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Comic Book / Damage Control

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Damage Control is a comic (in both senses) series published in intermittent bursts by Marvel Comics. Created by Dwayne McDuffie, it offers a lighthearted look at the Marvel Universe through the lens of a company specializing in rebuilding areas devastated by superhero-supervillain throw-downs. Hilarity Ensues when abandoned bits of Applied Phlebotinum are picked up, superweapons are accidentally activated, and super-villains won't pay their bills.

The core characters are:

  • Ann-Marie Hoag: Founder, first director, and current owner.
  • Robin Chapel: Former Traffic Manager, current CEO. Her highly competent and businesslike exterior hides a friendly interior. Romantically linked to John Porter.
  • John Porter: Account Executive. Has the knack for finding creative and practical solutions to complicated problems. Had a rivalry with Robin at first, and is friends with the Wrecking Crew villain Thunderball.
  • Albert Cleary: Comptroller. Albert appears perpetually cool and unflappable, no matter how intimidating the situation. Possesses the ability to never wrinkle his suit.
  • Eugene "Gene" Strausser: Chief Technician and supervisor of Damage Control's salvaged super-gadgets. Briefly became an armored villain when he was fired by the new board of directors.
  • Lenny Balinger: Chief Foreman and head of the Search-and-Rescue division. Has a gruff, no-nonsense attitude, and stands by his crew through thick and thin.
  • Henry Ackerdson: Head of Marketing. His ideas tend toward the outlandish and gimmicky, barely tolerated by the rest of the staff.
  • Bart Rozum: Robin's personal assistant, a very casual teen who's never seen without his baseball cap.

Given the unusual situations they face, the regulars at Damage Control often need to be a bit... creative in how they resolve problems.

In October 2015, it was announced that a television series based on the comic book was in development at ABC by Ben Karlin (Modern Family), as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While it was initially intended to release in 2016 or 2017, the project was placed in Development Hell due to the network re-evaluating its commitment to creating Marvel television shows. Damage Control ultimately made their first official MCU appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming as a federal agency funded in part by Tony Stark, led by Hoag (portrayed by Tyne Daly).

If you're looking for the trope of the same name, please go here.

This series provides examples, straight or parodied, of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: After the new Black Goliath joins the company, he's called the wrong name by everyone he meets. "Black Buck", "Big Brother", "Big Black"... He curtails this by changing it to simply "Goliath".
  • Adaptation Decay: One story arc involved a Hollywood producer who wanted to make a movie about Damage Control. The results were less than faithful.
  • Badass Normal: Most of the staff are regular Joes and Janes struggling with cleaning up toppled buildings and retrieving villains' destroyed giant mecha.
    • Lampshaded in the character profiles, which solemnly reported that the characters' strength level was that of a normal human of their age, height, and build who engaged in moderate regular exercise.
  • Black and Nerdy: Albert Cleary is cut from the "Highly competent professional who happens to be black" mold.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Happens to Albert in the (in-story) movie. Played by Jimmy "J.J." Walker. Albert was not thrilled either way.
  • Broken Treasure: One issue features a group of Doctor Doom's minions destroying their laboratory while researching new weapons, and hiring Damage Control to rebuild it exactly the same as it was before Doom finds out. It might have worked out if they hadn't then tried to stiff Damage Control on the bill, because surely they wouldn't dare try to collect from Doom in person...
  • The Cameo: Every major Marvel character - hero and villain - shows up at some point. It's because they either need a service or to pick up their weapons from "Lost And Found".
  • Celebrity Endorsement: One of Henry's proposed advertising campaigns was to center around Joe Fixit, with the tag line "We Clean Up The Hulk's Messes, We Can Clean Up Yours". Needless to say, he wasn't pleased...
  • Cleanup Crew: Averted throughout. Despite being (at various times) co-owned by The Kingpin and a Corrupt Corporate Executive, Damage Control has never willingly dealt in criminal activities. They do provide some legitimate services to villains, as long as the villains can pay their bills.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: During one of Ackerdson's hair-brained schemes to brand the company, he gets the staff to dress up in spandex uniforms complete with capes. When one part of the scheme creates an underground flood, Porter and Gene are stuck when the elevator gets packed with regular crewmen. When Porter asks why he and Gene have to endure the flooding, the foreman exclaims "Who's wearing the cape?"
    John Porter: Actually, that's a pretty good point.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Anne-Marie Hoag, who hobnobs with Tony Stark, stands up to The Kingpin, beats the living hell out of muggers, has survived multiple hostile takeovers and is best friends (and perhaps more) with Nick Fury and Luke Cage.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: After Walter Declun took over Damage Control, he decided to generate more business by giving mutant growth hormone to supervillains to increase their powers and cause more damage as a result. This indirectly led to the Stamford incident, which in turn led to the infamous Civil War (2006) story arc.
    • Interestingly, only Wolverine saw this thread amidst the massive Conflict Ball rolling around the superhero community, and so he was the one to give Declun his comeuppance.
  • Cosmic Entity: An accident gives cosmic powers to an employee, turning him into Edifice Rex, who wants to clean the whole world... a little too thoroughly. The Damage Control guys manage to distract him by getting him to clean the Asteroid Belt. We assume he's still out there doing it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The super-heroes of Damage Controlnote  versus the Chrysler Building.
    Lenny: Fight's over.
    John: Already?
    Lenny: Yeah, he had a little bit of a size advantage.
  • Cutting the Knot: Porter's expertise. When confronted with an intractable problem, he figures out the simplest solution... which usually involves letting the damaged building collapse anyway so that a quickly-built building - using the advanced tech strewn about and scavenged - can go up to replace it.
  • Damage Control: The series is centered around a group of people tasked with cleaning up after the destructive fights between superheroes and villains in the Marvel Universe.
  • Deconstruction: The central conceit of the series is that somebody has to clean up all those messes.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Done when Edifice Rex, an employee who acquired cosmic powers, decides to use his abilities to clean up the universe, reverse the Big Bang, force everything back into the cosmic egg, and then maybe put the egg on a tasteful pedestal. While the other cosmic beings consider how to stop him, Robin Chapel realizes he's just doing his job... and fires him.
  • Fantastical Social Services: The point of Damage Control is to handle the cleanup and reconstruction efforts following the inevitably destructive battles between superheroes and supervillains.
  • Friendly Enemy: In the first issue, John Porter helps the villain Thunderball cut through Damage Control's Lost & Found department. Later, when several employees are trapped with the Wrecking Crew, Thunderball recognizes John among them; he tells the Wrecking Crew to leave them alone because John has superpowers.
    John: LIGHTS OUT!
    (lights go out, Thunderball hits the Wrecking Crew in the heads) (Bonk!) (Bang!) (Blam!)
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Damage Control" abbreviates to...
  • Genius Loci: The Chrysler Building, which became sentient and mobile after World War Hulk and wants to see the world. John Porter negotiates a deal where it can go on vacations in August, since no one visits Manhattan then.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: The sex scene between "Robin" and "John" in the Damage Control movie.
  • Hero Insurance: Explored rather than simply implied.
  • Hilarity Sues: A regular occurrence in the series, whether it's from civilians suing supers for wrecking stuff, supers suing organizations for property loss, or Damage Control suing Doombots for unpaid bills.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: One story had the company hired to repair damage to Xavier's School For Gifted Children from a super-battle. After the repairs were completed and the crew paid, Professor Xavier used his telepathic powers to erase their memories of the school's location and students.
  • Lovable Nerd: "Gene" Strausser, who's essentially a big kid playing with Damage Control's collection of super-powered toys.
  • Medium Awareness: Played with when She-Hulk was a featured guest-star; the comic made fun of her fourth-wall savvyness at the time by repeatedly Lampshading it... culminating when She-Hulk has a building collapse around her:
    Lenny: I always tell them — when you break the fourth wall, the whole structure collapses.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Damage Control regularly uses super-powered people and super-powered gadgets to do cleanup and construction.
    • Eugene invented an Adamantium razor from the scraps left over after World War Hulk.
      "The shave is magnificent and the blade never gets dull."
  • Nerves of Steel: Albert Cleary, who serves overdue bills to Doctor Doom without showing any outward signs of distress. ("Outward signs" being the important bit here. On the inside, he's imagining himself in the morgue and praying for divine intervention.)
  • Not So Stoic: Albert's normally-unflappable demeanor drops after he's been turned into an Uncle Tomfoolery caricature in the movie.
  • Office Romance: John Porter and Robin Chapel eventually end up as a couple. It's an open secret at the office, which makes it easier for Mrs. Hoag to contact both of them when there's work to be done.
  • Only Sane Employee: Robin Chapel.
  • Personal Horror: Penance of the Thunderbolts forces the team to leave Damage Control alone to avoid revealing his embarrassing secret. That Bart knows his secret identity, and earlier suggested Penance seek professional help for his Darker and Edgier personality change and Self-Harm tendencies.
    Bart: I need you to get the Thunderbolts to back off for a couple of days.
    Penance: And why would I do that?
    Bart: We both know why. Does everyone else need to?
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Done literally with the superheroes who work for Damage Control; these include Speedball (as an intern in his civilian identity), Hercules (community service), Black Goliath, Monstro, and Visioneer.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: A company trademark, as featured in this advertisement. Justified in that Damage Control often uses the super-powered gadgets, battle robots, and Applied Phlebotinum they scavenge during their cleanups to expedite repairs.
    The City of New York tried to fix the George Washington bridge for 7 months. Then they called us.
    We fixed it in one day. Before lunch.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: In the cleanup after World War Hulk, the crew finds the head of the robot pilot for the Hulk's spaceship. It spends its entire time belittling and insulting everyone nearby.
    Arch-E 5912: Did a shaved monkey just refer to me as a "toy"?
    Robin: Did a talking Dustbuster just call me as a "shaved monkey"?!
  • Secret Identity Change Trick: Parodied in an issue where Speedball tries to find some satisfactory way to go change into costume when supervillains attack... then tells everyone he's going to go get a frozen yogurt.
  • Sexy Secretary: Anne the receptionist.
  • Sitcom: Dwayne McDuffie, who co-created the concept with artist Ernie Colón and wrote Damage Control's initial non-adventures, pitched Damage Control to Marvel as "a sitcom within the Marvel Universe".
  • Title: The Adaptation: Damage Control: The Movie
  • Uncle Tomfoolery:
    • Happens to prim-and-proper Comptroller Albert in the movie adaptation. He files a lawsuit while the film is still screening.
    • In conversation, Black Goliath mentions that he was teased as a kid for being named "Tom", but he grew out of it.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: From the Damage Control scrap pile, run by Eugene "Gene" Strausser.