Damaged #1(of 6) - Untitled - Lapham and Manco
Story - We all know Hollywood has gone down the tubes lately, and it's impossible for pretty much anyone to get an original story off the ground. Even legends like Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg have been forced to do adaptations of other stories or revisit classic movies. This has lead to many movie-makers to head on over to comics, where original ideas are (contrary to popular belief) more welcomed. The hope is that lazy movie producers who balked at the original pitch, will see that the story has worked and been read in the world of comics, and then adapt it. It's a strange system, but has worked on occasion.
Damaged #1 is another example of this phenomenon, as Avatar and Clash Of The Titans star Sam Worthington is given the strange title of 'executive producer'. I'm not sure what ol' JakeSuly actually did for this book, but it doesn't matter. The Hollywood people behind Damaged made the wise decision to get great creators in Dave Lapham and Leonard Manco to create their story, and it's a move that paid off.
This is a crime book, but it's not like many of the other Crime Comics we've had lately, which are very noir and fairly understated in their own way, more concerned with character than anything else. Damaged is primarily a big wide-screen Action crime-thriller. The opening sequence where a mysterious bad-ass guns down a whole bar full of rednecks is gleefully over the top and a lot of fun.
The main thrust of the story involves two brothers, one of whom is a high-ranking cop who is slowly being ushered out the door due to political reasons, and the other who is a Frank Castle-esque vigilante with his own vicious brand of justice. There's also a young cop who is replacing the aforementioned brother. Lapham does a good job at doling the back-story in slow drips, so throughout the issue you're wondering what exactly it is that haunts Frank and what the hell the opening scene has to do with San Francisco crime.
The political element of the story is a little undercooked, and hardly The Wire, but I think Lapham has more to say about it in the upcoming issues.
Overall, this issue was decent, and it is a lot like a Hollywood movie. It has lots of stuff going on, and a lot of flash, but there's not as much substance as other modern crime comics like Criminal or Scalped. In an age when most crime comics are similar to HBO dramas, this is a blockbuster, and it has all the good and bad elements of it. If you like Lapham, you should check this out, it's Dave in a less-insane mode, but still strong. Everyone else... you may as well wait for the movie. But who else to cast apart from Sam Worthington?
Art - I always enjoy Leo Manco's art when it pops up in a Marvel or DC book and was a big fan of his work on Hellblazer a few years ago. His art here is his usual strong work, but is given a bit of a different feel due to the colouring techniques used here, which are more computery than at Vertigo. It gives his work a more photo-realistic look, which really fits this comic.
Best Line - 'I'm back, Big Brother, and it's time we do things my way'