February 16, 2009

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World War Hulk Damage Control

Written by Greg Pak and Dwayne McDuffie
Illustrated by Rafa Sandoval, Vicente Cifuentes, and Salva Espin
Marvel

It's hard reading a crossover from the library because of the timing on when they come in. While I've not read all of the "during" series yet, here I am reading "Aftersmash" comics, or so they titled them.

This trade has two series in it--a one shot called Aftersmash that sets up the idea of healing in the wake of the Hulk's vengance. The other is the return of the bwa-ha-ha Damage Control, a welcome (and appropriate) coda to the events surrounding World War Hulk.

Aftersmash is written by Greg Pak, the architect of the crossover and shows the heroes cleaning up in the wake of the battle. Most of the players from the event get some screen time, including Iron Man, Misty, Hercules, the Warbound, and of course Spider-Man and Luke Cage, because we can't have a major Marvel event without them. It's such a time of healing that Stark doesn't even try to chastize the unregistered heroes.

The theme is one of healing, right down to the core of the island itself, which is falling apart in the wake of one of the Hulk's major battles. Meanwhile, the remnants of the Hulk's war party fight amongst themselves, not unlike the Confederates after the Civil War. Will Earth's heroes be able to solve the cracks, both literal and figurative, before the damage gets worse?

I like Pak's fix for the problems he presents in the aftermath of the war, but I'll leave those for you to discover when you read it. I continue to be impressed by Pak's writing abilities.

For those of you who haven't been reading comics since the Reagan Administation (and watching Spider-Man on TV since Carter), Damage Control was created as a humourous look at the way in which New York always manages to repair itself after every attack. When last we saw it, a writer had turned them evil as part of war profiteering during Civil War. That was a really good story, but it saddened me that yet another funny part of the comics (like Blue Beetle) had turned deadly serious.

Enter Dwayne McDuffie, who brings back the old school Damage Control. For instance, the new Goliath is asked to take a number in the waiting room. When he refuses, they insist. At which point, he grows and announces (in "comic title" lettering) "I'm BLACK GOLIATH."

The response?

"Okay, take a big seat."

Now that's humour comics! If that's not enough for you, the writers play with the style of Marvel's modern single issues, playing with the recap page, the crossover titles, and even the fact that they're not allowed to do editorial comments anymore. It's great old school fun that you don't see very much of anymore.

Plus, McDuffie makes the Totally Evil Thunderbolts look like a bunch of tools, and that's always a good thing.

But perhaps the best part of all this is when the Chrysler Building turns up alive in the wake of some alien mojo. How the heck do you stop a living building?

Give it a month off.

Don't worry, once you read it, you'll get the joke.

I'd be remiss if I act like the whole comic is one big joke. McDuffie shows the folly of the Registration Act, gives Robbie Baldwin some quality time, and shows how real life business deals often require finess. The little touches like that within the humour are part of why this is so good.

The comic ends with Tony Stark hoping we see Damage Control again soon. For once since the Civil War mess started, I agree with him.