ABC Develops New Marvel Comic, Illuminating the Success of Late Writer Dwayne McDuffie
Continuing to build on their success with Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter, ABC is developing another Marvel property, Damage Control. Based on the cult comic book created by Ernie Colon and late Black comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie, Damage Control follows a janitorial service that specializes in cleaning up the mess superheroes leave after saving the day. The show is being developed as a half-hour, single camera comedy series. Damage Control has great comedic potential with endless avenues to explore. However, the best thing about the show is that it helps shine a spotlight on its influential co-creator, McDuffie.
McDuffie was one of the most prominent Black comic writers in the business before he passed away in 2011. McDuffie worked for Marvel, his most successful work being Damage Control. In 1992, he teamed with fellow Black comic book artists Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek Dingle to form Milestone Media. At Milestone Media, McDuffie worked as editor-in-chief.
“If you do a black character or a female character or an Asian character, then they aren’t just that character,” McDuffie said. “They represent that race or that sex, and they can’t be interesting because everything they do has to represent an entire block of people. You know, Superman isn’t all white people and neither is Lex Luthor. We knew we had to present a range of characters within each ethnic group, which means that we couldn’t do just one book. We had to do a series of books and we had to present a view of the world that’s wider than the world we’ve seen before.”
Through its distribution deal with DC Comics, Milestone Media created a diverse array of Black superheroes, including Hardware and his most famous comic book, Static Shock. After Milestone shut down its comic books division in 1997, McDuffie bounced between the worlds of comic books and television. He worked as a writer on the animated adaptation of Static Shock. He won the 2003 Humanitas Prize for “Jimmy”, a Static Shock episode dealing with gun violence. He wrote and produced Cartoon Network series’ Justice League, Ben 10 and a number of direct to DVD animated DC Comics films. In 2011, he was posthumously awarded the Writers Guild of America, West Animation Writers Caucus’ (AWC) 14th Annual Animation Writing Award.
McDuffie took great strides in talking about race and presenting multidimensional Black characters.
“I’m conscious of race whenever I’m writing, just as I’m conscious of class, religion, human psychology, politics—everything that makes up the human experience,” he said. “I don’t think I can do a good job if I’m not paying attention to what’s meaningful to people; and in American culture, there isn’t anything that informs human interaction more than the idea of race.”