“Damaged” is one of those comics that’s harder than diamond and wants you to know it on every page. The violence is up front, it’s cinematic, and it’s the center of who these men are. It’s the only thing respected in this bleak landscape of a good cop being shunted out of his job. Frank won’t play by the rules and so you know how the story goes.
The twist comes through the ballistic return of Frank’s little brother. It’s been thirty-five years of Henry being on the outside. Now he’s decided that if his brother couldn’t clean up the mean streets, it’s time for a changing of the guard. Henry reads on the page like the Max Punisher. He’s a one man army who takes down scores of men and thinks nothing of the death he delivers. The quirk of the police badge scar on the chest is fun over-the-top bombast. We have to know this man is a cop for life, no matter where the salary comes from. He’s a man who worships justice, both swift and brutal. Henry is a bit of a one trick pony and it’s the sort of trick we might have seen better elsewhere, but still entertains to some degree here.
The story of political intrigue, and final days in a job, and the little connections people make every day are enough to make this book hum along, but nothing stands out as being superb. David Lapham is a very good writer at times though this feels like he’s going through the motions. He injects the smaller scenes with some sense of character, yet the overall story arc feels already too concretely laid down for any organic flow to occur.
The star of the book is the violence. Leonardo Manco has roamed across a few books lately, and this one matches his style best of all. The realism which he gives his characters works well against this procedural battle of cops and bad guys and the terrible people they must team up against. When a shotgun eviscerates someone’s face, Manco’s style makes sure you see it like you’ve never seen it before. This book might be slick like all current things, but there is a gritty heart beating beneath the surface. Manco wants you to relive the video nasty days of pausing a VHS over and over again to get that sweet moment buried amidst the 24 frames.
“Damaged” has laid all of its pieces out now and it’s a decent tale. The characters don’t jump off the page but they keep the pages turning. With the origin out of the way, this book can easily turn a corner and deliver some thrills in future issues. For now, there’s some glorious pages of nasty violence and some characters who feel familiar and easy to watch. If you’re up for some slick action and a revenge tale decades in the making then this is an enjoyable book.