The Terrifics #1
“Meet the Terrifics, Part 1 of 3”
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover artists: Reis & Prado
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
While I’m somewhat leery of the various new DC launches in the wake of its Dark Nights: Metal event, this new series stood out from the pack from the first moment it was promoted. The title itself and the diverse quartet of characters offered a lot of promise, but most interesting is the fact that DC has essentially crafted its own Fantastic Four title while Marvel has let its flagship founding property languish for years. Writer Jeff Lemire has successfully brought together these unconnected characters in a plausible fashion, and he’s offered up a wonderfully traditional superhero adventure. While I think a lighter and simpler tone would have suited the visuals better, Ivan Reis delivers some exciting and expressive artwork that reinforces the wondrous and impossible circumstances in which these characters find themselves.
Mr. Terrific discovers that industrialist and scientist Simon Stagg has foolishly opened a doorway to the Dark Multiverse and has no way to close it before something disastrous happens. Terrific, Metamorpho and Plastic Man are all drawn through the other-dimensional portal and must work together to find a way out. However, they’re surprised to discover a sign of life where there should be none, and they encounter a young woman from another planet stranded on a nightmarish landscape.
When I first heard about The Terrifics, it was from a glimpse of Evan “Doc” Shaner’s sketches of the character designs for the title team. Not only was I thrilled with DC’s FF analog, I was impressed with Shaner’s work and eager for a chance to sample it on a regular basis again. Unfortunately, it turned out that Shaner wasn’t the regular series artist, and that’s unfortunate. His brighter, old-school tone would have been a perfect match for the Silver Age sensibilities of this property. Reis’s more detailed, grittier style is much more modern in tone, but I have to admit that I enjoyed his work here much more than I anticipated. He handles the goofy, exaggerated tone of Plastic Man incredibly well, and his bulkier portrayal of Metamorpho sets the two shape-shifting characters apart nicely. Reis certainly conveys the over-the-top energy flowing throughout the story quite well. I like what I see so far, and if he shies away from the darker look of his art toward something lighter, I think I’ll enjoy it even more.
The gatefold cover is really an unnecessary gimmick, and it’s more awkward than impressive. I’m pleased to see DC kept the price of this comic at its lowest level, but I don’t think the three-panel cover was really worth its investment. It’s also unfortunate that DC didn’t get the entirety of its Dark Nights: Metal event title out ahead of the release of these spinoff books.That sort of scheduling stumble strikes me as avoidable.
I was struck by the accessible tone of Lemire’s script. He provides just enough information on Metamorpho’s dysfunctional background, and there’s little in the story that’s all that confusing. The script offers just enough information about the events of Dark Nights: Metal for the reader to follow along while at the same time not giving away too much about it or dwelling on it too much. I was also quite pleased to see the writer address how Plastic Man was portrayed in that title and in the opening pages of this comic book. The character’s irritation at seemingly being used by Batman and Terrific is completely logical, and a failure to address his use as fodder for the missions of others would have been a misstep.
The Fantastic Four riff here is clear and fun. Mr. Terrific fulfills the big-brain role of Mr. Fantastic, while Plastic Man checks off his stretching powers and carefree attitude of the Human Torch. This new incarnation of Phantom Girl represents the Invisible Woman nicely, while Metamorpho boasts the brawn and blue-collar attitude of the Thing. The only thing that’s missing is the Torc’s flame powers, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Metamorpho fulfill that role with his elemental abilities at some point. When I read initially that this opening story arc would take the characters into the Dark Multiverse again, I was a little disappointed, but now I realize that Lemire is simply bringing another Fantastic Four Element into the book. Here, the Dark Multiverse is a substitute for the Negative Zone, and that gives it an even more traditional FF vibe.
The only aspect of this comic that gave me any pause for concern was the big reveal in the final page. The creative team and DC has opted to incorporate a property from Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics line from several years ago. While we’ve seen these ABC characters turn up in other DC titles, it still surprises me when DC goes to that well, knowing there’s a vocal opposition to the use of Moore’s ideas, given the contentious history between the writer and the publisher. Now, this particular ABC property was clearly inspired a great deal by the Fantastic Four, so in a way, Moore was doing the same thing that Lemire and Reis are doing here. As such, the use of these Moore concepts are logical fit for The Terrifics, but DC runs the risk of alienating some readers by doing so. 7/10