Coming in March is the second ongoing Image book from Jay Faerber, Dynamo 5. Imagine a world where Earth’s greatest superhero had fathered a bunch of illegitimate super-powered children. That superhero, Captain Dynamo, has been recently murdered and it’s up to Cap’s widow to round up his five illegitimate children to fill the void he left in their world, and to start filling the one he left in their lives. Talk about an awkward family function.
MIKE PHILLIPS: In a business that seems chock full of redundant ideas and slight variations of redundant ideas, Dynamo 5 seems to be a fresh idea. What sparked it?
JAY FAERBER: I really don’t know. It’s an idea I’ve had for a number of years now, always sort of floating there in the back of my mind. I’d start to write a pitch, or jot down notes, and then something would come up, or I wouldn’t be able to find an artist, or whatever. So it took awhile for me to actually put the project together, but I honestly can’t remember when I first had the idea, or what sparked it.
I know it was at least partly in response to the popular super-hero team refrain of “We’re a family!” Practically every super-team out there claims they’re more than a team – they’re a family. So I wanted to invert that, and the result is Dynamo 5 – characters who really are a family, and need to learn how to act like a team.
PHILLIPS: Tell us a little about the main characters.
FAERBER: Maddie Warner is Captain Dynamo’s widow, and she’s responsible for bringing together the Dynamo 5 kids and unlocking their dormant super-powers. She’s a retired investigative journalist, and she’s a real hard-ass. These kids are living, breathing reminders of her husband’s infidelity, but she’s got to swallow that because the kids are the only ones left to protect the city from all of Captain Dynamo’s enemies.
The kids are:
- Scatterbrain, a big, dumb jock who can read minds. He’s used to being the strongest guy in a group, but now he’s physically the weakest. So it’s a real adjustment for him. It’s also an eye-opener to hear what the people in his high school really think about him.
- Visionary inherited all of his father’s vision-related powers – he can see through walls, he can see great distances, at night, etc. He also has a kind of laser vision. He’s a somewhat nerdy 15-year-old – the kind of kid Scatterbrain routinely bullies.
- Slingshot inherited her father’s powers of super-fast flight. She’s a college freshman and a bit of an overachiever. She’s a member of a dozen different campus organizations, and a real save-the-world type. The other Dynamo 5 kids see her as a bit of a suck-up.
- Myriad is the mystery man of the group. Out of the 5 kids, he’s the only one who grew up without a family. The other kids all have mothers and some even have fathers. But Myriad grew up in group homes, and has been on his own for awhile. He has limited shape-shifting abilities which allow him to look like anyone he chooses. This is just a natural extension of his knack for blending in, which was an important skill for him to have during his childhood.
- Scrap is the other female member of the team. She’s a short, skinny girl who possesses her father’s super-strength. She’s a wannabe screenwriter, working crappy jobs in Los Angeles while she tries to get an agent. She’s the oldest member of the team (excuse me – family) and acts sort of like the “big sister” to everyone.
PHILLIPS: You mentioned a little about the childhoods of the Dynamo 5 kids. You mentioned how Myriad grew up without a family. Super powers aside, are you planning on using the Dynamo 5 kids to address how different family structures (single biological mom raising the kid on her own, biological mom in a relationship, etc.) can lead to different types of personalities in the kids.
FAERBER: I don’t know that I’ll be looking at it that directly, but the subject of family is obviously one that’s very close to me, especially the subject of untraditional families — kids being raised by step-parents, single parents, etc. The fact that biology alone doesn’t make a parent is an issue that I think has a lot of potential for exploration, and we’ll see that as these kids try to reconcile the fact that they inherited these great powers from their father, but that shouldn’t necessarily negate the father (or mother) that raised them.
PHILLIPS: If you can divulge, what are some of the ideas for the first few arcs?
FAERBER: Well, issue #1 is the team’s origin story, but it’s not one of those boring origins where they don’t even appear in costume or use their powers until the last few pages. It’s a 28-page story that crams in a complete adventure, as well as the details of how the team came together.
Issue #2 has the team trying to stop the rampage of one of their father’s old enemies, a big reptilian guy called Whiptail. It’s also a mystery story, since the man who becomes Whiptail is currently in an old folks’ home suffering from Alzheimer’s. So the question becomes – is he faking it, and then running around as Whiptail at night? Or has someone else discovered how to transform themselves into this creature?
Issue #3 introduces one of Captain Dynamo’s old allies, whose powers are out of control. So Myriad has to learn how to impersonate the father he never knew, since Cap is the only person this guy will listen to.
Other upcoming stories address the issue of Captain Dynamo’s murder. His murderer was never caught, so the kids are going to make that a priority. They’re also going to find out some things about Maddie they may not like. And they’re going to receive some unwanted attention from F.L.A.G., a government agency charged with overseeing super-humans. And you know how in comics, when a hero dies, it’s pretty common for another hero to take up the dead guy’s name? Well, what if there’s a new Captain Dynamo running around? The Dynamo 5 kids probably wouldn’t like that – and neither would Maddie.
And while all this super-hero action is going on, we’ll also get to know these characters, and see them learn about themselves and each other. They all have their own families, and so it’s a bit of an adjustment for some of them to realize that the man they’ve called “Dad” all these years really isn’t.
PHILLIPS: Will you be writing this book in straight-up superhero-y way, or will you be looking to invert common superhero devices? Perhaps a little of both with some issues Stan Lee-ish and other issues more Alan Moore-ish?
FAERBER: It’ll be a pretty even mix-up between embracing and subverting the super-hero staples. I mean, I’m looking forward to playing around with secret identities and the hi-tech headquarters and the signal watches and all that stuff. But I hope to be able to put a new spin on them, at the same time.
PHILLIPS: Is this final product 100% of the pitch to Image? 99% of the pitch? 90%?
FAERBER: Well, I didn’t really do a formal pitch for this one. I just told the basic concept to Eric Stephenson and Erik Larsen, showed them some of Mahmud’s pages, and we were good to go. The only thing that took a lot of revision was settling on the costume designs. Mahmud [A. Asrar] went through a ton of drafts, with designs in all sorts of styles, before we finally settled on the look we have now.
PHILLIPS: This is an ongoing. Do you plan on sticking with this for the foreseeable future or passing it off to someone else?
FAERBER: I’ll be with this book until the bitter end. I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of these characters, so I don’t imagine getting bored any time soon.
PHILLIPS: How was the artist chosen?
FAERBER: Mahmud A. Asrar was recommended to me by Ryan Ottley, artist of Invincible. I’d seen Mahmud’s work here and there over the years (primarily in the pages of Digital Webbing, a great anthology you should all check out), so I already knew he had talent. But I had no idea the level of talent this guy possesses. Plus, he’s incredibly dedicated and committed to this project. As I write this, he’s already drawn the first two issues, and the book doesn’t even go on sale until March. In addition to the fantastic character designs and storytelling, Mahmud has contributed some great ideas for the book as well. It’s a true collaboration, and I couldn’t be happier.
PHILLIPS: Is there anything else coming out with your name on it in the coming months?
FAERBER: I’ve still got my other monthly Image book, Noble Causes, which is going strong. Issue #26 comes out in January, and then the series gets a new artist with #27 in February. The artist is named Yildiray Cinar, and he’s nothing short of fantastic. He was recommended to me by Mahmud. They’re good friends, so it’s really nice to be working with both of them.
PHILLIPS: Who are some of your writing influences in the comic book industry?
FAERBER: The first comic I really followed was Wolfman & Perez’s New Teen Titans, so they’re both huge influences on me. I was also really influenced by Fabian Nicieza’s New Warriors, Mark Waid’s Flash and Captain America, and Mike Grell’s Jon Sable, Freelance and Green Arrow. Those are the guys at the top of my list.
PHILLIPS: In closing, name some of your favorite bands / solo artists.
FAERBER: Y’know, I rarely listen to music. I’m one of those people who can take a 6-hour car ride and never turn on the radio. I guess I’m just comfortable with the voices in my head. That said, I tend to prefer female vocalists. I really like the Indigo Girls, Diana Krall, and Sheryl Crow, to name three.