Graphic Novel Review by Kerey McKenna
With his iconic blue, red, and yellow costume (bearing a strong resemblance to a certain Man of Steel), the superhero Captain Dynamo fought crime around the world and in his home territory of Tower City for decades. His five signature superpowers—strength, flight, super vision, telepathy, and shapeshifting—not to mention his good looks and natural charisma, made him one of earth’s most powerful and well-respected superheroes. Until the day he died, anyway, in a seedy motel room, most likely while engaged in one of the many clandestine extra-marital affairs he had throughout his career.
Together they form—The Dynamo 5!
With this novel premise and diverse cast, creators Jay Faerber and Mahmud Asrar launch a high-flying adventure that is equal parts bold classic superhero tale and modern deconstruction of the same genre. Unlike some such deconstructionist melodramas, Dynamo 5 does not apologize for being a story about superheroes: the costumes are bold to the point of garish, the greatest threats to the city can be defeated with a sound thrashing, and, most importantly, despite all the danger, this world would be thrilling to inhabit. The deconstruction comes from examining the human element of this world of magic, mad science, and aliens, and playing with standard superhero tropes. The late Captain Dynamo, in public a mighty defender of truth and justice was, in reality a cheating heel and deadbeat father to the children that resulted from his serial indiscretions. His widow, having formerly played the role of damsel in distress, now calls the shots for a team of superheroes. And each of the Dynamo 5 has a distinct personality and interpretation of what it means to be a superhero and the child of a famous father they never knew.
While the dialogue in the first several chapters can be somewhat heavy on exposition, it’s balanced by an engaging plot with lots of twists and turns. It says a lot that while the big two comic book companies attempt to maintain interest in their well-established characters with ever more convoluted reboots, re-imaginings, retcons, and recastings, Dynamo 5 is able to do so much with a completely new cast. Thanks to the great art team and the engaging premise, I couldn’t put down the first volume, Post-Nuclear Family. Then I raced through the next four volumes in the course of a weekend. As far as I can tell, that’s the entire run, although I hope it’s just the entire run available in trade paperback. Volume 1 has a fairly complete story arc so I would highly recommend picking it up to enjoy either as a standalone adventure or as the introduction to a bold world full of potential.
Kerey McKenna is a contributing reviewer to Nerds who Read and SMOF for the annual Watch City Steampunk Festival in Waltham, Massachusetts. Learn more at www.watchcityfestival.com.