Or – “Say Goodbye To Scrap, Slingshot, Visionary, Scatterbrain and Myriad…  FOREVER!”

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a full review checking in with the kids of Captain Dynamo, collectively known as Dynamo 5, the protectors of Tower City.  In the absence of their deadbeat dad, five young people have banded together to fight against their pop’s old villains, working with his widow and the government agency known as FLAG (The Foundation for Law and Government) as superheroes.  Recent months have seen the team break up, leaving super-strong Scrap alone to form her own new team.  After a brutal battle with some of the most horrible creatures in their father’s rogue’s gallery, the original team is back together again…  Just in time to get blindsided by their half-sister Synergy and her patron, the evil Father Gideon.

Dynamo 5 #25

StD52.jpgory: JAY FAERBER
Art :MAHMUD ASRAR & VARIOUS
Cover: MAHMUD A. ASRAR & RON RILEY

Previously, on Dynamo 5:  The man known as Captain Dynamo had a public face as one of the greatest superheroes in history, vaguely reminiscent of a certain Kryptonian.  Murdered by the woman known as the Widowmaker, Captain Dynamo left behind a legacy of heroism, a very much devastated wife, and any number of illegitimate children from his various indiscretions over the years.  Maddie “Mrs. Dynamo” Warner has assembled five such kids, exposed them to the radiation that gave daddy his powers, and KABLAMMICUS!  You got yourself a hero team.  A little fighty-fighty, some angsty-angsty, and a team breakup later, and Maddie has been kidnapped by Synergy, yet another Cap’n Dynamo offspring, albeit one with ALL his powers in one body.  Irony abounds, however, when we find out that the man pulling her strings, Father Gideon is actually MADDIE’S son from her first marriage, a marriage that she abandoned for Cap himself.  (It does shed a little light on why she’s been so protective of the kids, and why she seemed preternaturally accepting of her late husband’s extracurricular activites.)  Synergy took Maddie’s place with her shapshifting powers, and used a gun of unknown origin to remove the powers of the Dynamo 5, leaving them vulnerable and all-too-human…

With her half-brothers and sisters at her mercy, Synergy entertains herself torturing them, while the not-so-very-good Father G makes with the exposition.  While Syn chokes out the girls, the boys put together a strategy, whispering among themselves.  When Synergy attempts to read their minds, they all project horrible, overwhelming thoughts into what passes for her mind.  Myriad (being half-alien and possessed of chemical superpowers to enhance his Cap’n D. abilities) busts free, allowing Slingshot to use the depowering gun on Scrap.  But when Scrap attempts to punch her sister, she has no effect.  Her super-strength isn’t back.  Of course, immediately after she fires eyebeams like Visionary’s.  For his part, Visionary is being held hostage as a pawn against Maddie, but when Gideon shoots him (!) the bullet bounces off.  “I think I got different powers, too,” he smiles, throwing his attacker halfway through a wall.  The D5 take after Synergy, while Maddie tracks her boy, and we see that all five of the siblings have switched powers.  Scatterbrain has Slingshot’s flight powers, Myriad has Scatterbrain’s telpathy, but Synergy still has ALL the powers at once.  When Synergy threatens to kill Scrap, shock and rage cause Slingshot to transform into a rhino and GORE her at full tilt!  Asrar pulls out all the stops, giving us a nice looking fight scene, as the team uses reverse psychology to make Synergy think Gideon is lying to her…

Synergy flees to find out the truth, and the Dynamo 5 follow, finding mother and son in mortal combat.  Synergy read Gideon’s mind, and realizes that he HAS been lying, and flies away in a rage, while Maddie worries that she is responsible for her son’s bloodthirst and lack of scruples.  Myriad suddenly makes the discovery that hte power-swapping gun is FLAG issued, and we cut to Sandy Colvin, evil agent of FLAG, recruiting the villain called War Chest into a team that he is funding..  She wonders if they’re going to fight the D5, and he smiles cooly.  “Not take them down.  REPLACE them.”  That’s ominous.  The main story ends here, but we’re giving bonus material (it is an anniversary issue, after all) as we watch the kids dealing with their new powers.  Bridget (Scrap) finds herself unable to stop punching things, and rejects her brothers full visor for a much more flattering pair of sunglasses/goggles, and dubs herself “Supervision!”  Hector (Visionary) quickly becomes acclimated to his superhuman power, but has some “little kid what gets picked on” rage to work through, renaming himself “Smasher!”  With his shape-shifting abilities gone, Spencer (Myriad) can no longer pass for human, but uses that to his advantage, becoming a monstrous looking dark avenger of the night called “Wraith!”  Gage (Scatterbrain) can fly just as fast as Slingshot ever did, but has a bit of an issue with stopping.  With a little crash helmet and appropriate armor, he becomes “Ramjet!”  As for Olivia (Slingshot) she finds herself able to turn into virtually any animal she wants, but can’t use the shape-shifting to change her face as her brother did.  She also misses her flight powers (althought Bridget rightfully points out that she can just turn into a bird) and renames herself “Menagerie!”  Each of these short subjects illuminates the characters and their mindsets as they relate to the new powers, and are ineresting to read (especialy Anthony Castrillo, who delivers art that I’d swear was done by John Byrne.)

Overall, this is a good anniversary issue, with a nice showing by Asrar (his last on the book, mind you) and some fun stuff from Jay Faerber with the kids.  The powers have been essentially a MacGuffin thus far, with the characters and their ineractions taking center stage.  While I’m troubled that the “siblings switching powers” routine reminds me of Marvel’s ‘Power Pack’ series from the 80’s, it’s still nicely done overall.  The switching artists do create some varying quality in the solo stories (Bridget’s story in particular making her very unattractive and weirdly anime-inspired) but at least none of the characters physically resembles one another.  I was entertained to see them trade their so-so superhero names for an entirely new set of so-so superhero names, but again, the codenames aren’t really the point, here.  The issue also ends with the difficult announcement that the book will be on hiatus, and probably will be returning as a series of miniseries ala Astro City and Hellboy, making me sad that another favorite series is going to be going off monthly status (see also Agents of Atlas.)  The high concept of “Superman’s bastards sons and daughters” brought this book to the dance, but it’s interesting to see what has kept it there:  offbeat stories and quality drama that somehow still works in a traditional superhero format.  Dynamo 5 #25 is a good’n, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  Here’s hoping that the D5 will be back sooner, rather than later…

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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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