PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


What You've Done: Damaged #1

Drawn-Out Justice: The story of Frank and Henry isn't simply the sundering of a decades-long friendship. Instead writer David Lapham scripts a battle of differing ideologies.

David Lapham writes with brio, crafting the story of two brothers committed to two opposing views; one to law, and the other to justice. Download your free preview exclusively at the end of this review.

Damaged #1

Publisher: Radical
Length: 22 pages
Writer: David Lapham, Leonardo Manco
Price: $3.99
Publication Date: 2011-08

Is there any way to watch X-Men: First Class and not feel betrayed? Maybe not so much betrayed, but cheapened. We were promised something with First Class. Not just a top notch movie (and to a certain degree the movie did just fine as a Cold War era political thriller), but something transformative.

We were promised a long hard look at how Charles Xavier turned his back on childish things to become the sober, dedicated man of peace we recognize from the earlier X-Men films. We were promised the story of Erik Lensher letting go of his anger and his pain to become the powerful protector of mutant rights that is Magneto. We were promised the sight of how the ernest friendship between these two powerful forces, became the very cause of fixing them in their opposing views.

X-Men: First Class was supposed to be the battle for ideas.

And watching the wooden back-and-forth between James MacAvoy's onscreen Professor X and Michael Fassbender's Magneto, over a tedious game of chess leaves you cold. There's little in X-Men: First Class to save you from feeling cheapened.

But what would a battle of wills and a battle of ideologies really look like?

Coming this August, Radical Publishing's partnership with Sam Worthington's movie production company Full Clip offers one of the most thoughtful and severe battle of not just wills, but of ideologies. Written by crime genius David Lapham (who defined the genre with his creator-owned series Stray Bullets) and drawn by the phenom that is Leonardo Manco, Damaged shows opposing views can grow in the rich and fertile soil of brotherly love.

Damaged is the story of Frank and Henry, separated some 40 years ago. Henry has become a vigilante, mercilessly gunning down those people who deserve judgment in the eyes of justice. Frank has remained in the San Francisco police department, dedicating his life to undoing the corruption that runs rampant through the city. And both men have decades of doing things their way.

Lapham writes with a brio seldom seen. There's an energy to his writing that captures perfectly the mood of these two men. The book's first 18 panels are wordless, showing the fierce dedication and sober forethought that Henry has used to keep himself alive all these long years. Henry will walk into a bar and be the only one to walk out again. Finding the drama in such mundane violence -- and communicating it wordlessly to the reader -- is what signals Lapham as being very much at the top of his game.

If Henry's introduction is impressive -- Lapham's sheer skill ensures that it is -- then Frank's is even more so. Initially we come to hear of Frank secondhand. He's washed up, a has-been who's been riding on the coattails of the one good bust he made decades ago. Instead we're embedded with the young up-and-comer Jack Cassidy who is being offered Frank's job by the Captain, the Chief and the Mayor.

Lapham leaves just enough in the scene to make sure it doesn't ring true. And when we finally meet Frank hiding out at McGee's Diner, the years of disillusion rages almost uncontrollably for him and us both. However, Damaged isn't simply about the differing points of view that the two brothers take; one vigilante and the other lawman. It's about the relationship between the two, and the damage that's done, one to other, in the name of brotherhood.

With unifying events in the nation's recent history, the question of ideology has never been more important than now. Whose will be done? Can we live together? Or will the idea of Union need to come undone? Brothers Michael and John Schwarz, creators of Damaged, have raised the idea in a cogent and topical way.

There's no way that Damaged doesn't succeed. It seems weighty, lofty, aspirational. It feels exactly like all of the last decade: like the debates around how to resolve the financial crisis of 2008 and its causes, like finally delivering justice to Bin Laden. Damaged succeeds because Lapham has sufficient insight to construct a drama of resilience and self-determination coming into conflict with reliance and cooperation. And this drama succeeds because it feels exactly like the ongoing drama of being American.

* * *

PopMatters is proud to present an exclusive 8-page preview of the sleeper hit of the Fall. Be the first to get your hands on artist Leonardo Manco's beautifully prosaic visual storytelling and writer David Lapham's blistering pacing. Download and share your copy here.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.