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Damaged Captures The Comic Age

Review by Alex Lupp

A few pages into the first issue, this comic-book seemed like a mixture of the Punisher and pretty much every cop movie I’ve seen. So, I braced myself for the cliche ridden journey and kept reading, except I was wrong. Sure, the idea is not be the most original, but the execution is good. The characters and pacing capture the reader, and before I knew it I’d finished reading all five issues. Now I can’t wait until March to read the conclusion.

Damaged is the brainchild of Sam Worthington, Michael and John Schwarz (…), but is brought to life by writer David Lapham and artist Leonardo Manco. The story is simple. Take four men, who either are or have been cops, then add several approaches to dispensing justice; shake well, and voila, good story emerges.

Though the point of view shifts between these four characters, the protagonist is certainly Lieutenant Jack Cassidy. As the story begins, he has been assigned to run San Francisco’s Special Task Force on Organized Crime. The only catch is that Captain Frank Lincoln has to retire first. Naturally, that doesn’t go according to plan and Frank’s retirement is put on hold when his estranged brother Henry comes back to town.

Henry is a Punisher-like vigilante who hunts down criminals without prejudice. Thirty-five years ago Henry and his brother Frank were both cops. Then a traumatic event set them on very different directions. One became a vigilante, the other remained a police man. Now in the present Henry returns to San Francisco just as Frank is about to retire.

However, the story is not just about these two old brothers confronting each other one last time. This is also about passing the torch to a new generation. Jack Cassidy partners up with Frank as he hunts down his brother, and Henry eventually picks up Isaac Lordsman, a cop who watched two criminals burn to death in a car accident, as his apprentice. It only gets more complicated and interesting from there.

If this summary brought to mind other stories you’re not alone. This story certainly burrows heavily from many places. A cop about to retire? Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. And come on Henry is basically the Punisher! But, despite that it’s hard not to let the story capture you. Lapham does a great job of hooking the reader by doing the basics right. The pacing is great, moving from the present to the past, and from character to character effortlessly. There are good character moments, plenty of action, and definitely not a dull moment in sight.

Art-wise, Leonardo Manco’s work looks to be heavily photo referenced, which is is both good and bad. On the good side, it provides the story with a movie-like atmosphere, and makes this feel like a cop story right off of the silver screen. However, that’s also what holds the art back. A comic-book shouldn’t just be a pale reflection of a movie, but rather bring something unique through the artwork. The very best comics are able to do this, and unfortunately that is not the case here. That being said, this is not a bad looking comic-book.

If you’re fan of good cop stories with a dash of Punisher-like action, this is definitely something you should check out. It’s a good read, and I for one will be checking out the last issue when it hits stands next month.

Click here to go to this article at The Comic Age or click the cover image to learn more about Damaged.

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