times in the WONDER MAN solo series, as Simon continues to get teased and harassed that he showed his bare butt in the nude scene.
Posted by: Dermie | October 14, 2015 2:56 PM
"Anal" as in "meticulous" right? That could be considered a parody of the all encompassing "cosmic awareness" that Mar-Vell had maybe. Especially since it is around this time that Quasar has that power and is heavily involved with the sort of cosmic entities that this story is parodying.
I daresay Hulk's preference of Star Trek episode is a reference to his own experiences. What with having his own split personality which has been known to exist in separate bodies. Probably a bit obvious though.
Interesting to see Galactus eat a planet without his machines. Maybe we could just consider it a very small one.
Dwayne McDuffie does of course, have something else to say on Night Thrasher and Rocket Racer, sending Marvel this mock proposal to make a point: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Rq5mjDJDMNA/TWQm3S8c53I/AAAAAAAABaw/JT4koW1lxlY/s1600/mcduffie.jpg
Posted by: Max_Spider | October 14, 2015 3:50 PM
The art definitely hurt this series, but as a big fan of the cosmic scene I enjoyed them being taken down a peg or two.
Posted by: Thanos6 | October 14, 2015 4:36 PM
I know Damage Control isn't to Fnord's tastes (and I can see why if you have to fit all these guest stars into a workable continuity, it would make it less fun) but I loved this series (and the previous ones). I remember them watching the movie, but had completely forgot Hulk at the game, and that note on the letters page about the art just cracked me up again. I knew who Denys Cowan and Greg Wright were at the time, but I didn't know Slott or Brevoort back then, and thought they joined much later. Is this their first "appearance" at Marvel?
Posted by: Jonathan | October 14, 2015 5:44 PM
If you mean their first "in universe" appearances, if these count as that, then yes, i think so.
But if you mean the first sign that they were Marvel employees: Dan Slott was very briefly Ralph Macchio's assistant editor (he's listed on Cap #383-384 and the first half of FF #350-354). And Tom Brevoort replaced Dwayne McDuffie as the special projects assistant editor when McDuffie went to writing full time (mentioned on the 1990 category page).
I try to not let the placement affect my opinion of the story. I read the comics before i think about placement. But i can't say i remain neutral about it when i sit down to figure out where it can go, even though i do try. I think the bigger issue is that i'm a sourpuss when it comes to humor in Marvel comics. I never thought much of the SNL Marvel Team-Up issue, i think Assistant Editor's Month has more misses than hits, i loathe the Impossible Man, etc..
Posted by: fnord12 | October 14, 2015 5:58 PM
Yikes! I somehow missed this series when it was released, but I loved the previous two, and this really doesn't look appealing. For all the awesomeness Kyle Baker has contributed to comics, the art for #1 obviously isn't part of it. Not an Ernie Colon fan either, but the art was perfectly serviceable for the first two series, and just looks wrong here.
I wonder if McDuffie's obvious affection for Thunderball is that there are/were very few effective black villains. My knowledge of the character is only from "Damage Control" and the first "Secret Wars," but in "Secret Wars" he was the only black villain. I'm not remotely the biggest expert on the Marvel Universe, so don't bother pointing out whatever other black villains Marvel has, but my point is there aren't many, especially with the political correctness that basically mandates black characters.
In "Secret Wars," Thunderball was the only black villain, and looking up his appearances on this site, he didn't have too many previously. This was a series where Marvel was really thinking about the international market, but only one villain is black, with an enormous 'fro. At least the heroes have Storm and (in one scene where part of his armor is removed) James Rhodes.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 14, 2015 8:09 PM
Fnord, one other complication with the chronology- in Thunderball's next appearances, Fantastic Four 355 and Amazing Spider-Man 353, he's still powerless as a result of Loki draining his powers in Thor 428-430.
Posted by: Michael | October 16, 2015 11:55 PM
You know, the only thing I ever liked about Damage Control was that little "Ï've just had an origin" joke. And this ugly series goes and ruins it.
Posted by: kveto | October 17, 2015 12:48 AM
I'm surprised McDuffie didn't do more with Night Thrasher, since he was going to be one of the stars of his proposed "Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers"
Posted by: Bob | October 18, 2015 6:45 PM
Loved the first two DC series (the elevator gag in #3 of vol. 1 is one my favorate humor bits in a Marvel comic), but this one was just stale and felt rushed out.
Posted by: Bob | October 18, 2015 6:48 PM
Finally, Marvel is making this into a t.v. show -
"Marvel's Damage Control"
Posted by: clyde | May 18, 2016 3:52 PM
No one else noticed the rather...ribald innuendo in the "movie" panel?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | February 28, 2017 7:26 PM
I'm with Fnord on humor in the MU. A lot of times it ruins characters credibility. Also, as bad as Kyle Bakers art was in #1, it's better than half of Marvels comics now
Posted by: Mquinn1976 | February 28, 2017 8:30 PM
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