In Review: The Terrifics #1

This is a standard "heroes thrown together" starting point that's very readable.

The cover: Standing atop of chunk of rock in a molten nightmare of gold are the members of this team. Plastic Man is the eye catcher on this cover with his cartoony face smiling at the reader, as well as the peace sign he’s flashing. Next is Rex Mason, aka Metamorpho. He’s really buff, much more muscular than I remember seeing him in Batman and the Outsiders, when I last read his exploits. Mr. Terrific looks strong and focused; I like that. Last is the reason why I’m buying this book: Phantom Girl. I’m a huge fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes and I’ll collect them in whatever book they appear, even if they’re ancestors of the heroes I love. I’d rather have a series solely about them, but I’m settling with Linnya in this. Ivan Reis created this cover with Marcelo Maiolo on colors. This solidly shows who the heroes are of this series. Overall grade: B+

The story: Ivan Reis & Jeff Lemire are jointly credited as the storytellers for this premiere. At Simon Stagg’s cliffside home/laboratory, bodyguard Java plucks a moth from the air and chomps on. As he swallows the poor insect, a giant reflective orb appears and Mr. Terrific emerges saying he has to speak with Stagg. His employer was expecting him, so the Neanderthal escorts the hero to the lab, where the insane industrialist is trying to open a door to the Dark Mulitverse. He’s succeeded, but only by using Metamorpho to create a bridge. Unfortunately Stagg can’t maintain the stability of the portal. Terrific realizes he needs backup and that’s where a stretchy hero enters the scene. Naturally, something goes wrong, the portal explodes, and the three heroes go spiraling into the void. The remainder of the issue has the characters getting to know one another while trying to survive in this bizarre dimension. They encounter Linnya who joins them as they explore a distress signal. What the distress signal reveals left me with my jaw at my feet and with a bezillion questions for next month. There’s enough in this first issue to get me to pick up the next, but nothing in this tale floored me. Overall grade: B+

The art: Ivan Reis on pencils and Joe Prado on inks is a magical combination. This book looks terrific. Mr. Terrific’s entrance at the top of Page 2 is the quintessential hero entrance — it’s glorious! I was impressed by the looks of Java and Simon because they don’t look as comical as I’ve seen them done in other books. This was a good change, making them visually threatening. Metamorpho’s introduction is a full-paged splash on 4. The point of view is too distant from the hero, with too much of the space devoted to the vortex around him. This is a problem because when he receives his first close-up on 6 his form is encased in a metal that isn’t his natural form; seeing him initially in his natural state would have helped. The explosion is really well done as is the entrance of Plastic Man. PM is very comical looking when in action, such as at the bottom of 9, but when standing and talking with others he fits in well. This is a good way to have this character rendered: in action he’s funny, when not he’s normal. The double-paged spread on 14 and 15 is a slick cosmic surprise. The threats that follow this page are really good: tiny, creepy, frightening, and never ending. Linnya’s intro into the book is also strong, and I love that she’s partially transparent in her lower legs, teasing her ability visually to the reader before she states it. The final page is a full-paged splash that reveals the message on the distress signal and I was floored by the visual before I read the text. This character looks fantastic! The visuals on this book are good. Overall grade: A

The colors: For all the odd settings of this issue, colorist Marcelo Maiolo makes everything seem real. The opening has Java outside looking at the ocean when he grabs a quick snack. He should be colored darkly, as it’s night, but Mailo tempers his skin with subtle shading to darken him but not obliterate him in darkness. Terrific’s entrance has some strong backlighting from the orb he exits. So much, in fact, he looks like a god descending to Earth. It’s great. The portal that Stagg has created is a vortex of light green, which is slightly surprising. I expected it to be brighter, to show its strength, though it does make it seem a disturbing creation. Plastic Man’s egg shape stands out handsomely in reds against this emerald miasma, which I also liked. Notice when the trio are within the vessel in the dimension, Mailo gives them an appropriate reddish shade. This was perfect and funny. The double-paged splash did need greater variation in colors. All the colors are too similar, resulting in the image blobbing together. Better is the return back to the surface of this flotsam. Linnya is a stand out character in every panel for having so much white in her clothes. The last page features a hologram that projects in red. This makes the message very urgent and is a nice change from the constant use of blues and greens for such projections. Overall grade: A

The letters: Tom Napolitano creates narration, dialogue, yells, characters’ name, sounds, growls, the book’s credits, and the tease for next issue. I was very pleased to see narration and dialogue differentiated from one another. I also enjoyed the sounds and growls of this book, giving some nice auditory experiences, which should be read aloud for extra fun. Overall grade: A 

Bonus poster: That’s right, kids! The cover folds out to create a vertical poster! The front side has the cover image in the middle, while at the top are the books’ baddies and at the bottom are some very famous characters from America’s Best Comics. I’ll leave their identities a secret so as not to spoil the issue. Behind this image is the first part of a large poster that features members of The Challengers of the Unknown. This is an extremely cool bonus and I wish that other series and publishers would follow. Overall grade: A+++

The final line: This is a standard “heroes thrown together” starting point that’s very readable, but not earth shattering. Not once do they refer to themselves as a team or use the title moniker, so that’s sure to be happening down the way. A fine premise is begun and the visuals are outstanding. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is going and I’m hoping more teases of the Legion of Super-Heroes are made. Overall grade: A 

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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