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Nostalgia November Day 18 — Damage Control #4

Each day in November, I will read and review/discuss/whatever one comic taken from a box of some of my childhood comics. Today, it’s Damage Control #4.

The Nostalgia November archive can be found here.

damagecontrol04Damage Control #4 by Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colon concludes the second mini-series dedicated to the superhuman clean-up crew, which was a tie-in to “Acts of Vengeance.” I never read any other issues of Damage Control, but, right off, I should point out that, reading this issue, I didn’t feel I needed to. Not in a ‘this was crap’ way, but in a ‘I understood everything without any problems’ sort of way, which is odd since the plot seems somewhat involved here. Basically, Damage Control was bought by an asshole who has cut costs causing its workers to go on strike at the same time that the “Acts of Vengeance” story has happened, causing a lot of destruction. So, Nick Fury uses SHIELD to help the former owner buy it back after discovering that the new owner bought it, partly, with money borrowed from the Kingpin. In the end, things are good — and the workers, during the course of the story, even forego the strike to save lives.

The tone of this comic is lighter than most, but isn’t quite a comedy either. While good, I think I would have preferred it to go one way or the other since the jokes aren’t that funny and the drama isn’t that compelling. It’s an odd mish-mash of styles, neither working completely all of the time. The only scene that works as comedy is when Fury needs to get SHIELD’s accountant’s take on if buying Damage Control is doable and we get Agent Pierce, an actual SHIELD agent who bursts in with the unconscious body of a would-be assassin. He looks like a parody of a gung-ho agent who then gets on the computer to show a quick three-hour presentation on what SHIELD should do, practically giddy over spreadsheets and such. The actual plot stuff involving Kingpin and Damage Control doesn’t totally work, particularly since the Kingpin walks away having made a lot of money. But, this is a pleasant enough read that really just can’t settle on a tone. It seems like McDuffie wants to push things in a comedic direction but is held back a bit, which is a shame, because I always like irreverent comedy in superhero books. Ernie Colon’s art is cartoonish and would fit the comedic tone if it was allowed to develop. His strongest work here is when he’s hamming it up a bit.

Tomorrow, another Transformers comic as “Matrix Quest” continues.

12 Comments

Y’know, I’m starting to wonder if you, Chad, have had a terribly traumatic childhood that LED you to read all these books. ;-)

Of course the “drama isn’t compelling” to you, you’ve only read one issue of the series! If you don’t know the characters at all and haven’t experienced their journey, you’re not going to be invested enough to enjoy the payoff. I’ve read all the Damage Control miniseries and I’m not saying they’re high art, but a series needs time to build to a climax. If you’d have watched the final episode of “The Sopranos” without having seen any of the other episodes, you’d probably think the same thing about it.

I can’t speak for Chad, Tom, but I know I read and enjoyed a lot of comics as a kid that I would classify as total crap by my current standards and tastes. Critical faculties just generally aren’t as developed at a young age as they become later in life. For one thing, when you are 9 or 10 years old, everything is new. That piece of crap Spider-man story you read seems awesome because you don’t yet have the frame of reference to compare it to other Spider-man comics, or even other super-hero comics.

I know that when I first got into comics, I had no filter – anything that looked cool on the spinner rack to my young eyes, I bought, so long as I had a dollar in my pocket to do so. The more you read, though, the more you can recognize the good stuff and separate it from the bad. Then when you go back and look at the stuff you loved at that age, you wonder how you ever enjoyed that garbage.

You really should hunt down the other issues, they are a hoot.

Yeah, it’s kind of hard to find the build up of drama compelling if you only read the final issue of a four-part mini-series. Sort of like walking into the last 20 minutes of a movie and saying you didn’t find the drama that compelling.

Yeah, as a kid, I was big on just getting whatever looked interesting at the time. Or, trading what I had to friends in favour of something new. I just wanted to take as much in as possible.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 18, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Of course the “drama isn’t compelling” to you, you’ve only read one issue of the series!

COP OUT!

If that’s the case, they shouldn’t have released it as a serial!

Also, how did you get into comics if you didn’t jump into a story mid-way? I did, and good one’s got me hooked!
So if some mid-story issues/conclusion issues can do that, shouldn’t they all?

That said, Damage Control rule!
The WWH Damage Control mini was the second best thing to come out of WWH!
(The best of course, being a Hercules book!)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 18, 2009 at 4:56 pm

The AoV Damage Control miniseries was easily the weakest of the three Marvel published in the late 1980s, so this review doesn’t surprise me. It really is better than this issue would indicate; as with most such things, the Doctor Doom issue of the second (?) Damage Control mini is good fun.

Can Super-Pro be far behind?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 18, 2009 at 6:21 pm

On the Kingpin plot being unsatisfying, this is largely because Damage Control aren’t superheroes. Other stories make it clear that they work for anyone and everyone — the Doctor Doom issue, or the first issue of the first Damage Control mini where the villain Thunderball reclaims his superweapon from their lost-and-found.

Part of the humor is the idea that the superheroes vs. supervillains conflicts are, for most people, massive infrastructural and property damage headaches. The firm’s employees are good people, but in the way a friendly neighbor with a strong professional work ethic is a “good guy.” The fact that they don’t topple the Kingpin or go out of their way to financially hurt him reflects that; I doubt anybody here with a 9-to-5 office job spends lots of time trying to get the goods on their company’s former or current investors. Again, that’s the joke: the Kingpin is the guy that hurts Daredevil, not the rest of humanity, for the purposes of this series.

The old Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International did this from the superhero end after its first year or so, typically presenting conflicts between ineffectual heroes and villains in which the general public was a non-factor no matter who won. That’s why Despero showing up and actually killing people was such a huge deal.

This worked a lot better at both Marvel and DC in the 1980s, when outside of the X-books the average villain wasn’t bent on genocide and Electro didn’t flash-fry 60 cops every time he tried to rob a bank. Comics have amped up the “logical” human casualties of super-powered action scenes to the point that Damage Control would now have to be set off to the sides of continuity even more than before, perhaps entirely outside it.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 19, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Comics have amped up the “logical” human casualties of super-powered action scenes to the point that Damage Control would now have to be set off to the sides of continuity even more than before, perhaps entirely outside it.

They cleaned up after WWH, with rescuing human survivors as their top priority,

And then the Chrysler building came alive, and it was funny.

I liked the bit where they repared the world trade tower, after it got wrecked.

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