DAMAGE #4 by Cary Nord, Robert Venditti, Tomeu Morey, and Tom Napolitano is the start of a new storyline “Unnatural Disaster.” Continuing from where we left off, our hero — Ethan Avery (AKA Damage) — is on the run from the government. He’s trying to lie low, but ends up in the middle of a fight between innocent people and Poison Ivy!

DAMAGE #4
DAMAGE #4 page #1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Laying Low In DAMAGE #4

The issue begins with Poison Ivy attacking a sugarcane field some migrant workers were harvesting. Ivy is upset that they’re killing plants and intends to stop them at any cost. Meanwhile, Ethan has stowed away on a truck, trying to escape his government pursuers. At this point, we flashback to Ethan first becoming Damage, getting a clearer insight into what happened on that fateful day. Back in the present day, Ethan is eventually discovered but makes friends with the workers also headed to the sugarcane fields. As a result, Ethan ends up right in the middle of Ivy and the workers as chaos ensues. Equally important, we also see Ethan’s pursuers and get to know them a little better as they’re hot on his trail!

DAMAGE #4
DAMAGE #4 page #2 & #3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Rocky Roads

DAMAGE #4 is a fine issue. In itself, there’s not too much to pick apart. The story is clear, we get a little more background on the main character, as well as a clearer sense of the stakes. Unfortunately, when comparing this issue to previous installments, it’s a little rough around the edges.

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For instance, we see the threat Poison Ivy poses to the workers just trying to make a living. She uses her plant manipulation powers to destroy machinery and change the landscape into a lush forest. When Damage enters the fray, he’s quickly overtaken by the same plants. Keep in mind, however, this is the same character who battled Wonder Woman in the previous issue. Wonder Woman is arguably one of the strongest characters in the DCU and a fierce warrior. So Damage can fight her for an hour but vegetation stops him in only a few minutes? The power levels between Ivy and Wonder Woman don’t exactly match.

Secondly, Venditti uses a slavery metaphor to convey Ivy’s justification for trying to save the sugarcane fields. It’s a bold choice, to say the least. While I understand the opening monologue might give readers who aren’t knowledgeable about Ivy a better sense of her unique perspective, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a little too much.

DAMAGE #4
DAMAGE #4 page #4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Character Design

The hunters that are following Ethan seem interesting, each with their own unique set of powers. One of which possesses extremely enhanced senses, a fun spin on the “hunter” archetype typically found in comic books. We still don’t get too much characterization on Ethan himself sadly, as Damage seems to have more of a personality than his host does. I’d like to know why this soldier was a candidate for that super-soldier experiment. He doesn’t seem to possess any outstanding features except for being generally nice and somewhat capable. I hope further issues develop Ethan and actually give us a reason to care about him.

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Illustrating Damage

Cary Nord is the illustrator in this issue, replacing Tony S. Daniels. I’m a little disappointed that Daniels didn’t draw this installment since one of the hooks of the “New Age Of Heroes” line seems to be having artist consistently affiliated with these titles. Still, Nord does a good job. He handles the splash pages perfectly, with Ivy’s first attack and the birth of Damage being two highlights. His art style is similar to Daniels as well, so long time readers shouldn’t feel too distracted by the change. My only complaint is that some of his characters don’t feel fully fleshed out, especially the metal-faced gentleman that’s part of the group following Ethan.

Until Next Time

Despite my concerns, DAMAGE #4 is a fine issue. It has sympathetic characters, an interesting villain, and good art. Damage fighting Poison Ivy while trying to protect innocents is exciting. We learn more about Damage and his pursuers. By itself, it’s serviceable and worth picking up. Only when compared to the previous issue does it begin to show its worrying flaws.

Ethan Avery versus Mother Nature!
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
DAMAGE #4 is a solid issue. There are some concerns when compared to the previous installments; however, it's still a fun read all around.
80 %
Great Splash Pages!

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