Or – “The Ol’ Triple Cross Changeup…”


I’ll say this for Maddie Warner: she’s every bit as formidable as her archetypical forebear, Lois Lane.  Faced with not one but TWO super-powered antagonists, she neither cowered nor begged for her life, instead choosing to level the playing field, turn the tables, and several other cliches that I can’t think of right now.  In a team where the gothy girl is the muscle, the big jocky guy is the telepath, and the type-A team leader girl has the atypical power of supersonic flight, it’s just another example of turning a cliche on it’s head.  With the Dynamo 5 forced to once again face their father’s infidelities, (though in a much more visceral manner than before) we’re all standing knee-deep in garlic butter with nary a lobster in sight…  Whatever that means.

Previously, on Dynamo 5: Even after death, Captain Dynamo is everywhere.  Not only D51.jpghas Maddie Warner assembled 5 of his illegitimate children to act in his stead, the late Captain himself has been sighted over the city, talking down his former sidekick from a nervous breakdown and helping to take out his old villains.  Using her talents as a world-class reporter and former agent of FLAG, Maddie tracks the faux Dynamo down, only to find that “he” is actually Synergy, another illegitimate child.  But in a fit of perverse irony, the mother is none other than arch-villain Chrysalis.  Augie Ford, still an active FLAG agent, is unable to convince his bosses that the kids mean well, and they send out their stormtroopers to capture the kids of D5.  They’re only 80% successful, though, as Slingshot gets away, teams up with Augie himself, and brazenly walks in the front door of FLAG headquarters, only to find herself betrayed by an ambitioous Augie.  As for Maddie, faced with her husband’s greatest nemesis and a kid who has all his powers, she breaks out her trump card, injecting herself with a mysterious serum she keeps in her jacket for just such an emergency.


Rule #1, Synergy: Fight, don’t talk.  Mrs. Warner starts cracking skulls, while Slingshot deals with being backstabbed by Agent Ford.  The boss is stunned to see that he’s brought in the last member of the D5, while Slingshot curses him out.  But, thankfully for those of us who love Augie and hated to see him turn into an ineffectual middle-management suckup, not all is as dark as it seems…


Didn’t teach you how to take a clean right cross to the jaw at Harvard, did they, Neidermeyer?  Couldn’ta happened to a nicer guy.  Augie and Olivia (Slingshot) gather her teammates, and Augie wonders how they’re gonna pull off a mass escape without getting noticed.  That’s where Slingshot comes in: triggering Scrap’s teleporter, the five heroes (plus Augie) leap through a warp pipe back to the underground aquarium headquarters of the Dynamo 5.  Augie is non-plussed, but immediately notices something is up…  “What’s with all the red lights?”


Meanwhile, downtown, “Captain Dynamo” and Chrysalis duke it out with “Whiptail,” only to find some party-crashers want to join the dance, too.  “‘Dynamo 5, Look Alive!” cries Visionary, only to have Scatterbrain give him the business.  “What the hell does that mean?”  “I thought we needed a war-cry,” replies Visionary, but Scatterbrain doesn’t agree.  “If we DID, it sure wouldn’t be that.”  Choosing the devil they know, the kids attack the two known villains, Chrysalis and Whiptail…


A quick brainscan by Gage (Scatterbrain) reveals the truth.  “Guys, that’s not–” he starts, before taking a shot of heat vision in the face.  Synergy gives up on her pretense, smacking down Visionary and Scatterbrain in seconds, while Slingshot and Scrap try to stop Whiptail.  Slingshot distracts the lizard, while super-strong Scrap leaps in and wraps her arms around the creatures throat.  Squeezing with all her might, Scrap holds on until the creature goes down…


I can’t decide whether I love or hate that “choke the lizard” joke, but I won’t hold it against them.  Augie pulls Maddie out of the line of fire, hoping that her transformation protected her against permanent injury.  Myriad transforms into a duplicate of Chrysalis, and almost fools Synergy into standing down, but her telepathy tells her the truth.  “Oh, my god, you’re not even–” Not even what?  What isn’t he?  Dammit, don’t make this another one of those “wait-a-year-to-find-out-Grace-is-an-Amazon” things!  Before Chrysalis can finish, Visionary locks eyes with her, and the battle of heat vision begins…


Well, alright Hector!  Overpowering Synergy for a second, he is taken out by a returning Chrysalis, who is in return tackled by Scatterbrain.  She mocks them, saying that their shapeshifting and mind-reading powers aren’t any good in a fight, but Gage proves her wrong by grabbing a stray thought out of her head.  “Tell me something…  Do you wear that armor so people can’t see how ugly you are?  I mean, that’s what you’re afraid of, right?  That you’re losing your looks?  You don’t turn as many heads when you walk down the street these days, do you?”  Wow…  That’s absolute tactical brilliance, Gage.  Mess with her head until she can’t shoot straight.  Speaking of which…


Slingshot takes off, straight up at full power, mocking “And who said I was trying to outrun you?”  Synergy reaches the rooftop and is poleaxed by a three-ton girder swung by Scrap.  Unfortunately, they’re pretty equally matched, and Synergy’s invulnerability is comparable to Scrap’s own.  Grabbing her half sister by the waist, Synergy flies back down, smashing the two of them through the pavement and into the subway, kicking Scrap hard to keep her down.  Suddenly, her mom is there again, but Synergy has already seen through this trap…


…except it isn’t a trap, and Synergy’s a moron.  With every ounce of power she has left, Scrap smashes a piece of pavement across Synergy’s skull, leaving both of the villains flat on the ground.  Augie, Maddie, and the rest of the kids gather, and Maddie comes up with a plan to keep Synergy out of trouble.  “Gage is going to wiper her mind clean, so she has no memory of her mother, her powers, even her own identity.”  Oh, my…  That’s hardcore, there, Lois.  He argues with her, but she reminds him he’s already done it once, with Voltage, and he points out that attempt left in unconscious…  Maddie gives the order, and Scatterbrain obeys, falling unconscious himself…


Collateral damage much, Maddie?  Still, I can’t blame her for her actions, as heinous as they may be.  Synergy is as powerful as Captain Dynamo himself, and she’s been brainwashed by an evil parent into a life of crime.  Maybe this will give her a fresh start on things.  As for Augie, he manages to make amends for punching out his boss, blaming it all on Myriad (nice use of a shape-shifter defense) and filling in the blanks.  Chrysalis came clean on nearly everything, save for two questions: the whereabouts of her daughter (which we and Augie know full well) and the whereabouts of Cap’s body.  Chrysalis swears she DIDN’T bust open the gravesite, but Augie’s boss doesn’t think this is a big deal…


Yep.  That costume is still ugly.  We cliffhang there, with the Dynamo 5 down to 4, Augie lying to cover their actions, Maddie recovering from her first super-fight, and Captain Dynamo in a navy blue banana hammock.  This issue gives us a nice resolution to the whole “Chrysalis Affair” (nice use of the double-meaning there, as well) even setting up three or four future plotlines in so doing.  It’s a nice piece of work, with a simple (yet not simplistic) story, and writer Jay Faerber gives every character at least one decent moment in the sun, even allowing them to lie and manipulate one another within the framework of the overall plot.  Very cool…

Mahmud Asrar’s art is still among my fave-raves, (if Mike Allred weren’t back on the block, he’d be my favorite Image artist right now) handling costumed fight scenes and people in suits sitting and talking with equal flair.  His thick outline reminds me of Mike Oeming and Stuart Immonen, both of whom I enjoy greatly, and his women manage to be attractive without the excesses of anatomy you find in certain big-name artists coughMikeDeodatocough.  Dynamo 5 #7 is another quality issue in a series of them, and rates an impressive 4 out of 5 stars.  “Strangers Bound By Fate And A Father They Never Knew” is the kind of ‘high-concept’ pitch that Marvel keeps trying to give us with higher-profile books like The Order and The Loners, but here it’s used to it’s full potential, and it’s darned entertaining to boot…


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Maximus Rift
    September 24, 2007 at 9:50 pm — Reply

    You know, this is really better than most of the books by the big 2 companies.

    Also, the whole Myriad plot can go 2 ways: He’s not human; making his mother an alien or he’s not a “he”, making him a girl. Either one is fine by me.

  2. Thatguy
    September 26, 2007 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    I’m kinda curious. Does Myriad know his mom? If not, how’d Mattie find him?

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