Let me just get this off my chest to begin with. Mister Terrific is THE worst super hero name ever! It’s even worse than Squirrel Girl, because that’s supposed to be comical. Mister Terrific is seriously his name, no irony intended. What’s terrible is he’s a great character, just saddled with this awful code name!
Anyway… Mister Terrific is the alter ego of Michael Holt, the third smartest man in the world. Following the deaths of his wife and unborn son, he suffered a devastating bout of depression, until a surprising visitor inspired him to dedicate himself to making the world better. He goes about this in two ways: he devotes his massive technology company to altruistic advancements; and he becomes a super hero, utilizing his high tech, multipurpose T-Spheres, which can fly and perform other functions. The book opens with Mister Terrific battling a mad scientist in London, utilizing The Eye, the massive Ferris Wheel to stop the villain. That’s basically it as far as super heroics go in this book.
The rest of the issue retells his origin and establishes his status quo. As expected, there is no mention of the Justice Society of America, nor of Checkmate, the espionage initiative, Holt led before. He is based out of Los Angeles, but also has an other-dimensional fortress for his crime fighting endeavors. His supporting cast, including possible romantic interest Aleeka, are introduced but hardly developed, outside of visiting lady-friend Karen Starr. As DC fans know, Karen was, until ‘Flashpoint’, Power Girl, cousin of Earth-2’s Superman and leader of the Justice Society. There is no mention of any of that, so sadly, it’s highly unlikely that this Karen Starr is the same buxom badass she was before, which is a terrible loss, I feel. (Her series, when written by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and drawn by the fabulous Amanda Conner was a true joy to read!)
I’m not sure what to make of their relationship here. Karen at one point tells Aleeka that she and Michael are “just friends,” but earlier, they are shown at Michael’s home, he with his shirt off, she wearing what appears to be only a man’s basketball jersey (and ankle socks), implying, at least, that they have had relations. To be honest, they’d make a great couple, although the thought of Karen going from, arguably the baddest super chick in the DCU to a male super hero’s non-powered girlfriend doesn’t sit well, so maybe they’re better off as “just friends.”
(Spoilers begin here.)
In a side story, an average Joe Schmoe named Edgar Holowitz suddenly becomes super intelligent… and cruel. He brings a waitress to tears, before snapping the neck of a homeless beggar. Once taken into police custody, he begins scribbling down complex mathematical equations, which Mister Terrific describe as “the kind that would give Stephen Hawking a headache.” Whatever has afflicted Holowitz also appears to posses Holt, causing him to become evil before the issue’s end.
I’m not sure how else to put this, but I actually had no reaction whatsoever to this comic. None. I read it, then I was done. The only analogy I can think of is, it’s kind of like watching the sitcom ‘Two and a Half Men.” It’s always on, so you wind up watching it. You stare blankly. You don’t laugh. And then 30 minutes have passed and nothing in the universe has changed. It just… happened.
There’s not one fault I can find with the book. It’s not badly written. It’s not exciting, either. It just is. The artwork, by Gianluca Gugliotta is nice enough. Some of his angles are awkward. He also suffers from “straight male artist syndrome,” meaning he knows nothing about fashion, so in a party scene that Michael and Karen attend the women are drawn wearing the most atrocious gowns ever. One lady appears to have a white fur collar on hers. Karen is wearing OPERA GLOVES! Nobody wears opera gloves! But that’s forgivable. He’s good at rendering consistent faces.
I feel like I’m spit-balling here, trying to find nice things to say. It isn’t bad; it’s just not required reading. It’s the very definition of “mediocre.” This is too bad, because there NEEDS to be more high-profile minority heroes out there, but I really don’t see this book lasting. There’s too much competition for something that’s just middle of the road.
MISTER TERRIFIC #1
Written by Eric Wallace
Art by Gianluca Gugliotta and Wayne Faucher
Cover by J.G. Jones