Review by Alex Hilhorst
As I’m posting this almost a week before this issue actually hits stands, I’m going to make efforts not to spoil anything, but damn is it hard. This was a great issue, perhaps the best yet. To me, what made it such an outstanding installment was the places it took one of its characters, Jack Cassidy. When I read issue #1, I immediately disliked Cassidy. He was too idealistic, too cocky and didn’t realize he was nothing more than a pawn for a corrupt system. He had a very black and white moralistic view, and I hate people who look at the world in two disparate shades. But in issue #4 we delve into his mind with some surprising narration, and as he learns more about what befell Frank and Henry when they were young patrolmen, he starts to question his beliefs. His view starts to grey.
I’m also impressed by writer David Lapham’s ability to balance so many different lead characters. Though Frank is arguably the protagonist, the past few issues have focused on some of the other players. Last issue turned a minor and heretofore insignificant character, Isaac Lordsman into a major force, with a sizable portion of the issue spent delving into his backstory and turning him into a youthful mirror to Henry. This issue focuses primarily on Cassidy, which is a good thing as before he was somewhat hard to relate to. But here we meet his wife and enter his home and watch as the ideals he’s always upheld as police officer come under his scrutiny. An interesting motif in this issue is the badge, which is spoken about in a figurative way by more than one character, almost like a symbol, and not a tangible object. Henry discusses Frank’s belief in the “badge,” and one begins to realize that though these two brothers are at odds, they still hold a deep love and respect for each other.
As Henry and Isaac continue to spread mayhem throughout San Francisco as they hunt down the city’s most infamous criminals, Frank confides a secret in Cassidy and retires to take on his vigilante brother on his own. Near the end there’s an ominous panel of Frank cleaning an M16, implying that an epic and emotional confrontation is in the works for the next two issues. Meanwhile, we’re introduced to a mayoral candidate named Shane, who’s taking advantage of the current crisis to slander the current mayor and rise in the polls, while promising the new head of the Russian Mafiya, Oksana Oloaf, safe passage once he’s elected. This was really only a minor subplot, but it will be interesting to see where it goes in later issues.
After last issue’s thrilling prison break, I was convinced Isaac and Henry would transform into the most badass vigilante team of all time. To an extent they do, but we discover that Isaac may not have as distinct a code as Henry, something that makes him even more unpredictable and dangerous. Back in the first issue, in the very first scene, we learned right off the bat that Henry is very deliberate with his killing. He only kills those who he believes deserves it, and makes efforts to eliminate all collateral damage. Isaac however, is not quite as concerned with such details, making him less like Frank Castle and more like a protagonist from Grand Theft Auto.
As for the art, I’m still really digging Leonardo Manco’s realistic look and the inking and coloring team’s work as well. It suits the story and the gritty feel it has. If I had one criticism, it’s that Isaac and Cassidy’s faces are somewhat similar. They both have the same haircut, though Isaac is considerably beefier, but since they aren’t in any scenes together it wasn’t all that distracting.
Like I said, this was a fantastic issue and I recommend you all pick it up next week. If you like complex crime drama then Damaged is right up your alley.
Click here to go to this article at AlexHilhorst.com or click the cover image to learn more about Damaged.