Launching as part of DC's New Age of Heroes banner, Damage centers on a young man who is transformed into a super-powered monster, who lets loose for an hour a day while trying to control his worst impulses and be a force for good in the world.
“Ethan Avery is a guy named Damage,” Venditti told ComicBook.com. “He lives in this world just like all of us. He wants to find a way to leave his mark, and in a world where there’s heroes flying overhead, how does a regular guy even make a difference anymore? He’s in the military and he volunteers for a program thinking he’s going to come out a hero, but instead comes out a monster, and he hates what has happened to him and now he just wants to be left alone, so he’s trying to hide out, but the people that created him want him back because he’s a very valuable asset. He’s trying to stay ahead of the people that are hunting him, and in doing so, he interacts with a lot of the forgotten or overlooked aspects of society and ends up becoming the hero that he intended to be, but he doesn’t realize that he’s becoming that.”
There is not, despite the name, any connection to Grant Emerson, the character known as Damage who played a significant role in the Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time crossover and subsequently headlined his own well-publicized series launch in th e'90s.
“It’s a different Damage,” Daniel said when asked.
“I’m not familiar too much with the original Damage but this is all new characters, new concepts, not related to the original Damage at all,” Venditti said. “It’s just the perfect name and the perfect title for what the series is about thematically, so that’s why DC wanted to go with that.”
“The high concept of Damage and the character is something that I talked to Dan [DiDio] about a year or more ago,” Venditti added. “It was a project that didn’t really work out for various reasons, but when they started to do the New Age of Heroes, he came back to me.”
The character's look is monstrous, bringing to mind characters like The Hulk, Man-Thing, and DC's own Loose Cannon more than a traditional superhero. Daniel cites a concept familiar to Marvel readers as something of an inspiration to his design.
“I wanted it to look organic,” Daniel said of the character design. “I gave him sort of a symbiotic, weird stuff that’s on his body that maybe sometimes moves around a little bit and maybe looks different from one panel to the next….I wanted it to be organic and really cool and fun.”
It was easier for him to manage the design becuase the story was not fully realized before Daniel was brought in as the artist. While Venditti conceived the idea, he said that DC specifically asked for a short, general outline.
“They wanted the original document to be very brief so I’m not getting too far down the track before the artist,” Venditti said. “They really wanted it to be something that we build together.”
Presumably included in that outline: Damage's ties to the larger DC Universe, and how he fits in. The heroes and villains of the New Age of Heroes books are spinning out of Metal, and like the dark multiverse it seems that the logic is not that they were created by this story but that they have been around for years without anyone noticing.
“What we’ve worked really hard to do is even though it is a new property, and that is really hard, we’re integrating this from day one right into the wider DCU, so you’re going to see a lot of those familiar characters that you know,” Venditti said. “And even though we as readers are seeing Damage’s story for the first time, it’s clear that Damage has been around for a while and we’re just finding out about it now.”
“I would say that there’s definitely a similarity between what we are doing in Damage and Metal, but that was the idea all along, for me,” Venditti added. “I’m here at DC, I love those characters, and I want to do something new. If you think of it as a wall, and Superman’s on that wall and Superman’s on that wall, we’re getting to put a new brick on that wall — but I want it to be on the wall....I don't know that I would have wanted to do it without wanting to do that.”
Damage #1 is on the stands January 17. You can pre-order a copy with your local comics retailer or find a digital version for pre-order on ComiXology.