Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Mister Terrific #1

Today we have another example of DC Comics attempting to increase the diversity in their books by taking a well known black character, who has never starred in his own book, and finally giving him a solo title.  Mister Terrific, aka Michael Holt, was created in 1997 by John Ostrander and Tim Mandrake and based on the original Mister Terrific from the Golden Age of Comics.  Though not possessing super powers he possesses a brilliant mind and an aptitude for science which he uses to create the T-Mask, which renders him invisible to technology, the T-Spheres, which have a large verity of functions including holographic projection, generating electric charges and granting limited flight.   For most of the character’s existence he has been associated with the Justice Society of America.  He is super badass, succeeds in everything he does and is informally known as the world’s third smartest man…a title that is repeated every goddamn chance anyone at DC gets.

Mister Terrific #1 is written by Eric Wallace with art by Gianluca Gugliotta (Pencils) and Wayne Faucher (Inks) and is titled “Software Update”.  Without a doubt, after Batwoman #1, this has been my most anticipated comic of the reboot. I  truly believed that Mister Terrific is one of the coolest characters DC has to offer and I often wondered why he wasn’t in the spotlight more.  So I was hoping that this book would be one of the best titles released this month and be one of the few bright spots of this whole DCnU mess.  I mean...he’s black.  He’s a black superhero and I can’t help but be partial to that fact since I’m black as well.  I like seeing myself in superhero comics and it’s nice to pick up an issue of something that’s not one of a thousand white dudes.  But after all this time does the character stand well on his own or fall flat?

Full review below.

The third smartest man built a base in the Nth Dimension
I really want to see the shit the smartest man builds in his basement!
Mister Terrific is a superhero who has it all, save for the one thing he truly desires: his wife who tragically died.   Still he soldiers on in order to change the world, using his scientific genius to and millions of dollars to live up to a promise he made. Based in Los Angeles he’s called in by the police to help them with a murder case where the perpetrator is a normal man who suddenly has a genius level IQ, which is steadily growing.

The opening sequence is really cool as far as action goes.  I really liked the way Mister Terrific handled the crazy power suit wearing C.E.O. I also actually like the changes to Michael origin.  Originally his wife and unborn son die and he becomes suicidal as a result but is talked out of killing himself by The Spectre who told him about the original Mister Terrific who had a somewhat similar story.  Here instead of the Spectre a much less random, more personal, person visits him and convinces him to keep going.  As far as changes go this one makes Holt’s decision to keep living seem a bit more realistic as well as severing the connection to any other superheroes.   Which is nice in this instance.  Also the plot in general, how it’s structured, is a good introduction story.  It gives us action, tells Holt’ origin, and begins a new adventure/mystery to unfold in future issues.  The artwork is fine but rough in a lot of spots.  Some characters especially when not the focus in a panel, look downright hideous.  I don’t want to condemn the artwork too much but I honestly felt like there were more negatives than positives.

Side Note: Mister Terrific is apparently a Doctor Who fan
Unfortunately the major problem with this comic is the dialogue and it absolutely ruins the whole thing.  In general it’s kind of blocky and characters tend to say things that people don’t really say in normal conversation.  For example at some point after stopping the crazed C.E.O.’s rampage he introduces himself as “Mr. Terrfic. Some people call me the third smartest man in the world.”  Who talks like that?  Who gives such an egotistical description of themselves like that? T hen he gets mad when they ask him who’re the first two.  Dude, you opened the door for that remark!  Don’t get mad at them, get mad at your own cocky ass.  Speaking of that description, which is CONSTANTLY used to describe him by EVERYONE, am I the only one who thinks it’s actually an insulting title?  I mean, who decided the pecking order for world’s smartest man?  Did the first two score higher on some super genius test that I don’t know about.  Why doesn’t he just say he’s “one of the world’s smartest men” instead of number three?  He might as well call himself “Mister Really, Really Smart But Not Quite As Smart As These Two Other Guys”.  Plus it automatically makes you think about who the other two smarter guys are.   And don’t say it’s Batman.

Back on the dialogue it’s also pretty weird how many times the writer reminds us that this is a book starring black people.  I’m pretty sure I knew Michael was black when I was looking at the cover; I don’t really need him to keep reminding me of that fact.  I was also a little taken aback by Aleeka, Terrific’s employee or something though it’ a bit unclear, who in response to Karen Starr asking her if her cold shoulder was because she was white and seeing Michael socially her response was something along the lines of “I’m a black woman which means I’m built to handle things you can’t ever imagine”.  Dude.  What a bitch.  Where the hell did that come from?  It’s 2011 for Christ’s sake; no need to be that freaking hostile about the whole “who’s white and who’s black” thing.

What’s that you ask?  Isn’t Karen Starr an alternate identify of Power Girl, a hero mysteriously MIA form the DCnU?   She certainly resembles Power Girl, but will she eventually don the iconic costume maybe team up with Mister Terrific down the road?  In any case I’m officially shipping the two because superheroes in love are awesome.  Aleeka can go to hell.

And yet I suspect she'll be Micheal's eventual love interest.  Weak.
The structure of this book is good and that is what will keep me buying future issues.  But the actual dialogue, what the characters say to each other, is a total mess and really makes it hard to read this comic.   To put it perspective my girlfriend read the comic and is completely uninterested in reading anymore ever again.  I think there’s a lot of potential in this series and its main character but the writer needs to get it together if he wants to keep this book from getting canceled in the coming months.  I love Mistier Terrific and I really want him to star in a really good book but so far I’m not impressed.  This is so far my least favorite book in the DC Reboot.

I give Mister Terrific #1 2 Adorable Pandas out of 5.

Pros

-The book is structured very well for a first issue

-I like the revised origin

Cons

-The dialogue is damned awful

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