Wednesday, January 17, 2018

On Damage #1

*While Batman and The Signal featured a slug on the cover declaring that it was "From the Pages of Metal," Damage #1 has the words "Dark Nights Metal" in the bottom tier of the publisher's new corner boxes, a space that so far seems reserved for noting what franchise or corner of the line the book belongs too. As  was the case with Batman and The Signal, there is nothing within the 20 pages that follow to indicate that this is, in fact, somehow a spin-off of Metal; in fact, it may have even less to do with Metal, since at least Duke "The Signal" Thomas appeared in the prequels to Metal. Damage, on the other hand, is a new character appearing here for the first time.

The same caveat applies though; it's quite possible that somewhere in the second half of the still ongoing Metal miniseries we will see something that retroactively leads in to Damage.

*The second and third page of this issue is a two-page splash revealing the title character. It is the first of two two-page splashes. So that's four pages, or a full 25% of the issue, devoted to just two images. There are also three one-page splashes. This is just the first of DC's "New Age of Heroes" line to be released, but remember one of the earlier sales points for the line was that they would feature original characters created by artists, artists who would be pretty heavily involved in the storytelling. The number of splashes was a pretty good reminder that yes indeed an artist is indeed in the driver's seat here.

And even the non-splash pages tend to be pretty splashy; the above five panels fill two pages of the book, for example.

*It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how the cover is supposed to work. In fact, I didn't get it until I noticed the words "Special Vertical Double-Gatefold Cover" on the DC All Access page in the back, promoting the upcoming series The Terrifics. I blame the fact that the cover is kinda slapdash in its use of all that space (necessarily so, given that the center image has to function as a normal comic book cover, regardless of what appears on the upper and lower panels of the double-gatefold). That, and the fact that I am very dumb.

*I confess to snickering when I saw the words "Damage Created by Robert Venditti and Tony S. Daniel" on the title splash. The derivative nature of the character is obvious at a glance. His name was previously used by a DC character created by Tom Joyner and Bill Marimon for a short-lived 1994-1996 21-issue ongoing series.

Aside from the re-purposing of the name, the character is, just as he appears to be, a riff on Marvel's Hulk character. A soldier grows and transforms into a super-powered, monstrous character who immediately goes on a rampage; the U.S. military pursues him, one of their number climbing into Hulkbuster armor to attempt to fight him. Damage wanders off and, later, returns to his other personality, now clad in only a pair of pants that have been ripped into shorts.

While some pains are taken to visually differentiate him from his apparent inspiration--note his nose, the fact that his arms and back are colored differently from the rest of his skin, the bright red circles on his chest--he's gray, like the original, the Ultimate and some other iterations of The Hulk, and he even has the same shaved-head haircut of the Ultimate Hulk.

One further act of differentiation is that this hulk apparently has a one-hour time-limit to his super-monster state, but then, that just reminded me of a different character based around that one-hour countdown gimmick--DC's own Hourman.

*This is the entirety of the issue's story: Ethan Avery transforms into Damage while aboard a military plane taking him to a base for a "tune-up" to address his malfunctions; he was apparently created to be a biological weapon. He is urged on by the voice of his "Damage" personality, landing unharmed in a city, where he proceeds to flip cars and scare civilians. A Major Ligget, who was on the plane with Ethan/Damage, climbs into a suit of armor and fights him for a few pages. A Colonel Jonas arrives at the site of the plane crash, and begins the search for Ethan/Damage. That's when Amanda Waller and her "Task Force XI" show up--Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Solomon Grundy, Parasite, a character I cant' identify and a giant pair of legs probably belonging to Giganta--and pose, with Waller saying they will bring in Damage. The end.

*I was amused by the fact that colorist Tomeu Morey colors the sky red throughout the first scene, which takes up the majority of the book. Perhaps that's how the series ties-in to Metal? It is quite literally a red sky issue?

*While I am very much not a fan of Tony Daniel's work, this is some pretty strong artwork from him (Danny Miki inks). There aren't really any highly visible sings of laziness or shortcuts taken, other than the splash-filled lay-outs, until the last few pages, wherein Jonas and Waller appear as crude silhouettes, and the Suicide Squad is somewhat awkwardly posed, more for effect than for any story-telling purpose. There's only one or two panels where it's completely unclear what's happening (Page 18, panels two and three).

*Based on the everything we've seen about these books to date, I wasn't expecting many of them to last very long. Having read the first issue of Damage, I'm going to guess it can stave off cancellation for about 12-18 issues, depending on whether or not Daniel is able to draw each consecutive issue (He is the main--well, only--evident selling point for the series). If this series ties or beats the 21-issue run of DC's last Damage series, I will be shocked.

*If this somehow encourages DC to publish two volumes collecting the entirety of the original Damage series, which I've yet to be able to track down all of the issues for, I will consider it well worthwhile.


Jason Glor said...

"One further act of differentiation is that this hulk apparently has a one-hour time-limit to his super-monster state, but then, that just reminded me of a different character based around that one-hour countdown gimmick--DC's own Hourman."

Also the current Red Hulk (the one with the mustache and aviator sunglasses in U.S. Avengers) has a 1 hour timer.

collectededitions said...

Make that two (2) guaranteed sales of a trade of the "classic" Damage series. A while ago they collected Geoff Johns's Stars and STRIPE series as JSA Presents: Stars and STRIPE, retroactively characterizing it as a JSA book for sales and context. I'd always hoped they'd do the same for Tom Peyer's Hourman, and Damage is another that would qualify for the same.