DC Does Hulk And It Looks Spectacular in Damage #1

by CJ Stephens

Damage #1 is not about this guy:

But no, he’s still dead. I admit, I was a bit disappointed by this. I’m a big fan of C list heroes, and Grant Emerson is one of my favorites. Shine on, you crazy spawn of the grim and gritty nineties. No, this is a big dumb beautiful action movie in two dimensional format featuring what seems to be DC’s attempt at the Hulk. So it was entertaining, but a little too familiar.

There will be spoilers…

Damage #1 jumps right into the action with someone named Ethan breaking his restraints and hulking out into DAMAGE! aboard what looks like a military transport plane. A soldier named Major Liggett dons a powersuit and chases after him. Stuff gets smashed, as does Major Liggett. And yay, the Suicide Squad, I mean Task Force XI (Suicide Squad Plus?), makes an appearance. Damage appears to be a Jekyll and Hyde type character that’s so very much like the Hulk. Ethan struggles to control his alter ego’s rage as he’s chased by the military.

Major Liggett’s a jerk, just like old school General Thunderbolt Ross. It’s all so familiar; even the one hour time limit every 24 hours on Damage’s manifestation is a callback to Hourman, and more recently, General Ross’ Red Hulk. But the art by Tony S. Daniel, Danny Miki, and Tomeu Morey is a great collaborative effort, and definitely takes precedence over the writing. It’s very tight and detailed, with lots of coiled tension followed by explosion. Even still shots are brimming with violence.

My favorite is Giganta in the back…

It’s a great use of panels to create a very dynamic style, all motion and chaos when in Damage mode. It looks like a marvel superhero movie, which is cool. The action reminds me of the work by Brian Hitch on The Ultimates, with a lot fewer words. This is a very visual comic.

There’s not much to Robert Venditti’s story, though. There’s enough, but barely, and without Task Force XI, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed it as much as I did. And it’s short. But it has a bonus/promo backup story about a super powered youtuber named Sideways, who, along with Damage, is part of DC’s New Age of Heroes lineup. The Sideways story by Dan Didio, Kenneth Rocafort, and Justin Jordan is also very fast paced, and visual, which appears to be the aesthetic DC’s going for with this promotion. It’s hard to decide if it feels more like a bonus or a promo. It starts in media res, without any explanation given (or needed, really), and goes in an interesting direction. I didn’t dislike it, but I think I would have rather had a few more pages of Damage, which could definitely use a bit more verbiage.

It’s fast and fun, but standard, as far as the story goes. This actually results in my siding with Amanda Waller when she shows up to hunt down our tragic hero, because there’s just not enough there about Ethan and Damage or anyone else for me to invest in and sympathize overtly with the protagonist(s). Yes, he’s a victim of military experimentation, but Amanda Waller seems to be in the right.

A secret government military project just lost a living weapon of mass destruction in a populated area. That shit needs to be taken care of, stat! Especially considering the fact that Ethan is very much not in charge of Damage. He stops him from outright killing, but just barely. I expect the next few issues will try to humanize the character by giving Ethan more control and fleshing out the backstory so the reader can root for him a bit easier. I hope the story catches up with the art.

Damage #1, published by DC Comics on 1/17/18, features writing by Robert Venditti, letters by Tom Napolitano, and art by Tony S. Daniels, Danny Miki, and Tomeu Morey.

CJ Stephens

CJ Stephens wants to be a ninja or a rock star when he grows up. For now he works as an Adjunct Professor of English. He may one day actually finish his PhD, but at this point in time his part-time superhero gigs and binge TV habits tend to take up too much time. He taught himself to read at the age of 4 using a secret combination of Sesame Street, superhero comics, and the love of his mama, and once came in 4th in a High School spelling bee… when he was in 6th grade!!! Cash him outside at https://twitter.com/CJStephen1 and http://cstephensjr.tumblr.com/.