In the latest of our comprehensive series of reviews of DC Comics' 52 relaunched titles, we take a look at Mister Terrific #1.
Who's it by?
Mister Terrific #1 is written by Eric Wallace (Titans) and drawn by Gianluca Gugliotta (Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance).
What's the history?
The original Mister Terrific was Terry Sloane, a genius millionaire with a photographic memory invented by Charles Reizenstein and Everett E. Hibbard in 1942's Sensation Comics #1. He fought as a member of the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron before his death.
John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake introduced the new Mister Terrific - Michael Holt, the world's third smartest man - in Spectre #54 in 1997. Holt took up the hero's mantle after finding inspiration in the story of Sloane's life, joining the Justice Society and eventually becoming its chairman. He remained a member of the team until the recent relaunch.
The Justice Society is no longer a part of mainstream DC Universe continuity (although DC has announced a Justice Society of America project written by James Robinson and set on a restored Earth-2), and Mister Terrific is the only former member of the team to receive his own title.
This is another series that could probably have followed on from the pre-relaunch DCU. The issue focuses mainly on Mister Terrific, without addressing the wider superhero world or any of the newly introduced continuity changes.
Mister Terrific #1 also features Karen Starr, who was formerly Justice Society member Power Girl. She is still head of Starr Enterprises, but it remains to be seen if the character - who has been the victim of many a reboot and continuity snarl - retains her powers or superhero identity in the new DCU.
Mister Terrific #1 opens with the titular hero showing off his skills against a weapons developer in London.
The issue cuts to an explanation of the tragedy and miracle that made Michael Holt the hero he is today, related - as we later discover - to Karen Starr.
Meanwhile, an ordinary man is mysteriously transformed into a homicidal genius over lunch one day, and we are introduced to Mister Terrific's 'ninth dimension' laboratory as he investigates.
The comic closes on a party thrown at one of Holt's scientific institutes, which is interrupted by some strange behaviour from the hero himself.
What's the verdict?
As an opening issue in DC's new relaunch, Mister Terrific does succeed in fulfilling its brief where other titles have failed. We are introduced to the character and some of the major events that have governed his life. His origin is handled with grace, offering the events that set him on his path without a blow-by-blow account of his decision to become a superhero.
Unfortunately, that is the only delicate thing about the storytelling. The dialogue is heavy-handed and clumsy - a villain stops to ask how he has been defeated as our hero lines up to punch him in the face, and Holt's wife's revelation as she dies is nothing short of crass. This is annoying storytelling, and the reader should be prepared for plenty of eye-rolling as the issue unfolds.
Mister Terrific is a genius - supposedly. Unfortunately, Eric Wallace is reduced to having the cast remind us regularly how intelligent he is. The comic does not read like something narrated by the 'third smartest man in the world'. Nor will the decisions made around the conclusion to this opening issue will not leave the reader rooting for Holt or eager to continue with him on his journey.
The art does little to save this comic, either. The layouts are serviceable, but Gianluca Gugliotta's faces have an eerie, expressionless quality to them. What expressions do manage to creep in are very rarely in keeping with what is happening in the story.
What could actually have been one of the more effective and new reader friendly of the New 52 is marred by heavy handed and clumsy storytelling. Mister Terrific will not have readers rushing back for more.
> Buy the digital version of Mister Terrific #1
> Read our review of Legion Lost #1
Watch The New 52 introduction video from DC Comics below: