Review by Alex Hilhorst
You may recall I wrote about the first issue of a new limited crime series from publisher Radical Comics a few months back. Damaged tells the story of Frank Lincoln, a world-weary detective facing retirement while dealing with a vigilante brother and a Sam Worthington lookalike whippersnapper gunning for his position. The comic continued to impress in its second issue, and last month, issue #3 kicked things into overdrive.
In an interesting twist, issue #3 spends most of its time focusing on Isaac Lordsman, a seemingly minor character from past issues who was kicked out of the police force and sent to jail after he watched two Russian Mafiya burn to death in a car wreck rather than help them. I didn’t think too much of Lordsman before as so much time was spent focusing on Frank, Henry and Jack Cassidy, but here writer David Lapham (who apparently frequents the same comic book shop I do, Golden Apple Comics in West Hollywood) delves into Lordsman’s psyche and his dark, disturbing backstory.
We learn that Lordsman had a troubled childhood, getting beat up at his Oakland high school while his abusive father slapped up his mother at home. Eventually Isaac snapped and beat his father into a brain-damaged stupor, though the newspapers praised the young boy for his bravery. Isaac’s adolescence seems typical of someone coming from a broken home: he drops out of high school, joins a gang and then the Marines. But what’s interesting is that even when he’s doing questionable things or committing extreme acts of violence, Lordsman is always acting from a very black and white moral code. Not only that, but even when he’s committing acts that are arguably only slightly less heinous than letting murderous criminals burn to death, he’s commended in the papers. Here Lapham taps into the irony of Lordsman’s situation- all his life he’s held to this strict code, and has always been praised for it, even though he’s got a violent nature and seems somewhat unhinged. But as soon as politics get involved, he’s put out to pasture- a patsy meant to show that Frisco’s leaders don’t tolerate any form of police brutality.
But Lordsman makes an interesting point- why should he risk life and limb for scumbags that wouldn’t do the same for him, and whose deaths won’t be mourned? Does society really expect its boys in blue to leap into flames to rescue rapists and murderers? This psychoanalysis of a heretofore minor character is meant to mirror Henry and his similar worldview, and set up the complete and utter badassery that takes place in the issue’s final pages.
I’ve been following the new Punisher series as I’ve been reading Damaged and I believe I drew some comparisons between the two when I recapped issue #1. But to be honest, as cool as Frank Castle is, right now he doesn’t have shit on Henry Lincoln. Seriously- in this issue Henry retches up a homemade sticky bomb while in prison to use as a diversion, then singlehandedly dispatches a gang of vicious criminals and a bunch of guards, breaks a gas line with his bare hands and uses a stolen Glock to blow a hole in the wall and rescue Isaac. You really can’t get much more badass than that, especially when you’re a Sam Fisher-esque old man.
Meanwhile, what little time we spend with Frank is used to delve a bit more into the vigilante justice that left Henry with his police badge scar and turned him into the man he is today. It was shocking to learn in issue #2 that Frank was involved in the firebombing, but Frank was true to who he is even as a young man, refusing to torch the gangsters responsible for a child prostitution ring when he discovered that the wife was still home. This issue we learn not only did the wife go up in flames, but so too did several high level officials and priests also involved in the prostitution scandal. It will be interesting to see what Cassidy does with this information, though he’s turning out to not quite be the character I was expecting him to be. When he was first introduced I assumed he would be one of those annoying semi-antagonists who exists solely to get in the hero’s way, along the lines of Laguerta on Dexter. But I think he’s meant to be taken as a young version of Frank, just as Isaac is a young version of Henry. He’s idealistic and moral, and doesn’t believe in breaking the law even if it means doing the right thing.
Overall, I’m still really enjoying Damaged. Though its artwork isn’t particularly flashy, Leonardo Manco’s pencils suit the story, particularly as they are so realistic. Unlike The Punisher which has a silent vigilante wearing a skull shirt fighting a mutant vulture over New York City, Damaged is grounded in reality and is meant to be taken seriously, and the art helps add to this effect. I’m excited to see where it’s going to go in issue #4, especially as the promo in the back of #3 implies that Henry and Isaac are set to become a super awesome duo of badass vigilantes.
Click here to go to this review at AlexHilhorst.com or click the cover image to learn more about Damaged.