An advanced review of the penultimate issue of Damaged!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Story by David Lapham
Art by Leonardo Manco
Colors by Kinsun Loh, Jerry Choo, Sansan Saw
Letters by Todd Klein
Cover by Alex Maleev
As Election Day looms, the disappearance of five corrupt police officers becomes a tipping point in San Francisco as policemen and vigilantes alike engage in their pursuit. While Lieutenant Jack Cassidy seeks these officers on the right side of the law, recently retired SFPD veteran Frank Lincoln abandons his long-held moral code in search of his brother and Isaac Lordsman, dead-set on doing whatever he has to in order to stop their destructive vigilantism. However, he may already be too late, as Henry Lincoln's troubled protégé finally spins out of control, leaving unimaginable tragedy in his wake.
What do you get when you take Mickey Rourke from Sin City and put him in the middle of DC's Cry for Justice? Why, you get Damaged of course! Here, we specifically look at the fifth out of the six entries in this noir-esque exposé, and decide if it is worth the read.
Let's take a look at the cover... and what a cover it is! There is little to no secret that there is vast amount of underlying sexual tension, both hetero- and homo-, in virtually every comic book. But here the opening is a close up of a man's chiseled, bare chest, lightly glistening with a thin layer of sweat, almost completely overshadowing the police star permanently burned into his formerly hairy chest. If that doesn't bellow "sex appeal", I don't know what does. Despite this somewhat questionable representation of a potentially iconic character on the cover, the artwork is well crafted. However, if you were to see this cover next to others, it doesn't quite pop as much as other titles. It isn't boring, but it isn't particularly eye-catching either.
Although there are a few side characters in the story, it centers around three men. Our first character is Henry, a former cop who inherently believes in the pursuit of justice, who wants to believe that fighting for what's right is always necessary, regardless of whomever he might have to take down in the process. Next we have Isaac, a previously abused, former marine who also pursues justice, but in a much more ruthless, black-and-white sort of way. Lastly, there is Frank, a cop who still tries to maintain the integrity of the badge to the point that he is forced into an early retirement.
Unfortunately, instead of complicated, intricate characters we are presented with clichés for each character archetype. Isaac was bullied as a child and therefore grew up striking back against the world that struck at him; it is no coincidence that his character seems modeled after every Channing Tatum character to date. Frank just barely misses out on being Morgan Freeman from Seven. And Henry, the character with the greatest opportunity for depth, just keeps going after justice as though he is the only one who could possibly help. The story is solid, but it feels uninspired.
On a technical level, the artwork is very well done, with the characters being completely proportionate and the images quite striking. These dramatic images are used at times to effectively convey the story's message and the severity of the situations our protagonist finds himself in. However, the colors tend to be drab and not at all vivid, leading to the annoying impression that the images are redundant.
The dialogue is perhaps the most frustrating aspect. As you read each of the volumes- which will come to a climax in the coming months- you will see that below the surface there is some really intelligent writing. Unfortunately, all of the intelligence is just that; below the surface. Instead of delving deeper into the subconscious of Isaac, we are treated to monologues that are better suited to Frank Miller's Batman and Robin. Instead of heart-warming moments, we are treated to hapless banter. And the big reveal at the end, which is a pivotal emotional point for the main characters, is treated as a moment of heated, gratuitous spite. Despite the writer's attempt at a change for him, the reveal feels completely unfitting for the character.
All and all, this is not a bad comic. It's a solid read, the action beats are well done and the imagery is aptly chilling at times. It is perfectly aimed and aligned to an audience that would love to see action, deaths and wanton destruction; unfortunately, that is the only audience that will reap any enjoyment out of it. It gives the impression that there is a lot going on beneath the surface for everyone that is begging to be explored, but everything remains shallow to leave room to see someone's brains on the wall. It is a good read, but not one that can be universally recommended.
Two stars out of four – oh the irony!
Review by: Dan Kester