Review by Andy Oliver
One of the most intense and absorbing comics crime epics of recent years.
Frank and Henry Lincoln. Two brothers. One horrific secret. When they were both young officers in the S.F.P.D. they were involved in the violent deaths of a pedophile ring in a deliberate arson. But those actions had consequences: horrifically scarred Henry took the blame and went on the run, while Frank continued his career attempting to make amends for the repercussions of the fire on innocent lives, of which even his brother is unaware.
Now the vigilante Henry is back in town, assassinating the criminal element with the aid of his protégé, disgraced ex-police officer Isaac Lordsman. But Isaac has turned on his mentor and is now twisting their mission of vengeance to suit his own worldview. Frank and his replacement on the force, Lieutenant Jack Cassidy, race to intercept Lordsman’s execution of five corrupt cops. But this dramatic confrontation will have irrevocable ramifications for the entire cast of Damaged…
Just when I thought I had a handle on where this tense thriller was going, and the confrontation that was being set up for the concluding final installment of this six-parter, the rug was well and truly pulled out from under my feet in this expectation-defying penultimate chapter of Damaged. Lapham’s pacing is excellent in this story, lulling the reader in with a scene of domestic tranquillity in the opening pages before the audience’s comfortable preconceptions of where the story is heading are completely overturned in one late, shocking, brutal scene. It’s a twist I didn’t see coming, which is a rarity indeed in contemporary monthly comics, and one that changes the entire dynamic of the next issue’s concluding part.
Once again, Leonardo Manco’s gritty but realistic visuals bring a sense of robust authenticity to the world of Damaged. The explicit violence, while extreme, is always completely justified by the narrative; there’s no Garth Ennis-style “shock for shock’s sake” going on here, just the cold, hard truth of the repercussions of ruthless men doing ruthless things.
But despite all the drama and intrigue of the book’s crime thriller premise, it’s the small character moments between the cast that have made reading Damaged to this point such a rewarding experience. The reader, particularly during the events of #5, feels totally invested in the lives of Frank and his love interest Wendy, the Cassidys, and even the unbending, fatalistic Henry, whose life is a tragedy he has played no small part in creating himself. What could so easily have been just another “brothers on different sides of the track” soap has become, under Lapham and Manco’s adept stewardship, one of the most intense and absorbing comics crime epics of recent years.
Click here to go to this article at Broken Frontier or click the cover image to learn more about Damaged.