J. Torres Brings the "Family Dynamic"

Launching this week from DC Comics is "Family Dynamic," the tale of a superpowered family of crime fighters whose battles with evil sometimes seem marginal to the drama created by their own blood relations. But while bringing a slice-of-life family drama to a superhero series may prove a challenge for some creative teams, the longtime partnership of writer J. Torres and artist Tim Levins had little trouble connecting to the characters when they decided to make "Dynamic" their own family reunion.

"We've been working with each other for a while, and a lot of people say we're like a married couple the way we bicker and tease each other, so it was really easy to get back into it," Torres told CBR with a laugh from the floor of last weekend's Toronto Fan Expo. While the pair both made a splash on the acclaimed self-published hit "Copybook Tales" (republished as a trade paperback by Oni Press), Torres and Levins drifted into different areas of the comics business, with their last collaboration being 1998's "Siren" for Image Comics.

With "Family Dynamic," these creators' distinctive styles should be on display in full effect. While Torres is probably known to most readers as the scribe behind many of DC's Johnny DC books like "Teen Titans Go!" and mainstream DCU titles like "Wonder Girl," he's also the mind behind acclaimed all ages indies like Oni Press' "Allison Dare" and "Jason and the Argobots." With this latest project, Torres is marrying his two worlds.

"I've been itching to do creator-owned stuff in general, both all ages and different ideas I had that don't necessarily fit at DC, but it just so happens that this is something that fit at the time," explained Torres while giving the background on how "Family Dynamic" became a reality. "I think it was at Chicago last year. I had a little meeting with Dan DiDio, and if I remember correctly he asked me what I wanted to do next or if I had any ideas for what I wanted to work on at DC, and I mentioned that I had this all ages superhero family idea. And he said they were expanding the all ages line at the time or looking to do it, so he said, 'Send me the pitch' and I did and got the okay to start working on it.

"Usually I try to balance the freelance stuff and work for hire stuff with the creator-owned stuff, and I just got lucky this time that I was able to do both."

As for the story of "Family Dynamic," Torres promised there's more to the book than a simple remix of the "four family adventurers with elemental-based powers" concept, and that readers willing to give the first issue a shot will see the depth of the story start to reveal itself. "Stuff unfolds slowly as the story progresses," Torres said. "At first the story looks like it's about a quartet that is a superhero family, but then there's another dynamic duo, if you will, that comes into the picture, and we find out there's a familial connection to them. So different members of the family have secrets and we slowly reveal those secrets to the reader as they discover them for themselves.

"I'm telling it from an outsiders perspective, like a third person, and I think it was better to do that so we could focus on everybody a little bit at a time and let it open up. But there is a bit of a slant towards the three teenagers in the family. We see a lot of it through their eyes because I think it's more fun that way. I'm sure everyone can relate to being a teenager in a family and not being told everything that's going on in the family. It's sort of that way. They start to discover things and have to walk on eggshells because they're not sure what they're allowed to talk about. It's the type of thing I think a lot of people can relate to."

What fans might also relate to is Tim Levins's most recent artistic evolution, as the penciler is bringing more than a stripped down animated style to the series. "If you look at the stuff he's doing in 'Family Dynamic' more than a few different editors and artists look at it and say, 'There's a lot of stuff here that reminds me of Mike Wieringo' who Tim idolizes," said the writer. "And I was a friend of Mike's, and we love him, and Tim's really emulating him a lot in the pages. It's not a direct swipe or copy, but you can see parts of Ringo coming through. So it's a little different for Tim, but I can see it's a good fit for him."

"Family Dynamic" is something of a return to comics for Levins, who took a break to spend time with his family. "[Tim] took time off from comics because he had a kid and decided to be a stay-at-home dad while his wife went to work," explained Torres. "He did a little freelancing in between, but now that his kid is four years old, he's starting to get a little itchy to get back into things. He slowly did stuff for DC on 'Scooby-Doo' and some of the other Cartoon Network books. Then this opportunity showed up, and we thought it would be a good time for us to get back together and show people what he's doing or what he can do still."

When asked whether or not "Family Dynamic" would fit into the world set up by some of his past creator-owned series, Torres didn't rule the possibility out, although an "Allison Dare/Family Dynamic" crossover may be a ways off. "There's nothing official about it, but because they are creator-owned I guess one day they could crossover or reference each other. I'd love to be able to do something one day where I could bring all my characters together, but who knows? Right now, it's at DC so we have to keep it on its own."

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