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Playback: STL Thinks Damaged is A Promising Series

Review by Sarah Boslaugh

I thought the series Damaged had promise when Radical offered a preview in a flipbook where it was paired with Hollow Point (here). Now that the first “real” issue (of 6) is out, I’m happy to say that those involved in this project seem to be committed to making it work as a comic even though it has “movie pitch” written all over it. Sam Worthington of Avatar fame is even listed as “Executive Producer,” which is something new for a comic book, in my experience, at least. But never mind: there’s no reason good material can’t succeed in more than one medium, and judging by this first issue, it looks like Damaged the comic book will be worth following.

The story is based on a tried and true formula: two brothers who take different but related paths after a life-changing event. Frank Lincoln is a decorated member of the San Francisco Police Department and a respectable family man while his brother Henry is an outlaw vigilante, delivering (in his eyes, at least) the kind of justice which Frank, due to his official position and straight-arrow values, cannot even think about. Execution is everything when you’re dealing with this kind of material that everyone has seen a million times already, and Damaged efficiently sets up its characters and the setting while including enough interesting details to make it more than just the same-old same-old. The feel is that of a modern film noir and the San Francisco setting (a film noir city if ever there was one) is used to great advantage.

The story opens in a burst of action in a dark, grungy Oklahoma bar as Henry blows away most of the denizens of said establishment due to his conviction that they are guilty of the rape and murder of two young girls— you might think of him as Dirty Harry on steroids. Jump to San Francisco, four weeks later, and we meet a bright young man (introduced only as “Jack”) and his lovely wife in a charmingly wholesome scene, followed by a more extended sequence at the Top of the Mark (in the Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill—trust me, it’s a real San Francisco landmark) where some high-ranking members of the SFPD are offering Jack Frank Lincoln’s position as head of the Task Force on Organized Crime. It seems Frank showed a touch of his brother’s vigilantism in a case involving the Russian Mafia and the brass are pushing him into early retirement. More happens, including a massive fire in Sausalito (guess who might well be behind it) and a nice scene at Frank’s favorite diner, and the result is a satisfying issue which effectively sets up the story for the remaining five issues.

Leonardo Manco’s naturalistic art is just right for the story while the coloring (by Kinsun Loh, Jerry Choo and Sansan Saw—not sure why three people were needed, but there you have it) effectively shifts the palette along with the tone of the story. Things could hardly be darker when Henry is delivering his brand of justice, Jack’s home is positively bathed in radiant sunlight, and the SFPD backstabbers do their dirty deeds in the luxurious modern-day version of the smoke-filled room (no smoking indoors in California, of course, but wine glasses are adequate substitutes). Manco favors horizontal frames which gives the comic a widescreen feel that draws attention with many extreme close-ups as well as a number of classically-composed frames. But he also mixes it up with several full-page frames and even a page of vertical frames and changes up the rhythm of the frame sequences to match the pace of the story.

You can see a preview of Damaged #1 here and see an interview in which Sam Worthington, John Schwarz and Michael Schwarz (the latter two are credited as creators of the series) discuss their comics projects here.

Click the image to learn more about Damaged or click here to go to this article at Playback: STL.

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