The Terrifics #5 – Jeff Lemire, Writer; Doc Shaner, Artist; Nathan Fairbairn, Colorist
Ray – 10/10
Corrina: Terrifics Is Terrific
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The addition of Doc Shaner to Jeff Lemire’s oddball weird-science team book, The Terrifics, has turned it from the easy best of the New Age of DC Heroes line to a serious contender for DC’s best book overall. Not only is the art brilliant, as one would expect from the man behind the best issues of Future Quest, but Lemire’s writing seems to have risen to the occasion to match it. The first few issues were strong enough, but now that the initial adventure is over, he’s free to get into deeper emotional territory. The issue opens with a very interesting format, as the four characters are back on Earth and are dealing with their own dramas, which is shown in a four-grid page style with each story continuing in the same place on each page. Metamorpho and Sapphire Stagg get into a fight as he tries to convince her to leave her corrupt father. Plastic Man tries to get back in touch with his ex and the son he left behind when he disappeared. Mr. Terrific and Phantom Girl’s stories unite when he studies her condition, only for her to hit on a touchy spot about his family.
These segments are Lemire’s quiet, soulful style at its best. I was surprised by how much scenes here reminded me of the intimate work he does in Royal City. However, this is a superhero comic, and it couldn’t last forever. Every character’s personal drama is soon interrupted by a horrific scene – dozens of specters that look exactly like Metamorpho attacking a city, turning countless people into mutants like him. Lots of Metamorpho stories lean on his horror over his condition, the same way many Ben Grimm stories do, but I’ve never seen a writer capture just how scary his powers are when out of control like this. The issue ends by introducing the main villain – an earlier Element Man just like him, but driven insane with time. He seems to be the first big villain the Terrifics are going to face, and it’s a testament to the book that we didn’t really have a main villain until this issue and no one noticed. Lemire’s writing is so compelling that he can weave an amazing story out of almost anything, and the DCU is better for having him. I hope he gets the call for JSA when the time is right for their return.
Corrina: I did not see the city of Metamorphized people (and dogs) coming but, whoa, it provides an incredible showcase for Shaner’s art. Also, the addition of the dog? That’s the kind of detail that pushes a comic from good to great. I love Metamordog already.
But, more, this new arc provides a close look at each member of the team. The intercutting of panels as each member tries to reconnect in some form to their old life is effective at showing the differences between them. And when Mister Terrific is focused solely on work, because he’s repressed his past, that works at showing the differences in personality between him and the rest of the team. If I recall correctly, Michael Holt lost his wife and unborn child in an accident. Perhaps, given that Lemire makes a point that Phantom Girl is a teenager, there could be some comfort for Michael in parenting a teen who’s lost so much too.
It’s this kind of depth, along with the artistic touches, that are part of why Ray and I recommend this series so highly.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.