Damage Control

Written on Tue, Mar 8, 2011 by Kyle posted by kyle

Over the last few years there’s been a trend in comics that seems more and more disturbing as it continues. The need for countless civilians to be killed by a villain attack or major crisis on such a regular basis. A majority of this is done so we understand the threat posed by the villain or the stakes in the crisis that is coming, and that is reasonable. It’s a storytelling tool, and it isn’t exactly new, the difference here is when there are so many happening one after another.

As an example let’s look at how much damage has been done in the DC universe in just four years. We begin in August of 2007 with Amazon’s Attack. Here we had an army of Amazon’s begin attacking in Washington DC murdering every man they saw (no matter their age or if they were fighting back). Similar attacks are later launched in California and Kansas. Amazon’s riding on winged horses force Air Force One to crash. All around not the worst but not great.

Also in the Summer of 2007 we had the Sinestro Corps War. For simplicity lets just focus on the devastation that happened on Earth. New York has the Statue of Liberty and a good chunk of New York landscape is smashed up in a fight between Superman and Cyborg Superman. The rest of New York has a devastating hail of invading Yellow Lanterns firing openly on the city. At least two American ships in the Pacific Fleet are destroyed near San Diego. Superboy Prime crashes through a skyscraper into the park before returning to New York as the Antimonitor surfaces. Then we come to the battle between Superboy Prime and Sodam Yat as Ion. This battle destroys a park, the Indian Point Nuclear power plant, Woodlawn Cemetery, From there the Antimonitor begins to transform what is left of New York into a wall of Antimatter to destroy the rest of the planet. Guy Gardner and John Stewart Crash the new War World into the area surrounding the Antimonitor, flattening it further. The following explosion takes out more buildings before being stopped.

In Summer of 2008 we had the Final Crisis. A lot of what goes on here is more damage and conflict on a cosmic or Celestial level, so I’m going to attempt to stick to over all death and mayhem rather than dwelling on which individual heroes or villains are killed. The Daily Planet is bombed clearing the entire floor with Lois Lane and several coworkers. A good deal of the hero fighting is confined to the destroyed city of Bludhaven, so there is little more damage to be done there. At that point we are treated to a time jump, so other than seeing the bonfire at a library where the new Tattooed Man was hiding, and the raid on the Hall of Justice, its hard to jude the level of damage done for a while. So this actually rates lower than Amazons Attack base on what we see, but higher on the depressed state of how things actually look.

Summer of 2009 began the Blackest Night. I’m going to sum this one up quickly by the fact that we see whole cemetery’s being filled (or refilled in some cases) by the end of the story. That’s enough.

Finally and most recently we had War of the Supermen May of 2010. I think it’s worth noting that this war was billed to take place in a matter of less than 2 hours. Just keep in mind how quickly this is all supposed to have happened.  The Kryptonian army doesn’t reach Earth until the third of four issues. Issue two we see Superwoman (actually a human) crashes through the roof of the Daily planet and the Kryptonians destroy a moon base on their way to Earth. Issues three sees a partial destruction of Mount Rushmore, Big Ben and surrounding building in flames, the Sphinx head exploding and the white House almost collapsing. The last issue goes for the gusto with a Battle Ship being dropped in downtown Metropolis among the rest of the destruction.

This is only over the course of about 3 years with this Summer’s Flash Point and War of the Green Lanterns looming. With comic time the way it is, this is actually likely to have taken place over an even shorter amount of time. The level of property damage and innocent lives lost. Just try to imagine life in a world where this level of destruction occurs that often.

It’s not uncommon for some of these stories to end with all the damage being cosmically undone, or reversed. I even mentioned this is just a story telling tool in the beginning, but there are other tools as well. We don’t need to go the same route with every story to build tension.

2 Responses to “Damage Control”

  1. Mike K says:

    It’s not just comics. It’s pretty common in sci-fi tv shows as well. Any time an episode starts with some epic world devastating event, I spend the entire episode wondering how they’ll undo it this time. I’m sure it’s great fun having the super villains nuke the Statue of Liberty or Mount Rushmore. But all things in moderation, no?

  2. Kyle says:

    I agree with you Mike. It’s also that these stories are serialized. Imagine if Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow the 2012 all happened one after another.