Review by Alex Hilhorst
Things come to a head in issue 5, with Henry and Isaac’s partnership falling apart and Frank finally taking the law into his own hands, after so many years of stellar, by-the-books police work. Point of view shifts a bit to Cassidy, who has heretofore been relegated mostly to the background, but now emerges as the series’ true hero. Though they started off as rivals, Cassidy and Frank are now friends, sharing dinner and deep personal secrets. Their relationship has had a very nice progression over the course of the last five issues and I appreciated that not only did the two start to work together, but that they developed a bond as well. Writer David Lapham thankfully avoided any sort of buddy cop cliche, instead painting a friendship that is rich and believable.
Meanwhile, Isaac and Henry butt heads and Henry comes to the chilling realization that he may have made a fatal error in breaking his young apprentice out of jail. In previous reviews I’ve noted similarities between Henry and Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher and I stand by those comparisons. Both are brutal vigilantes that kill criminals without mercy, and both share a strange honor code that prevents them from harming innocents. Pop culture has always been fascinated with vigilantism, and in addition to classic vigilantes like Batman, today movies, television and other mediums are populated by characters such as Dexter Morgan and Person of Interest’s Reese- men who may not be morally righteous, but punish evil and stick to some semblance of a code. We as a society empathize with these characters because they represent our desire to bring justice to the wicked without the constraints, corruption or bureaucracy of law. Most individuals in a civil society abhor murder, but many also believe certain heinous individuals deserve the ultimate punishment, hence our country’s obsession with the death penalty. Characters like Henry and the Punisher act as a sort of catharsis, allowing the reader to fantasize about bringing justice to those that may have evaded the authorities.
Isaac on the other hand, does not fall under this category of noble vigilante. He is a man fallen from grace, a man twisted by the corruption he’s witnessed into a lunatic bent on revenge and violence. He doesn’t make the distinctions Henry does; to him everyone who is corrupt, even if they haven’t committed a heinous crime, is a villain, and they and everyone associated with them, deserve to die. Thus, their partnership ends badly, and Isaac goes on a killing spree at a brothel that several corrupt policemen frequent, indiscriminately killing prostitute and patron alike. Frank finally tracks him down, hoping to put an end to the madness, but ultimately pays with his life.
This was actually quite a shocking twist in my opinion, maybe just because I hadn’t realized until his death just how endeared I had become to Frank. It was a very sad end for the man: to spend his whole life regretting his and his brother’s actions, to try and make up for it by playing by the books when all of his peers took handouts and got in bed with criminals and politicians, to then get laid off in the twilight of his career and to then to try and make amends by putting an end to his brother’s madness, only to die without accomplishing any of his goals- let’s just say it was a very emotional moment.
I’m glad Cassidy didn’t team up with Henry to take down Isaac- after everything he’s been through with Frank, it would have been very out of character for Cassidy to join forces with the man he’s been hunting the entire series. I also think the book will benefit from the two continuing to be adversaries, as this will likely lead to some kind of Mexican standoff between them and Isaac.
Perhaps the POV shift was meant to transition Cassidy into the role of protagonist before Frank’s death and to establish that he will be the focus of the final issue, on shelves next month. Issue #6 is sure to be an epic closer to a fantastic series, with Isaac, Henry and Cassidy all descending on Frisco for one, final showdown. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
Click here to go to this review at AlexHilhorst.com or click the cover image to learn more about Damaged.