Sunday, March 1, 2009

All in the Family

By Chris Buchner

I get a lot of comics each week, and with prices being what they are I get very hesitant to try out a lot of books that are priced over $3. Unfortunately, most independents end up in that range, but sometimes all it takes is a preview of what there is to get you to ignore that tag for a good story. That was the case for me with Dynamo 5. I had heard good things about the series, but the $3.50 per issue price for a property I wasn’t familiar with seemed like a lot to go on with faith alone. If it wasn’t for a colleague of mine brining a couple issues to our meetings, I would’ve ended up missing out on a great series.

Dynamo 5 is a superhero book created by Jay Faerber and Mahmud A. Asrar released through Image Comics. The book was spun off from Faerber’s other series Noble Causes, but is more action-driven than soap operatic and can be read without any prior knowledge of the other series. Spawning from a conversation Faerber had with editor Andy Helfer about how the Teen Titans were unique in that they were like a family, Faerber decided to run with that and create a team that was literally a family.

Captain Dynamo was the beloved protector of Tower City for 40 years after being exposed to an unidentified form of radiation that gave him his powers. However, Dynamo was far from being a Superman as he had a tendency to cheat on his wife, Maddie Warner, a former agent of the superhuman monitoring organization known as F.L.A.G. who posed as an award-winning investigative journalist. Dynamo was found naked and killed by poison in a hotel by a villain named Widowmaker. It was after his death Maddie learned about his infidelities, but there was the more pressing concern of who would protect Tower City.

Going through the information she found, Maddie was able to track down 5 of his possible illegitimate children. Bringing them together, she exposed them all to the same radiation that gave Dynamo his powers, giving them each one of his five powers, turning them into Dynamo 5:

Hector Chang, aka Visionary, is an intellectually curious 15-year-old geek from Canada who lives with his mother. He gains Dyanmo’s vision powers, which include lasers, x-ray and telescopic.

Spencer Bridges, aka Myriad, is half-human and half-alien, conceived when Dynamo visited an alien woman’s planet. He was brought to Earth for Dynamo to raise, but was left in custody of F.L.A.G. until he was smuggled out by a woman named Bridges and spent the rest of his childhood in a series of foster homes. He grew into an opportunistic womanizer, who only joined the team because Maddie paid him. He has the ability to shapeshift.

Bridget Flynn, aka Scrap, is a NYU Film School graduate whose Hollywood aspirations hit a dead end, leaving her selling tickets at a movie theater in LA where Maddie found her. She gain’s Dynamo’s super strength.

Gage Reinhart, aka Scatterbrain, is an Eastbridge, Texas high school football star and is the typical popular, arrogant jock. He gained Dynamo’s power of telepathy.

Olivia Lewis, aka Slingshot, is the daughter of a high-priced Washington, DC lawyer who attends Georgetown University where she volunteers for half a dozen different organizations. She gains Dynamo’s power of flight.

Together, they protect Tower City from their undersea base, the Aquarium, while still trying to maintain some semblance of their normal lives in their home towns.

The series has that old-school flair of long-running subplots, but each issue is divided into a singular adventure with one or two exceptions. Faerber makes each story as character-driven as it is defined by action, presenting that perfect blend that makes you care about the characters. Asrar is also a capable artist, his work looking fantastic on the book and a lot of the character designs inspired. It’s not easy to create a new superhero, let alone a team, in a market full of them that are worth a look, but if you like old-school superheroics but not all the dialogue they were crammed with, this is definitely a book you should check out.

The first 20 issues and an annual have already been released, as well as a $.99 cent 12-page #0 issue in February, a good jumping on point for new readers. Two trade paperback collections have also been released, Post-Nuclear Family and Moments of Truth.

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