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This article was posted in chat. It fictionally estimates that if the final battle in Man of Steel had happened in New York City, the cost to repair would be 750 billion dollars.

Cities and buildings get destroyed almost daily in comic books. An earthquake once destroyed Gotham. Then a year or two later Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne decided to rebuild it and suddenly the entire city was made whole. How are governments handling this? Given all the superheroes operating in the United States alone, it seems like all the cities would be ruins after the financial collapse of society and the survivors would spread out to avoid the massive destruction caused by the meta-humans / mutants.

Who pays for all the repairs?

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    Minions! They do the work for cheap! – geoffc Jun 21 '13 at 21:21
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    You could also ask how Japan could afford Godzilla and company back in the 50s and 60s. – mu is too short Jun 21 '13 at 22:40
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    Citywide rebuilds: The real reason there is a shortage of no. 2 pencils. – Major Stackings Jun 21 '13 at 23:33
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    @muistooshort Japan has to rebuild every few years from earthquakes anyways. That is just business as usual. – Jack B Nimble Jun 21 '13 at 23:51
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    As well as "who pays?", what about "how come it all gets fixed so quickly?" My city is still cleaning up the mess from an earthquake 2 and a half years ago. The WTC building was downed 12 years ago - when's the replacement going to be finished? Hurricane Katrina was 8 years ago - how is New Orleans looking today> – Greenstone Walker Jun 22 '13 at 13:15
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In the late 1980s, Marvel actually attempted to address this issue (humorously) in a series called Damage Control. They depicted a specialized group of people armed with various super-technologies which made cleaning up behind such catastrophic damage (somewhat) affordable.

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DC comics never portrayed such a team directly but there was a time when the Steelworks, a technology agency headed by the former construction worker/scientist John Henry, assisted Metropolis in repairing damage after Superman and supervillains would destroy property.

In the comic universes in general, the level of damage possibly caused by metahumans should be easily more than most governments could handle and with the number of metahuman disasters in the course of a year, without some kind of support from the metahumans themselves, this would bankrupt most governments in short order.

Damage Control employees first appear briefly in a four-page story in 1988's Marvel Age Annual and fully in 1989 in a serialized story published in the anthology comic Marvel Comics Presents #19. Subsequently, the employees of Damage Control have been the subject of three separate comic book limited series (each limited to four issues), published between 1989 and 1991, and have had frequent minor roles in many other Marvel comics including an important role in the Civil War; as well, the first issue of World War Hulk Aftersmash: Damage Control, a three-issue limited series tying in to World War Hulk, was published in January 2008.

Dwayne McDuffie, who co-created the concept with artist Ernie Colón and wrote Damage Control's initial non-adventures, pitched Damage Control to Marvel as "a sitcom within the Marvel Universe".

Since Damage Control made an appearance relatively recently during the World War Hulk stories in 2007, it is assumed they are still repairing the Marvel Universe as best they can, with a little help from the superheroes if they can catch them before they flee the scene...

enter image description here

  • I seem to remember a throwaway line in the Death of Superman run where a repair worker in Metropolis after Superman’s fatal battle with Doomsday mentioned how much easier it was to clean up when they had Superman to help. – Paul D. Waite Jun 22 '13 at 9:37
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In one of the comics that was prelude to the Marvel Civil War, Tony Stark (as Tony Stark) was in a Congressional Meeting with the Sub-Committee of MetaHuman Affairs, and this question was actually addressed by one of the Senators...

Senator: Do you know, Mr. Stark, how much damage you metahumans caused in the past 50 years? 200 billion dollars in total damage. What do you say to that?

Stark: I'd say... 14.

Senator: 14?

Stark: 14. That's how many times Metahumans have prevented the world from being taken over by alien races, ruled by superpowered tyrants, or nuked back to the Stone Age. The Defense budget last year alone was 600 billion dollars. 4 billion dollars a year? I'd say we're getting off cheap.

Of course this can't actually be true. But it's pure Tony Stark. And you got to admire the guy.

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I think you have to realize that with all the fancy technology and inventions present in the comic universe, economics are very different from our world.

I admit with real world economics in such a mess its hard to read a comic without thinking "who the hell pays for all of this?"

In the end you kinda have to put this into the back of your mind and think in that universe money is not the most important problem.

  • Could you give an example of any piece of "fancy technology [or] inventions" which exists in any comic which would impact society so far as to drastically alter economics to the point that money is not an issue? – phantom42 Jul 1 '13 at 14:39
  • This is not a real answer. You could have pointed the Willing suspension of disbelief and built some arguments around it but just saying "admit it, it's a different world" doesn't really help here. – Kalissar Jul 1 '13 at 14:52

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