Tag Archives: Mister Terrific

The New 52: First Casualties

DC announced today that they are canceling six titles of their New 52 launched last September. Gone are Blackhawks, Hawk and Dove, Men of War, Mister Terrific, O.M.A.C. and Static Shock. All will end with Issue #8. I don’t think any of these are a surprise, based on sales figures, but it’s still disappointing that DC didn’t give them a bit more time to develop followings. In my case, I don’t read monthly comics and was waiting for the collected trade editions. I enjoyed the first issues of Mister Terrific and Men of War and was looking forward to reading more of Mister Terrific. Men of War was a quality book, but just not my cup of tea. O.M.A.C. had gotten a fair bit of critical acclaim, but I found it too cartoony and too much like the Hulk for my tastes.

The six books will be replaced by six new titles beginning in May, including World’s Finest by Paul Levitz and George Perez and Kevin Maguire; Dial H by China Miéville and Mateus Santoluoco; G.I. Combat, an anthology title; The Ravagers by Howard Mackie and Ian Churchill; Earth 2 by James Robinson and Nicola Scott; and the return of Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham.

World’s Finest will star Earth-2’s Power Girl and The Huntress, and Earth 2 will feature the Justice Society as they collide “with other worlds.” It sounds like DC is opening the door to recreating the multiverse that existed before Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The Ravagers is a Superboy and Teen Titans spinoff which will also incorporate elements from Legion Lost.

G.I. Combat will feature “The War that Time Forgot” by writer J.T. Krul and artist Ariel Olivetti, “The Unknown Soldier” by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with artist Dan Panosian, and “The Haunted Tank” by writer John Arcudi and artist Scott Kolins. No mention if Sgt. Rock from Men of War will have a place in the new book, but it sounds like they are going to emphasize more fantastic war stories than the straight-up stories in Men of War.

The title I’m most excited about is Dial H. China Miéville is one of my favorite science fiction writers, with an amazing imagination and literate sensibility. He is a huge DC fan, and I can imagine that he will be able to produce something very special. Another positive note is that the editor on this book will be Karen Berger, Vertigo’s senior vice president and executive editor. This book should nicely complement Animal Man and Swamp Thing. If anything can get me to buy monthly comics again, this will be it.

DC did not announce the page count or pricing on the new books, although it’s certain that G.I. Combat will be an oversized, $3.99 title.

The New 52: Summary

My overall rating for the New 52: 4 of 5 stars

I think DC’s relaunch was largely successful. Their sales numbers certainly reflect a large influx of new readers, with Month 3 of the reboot still beating Marvel’s sales numbers. I haven’t read individual monthly comics in many years and I was enticed to try all 52 titles. I don’t see myself reading any of them consistently on an ongoing basis—it took me 6-7 weeks to read 52 issues, about 1200 pages, and I don’t have that kind of time to read comics on a regular basis—but I can easily see getting several of these when the trade compilations come out. Moreover, modern comic book writing relies heavily on long story arcs that are often best read in chunks.

I applaud DC for realizing that comic books are a medium, not a genre. Although heavily dominated by superheroes, this new line-up includes supernatural, horror, mystery, science fiction, western, and war stories. I hope that these find eager audiences willing to take a chance on something different.

There were a surprising number of variations on covert paramilitary operations. Men of War, Blackhawks, Suicide Squad, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Stormwatch, and perhaps to a lesser extent Birds of Prey, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Justice League Dark, and maybe even one or two others, were formatted almost identically except for the milieu they were in. After a while it became hard to differentiate them all.

It is obvious that DC is catering to an older audience, with lots of gore and sexual titillation throughout the line, not to mention the $2.99 cover price precluding unemployed kids from buying too many. DC is also trying to have their cake and eat it, too, by relying heavily on established continuity to assuage the wrath of long-time fans, yet claiming to be wiping the slate clean for brand new readers. I would rather have 52 really well told stories, even if it means setting aside years of continuity, than try to artificially shoehorn often-contradictory backstories into every title.

DC is also to be lauded for including so many female characters in lead roles. I don’t think Marvel has any solo-character books starring females. DC has Batgirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman, (half of) Hawk and Dove, Supergirl, Voodoo, and Wonder Woman. Now, let’s see more female writers and artists to create these stories!

Some people have complained about the perceived sexism in titles like Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws, and there is certainly a strong case to be made for those criticisms. (Yet, at the same time, there was little or no outcry towards something like I, Vampire’s nearly naked cover art.) What I found most troublesome about some of these titles was the incomprehensible storytelling. These, and many of the other 52, seemed more like Issues #12, or even #50, than #1.

I had fun with the “Where’s Waldo?” hunt for the mysterious hooded figure from Flashpoint #5. There were a few books that took me several tries to find her. Did anyone else note her freakishly long fingers in her appearance in Resurrection Man?

I thought most of the books were good to very good. What were my favorites? All Star Western, Animal Man, Batwoman, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Justice League, Mister Terrific, and Superboy, with guilty pleasures Captain Atom and Red Lanterns. A number of others have the potential to become favorites, depending on how well they continue—for example, Action Comics, Batman, Batman and Robin, Demon Knights, and Wonder Woman. I suspect there will be other breakout hits as they settle into their strides—and certainly some of what looks good initially will falter along the way.

There were some real duds, though: Aquaman, Green ArrowRed Hood and the Outlaws, and The Savage Hawkman, coming to mind. But I wouldn’t count these out, either, as time may show improvement.

I’m sure we can expect to see a mega-crossover event next summer as sales begin to flag, to recharge interest, reveal the hooded figure’s identity and purpose, and make some final calibrations on the characters in the new DC universe.

I look forward to enjoying many more tales from the creative folks at DC.

The New 52: Justice League International and Mister Terrific

Today, I’ll look at two more titles in the New-52 “Justice League” group.

Justice League International

So we go from Justice League #1, five years in the past when superheroes are mistrusted and hunted down, to Justice League International #1 in the present where the United Nations trusts superheroes so much that they want to form their own international team. A bit confusing, but once the initial disorientation goes away, we are left with a reasonable story. Writer Dan Jurgens and artists Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan provide a serviceable introduction to some of the lesser-known superheroes that will make up the team. The improbable Booster Gold is chosen to lead the group, more for his willingness to be controlled by the U.N. handlers than for his powers or leadership abilities. In previous incarnations Booster Gold was mainly present for comic relief, but here it looks like things will be played more seriously. The team line-up includes Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Vixen (from the fictional African nation of Zambesi), Fire (from Brazil), and Ice (from Norway)—all long-time Justice League members before the reboot—along with Rocket Red (from Russia) and August General in Iron (from China).

JLI’s first mission is to travel to Peru to find a missing research team. With Batman as a surprise stowaway, they quickly find some strange goings-on. But will Booster be able to get the diverse members to work together before they are all killed?

This looks to be a straightforward superhero book with a group of C-level heroes. I expect it will be a competent and mildly entertaining experience, but I don’t expect anything earth shattering. The artwork is solid and nicely meshes with the writing. This is the kind of inoffensive comic that you won’t mind your teenagers reading.

Mister Terrific

Mr. Terrific, as a character, has been around since the Golden Age of comics in the 1940s. Then he wore a green and red costume with “Fair Play” written across his midsection. A new, edgier, Mr. Terrific was created in the late 1990s. This time he had “Fair Play” written on the sleeves of his leather jacket. This version saw action in the Justice Society of America series of the 2000s and in various other guest appearances. Now he’s in a solo title, perhaps even edgier, with “Fair Play” tattooed on his biceps.

Michael Holt with an Olympic gold medal, “more degrees than half the faculties of Harvard and Yale combined,” and a net worth of over a billion dollars, seemed to have it made. Then an accident killed his wife, sending him into a deep depression. On the verge of suicide, an apparition of a son he never had admonishes him to not give up his life or his research. Now, armed with technology only the third-smartest man in the world could create, Mr. Terrific performs super science by day, and saves the world by night.

Writer Eric Wallace and artists Gianluca Gugliotta and Wayne Faucher have reinvigorated a somewhat lackluster character. Maybe it’s the scientist in me that loves the unapologetic promotion of science as a tool to solve the world’s ills, but I loved the way Mr. Terrific combined brains and brawn to succeed. Michael Holt is a wonderful lead character with the right combination of angst and can-do attitude. I can see this book going in a number of directions—from straight-up adventure, to science fiction, to a bit of romance—to keep the stories fresh and unpredictable. It’s also nice to see one of the few minority characters in the DC Universe get this kind of starring role. Mr. Terrific is my favorite in the New-52 “Justice League” group.