Does the Marvel Universe Need a Rebranded DAMAGE CONTROL?

Damage Control logo
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Civil War II is emptying Marvel's heroes bench in this hero vs. hero showdown, and joining them is a returning cult favorite group. But they're not fighting, they're trying to clean up after the fight.

In June 22's Civil War II: Choosing Sides #1, Damage Control is returning to the playing field and trying to get back on track after what's revealed by writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims to be some rough times for the company.

Newsarama talked to the X-Men '92 writing duo about this short with artist Leonardo Romero.

Newsarama: Chad, Chris, what can you tell us about your Damage Control story in Civil War II: Choosing Sides?

Chad Bowers: Our story spins directly out of Civil War II #1, and follows Damage Control’s construction crew’s downtown clean-up of a recent disaster, and the corporate team’s efforts to rebrand Damage Control after a tough couple years.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Chris Sims: The idea behind Damage Control is one of the most brilliant in comics, because it answers a question that you didn’t even know you wanted to ask: Who rebuilds all the stuff that gets destroyed in superhero fights? And, because it was Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colón who did it, it’s done in the most entertaining way possible. But what we latched onto was this idea of what happens when there are a couple of quiet months? What happens when they haven’t had any business for a while because we’re between the kinds of big events where everything gets destroyed? And so that’s what we ran with.

Nrama: Damage Control seems to fit right in our Down Set Fight! wheelhouse. How'd you and the Marvel editors come to find and settle on this?

Bowers: We’d been talking with editor Wil Moss about doing something together, and had sent him a short list of characters and teams we’d like to work on. Damage Control was at the top of that list (above Sleepwalker and Death’s Head, believe it or not), so it was mostly just a matter of finding the right place for a new Damage Control story in the current landscape, and Civil War II ended up being perfect!

Sims: Yeah, Damage Control’s been on our wish list of projects since long before we even started writing together, what, eight years ago? So we definitely jumped at the chance when Wil asked us to be a part of Choosing Sides.

Credit: Scott Kowalchuk (Oni Press)

Bowers: And it’s funny that you bring up Down Set Fight! - our ONI Press OGN with Scott Kowalchuk - because Chris and I had similar conversation about how our previous work sort of positioned us to be very comfortable writing Damage Control. The only difference being, we keep comparing it to the webcomic we did with Mathew Digges and Josh Krach, Awesome Hospital. It’s got a lot in common with Damage Control, as they both share a sort of workplace-meets-weird aspect that I think we’re both really taken with.

Nrama: Getting back to the story at-hand, you said Damage Control has been off the rails, so to speak. Can you talk more about that?

Bowers: Chris mentioned it earlier, but we’re playing it like things have been a little quiet around the Marvel U in the eight months immediately following Secret Wars. Beyond that, long time readers might remember Damage Control was indirectly responsible for the Stamford, Connecticut tragedy of the first Civil War series. Their former CEO Walter Declun was secretly supplying villains with mutant growth hormones and other resources, and making a killing off the disasters they caused. Wolverine eventually blew the lid off the whole thing, and Damage Control’s original owner, Ann-Marie Hoag, was able to wrangle the company back (with a little help from S.H.I.E.L.D. and Tony Stark), and they’ve been working hard to course correct ever since. And that’s the most important part for our story… why their reputation is tarnished isn’t nearly as important as they’re struggle to get back on top.

Sims: One of the things Chad pointed out was that all three of Damage Control’s original backers weren’t in a position to keep funding the company.

Credit: John Romita Jr. (Marvel Comics)

Nrama: So then, what's the business plan for righting this ship?

Sims: They’re cutting corners where they can, and trying to find opportunities. In a way, a big event like Civil War II is a great thing for the people who have to rebuild stuff, but when The Daily Bugle’s accusing them of “Civil War Profiteering” for making money off of super-conflicts, how can they keep doing their necessary job while also saving their reputation? 

Bowers: And they’ve been doing a lot of pro-bono work, too. And we mention they’ve had some smaller, New York-specific contract stuff that’s keeping them afloat. But where we pick-up, they’re just now getting back on their feet, and putting themselves out there with a new ad campaign. One that’s already gone wrong before our story even begins.

Nrama: And let’s talk boots on the ground: who are the Damage Control people involved in this?

Bowers: Over four different mini-series, Dwayne McDuffie managed to introduce some spectacular characters, and by the time he was working on the last one – World War Hulk: Damage Control -- the cast had grown to over 25. We, of course, have 10 pages, so there wasn’t a way to work in everybody, but we focused on the four or five main players we got the most out of when we were reading a Damage Control story. So who do we have… there’s John Porter, Albert Cleary, and Robin Chapel. They make up the office crew, and I really love their dynamic. Albert’s especially fun to write. On the ground, doing the hard work, we’ve got Lenny Ballinger, Monstro, and… well, they’ve get a new member of the team we’re not quite ready to talk about just yet.

Sims: You’re gonna want to get on Marvel Unlimited for this one, folks. We went for a deep cut. 

Nrama: This is (currently) only a short story, but could you see doing more comic books featuring Damage Control?

Bowers: Do you have to even ask?

Sims: I think we’d love to if we get the chance!

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: Before we go, I have to ask… There's been some talk of a Damage Control television series at NBC. With your comedy chops, do you think it could work on live-action television?

Bowers: With us writing? Sure. We’d slay. 

Sims: I think the genius of Damage Control is that it requires a whole superhero universe to make it work. It speaks the language of superhero comics, and points out the weird stuff about it in a way that doesn’t make the whole thing seem silly - just look at the scene in the World War Hulk tie-in where they talk about how cheap Adamantium must be nowadays if they’re shooting it at the Hulk. Ten years ago, I don’t think you could’ve done that, but now that we have a world where everybody understands how these stories work, where you’ve got movies with Celestials and the Nova Corps and Arnim Zola and Crossbones, and TV shows about the Inhumans and the Red Room? I think it could work. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one watching that montage of destruction in the latest Captain America movie and thinking “Damage Control’s been busy,” right? But then, that’s just my opinion as fan - like you said, I don’t know a thing about the TV side, and probably couldn’t talk about it if I did!

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