Posted by Don MacPherson on January 5th, 2007
Dynamo 5 #1
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist/Cover artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colors: Ron Riley
Letters: Charles Pritchett
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.50 US/$4.05 CAN
Jay Faerber offers up some new twists on traditional super-hero storytelling with his latest project, Dynamo 5. It boasts all the fun of old-school comics with a slightly dysfunctional, modern quality. The writer wisely brings a darker edge into play by the end of the issue, and that harsh, concluding scene adds some real suspense to the mix. Artist Mahmud Asrar’s work on this accessible, inaugural issue elicits easy and favorable comparisons to the styles of such established industry talents as Mike (Fantastic Four) McKone and Carlos (Superman) Pacheco. The script is thoroughly accessible, which is vital for this book given that there are so many characters dressed alike and driven by the same motivations. Dynamo 5 is full of playful action, entertaining banter and slightly sordid details that will not disappoint.
Captain Dynamo was one of the world’s greatest and most powerful heroes until his death, a demise that didn’t live up to the example of morality he represented to the masses. Reeling from his death and the revelation that he betrayed her, Maddie Warner, the good captain’s widow, discovers her husband had a problem with fidelity, and that meant he had illegitimate children scattered the world over. Maddie brings together five of these young men and women, who are unaware of their heroic heritage. In them, Maddie sees the chance to continue her husband’s life-saving work. With each of them developing one of their father’s various super-powers, they become the Dynamo 5, and one of their first missions pits them against the terrorist hordes of the Veil.
Asrar’s artwork throughout the book is solid. He embraces a traditional super-hero-genre approach, but it never comes off as particularly generic. I’m guessing his own unique style has yet to emerge, but the storytelling is clear and full of energy. Another influence that makes itself known here is the styles of Kevin Nowlan, and there are a number of panels that remind me a great deal of the sort of crisp, clean linework that Yanick Paquette has brought to Terra Obscura and other titles. There’s a slightly sketchy look that arises at times. It can create an impression of inconsistency, but for the most part, it’s limited to scenes featuring Maddie. Given the revelations made about the character in the final scene, that rougher look is actually fitting, so I wonder if it’s purposeful. I’m not entirely taken with the costume designs for the title characters yet, and some of Asrar’s depictions of female characters are stereotypically sexualized. The colors are appropriately bright, given the traditional tone of the art, and there are a couple of nice computer effects to convey the characters’ powers.
The latter part of the book gives way to a slightly darker edge as we get to know what motivates Maddie’s character. When she was introduced, I found her look and demeanor didn’t really suit the maternal role she seemed to fill. The reasons for the slightly harsh qualities in the character are revealed later on, and it’s a satisfying moment. Furthermore, that key revelation brings a different genre into play, setting this predominantly super-hero story into something slightly different. Faerber is clearly bringing together the super-hero team book formula and a Steranko-like S.H.I.E.L.D. vibe, and I’m intrigued by the potential.
Ultimately, Dynamo 5 is a super-hero romp, a book that entertains with action, color and playful banter among the heroic characters. On that level alone, it is a success, and the premise is sufficiently unusual that it doesn’t come off as overly derivative. Characterization and interpersonal dynamics are key elements in any team book, but what sets this one apart is the potential for unusual conflicts given that these five young people are faced with the unknown: family. Faerber wisely acknowledges that these 20-somethings aren’t going to see each other as siblings right away; in other words, the scene in which one of the guys hits on the one of the girls, forgetting for a moment they’re related, is an entertaining and smart one. These characters all now have brothers and sisters they knew nothing about, as well as an awareness of a father they never knew. Therein lies some strong potential for character-revealing moments. 7/10
This comic book is slated for release in March.