Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Mister Terrific #1

As a big fan of Mister Terrific, I simultaneously want to give it a harsher and more lenient review than it deserves. My fondness for the character makes it easy to overlook some of the book's weaker aspects, but it also makes it easier for me to see how much better a comic this could be. Many of this week's comics were a better read for me the second time around, but every time I give this one a look, its shortcomings become more apparent, and its greatest strengths seem to lie in what the comic could be rather than what it actually is.

I enjoyed the book's early pages. From the Doctor Who reference to a woman on the street admiring Mister T's bum, the opening scene reminded me a little of Power Girl. Is it silly? Absolutely. But sometimes I like reading silly comics, and I think super science characters suit them well. Writer Eric Wallace currently works on Eureka, a television show full of both super geniuses and not particularly scientific scientists, and I think that's a good direction for Mister Terrific to go in. Writing a believable genius is a task few writers are up to, and I think it's a safer bet to go big and crazy than to try and keep things grounded in reality.

Michael Holt's backstory is mostly unchanged, from the death of his wife and unborn son to his plans for suicide. In this new universe, however, the role of the Spectre has been replaced by something much more personal. Using the wrath of God in the origin story of an atheist always felt ridiculous in a Doctor Thirteen type way, and it's a welcome change. Mixing the tragedy of Michael's life with wacky comic book science capers is an idea with some mileage, and something I'd certainly be interested in reading about, but it's here the book starts to fall apart for me.

While there was some goofy dialogue in the book's early scenes, it flowed fairly naturally and worked with the tone the comic was establishing. In contrast, some characters in the book's later scenes seem to say things out of nowhere, as if pages of the comic were missing. The confrontation between Aleeka and Karen Starr seemed especially off, and I actually flipped back a couple times to make sure I hadn't missed something. Other lines, especially Michael's conversations with the senator, don't read very well. I suspect that the inability to hear the tone in which the lines are said is the culprit here, and expressive art might have saved this.

Unfortunately, the book's art is also wildly inconsistent. It's suffered more artistic changeups than any other book in the DCnU, and it shows. Initially, the very talented Roger Robinson was slated to work on the book, but he was replaced by Gianluca Gugliotta before the first issue was complete. While Gugliotta was credited for this issue, he himself has been replaced by Scott Clark and Dave Beaty. There are some nice looking panels and pages, but as a whole, the book looks really uneven, and I think it'll stay that way until they have settle down with one creative team. DC has several artists in its stable who'd be a great fit for this, such as Jamal Igle and Marcus To, and I hope they find someone to stick with the comic soon.

There's some potential in the book's supporting cast. Karen Starr didn't get a lot to do here, but she'll bring a lot to the book if they can capture her strength and sense of fun. Her super-heroic identity also provides a lot of potential for future stories, and I hope that she's not just kept as a civilian. Jamaal, Michael Holt's protege, also didn't get much paneltime, but I liked what little I saw of him, and I'm hoping to see more. Aleeka, Michael's right hand woman who is apparently secretly in love with him, didn't work for me at all, and for now, I'm just hoping she'll grow on me in the future.

There's a lot of potential in Mister Terrific, and I hope the series can find its footing. Eric Wallace proved he was capable of writing an interesting comic with his Ink miniseries, and I'd love to see a little more of that here. I plan to stick with Mister Terrific for at least the first two story arcs, but right now, I'd recommend the comic only to fellow fans of the characters. There's not enough here yet to win over anyone who isn't a fan of the character, and I think this week's Frankenstein is a better place for readers to get their fix of mad science. I'll keep covering the comic on this site, and my fingers are crossed that I'll be able to suggest a good jumping on point in the months to come.

By Marceline with No comments


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