I like Dynamo 5 or: Ron was right!

Believe me, I say it with some chagrin, but it turns out that my respected and sideburned compatriot Ron Richards was right again. It is no small thing for me to admit this, for there have been many instances in the past where Ron (who is nothing if not a bastion of optimism) tells me of some bit of media using one of the most overused words in his vocabulary: genius. And I’ll smile and nod, and say, “I’ll check that out, sure.” All the while I’m thinking, “you’re the guy who thinks
Beverly Hills, 90210 is truly one of the greatest TV programs of all time. This is a guy who has, maybe, a 15-20% average with me on music. This is a guy who won’t watch The Shield because he “hates that guy from The Commish.” This is a guy who sleeps on a Morrissey pillowcase.

However, I do have to give him credit. When he hits on something, he hits on something. When he loves something, he loves it. They’re not always (usually) for me, but I have long lists of things he introduced me to, and when I pay attention, I can pick out those recommends, and know he’s actually bringing something to the table I’m going to love. I just have to read his optimism. Plus, I am but 1/3 of iFanboy, so it seems that there must be at least a few thousand people out there who think Ron’s got his shit generally together. Those people are very right. This is the guy who brought me The Decemberists, Young Avengers, Stranger Than Fiction, Freaks and Geeks, Local, and a lot of other things I’d have just ignored. 

So, for the past couple years, Ron’s been throwing around a term like “best superhero book out there” regarding Dynamo 5, and I’ve been listening, waiting for my chance to talk about something else, and mostly disregarding him. I’m not sure why. Jay Faerber’s a good guy with a pretty good comics pedigree. He’s been on the video show twice, and was on the very first Talksplode. But I didn’t jump on. Maybe I didn’t want a new title to have to buy, or I didn’t want to have to go back and buy back issues or trades. Maybe I just didn’t like the name. Maybe I’d been burned by so many bad alternative superhero titles over the years that I just didn’t think it would actually be any good. Invincible and Astro City are the exceptions to the rule, and if I’m going to read superheroes, I’ll stick with a known quantity. So these were the reasons why not. But I happened to find myself with a copy of the second trade volume, and I decided to go ahead and buy the first volume, because it was only $10 and I had a light week.

Long story short, Ron was right.

And now to illuminate the reasons why. The short synopsis is that Captain Dynamo was cheating philanderer, and planted his seeds in many places. Following his death, Dynamo’s widow found 5 children he’d fathered, and brought them together into a team, each of the 5 possessing one of his powers. This book is fairly typical. There are basic standard superhero tropes, and the clashings of personality all over the place. There are bad guys, and good guys, and guys about whom you just can’t tell. The thing is, it all works together really well. Sometimes “typical” isn’t so bad when all the pieces fit together so well, such as they do in Dynamo 5. More than anything, it reminds me of the things I used to like about superhero comics, like fun without eye-rolling, and personal drama, plus flying around, looking for bad guys and aliens.

Dynamo 5 reminds me of what would happen if Geoff Johns took over Invincible. For a long time, I’ve said that Johns is surprisingly good, because he’s completely unflashy. He doesn’t try to wow or stun the audience. He just maneuvers the pieces together and builds them up directly and steadfastly, telling great stories. Johns doesn’t try to impress the reader with constantly trying to be clever, and neither does Faerber, who is not considered to be among the pantheon of modern creative geniuses. He came up doing Marvel and DC work years ago, and it must have been under my radar, or before I was reading comics again. People don’t talk about him in the way they talk about Johns, or Robert Kirkman, but after reading Dynamo 5, maybe he deserves another shot. There’s so much elegant, clean world building going on here, that I can’t help but be impressed. I’ve read two trade volumes, and the amount of story, character development, and mystery that’s been woven is nothing short of amazing. The issues flow quickly from one to the next, and this is clearly the work of someone who very much knows what he’s doing. Obviously this isn’t Faerber’s first rodeo, since building up several titles, including the soon-to-finish Noble Causes, which has been around for years. But for whatever reason, he’s not getting another shot at any of the titles over at the big two publishers. Maybe he doesn’t want to do it, but if they’re not paying attention to his work, the readers are the one’s missing out. DC Comics could certainly use a shot in the arm from a guy like Faerber, what with Geoff Johns and Pete Tomasi doing the majority of the heavy lifting over there, while Grant Morrison does what it is he does. 

Jay is getting a chance to play in the Marvel pond a bit, but on a digital only set of stories for the “War of Kings” crossover. That’s a good thing for sure, and I can see Faerber’s style blending nicely with that of Abnett and Lanning, who are doing the majority of the driving for “War of Kings.” But still, why not give the man a real comic book for a little while? What’s with the hesitation? They’re also taking Dynamo 5‘s artist Mahmud Asrar for another “War of Kings” project. It seems that outside of the superhero stories, there’s just no justice in that place! Maybe they consider Faerber part of a bygone age, someone who can’t put the butts in the seats. But if he were to bring the magic he’s casting on Dynamo 5 to some of their flagging characters, I think they might be surprised.

This is as good a time as any to mention the aforementioned Asrar. The guy was born to draw a comic book like this. It’s a little bit classic, and a little bit modern, and a lot of fun. There’s just enough sexy to be fun, but not exploitative or dirty feeling. The characters have distinct looks and the costume design is a lot of fun. The style isn’t much like Ryan Ottley or Cory Walker, but this book reminds me of reading early Invincible. You can’t pin down the artwork as one thing or another, but basically, it just works. A big part of that is that the book isn’t over-colored. What I mean by that is there isn’t too much shading and grading and fake painting going on. It isn’t that “Marvel style” of color, which gets to be too much at times. It’s just good, appropriate colors for the kind of story being told, and it meshes with Asrar’s lines very well. He’ll be a bigger name in the future to be sure.

So here I am, two volumes read in two days. I checked, and there’s no word on a third volume. Issue #20 is out this week, so it’ll be at least a few months more before the next trade is released. The first trade was released in the fall of 2007, and the second was this past summer. Oh, the anticipation! But I’ll be lining up to grab the next volume with all the anticipation I had for new Invincible trades before I switched over to issues, and I’m damn glad for it. But if you want to get in on this, good news! Just last week, issue #0 came out, and it was all of $0.99! Seriously, you’re reading worse comics than this, so give it a shot and drop that other title you’ve been so disappointed in for so long.

So there it is. Sometimes, I should listen to Ron. I’m never going to hear the end of this.



  1. Awesome review.  I know Dynamo 5 was one of the first books I took note of when I started listening to iFanboy, because Ron’s recap of the premise sounded so intriguing, but with one thing and another it got lost in the shuffle.  I’m going to give that issue #0 a shot, though — thanks for the reminder!

    Now the important question: is there really a Morrissey pillowcase, and can we see a picture?

  2. Believe it or not, the art of Dynamo 5 didn’t do it for me. I thought it was servicable and fine at what it did. Just didn’t captivate me. A whole lot of vol. 1 ended up feeling sorta bland at the time I read it as well. Prefered Nobel Causes for whatever reasons much more (which I also read around the same time). Perhaps, I will give vol. 2 of Dynamo 5 a shot.

  3. Great review. This is another book I would’ve never tried if I hadn’t been listening to the podcast. I’m waiting for the next trade to come out (sometime soon, I hope).

    @ Labor – The first two issues or so in the first trade didn’t really grab me either, but it snuck up on me shortly after that. The second volume is better than the first, since it doesn’t need to deliver so much exposition. I’d recommend trying that one before you make up your mind.

  4. I agree – Dynamo 5 is great!

  5. apparently the only good jumping on point is the trade. i piced up the .99 cent issue and that confused me even more. im just gonna get the first two trades because that seems easier.

  6. Yeah, where can I get one of these Morrissey pillowcases?

  7. The evidence that sideburns=right continues to mount (says that guy with sideburns).

  8. I need to read Dynamo 5.  I loved the Noble Causes Archives and can’t wait for the second volume.

  9. I should thank Ron Richards as well. Loved Dynamo 5!

  10. I’ve been praising that book since issue #1!!  Glad you enjoyed it sir, and hope more people give it a shot.  This weeks issue seems to be a one shot and perfect to pick up and try out a full issue.  Amazing art! Fantastic writing!  Whats not to like???

  11. I love Dynamo 5, and I’ve always enjoyed all of Faeber’s independent work, including Noble Causes and Gemini.  He’s a very talented writer, and he does great work with characters and dramatic moments.  As for Asar, he’s one of my favorite artists and he makes reading the book all that more amazing. 

    Dynamo 5 is another example of a book that’s great to read in issues.  It’s got a great letters section and fun back matter, and sometimes there may even be a backup or two. 

    Glad to have Josh on board for the series though.

  12. Crap!  I spelled his name wrong.  Faerber!  There, now I got it.

  13. Welcome to the fold Josh. I also have learned to listen to Ron, but fortunately for me, it was during that gap between D5 vol. 1 and the issue that immediately followed. Much as with Proof, the whole 9.99 Vol. 1 containing every issue up to that point so you don’t miss anything and don’t have to hunt for back issues, is put to great use. Ten bucks to try something out that one of the iFanboys recommends? Sounds like a bargain to me. Good job Image.

  14. It’s kind of weird seeing this article go up today…I literally just bought the second trade last week and enjoyed it a lot.  Faerber obviously has a lot of fun writing it.

  15. thank you ron for dynamo 5 and the sword!

  16. I do want to try this series out, cause the zero issue did nothing for me.

    Although I must admit, this team does feel like Teen Titans v.2 in a lot of ways.

  17. If I was a petty man, I’d gloat – but I’m not and I’m just glad to see that Josh and so many of you have enjoyed it.  Dynamo5 is pretty much close to everything I like about superhero comics so I’m stoked that we have it to read. 

    And trust me, I know it takes alot for Josh to admit that I was right about something..but I think my track record is a bit better than he makes it out to be  😉

  18. I didn’t read this because I don’t want to be spoiled, but I do want to chime in. My trusty comic shop had a 40% off sale this weekend and I went on a mad hunt to find books I hear/see referenced on this site a lot. Essentially: Fear Agent, Noble Causes and Dynamo 5

    On my first run through, I could not find any of the books!  I went to this store’s other location and was able to get the Noble Causes Archives and the first Dynamo 5 trade which was only $10 before the discount. Once I finish my work for this week I’ll be jumping in feet first to two new series. Fear Agent is still elusive. But Dynamo 5 sounds really interesting, and I look forward to reading this once I finish at least the first trade.

    For the curious I also picked up Lucifer Vol. 2, The Umbrella Academy Vol. 1, Preacher Vol. 1, Hellblazer Vol. 1, Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 1, JLA: Earth-2, JSA: The Goldern Age and Doc Samson #23.

  19. I picked up volume one because I fell into Gemini because of the art. I am going to do it in trade, but still it is a really good book, it’s alot of what I wish some of my favorite super hero team comics would be once again, some other creators should take notes. *cough* X men*cough*




  20. There are no spoilers in the article.

  21. i found the first 4 issues at my cbs and I LOVED IT!  puls i got them for 4 dollars total

  22. Ron was totally on this one. I listened early and I’ve not been disappointed since I jumped on about issue 3.

  23. I’m glad Dynamo 5 is getting some much-deserved respect around the iFanboy halls. Being a fan of the series from day one I feel a little like Ron when talking about it to friends, being the lone voice in the wilderness, so to speak. But, your review is right on in every point. Mahmud Asrar is what drew me to the book first, but Faerber’s writing, which is very clear and to the point for a book with so many characters and so much back story, is what kept me issue after issue.

    I actually would rather see him stick to Dynamo 5 and finish up the story he wants to tell here and hope that more coverage and exposure would get more people reading it. It would be nice to see the big two let him run with one of their books, but I kind of want to keep him clear of all that, too. Call me overprotective.

    Great job and a pleasant surprise.

  24. Josh likes me, he really likes me!

     Well, not me personaly, but my colourin’. And I don’t know about like, but he did mention it. So yeah me.

  25. There’s something about "unflashy" writers that makes them very noble in my eyes. Thanks for the article!

  26. I love this series for all of the reasons Josh stated. The first issue came out the same day as Captain America 25 (Death of Steve Rogers) came out, so it was largely ignored that week.

  27. i havent read this review yet. after stack week and the numerous chat about this book i thought why not add it to my stack and bought the first trade. obviously with this review going out i will have to bump the book to the top of my stack. you guys haevnt been wrong yet, guardians, nova, fear agent and proof are all some of my favourite books which i wouldnt have picked up if not for ifanboy. im sure dynamo5 will be another. thanks, ps Josh, i will read this as soon as i have read the trade. promise

  28. @Sammy – There really isn’t a whiff of spoiler in the above article.  There’s a very brief synopsis, and that’s about it.


    @Riley – I do.  I DO like you.

  29. Dynamo5 number 5 maybe…Morrissey pillowcase, you bet!!! Where do I get one?

  30.  i picked an issue of this up. really enjoyed it. it is very good. ill get the trade definetly.

    in fact i liked it so much i decided to give noble causes a go. didnt go so well. i did not like that book.

  31. I didnt like Dynamo5  after the 1st trade & annual.


  32. @josh: just read your article dude and it must hurt to keep admitting ron is right 🙂 really cn’t wait for this book and may crack open the 1st trade tonight. cheers guys keepn up the good work and awesome recomendations

  33. well, maybe you should listen to Ron more often Josh

  34. I just picked up the issue #0 and thought it was great.  Thanks to you and Ron for calling attention to this title.  I’ll definitely be looking for the TPB’s.