[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Tony S. Daniel and Robert Venditti
Artists: Robert Venditti and Danny Miki
Damage can smash his way through a warzone, but can he smash his way through the Suicide Squad? Colonel Jonas takes on Amanda Waller in a race to see who can get to Damage first. And while Waller sends Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Parasite and Giganta to capture Damage by any means necessary, Colonel Jonas has her own wicked plan in play…
You get to know more about the dynamic between Ethan and his alter-ego. Apparently, given Ethan is the baseline persona and DNA, the creature is only able to articulate his intentions and opinions to his human half in his mind alone. When made to manifest physically, Damage is mute while Ethan can communicate the exact same way. Further, we get to see more of the dynamic between Avery and Jonas in flashback sequences. Whereas you would feel there was more than just professionalism going on, he was simply a duped army private placed into the experiment that turned him into this monster.
Daniel and Venditti are setting Jonas up as a Waller-in-training as we watch the fully-formed Waller’s Suicide Squad give us a better idea of what Damage is capable of. Their choice to show him engage his enemies with a small amount of gore was a good way of showing his brutality and why Avery is so afraid of that part of himself. Punching right through Giganta’s hand and swatting away two of the Suicide Squad’s most powerful players shows he is almost like a second Doomsday.
The visual design of Damage makes it easy to understand why people look at him and see only cruelty and violence; the skin on his face is nearly that of a virtual skull, leaving no room for expressions of pain or mercy or sadness. The surprise appearance of Wonder Woman at the end shows how severe the situation has become, as well as how integrated the world Damage has been brought into really is. It shows both a level-up in the challenges the creature must fend off, as well as a possible redemption for him.
Given Diana carries the Lasso of Truth, could roping him help reveal the internal conflict and give Damage, himself, a voice to be heard? Diana is walking into a battle with a monster at face value with no intimate knowledge of her opponent’s story. She is a hardened warrior that never enters a battle without analyzing the situation first. Venditti’s splash of Wonder Woman is a great teaser and her look almost evokes some of Gal Gadot’s debut scene in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a similar-looking shield.
While this was essentially a fight issue, Tony and Robert are having difficulty pulling their character away from feeling too much like DC’s version of Bruce Banner, or even DC’s Bill Bixby version of Banner. While there are numerous characters that evoke that spirit, and characters that came before The Incredible Hulk, they have yet to fully break away from that archetype. Also, how did Wonder Woman get involved? I get the military embroiled in this, but it would have made more sense if she happened to be in the vicinity in civilian guise and got involved.
In spite of small setbacks, this issue was strong and kept the mystery man angle up; it holds the reader as much as the action. The art is strong and the writing is tight, albeit a little fast in a few places. The cover is awesome and doesn’t give too much of the internal plot away.