SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Damage #1 by Tony S. Daniel, Robert Venditti, Danny Miki, Tomeu Morey and Tom Napolitano, on sale now.
Damage has a lot to live up to, not just as a the debut of a brand new character, but as the vanguard of the larger New Age of DC Heroes initiative. Damage -- the character and the comic -- is going to be looked at to set the tone for the initiative's new heroes and villains, and how they fit into the larger DC Universe. And while the first issue manages to serve as an introduction to the brand new character and concept, its cliffhanger introduces a new take on a classic DC super-team that was first teased almost exactly a year ago.
One Hour Of Power
The concept here isn’t the most original, so the new series is going to have to rely on its execution in order to capture the interest of discerning readers. Damage is the latest in a long-line of body-transforming characters that stretches back to The Hulk and further, to Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. The one hour time limit is a throwback to the Justice Society of America’s Hourman — and more recently, Marvel's new Red Hulk — and he isn’t even the first DC character to be called Damage. The most captivating aspect of the issue is in what it doesn’t tell you, hinting at a much larger story than we’re presented, then it hits you with the last page reveal that changes everything.
The issue introduces new characters who are somehow related to the creation of Damage, such as Colonel Marie Jonas who seems to be in charge of the project which turned Ethan Avery into a walking time bomb, and Lt. John Rowe, a rival jealous he wasn’t selected for the procedure. However, while much of the issue could take place in its own world, the final page plants the action firmly within the DC Universe in a big way by bringing in Amanda Waller and her new team, Task Force XI.
The Eleventh Hour
Task Force XI features Suicide Squad mainstays such as Deadshot and Harley Quinn alongside newcomers Parasite, Giganta and Solomon Grundy. That the X in Task Force X is a ten and not just an "X" isn’t entirely new; it harkens back to Grant Morrison’s reveal that Wolverine’s designation as Weapon X was similarly numerical. Task Force XI, then, seems to be reserved for heavier hitters than the normal Suicide Squad; Parasite is known for going toe-to-toe with Superman, for example, while the same can be said about Giganta's clashes with Wonder Woman. Together on a team, they represent the biggest guns which Amanda Waller can manage, but what’s more interesting than that, and even more interesting than who the unidentified member might be, is who isn’t on the roster.
While this is the first we’ve seen of Task Force XI, it isn’t the first we’ve heard of it. Amanda Waller first name-dropped it last year at the end of Justice League vs Suicide Squad when she told Maxwell Lord that he’d be joining the team. In the intervening year, it seemed like maybe that was a dropped plotline, but now it appears it could be a major factor, not just for Damage but for The New Age of DC Heroes going forward.
Somehow, Maxwell Lord seems to remember the pre-Flashpoint timeline and was working out of the ruins of the Checkmate castle — complete with smashed monitor from when he shot Ted Kord. The involvement of Task Force XI is about way more than a new Suicide Squad team, and with a single issue, Damage has become an important title to keep an eye on for clues about the past and future of the DC Universe.