Writer Jay Faerber knows that if you want to be successful creating superhero comics outside the Big Two, you have to just go 100% high concept on everyone's ass. That's why Faerber has not one but two comics featured during High Concept Week; Noble Causes and Dynamo 5, both from Image Comics.
Let's start with Noble Causes. Here's the pitch: Ordinary bookseller Liz Donnelly marries into the Noble clan, a family of rich celebrity superheroes. She's immersed in a world of secrets, lies, ambition, and danger. It's a soap opera with superheroes! It's Dynasty meets the Fantastic Four! Or something, I don't know.
I've read three of Faerber's Noble Causes trades (available at Amazon) and I gotta say, he does a great job of unreeling dozens of parallel and interweaving storylines. The Noble family is full of scheming, beautiful people with super powers - except for Liz, our gateway character. When I first read Noble Causes I was sure that she would get killed off as soon as she hooked up with Race Noble, the superspeed stud. They meet cute, then start dating. She's doomed, right? She's going to end up in a fridge.
Not so much. *SPOILER* On their honeymoon in the South Pacific, Race gets killed in a random and Biblical way, and Liz is suddenly a widow... and a Noble.
Liz is actually kind of a cool character - she would have been played by Courtney Thorne Smith if Noble Causes was an early Nineties nighttime soap. She holds her own against her dangerously powerful and egocentric relatives and she sort of becomes the foundation of the series. Plus, she wears glasses - that's hot.
I enjoyed Noble Causes because when Faerber works in superhero or soap opera conventions like alternate universes and infidelity, the characters are so well defined that it's enjoyable to see them react the way they should. Do you know what I mean? Everyone's read a comic and thought, "Batman wouldn't gasp. Why do they have him gasping?" The reader knows how Batman or Wolverine would react, so it's fun to see them in parallel universes or have them get possessed and act out of character. Over time, Faerber has skillfully built up the Noble family as fleshed-out, familiar characters.
Noble Causes - it's not just high concept, it's high conept done well.
The same can be said about Dynamo 5, Faerber's newest book. It's in stores now and is definitely worth a look.
Here's how I previously described Dynamo 5:
That about covers it. Dynamo 5 is fun pop art, with smooth colorful art, neat character designs, and some SHOCKING PLOT TWISTS!!! that I can't get into here. Plus - at the risk of sounding lecherous - it's got a cute super strong goth chick in a domino mask with a headband. That alone puts Dynamo 5 on my pull list.
"Dynamo 5 is the story of the teenage offspring of a big shot superhero with a Wilt Chamberlain-size libido and a Zeus-like proclivity for inseminating mortal women. Each bastard child of the (now deceased) hero inherits one of the hero’s many powers, i.e., super strength, eye beams, shape shifting, etc. and they band together to form a fledgling