Usually, our Retro Review corner is designated for me to show you, the Faithful Spoilerites, comic books and stories past that you may have missed. Sometimes, though, even *I* missed them, which makes for double the fun! Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of The Family Dynamic #1 awaits!
Writer: J. Torres
Penciler: Tim Levins
Inker: Dan Davis
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Adam Schlagman
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.25
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $2.25
Previously in The Family Dynamic: Sometime in the irony-soaked 1990s, someone realized that the Fantastic Four’s powers could be roughly analogous to the four classical elements of earth, water, air and fire. (To my mind, The Invisible Woman is more representations of Aristotle’s fifth element, aether, but that’s a matter of interpretation and not germane to this conversation. Bygones!) It seems like, ever since that became part of the public consciousness, the FF have been hammered more and more intently into roles that don’t always fit them, culminating in the nonsense that was ‘Civil War’ where Reed gave up any ethical notions and Sue literally gave him the Frankenstein “some things are not for man to know” speech. Fortunately, DC Comics was ready to take that nonsense and use it with a family that fit the roles more correctly. We open in a convenience store in the wonderfully-named Storm City, as three teenagers grab some snacks and discuss a recent supervillain incursion…
Pay attention to the mention of “Aunt Maeve.” There will be a quiz later… Brothers Gio and Luca watch their cousin rush off, and Makenzie uses every ounce of her speed and acrobatic skill to make it home, only find them waiting for her, not even out of breath! “No fair! You used your powers!”, she cries, before they enter the house to find their families being attacked by a strange substance. Flashback one month, to a newscast detailing the latest heroic actions by Storm City’s protectors, The Family Dynamic. Teaming up with The Defender (who is totally not Superman, you guys), the group saved thousands from an out-of-control wildfire with their powers, while the breathless announcer wonders if there’s a new super-team in the works!
Most of Family Dynamic #1 features people in normal street-clothes, walking, talking (and eating corn dogs) and the art team is still able makes it a fun, visually engaging and good-looking story. We are treated to the first introductions of Dwayne “Defender” Day and Sloan “Pyralis” Spencer, as well as Sloan’s father, the former Captain Cyclone. There’s a lot of information being given to the reader in these few pages, and I’m really impressed with how conversational and clear it all is, explaining how the new F.D. is following in the footsteps of a previous version of the team and how Pyralis is not just the head of the Family Dynamic, but the actual head of the family…
Dwayne Day isn’t the best reporter in the world, as he lets a lot of questions slide through without follow-ups, such as the origin of the rings that give the heroes power, but he does make some valid points (all of which reveal pertinent information about our story for the careful reader), making The Family Dynamic #1 a key part of the following issues’ story. Noteably, there is some talk of another mysterious hero of Storm City, The Blackbird…
Immediately after the discussion of vigilante Blackbird, Sloan’s sister Maeve bursts in, and all the secret identity issues pop up again. Dwayne is forced to cut the interview short, since they can no longer talk freely, but sharp-eyed Maeve* wonders how he even got to their suburban home, as there’s no car outside or any evidence of his arrival. Things end quickly, but a lot of information is revealed (and also carefully not revealed, so once again, kudos to the writer on that score.) The next day, as Gio and Luca arrive home from school, noted supervillains Tragedy and Tom Foolery attack, and the Sloan family leaps into action, activating their elemental rings…
This page really showcases the REAL hero of this book: Colorist Dave McCaig, who gives us a realistic world full of browns and earth-tones before having the bright four-color heroes arrive without breaking either aesthetic. Impressive stuff. The book ends with Blackbird and her partner Little Wing arriving to assist the family in their battle with the evil mimes, which sets up the real story this team is wanting to tell. I’m actually really disappointed that I didn’t catch this book when it came out, as it’s right in my wheelhouse, fitting perfectly alongside books like Image Comics ‘Noble Causes’, DC’s earlier ‘Relative Heroes’, and, yes, classic Fantastic Four. I especially love how clear and explanatory the art and story end up being, making this a book that could easily be given to young readers, were they into comics… The Family Dynamic #1 is an excellent example of how to do a first issue, successfully introducing us to a new world and a variety of players, giving readers a lot of information without feeling awkward or wordy, and playing with some less-seen aspects of superheroics, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.
*Give yourself bonus points for paying attention if you figured out from the context clues that Aunt Maeve-who-just-started-getting-along-with-dad-again is actually Blackbird and that cousin Makenzie is her sidekick, Little Wing…