- Posted by Johanna on June 16, 2008 at 7:28 am
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- PUBLISHER: DC Comics
The idea of a family of superheroes isn’t new. Look at the Incredibles or the Fantastic Four for successful examples. There’s something about the idea of a team of heroes brought together by more than a common love of justice (and a willingness to bust heads) that’s appealing. And it gives the characters both motive to stick together — even when the fight gets tough, you can’t ditch your spouse or sibling — and built-in complications, because who can annoy you more than a blood relative?
The newest incarnation of the kinfolk superteam is the Family Dynamic, a six-issue miniseries coming from DC Comics in August, written by J. Torres (Teen Titans Go!, Wonder Girl, Love as a Foreign Language, Degrassi Extra Credit) and illustrated by Tim Levins (Batman: Gotham Adventures, Justice League Adventures). Their team has a set of elemental power rings, giving them abilities based on fire, air, earth, and water. Mom Sirocco, Dad Pyralis, and the two kids Troylus and Terran are the current group, following a family tradition. Pyralis’ father was the leader of a previous team who retired after tragedy broke them apart.
Although the setup is familiar, the Family Dynamic stands out for several reasons. For one, the rings allow the torch to be passed to a new generation, creating a complex family background. Also, Torres and Levins build a world with plenty of other heroes, some working at different purposes. They draw the subtle distinction between a hero and a vigilante.
But what makes this version most special is that it’s a kind of homecoming for the creators. They met in high school, and during college, they began putting out their first professional work. The Copybook Tales was a critical favorite about two young comic fans seeking to break into the business. That series also played with generational differences, as the characters preparing for adulthood would frequently look back on their younger lives. Torres and Levins reteamed for Siren, a 1998 superhero miniseries for Image, but after that, their careers took them in different directions.
When asked what brought them back together, J. goes for the wisecrack. “Tim realized how empty his life was without me and came crawling back.” Tim, on the other hand, fills in the basics. “J. contacted me late last year to ask if I’d be interested in doing a miniseries with him at DC. He explained the concept and told me that it would be an all-ages book and a creator-owned property. It seemed like a really fun, great opportunity. I had taken three years off to be stay-at-home-dad, and this was definitely something that could get the creative juices flowing again.”
Both are complimentary about what each other brings to the project. Tim praises how great J. is about listening to his ideas, while J. calls Tim “a great sounding board” who’s “helped me synthesize a lot of character and plot elements. Tim has a clean, animation-inspired style influenced by Bruce Timm and Mike Weiringo that I love.” Tim also praises their inker, Dan Davis. “I’ve worked with a variety of inkers over the years, and Dan is the cream of the crop as far as I’m concerned. His style complements mine really well, he’s extremely fast, and in the past year or so he’s been inking digitally, which makes tweaks and touch-ups extremely simple.” The result is a true collaborative effort.
J. elaborates on what they wanted to accomplish. “We’ve been saying that Family Dynamic has all of the things that we love best about superhero comics, and that includes the family angle. They’re universal themes, easy for everyone to relate to, and there’s so much to mine there in terms of drama, relationships, rivalries, and all that good stuff.
“While it appears as though the focus is on a quartet, a nuclear family, it’s really about an extended family, including three generations. One side of the family is in the superhero game, and along come other relatives who decide they want in the action too. So, the conflicts within the family are even hotter than the battles with costumed villains. There’s sibling rivalry, parental favoritism, grudges, secrets, lies, the past haunting the present, and power rings! It’s just like Thanksgiving at my house. Well, less the power rings.”
Plus, everyone’s Canadian! But J. reassures, “I swear to you, no one has ice powers. For me, part of the reason they’re Canadian is because I’m Canadian, and you’re supposed to write about what you know. I also think it’s a good thing to diversify, and not have every superhero story out there set in the US. And based on the reaction to this element of Family Dynamic, a lot of fans, Canadian or otherwise, seem to agree.”