Damage #6 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Diogenes Neves, Penciller; Trevor Scott, Inker; Allen Passalaqua, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: There are certainly worse books in the DC stable than Damage at the moment, but there are few things more frustrating to read than a book where decent ideas are executed poorly. That’s definitely the case with Damage, which every issue seems to lean more and more into the blatantly obvious Hulk comparisons and give us zero reason to care about Ethan Avery and his super-strong alter ego. When we last left off, Ethan was trying to stay undercover and had found some friends in a migrant work crew. However, as soon as he got to his first day of work, the forest he was assigned to help clear was attacked by a green-skinned, evil Poison Ivy who had teamed up with Gorilla Grodd to get revenge on humans. That’s not the worst setup, but once again, as soon as the plot gets going it’s nothing but slugfests all the way through. Damage vs. an army of evil Gorillas is a good visual, but I’m sure it would have been much more dramatic as drawn by Tony Daniel, rather than guest artist Diogenes Neves. Unfortunately, Damage continues to feel like a guest-star in someone else’s story.
That someone else would be Poison Ivy, and that’s both the best and worst thing about this title. This issue seems to drop a major Ivy reveal that completely upends what we know about the character, but the story takes place before her big character development in Batman. The Ivy we see at the start of the issue is the green-skinned maniac, but over the course of Damage #6, she starts to develop some moral issues with Grodd’s plan. Eventually, her skin color transforms to the more human one that we normally see when she’s an anti-hero and she turns on Grodd, allowing Damage to escape before he turns back to completely human. The idea of Ivy with multiple personalities is actually fascinating, and I’d kind of like to see Venditti or another writer follow up on that. But this isn’t an Ivy book. It’s a Damage book, and aside from a briefly intriguing meeting between Avery and Swamp Thing, he’s still in the same place at the end of the issue he was when he started. It’s not a bad comic, but it’s a comic with a void at the center, and that’s not a comic that can survive.
Corrina: The first six issues have been hopelessly centered on the monster that is Damage, rather than the man that is Ethan. It’s an odd focus, given that Ethan is normal for all but one hour of the day. We should know more about Ethan and what’s important to him by now, aside from being cured. But, no, issue after issue seems to focus on his transformation into Damage and the slugfests. (Well, to be fair, there were times when the title was taken over by the Suicide Squad, so there’s that.)
I’ve no idea where the story is going or why I should care about Ethan’s fate. The diversion into Ivy’s personality is interesting but, at this point, I suspect Ivy’s multiple personalities are simply due to creators not having a clear idea of who and what Ivy should be, rather than any real character development.
And having no real character development is the problem with this series as a whole.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.