Friday, June 6, 2014

Damage #8

Fragments Part One: Boom Baby

Tom Joyner – Story
Bill Mariman – Pencils
Dan Hillsman & Ande Parks – Inks
Bob Pinaha – Letters
Buzz Setzer – Colors
Jim Spivey – Pickin' up the pieces

The cover is by Bill Mariman and Tom McWeeney, with colors by Steve Mattsson. Cover design and edits by Curtis King and John Wren, with kibitzing by Spivey. I've never seen such a detailed list of cover credits. But this is a rather neat concept — each part of this Fragments story gets a puzzle piece, and each subsequent cover adds a piece. This month's puzzle piece shows Damage and Wyldheart — two rather obscure characters. In fact, I wouldn't know anything about Damage if it weren't for New Titans. And in the corner is an even more obscure character named Iron Munro, who got a very small backup story in this issue.

At the end of this issue, there's a note saying this story happens after New Titans #119, which was still a couple of months away when this came out. It would have been really nice to have had an editor's note at the beginning of this issue, or, even better, it would have been great to have had this whole story delayed a couple of months. But the Damage series didn't last too long, and they were probably in a rush to get out the story they wanted.

So apparently after New Titans #119, Psimon has been defeated, and Arsenal and Damage have gotten into a huge fight. Finally, young Grant Emerson has had enough and decides to leave.

Impulse is the most worried to see Grant leave, and he runs circles around him, saying the Titans need him. But Grant is quite upset, and he actually tries to hit Bart, who says, "I thought you were my friend!" This calms Grant down a bit, and he admits that he's only mad at Arsenal, and he's not really leaving the team — just taking a break. And the first thing Grant wants to do is track down his real parents.

And so Damage launches off on his own adventure that doesn't involve Impulse, so here are the highlights. Grant has several leads to check out, starting with the Wahrman family — a bunch of evil mad scientists and their adopted daughter, Wyldheart, who is good. These are all people I don't know or care about, but technology from New Genesis is involved, and Steppenwolf, Darkseid's top hunter, gets involved. During the fight, Damage comes dangerously close to exploding, but the all-powerful Mother Box mysteriously zooms into Damage's hands to siphon off his extra energy. Ultimately, Damage and Wyldheart beat the bad guys, and Wyldheart offers to take Damage with her to New Genesis to try to figure out his past. But Damage declines, choosing instead to continue down his list of names, which includes his "uncle," Doctor Polaris — a notable villain with the power of magnetism.

Backup story:

The Phantom Imperative Part One

Story: Tom Joyner
Pencils: Jason Armstrong
Inks: Andrew Pepoy
Letters: Bob Pinaha
Colors: Buzz Setzer
Edits: Jim Spivey

I don't know who Iron Munro is — I guess he played a big role in earlier Damage issues — but in this  four-page story, he is attacked in his dreams by a villain named Kodrescu. Apparently he also kidnapped Munro's girlfriend, the Phantom Lady, but I'm pretty sure there were several Phantom Ladies out there, and I don't have the interest to look it up. There's no Impulse here, so I don't care.

This was an odd, interesting issue. Tom Joyner seems to be working with some big ideas, but doesn't have the room to let them grow. And it can't help that Bill Mariman's art is rather substandard. But the biggest problem with this book is the character Damage himself. He's a very moody and emotional teenager, which is good and realistic in stretches, but we don't see enough of Grant's good side to make him a likable character. There's also a fine balance with managing ongoing mysteries like this. We need to have a big enough mystery to keep us invested for the long haul, but we also need to have some clues and answers along the way to prevent us from getting discouraged. There weren't any clues or answers in this issue, just a dead-end, one-shot adventure that ultimately had no bearing on Grant's mysterious past. I think these are some of the reasons why this book and character ultimately failed.

But I did like the little bit of Impulse we had here. It was very natural for him to be the most concerned about Grant leaving — he is probably Bart's best friend on the team. And Joyner perfectly captured Impulse's almost child-like response to Grant trying to hit him. I just wish Mariman had drawn him better ...

None of the letters mention Impulse, so I'll go right ahead to the few ads we haven't seen yet.

Bon Jovi Cross Road. 11 of Bon Jovi's greatest hits plus 3 new tracks including the remake "Prayer '94" and the new hit single "Always." I actually have this album on my iTunes — not as a Mercury Cassette, Compact Disc or DCC as this ad says. I don't quite care for "Prayer '94" or "Always," but I do like "Wanted Dead or Alive," "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Blaze of Glory" and "Runaway."

Sylvester and Tweety in Cagey Capers for Sega Genesis.

The Big Book of Urban Legends. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it's true ... I think.

The DC Universe page shows what an inker does. They give us the original pencils of a Batman panel, then three different inkers' take on the same panel. It was kind of neat to see how much an inker can change or add to a penciled image.

Vertigo Trading Cards. The Sandman Trading Cards were just the beginning.

Well, that's it for comics with the cover date of December 1994. For next time, I think it'll be nice to do a little retrospective on the year 1994 as a whole to see what else was going on in the outside world and rank the best Impulse stories of the year.

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