Strangers bound by fate and the father they never knew… But their late dad isn’t the only one with secrets. Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Dynamo 5 #1 awaits!
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: Mahmud A. Asrar
Colorist: Ron Riley
Letterer: Charles Pritchett
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $20.00
Previously in Dynamo 5: After breaking in at Marvel Comics, Jay Faerber brought his writing skills to Image Comics with ‘Noble Causes’, a book which combined the superhero and soap opera genres into one really interesting book. That comic debuted Captain Dynamo, a Supermanalogue character who was revealed to be not only incredibly powerful, but kind of a complete jerk, even harassing members of the Noble Family. The not-so-good Captain was a legendary hero with feet of clay, but an astonishing array of super-powers…
Unfortunately, he did not have an immunity to poison, and so was killed by an assassin called Widowmaker. Of course, that doesn’t mean that his home base of Tower City (which I’m certain is an in-joke about Silver AGe publisher Tower Comics and their flagship T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent, Dynamo) has been left without protection. Meet the children of Captain Dynamo!
This issue starts with a bang, an all-out action sequence pitting the Dynamo 5 against
the forces of Cobra a group of paramilitary jerks, each one using one of Captain Dynamo’s abilities, all beautifully rendered by Mahmud Asrar. I especially love the team’s strong guy, Scrap, who is secretly a goth film-school major named Bridget.
Having the cute girl be the team’s bruiser is actually pretty neat, especially when we see that her meathead half-brother, Gage the football star, has been gifted with dad’s telepathic powers, which he has little idea how to use effectively. He can, however, pick fights with Spencer, who has inherited Captain D’s shape-shifting…
With the green suits defeated, the team regroups, revealing that a group of completely untrained, untested super-neophytes aren’t going to suddenly take to the streets, perfectly coordinated, all by the themselves. That’s when we discover someone else that the late Captain Dynamo left behind…
…his wife, Maddie Warner. Maddie’s experience makes her the perfect administrator/coordinator, thinking about things that the hot-blooded twenty-something heroes don’t. Things like “Why are these guys attacking?” “What is their goal?”
And, most importantly, “Weren’t there five of us before?”
Hector, the youngest of the team, has been captured by the agents of The Veil, whose leader, The Superior wants information about Dynamo 5. A few well-placed face-punches later, and Hector is spilling his guts about the team’s origins, telling the bad guy about all of his half-sibs and their abilities. (It’s actually a pretty brilliant way to get in the necessary exposition, showing us each hero’s gimmick, personality and even their real name.) We also learn about how the team was assembled, after Maddie had to go through her deceased spouse’s stuff…
In Captain Dynamo’s Fortress of Dyna-Tude, Maddie discovered not only the usual giant pennies, tyrannosauruses and general trophies, but her husband’s proverbial little black book. Dynamo not only got around, sleeping with seemingly any woman he could, he kept detailed records of his trysts and conquests. Realizing that her husband wasn’t just unfaithful, but had ongoing things with DOZENS of women, Maddie found herself crushed, but realized that the little black book meant she had a chance to do something about the influx of villains into her city.
Hector’s story also provides a lot of TMI about his siblings, including the fact that Spencer, also known as Myriad, has inherited more than just his father’s shape-shifting ability…
This story also gets real about several different comic book tropes, such as the “assemble a team who immediately bond”, as the Dynamo 5-ers treat each other as the near-strangers they are, regardless of parentage. And, of course, when you bring a bunch of attractive young people together, things can get… awkward.
That moment is really cute (especially since Gage isn’t wrong about Bridget’s attractiveness), followed immediately by Maddie exposing them to the radiation that made Captain Dynamo superhuman. Fortunately, before The Superior and his Veil can do anything about the information that he has revealed, the rest of the Dynamo 5 arrive to save Hector (thanks to Gage finally using his telepathy effectively.) With the villains’ base revealed and their leader in custody, Maddie convinces the kids to leave her alone with The Superior.
That’s when the real surprise happens…
Maddie, you see, isn’t just a bereaved Lois Lane, she’s a hardened government double agent, with the strong implication that her relationship with Captain Dynamo began as an assignment, a pretty shocking moment if you’re expecting a traditional comic book. Dynamo 5 #1 is very much aware of the rules of those traditional books, undermining and playing with them willy-nilly, while assembling a well-drawn, strongly defined cast of characters with a great deal of potential, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I still miss this comic, to be honest, as it ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, with a great many potential stories as yet untold, and I still hold out the vague hope that Jay Faerber will return to the Dynamo 5 world again someday…[taq_review]