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Building repairs must make up something like 90% of the economy in comic book universes
May 28, 2009 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Ecocomics: Where Graphic Art Meets Dismal Science. With such entries as "Superman, New Krypton, and Labor Unions" and "The Construction Industry in Comics."
posted by dersins (26 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great post. I LOL'd all the way to the bank!
posted by humannaire at 9:49 AM on May 28, 2009


My great unwritten comic book was about the manager of an overworked construction company in the Marvel/DC universe...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:51 AM on May 28, 2009


The Invisible Hand has no place on New Krypton.

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

The invisible hand is in relationship to keeping things "local"/in your nation. I don't think New Krypton has that as an issue.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:56 AM on May 28, 2009


It’s an interesting feature of comicbook universes that they tend to feature all this stuff – heroes and magic and Science! and stuff – and it’s overlayed over the mundane world without really quite affecting it at all. Reed Richards might come up with a super robot or a car that runs on nothing but it’ll never actually go into production or change the world or have any implications that go beyond the needs of the story of the moment. I guess that’s one of the ways that the superhero genre, and I guess related genres like the Bond-ian superspy genre, are science-fictional but not quite full science fiction.

…and then, when stuff happens in the real world that the comics universe has to reflect you get horrible maudlin explorations of this like the 9/11 crap with all the Alex Ross painted heroes hanging their heads in shame and Doctor fucking Doom crying and shit like that. Yuk.
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yeah, i know, Marvel and Dc are based in New York, they're going to do something. But seriously, Doctor Doom does a couple of World Trade Centers worth of damage every damn time he shows up, why is he going to cry over those particular buildings?
posted by Artw at 10:14 AM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


It is not from the benevolence of the butcher mutant, the brewer super soldier, or the baker Superman that we expect our dinner insurance payments, but from their regard to their own interest.
posted by Lucubrator at 10:17 AM on May 28, 2009


My great unwritten comic book was about the manager of an overworked construction company in the Marvel/DC universe...

I'm a bit surprised that nobody's making more reference to Damage Control, which was a Marvel limited series (a couple of 'em, IIRC) mining this exact concept back in the '90s.
posted by Shepherd at 10:23 AM on May 28, 2009


Whoa, make that '80s. This blog's central conceit/joke is 20 years old, folks.
posted by Shepherd at 10:24 AM on May 28, 2009


A public health specialist ought to take a closer look at the brain-wasting effects of massive wealth
posted by milkrate at 10:29 AM on May 28, 2009


Some poor R&D guy had to sit in front of his computer screen, working on plastic explosive casings while dealing with Norman standing over his shoulder and shouting, "No, it needs to be MORE ORANGE!"

Heh. That's just like the wacky world of web development.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on May 28, 2009


In this economic downturn, it seems truly tragic for a company to nearly go bankrupt because their fourth-quarter profits were spent "trying to kill Spider-Man."

Indeed.
posted by dersins at 10:39 AM on May 28, 2009


Oh, man. <3
posted by cortex at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2009


oh my god this is so great
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:56 AM on May 28, 2009


See also: action movies. How does so much still burn while it's raining? I'm looking at you, Terminator: Salvation. Has the Centralia fire spread to Los Angeles?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:31 AM on May 28, 2009


Tragically, most mutants use their powers to either save the world or terrorize it. At least this is the popular depiction in Marvel Comics. Imagine what Magneto could do if he worked in construction. For one thing, all of those New York City public works project would have their completion dates moved up from 2018 to roughly five minutes from now. But instead, he spends his time sinking Russian submarines and making asteroid bases to live in. For the love of God, the man has the power to build himself a high-tech home in space. He could repair the Hubbell telescope with no trouble whatsoever.

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It’s an interesting feature of comicbook universes that they tend to feature all this stuff – heroes and magic and Science! and stuff – and it’s overlayed over the mundane world without really quite affecting it at all. Reed Richards might come up with a super robot or a car that runs on nothing but it’ll never actually go into production or change the world or have any implications that go beyond the needs of the story of the moment. I guess that’s one of the ways that the superhero genre, and I guess related genres like the Bond-ian superspy genre, are science-fictional but not quite full science fiction.


This is the entire premise of Alan Moore's oft overlooked Top Ten. A city where *everyone* is a superhero means that guys with heat vision make great short order cooks.
posted by The Whelk at 11:32 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeha, Top ten is great that way. Fantastic book. Of course, it has the luxury of being self-contained and not really overlapping with anything else. Actually Moore's pretty much been hitting on that theme since the start of his superhero work - see Watchmen and Marvelman before that.
posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on May 28, 2009


The outline for "Twilight Of the Superheroes" also has it, but more, "Wait, what if all the supers just decide fuck it, we're better than you, and treat the rest of the world as chattel?"
posted by The Whelk at 11:53 AM on May 28, 2009


Twilight Of the Superheroes just needs linking to for the hell of it once every 50 comics posts or so.

Actually TBH Marvel and DC have no problem with all the superdudes changing the world completely in the future, or in an alternate reality, or anywhere that doesn't effect their mainstream "real' world. Of course usually it results in a fascist one world goverment and people having eyepatches or dreadlocks or what the fuck ever.
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course usually it results in a fascist one world goverment and people having eyepatches or dreadlocks or what the fuck ever.

I would like to gay marry this sentence, please.
posted by The Whelk at 12:07 PM on May 28, 2009


You should chekc out Age of Apocalypse, it's got like the most eyepatches/dreadlocks/peircings/tattoos etc... tacked onto characters ever. Also you should gay marry Mr. Sinister.
posted by Artw at 12:17 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"But seriously, Doctor Doom does a couple of World Trade Centers worth of damage every damn time he shows up, why is he going to cry over those particular buildings?"

Probably 'cos he didn't think of it. I mean really - multi-billion dollar armor packed with weapon systems. Advanced design autonomous AI robots. Freakin' netherworld gypsy magic. Master plan after master plan involving fiendish Norse Gods, kingpins of crime, techno-villians, madmen, in a variety of degrees of complexity. Secret lairs. Multi-tiered contingency plans. Thousands of minions world wide operating in complex syndicates.

And a mundane terrorist outfit sends couple of guys with buck 10 boxcutters, spends less than half a million on an operation - less than $300 grand in the U.S. on flight training, travel, housing, and vehicles - on one operation that successfully cripples the city.

But I think that's the difference between fiction and reality. As 'evil' as Doom is, he really is just part of a set piece that we all know and love. They're not really evil by any stretch of the imagination.
I remember reading Arkham Asylum and the Joker (apparently) poked out a young girl's eye with a pencil. But then it was a joke. He just said he did.
Real villains - not so much.
And opposition to real villians.... in what world would the U.S. government not nuke Latveria into radioactive glass if they knew they could nail Doom? On the other hand, he is honorable. And I think he'd be more of a stabilizing factor in that world. Some people write him like a cheap hood. I don't think he'd use terrorist tactics. In part because he has his own military. And in part because he's so damned powerful himself. But also the whole honor thing (twisted as it may be).
Also I suspect it would be closer to Bendis' Secret War. But were I Fury I'd've taken into account that hardly anyone ever gets really sanctioned in the MU and I wouldn't have just dropped the castle. On the other hand, the dead come back so often - what's the use in killing them really? There aren't any real decisive acts in the MU.
Kind of like pro-wrasslin. Things change, there are wins, losses, etc. but things stay the same.

9/11 was a real change.
And yea, the responses were maudlin. During the Iran hostage crisis you had a pro-wrestler called the Iron Sheik. I dunno. Maybe people need catharsis. This is the best Marvel could come up with?
But yeah, they don't do *real* very well.

This is a nifty post. More than economics though - I wonder who has the kind of time this requires? You're going to spend your days fighting crime when you've got bills and such? Some guys like Spider Man, I can see, they're obsessed.
But people would adapt without them.
I mean, if I'm in NYC in the MU I'm carrying a big bore firearm with armor piercing rounds and a flamethrower - as a matter of course.
What, a cop is going to look twice at me when we had dinosaurs running down the street last week and this morning some hellish magic made the mailbox try to bite me?
Cop:"Freeze! What's with all the hardware son?"
Smed: "... Seriously? There's all kind of - LOOKOUT!" *takes out giant man-eating plant stalk with homemade flamethrower*
Cop: "...Thanks."
Smed: "No problem."
Cop: "You're not some psycho vigilante or anything, right?"
Smed: "Just trying to go to work today sir."
Cop: "Yeah. ...just uh...keep it under your trenchcoat, ok?"
Smed: "You got it. Good luck with Plant man."
posted by Smedleyman at 1:26 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


See the How to Succeed in Evil podcast for an enjoyable, more economically realistic take on supervillainy. The protagonist is an accountant who deplores the waste of wealth on schemes that make no financial sense.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:46 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, if I'm in NYC in the MU I'm carrying a big bore firearm with armor piercing rounds and a flamethrower - as a matter of course.

Well, the Punisher seems to get away with it.

Shepherd is right. How do they not mention Damage Control? This site has lost all credibility.

It’s an interesting feature of comicbook universes that they tend to feature all this stuff – heroes and magic and Science! and stuff – and it’s overlayed over the mundane world without really quite affecting it at all. Reed Richards might come up with a super robot or a car that runs on nothing but it’ll never actually go into production or change the world or have any implications that go beyond the needs of the story of the moment. I guess that’s one of the ways that the superhero genre, and I guess related genres like the Bond-ian superspy genre, are science-fictional but not quite full science fiction.

It's worse than that. There was an issue during the Mark Waid run it was revealed that Richards makes money by purposefully withholding the crazy tech he develops in exchange for payments from corporations to avoid ruining their businesses. So that stretchy fuck is sitting on a cure for cancer to keep the cash from Big Pharma rolling in.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:59 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


There was a What If!?! where Tony Stark decided against sitting on Iron Man technology and released it to the world, IIRC it resulted in a fascist one world government where yadda yadda yadda.
posted by Artw at 3:20 PM on May 28, 2009


Ah, here we go... WHAT IF IRON MAN SOLD OUT?
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on May 28, 2009


So that stretchy fuck is sitting on a cure for cancer to keep the cash from Big Pharma rolling in.

I love this, it's so totally Professor Impossible.
posted by The Whelk at 5:42 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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