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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.
Given the unusual situations they face, the regulars at Damage Control often need to be a bit... creative in how they resolve problems.
This series provides examples, straight or parodied, of:
- 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.
- 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 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. Damage Control refuses to do anything until Doom himself resolves his unpaid bills.
- Butt Monkey: Henry Ackerdson.
- 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...
- Cigar Chomper: Lenny Balinger.
- 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 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 "You're the ones in the capes!"
John Porter: "He's got a 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 with Nick Fury.
- It was implied Hoag dated Fury.
- 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 story arc.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Done when Edifice Rex decides to use his powers 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.
- 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!"
- 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.
- Genre Savvy: From the first issue, when a crewman foolishly picks up a glowing artifact that turns him into a cosmic power: "Yeah, can you send Legal over to the site? One of my guys just had an Origin."
Lenny: "We lose more employees this way..."
John: "We've never found a casualty at a Hulk site before, so I guess we shouldn't be too surprised."
- Innocent Bystander Series
- 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."
- My Name Is Not Durwood: 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".
- Nerves of Steel: Albert Cleary, who serves overdue bills to Dr. Doom without showing any outward signs of duress.
- "Outward signs" being the important bit here. On the inside, he's imagining himself in the morgue and praying for divine intervention.
"God? If you get me out of this one, I'll get out of the next three all by myself..."
- Not So Stoic: Albert's normally-unflappable demeanor drops after he's been turned into an Uncle Tomfoolery caricature in the movie.
- Offscreen Rebuilding
- Only Sane Employee: Robin Chapel.
- 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),
BlackGoliath, 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.
- Rule of Funny
- Secret Identity Change Trick
- Sexy Secretary
- Super OCD: Edifice Rex, a cosmically-powered crewman, declares his newfound duty was to clean the entire planet.
"A world where garbage bags have built in handles. Where zip-lock stripes turn green, to assure proper sealage. Where spray cleaner comes in a bottle with setting both spray and stream. So many gifts they have, so untidy they are. Rejected though I am, I will leave them with this gift: a world of perpetual neatness. With a place for everything — and everything in its place!"
- 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.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: From the Damage Control scrap pile, run by Eugene "Gene" Strausser.
- The Wonka: John Porter, more than any of the other employees.