SPOILER ALERT: The below article discusses twists and plot points from the first issue of Damage. We suggest reading the issue before continuing the article…
The New Age of DC Heroes is finally here and it's kicking things off with a VERY literal bang with DAMAGE #1 exploding onto the scene this week with all the grace and subtlety of a giant, monstrous wrecking ball. But then again, what else could you expect? His name is also his job description.
Here are the basics. Damage is actually a man named Ethan Avery, a member of the Army who—apparently—volunteered to take part in some sort of experiment that made him into…well, the whole situation you see right on the cover.
It's a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde situation too, because by the look of it, Ethan and Damage are actually two separate (or at least, two independent) consciousnesses living inside Ethan's brain. When Ethan's body is in control, Damage is a voice inside Ethan's head. When the situation is reversed, Ethan is a voice inside of Damage.
Unfortunately, that's about as clear as we can call it for poor Ethan's situation right now. Whatever was done to him, however it was done to him, has left him living his life by a biological ticking clock. When he’s Damage, he’s unbelievably destructive and nearly invincible. But after an hour, he turns back into Ethan and can’t become Damage for another 23 hours, leaving him extremely vulnerable to the forces that are now hunting him.
...Which makes me think that the circumstances of whatever he volunteered for may not have been made all that clear to him when he agreed to them.
Oh, and also? Amanda Waller is involved somewhere in this whole mess.
Yes, that Amanda Waller.
I'm about to ask you to really search your memory here, because not only does Damage #1 bring up some serious potential connections to the Suicide Squad, it also picks up a story thread that was originally seeded all the way back in JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD. Remember that little incident from January of last year?
Here's a quick refresher, if you don’t (and SPOILER ALERT if you still haven’t gotten around to reading it). The League and the Squad wound up having to join forces against Eclipso after a completely deranged Maxwell Lord tried to take over the world by summoning him. In the process, Lord dug up some nasty dirt on Waller's previous attempts at creating a Suicide Squad, specifically a secret original version of the team that she had attempted to keep hidden. But that's not all. At the end of the story, Waller approached a thoroughly defeated and captive Lord to announce to him that he was a perfect candidate for something called "Task Force XI."
And it looks like, one full year later, we're getting a look at ANOTHER similarly named task force—Task Force XL.
Populated by some Suicide Squad standards like Deadshot and Harley Quinn, as well as some new faces (and, uh, ankles) like Solomon Grundy, Parasite and presumably Giganta, Task Force XL, like Task Force XI, is a pretty huge mystery. Where do they operate relative to the Suicide Squad? How are Floyd and Harley on both teams? What makes them different? Who else is in on this? How does Waller keep someone like Parasite in line? Do they have a cool nickname or are they literally just called "Task Force XL?"
But of course, more importantly: What does any of this have to do with poor Ethan?
What’s Waller’s involvement in the Damage project? Obviously, there's something very, very shady going on (there always is when Waller is involved), but the pieces of this particular puzzle have yet to slot together in a way that actually makes sense. One thing is certain, though. There is something major on the horizon for both Damage and the Suicide Squad, but what that might be, and how it might actually pan out? That's really anybody's guess.
We do know, however, that the New Age of DC Heroes is just getting started, and things are only going to get crazier from here on out.