Damage #1 Review

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We’ve seen this monster before.

I’ve been looking forward to the “New Age of DC Heroes” line with equal parts excitement and trepidation. On one hand, this is exactly the sort of push DC needs to be making right now, showing that they’re willing to embrace new characters and new ideas as readily as they’ve embraced the classics in DC Rebirth. The fact that this line is taking such a creator-focused mentality and actively rewarding creators for their contributions is just icing on the cake.

But for all the emphasis on “new” with these books, the early preview art hasn’t always done much to establish what’s so groundbreaking and different with the “New Age of DC Heroes” titles. Damage in particular offered cause for concern, and the first issue does little to assuage those concerns. At first glance, Damage comes across as a thinly veiled riff on Hulk, with a perhaps a dash of The Bourne Identity thrown in.

Reading issue #1 does little to change that impression. Readers are introduced to Ethan, a dutiful soldier who has the misfortune of transforming into an unstoppable rage-monster for one hour every day. Where the government would use that power to terrorize America’s enemies, Ethan only wants to gain control over his dark side before he harms innocent people.

Throw in a character who might as well be General Thunderbolt Ross and you have a comic that feels way too much like the classic Hulk books for its own good. There’s always going to be a certain basic appeal in that “man vs. monster” dichotomy, but nothing in this issue gives any indication of how co-creators Tony Daniel and Robert Venditti plan to break the mold.

Damage #1 Review

As it is, the plot and characterization are so straightforward that DC could easily print this issue without words and readers would be able to follow along. That’s not altogether a bad thing, mind you.

Comics is a visual medium, and DC is clearly trying to emphasize the art with these new books. And as Venom Inc. Omega #1 proves[2], strong art alone is enough to make up for any deficiencies in plot.

The art in Damage #1[3] isn’t quite strong enough to pull that off. Daniel’s line-work is certainly very clean, orderly and detailed. He brings a real sense of power and fury to Damage as our troubled hero smashes his way through all opposition and fights to maintain control.

The story flows smoothly from one panel to the next, but Daniel’s layouts are never very exciting or creative. Nor is there a sufficient level of emotion in his facial work (particularly when it comes to Ethan himself). The book is competently rendered, but not bold enough to make a proper case for itself.

In that sense, the writing and art are aligned right now.

Damage #1 Review

Damage #1 Ethan “Elvis” Avery just wanted to serve his country. Instead, he’s been changed into a monster!

The Verdict Damage #1[4] is a less than auspicious way of launching “The New Age of DC Heroes.” This issue tells a very straightforward tale that does nothing to set its title character apart from the classic Hulk or the many other character’s he’s inspired over the years. Fans of Daniel’s art may be won over regardless, but there’s little about this series that feels genuinely new or different right now.

Editors’ Choice

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