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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dynamo 5. Volume 1: Post Nuclear Family. Jay Faerber(Writer), Mahmud A. Asrar(Art),Ron Riley(Colours),Charles Pritchett(Letters). Image Comics (2009)

Fresh, crisp and unexpected, a superhero comic that avoids the usual cliches and is gripping and engaging. Captain Dynamo was a multi-powered superhero, protector of Tower city and deeply unfaithful husband. After his death his wife, Maddie discovered that he had fathered five children with other women and that after his death his enemies were treating Tower City as wide open for business. Maddie locates the five children and releases one each of the Captain's powers in each of them creating the Dynamo 5 team to protect Tower city. The problems of having a bunch of teenagers who do not know each other, have superpowers and need to work together to defeat enemies considerably more experienced than they are is the heart of the story. Adding in the fact that Maddie clearly has an agenda she is not sharing and a very unhappy law enforcement agency to the mix creates a great context for the super heroics.
Jay Faerber has taken a very clever idea and done something rather wonderful with it, he has developed it into a gripping and unexpected narrative that does not cheat on the big action nor on developing the cast beyond their costumes. The team feel fresh and raw, uncertain not only because of their new powers but because they are teenagers who have had their identities shaken up in a fundamental way. They are not given a chance to cope with the revelation that they are not who they think they are before they have to trust their lives to equally uncertain strangers and a rather dangerous mother figure. The cast have a real depth and heft as individuals, the mix between their civilian and costumed lives is pitch perfect. All of this is then placed in a superbly wrought plot context drives the action in a very natural way while neatly suggesting bigger stories going on in the background.
The art by Mahmud A. Asrar is flowing and graceful, it captures the dynamism of the super heroics without ever being too super heroic. The cast look like humans in motion, the costumes avoid the sleazy coyness rife in comics and settles for costumes teenagers could possibly wear. The cast are wonderfully expressive , their faces and bodies are eloquent and they occupy the physical spaces they are in naturally and comfortably. The quieter moments are given as much care and attention as the wonderfully staged action sequences. The art brings out all the dimensions in the story. Smart superhero comics, a pleasure.

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