Damage #4 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Cary Nord, Artist; Tomeu Morey, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Enter Poison Ivy
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: From the start, Damage has stood out for just how much of a Hulk comic it is. However, with Damage #4 (the first drawn by a new artist, Conan’s Cary Nord), it’s clear exactly what kind of Hulk comic it is – one heavily inspired by vintage Hulk, particularly the classic Lou Ferrigno/Bill Bixby TV series. Ethan Avery is on the run, trying desperately to keep Damage under wraps and get help from people in the areas he visits, only for the monster to creep out when he’s pushed too far. This issue pits Damage up against a fellow wild-card vigilante in the form of Poison Ivy, who’s taking her war against plant-abusers to the agricultural center of America. She’s begun attacking agricultural workers and machinery, transforming the cornfields and farms back to lush forests. This is before her big story arc in Batman, but it’s a pretty classic take on Poison Ivy’s radical environmentalist mission.
Ethan, meanwhile, has hitched a ride in the back of a long-haul truck. While he’s initially suspected of being a thief, the driver is compassionate and offers Ethan a job in his cousin’s farm crew. Flashbacks show Ethan’s transformation and don’t really illuminate anything about his past, and a new group of super-soldiers with impossible senses that Jonas hires to track Ethan don’t make much of an impression. Still, the issue might be the best of the series, given how it pares the concept down to its simplest elements – guy who wants to keep the monster at bay is forced into a situation where the monster is needed – and provides a compelling adversary in Poison Ivy. However, there’s one big issue with this series, and that’s that Damage remains its least interesting factor. Good art, decent writing, but that’s not enough if the title gives us zero reasons to care about its lead character, who remains a blank slate.
Corrina: For a comic that started as an artistic showcase for Tony Daniel, it’s not a good sign for its future when Daniel isn’t even in the art credits. Not that Nord isn’t a fine replacement but it’s an indication that whatever idea DC had for the book at first may have been abandoned. Certainly, Poison Ivy is not a guest-star I expected to see in this series and this take on her, as a one-dimensional environmental activist punching at migrant workers who desperately need to work to eat, isn’t a good look.
As for Ethan, we still hardly know him, even after four issues. We already knew he volunteered for experiments, we know about the time limits of the Damage monster and that’s about it. Even on the Bill Bixby Hulk show, David Banner had a purpose: he was forever looking for a job or materials that could help him eliminate the Hulk. Ethan is running away without any purpose but hiding and seemingly being tossed from one guest star who might boost sales in the book to another. He’s aimless and, I fear, so is this series.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.
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