Review – Damage #9: Smash-Up in the Hospital

Comic Books DC This Week
Damage #9 cover, credit to DC Comics.

Damage #9 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Aaron Lopresti, Penciller; Matt Ryan, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: No Forward Momentum

Ray: Damage was the first of the New Age of DC Heroes books to debut, but it still feels like the one we’ve learned the least about. Private Ethan Avery is loyal to his country and wants to protect it, but he never expected to be turned into a monster to do it. Since the series began, he’s been chased all over the country by his former handler Colonel Jonas and her hired goons, but the last issue saw him pick up an unexpected ally in the Unknown Soldier. This mysterious, seemingly reincarnated, bandaged warrior attempts to shepherd him out of the hospital where he’s being held, but they’re confronted in the parking lot by Jonas and her enhanced supervillain troops. What ensues is exactly what you’d expect out of Damage. He throws a car at his enemies, and the battle is on. He takes them on one by one, with very little trouble, and displays some serious ruthlessness – even ripping one enemy’s cybernetic limbs clean off.

That poor car. Credit to DC Comics.

The issue is, it’s hard to get invested in a battle if you don’t care about either side. The character we’ve learned the most about is probably Colonel Jonas, as she’s been given a decent motivation for wanting to replace all her soldiers with one super-strong soldier. If the series doubled down on this and made her more human, it could work – it’s the same issue as Amanda Waller. The book tries to humanize her on occasion but always goes back to villainizing her.

The Unknown Soldier adds a ruthless new wrinkle to the title but he heads on his way by the end of the series. So what we’re left with is just a pretty standard Hulk comic with a DC overlay. Damage rampages from one fight to another and punches some generic enemies, then disappears into the crowd to emerge again when Damage is needed to wreck things. There’s virtually no forward motion in this series, and it doesn’t work.

Corrina: It’s been eight issues and we still haven’t been introduced well to our protagonist. All we know is he wanted to be a good soldier and save lives. We don’t know why being a soldier was important to him. Look at Steve Rogers. We know right away he craves to serve because he’s been dealing with bullies all his life and “he doesn’t like bullies.” He wants to stand up for the little guy because he was the little guy.

Ethan volunteered out of a sense of duty but what drove him to this extreme? The reader has no idea. Even after he escapes, Ethan seems aimless.

This series is a bunch of action set pieces in search of a character.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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