Book Review: Mister Terrific Vol. 1: Mind Games (The New 52)
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
· Eric Wallace
· Gianluca Gugliotta
· Wayne Faucher
by R.J. Carter
Published: June 19, 2012
Probably one of the heroes with the most potential for creative storytelling, Mister Terrific puts the spotlight on former JSA member (except that now he was never in the JSA as it didn't exist in The New 52) Michael Holt. Billed as "The Third Smarted Man in the World," Holt lives by the motto "Fair Play" and approaches problems with scientific resolve and a very un-resolved rage issue over the loss of his wife. Using his T-Spheres and other personally developed technology (one of which makes him invisible to machines, like cameras), the Los Angeles based man of action has come to be know as quite the hero.
But Holt has come to doubt his heroism. After battling the villain Brainstorm, a mental vampire who would feed off people's intellects by stimulating their IQs off the charts and driving them into a violent rage, Mister Terrific loses control upon learning Brainstorm's connection to his tragic past. Further, when Brainstorm acquires Holt's secret, Mister Terrific engages in the practice DC has already worked over with Identity Crisis -- that being the mental manipulation of a criminal for personal protection.
As Holt recognizes his uncontrolled rage and his ethically questionable choice, he chooses to become more reclusive. Alas, an alien invasion from another dimension, a technology thief, a cadre of invisible terrorists, and corporate espionage at Holt's own company conspire to keep him active and involved, culminating in a cliffhanger ending that leads directly into the release of DC's Earth 2 (with cameos throughout by an incognito Power Girl from World's Finest).
That's a brief rundown of what happens. Now, how was it executed?
To be sure, writer Eric Wallace has a knack for juggling multiple characters and presenting them with consistent motives. They're so consistent, in fact, as to become almost two-dimensional, exhibiting not much in the way of growth. There are momentary exceptions, where we're given something in the way of depth of one of the ancillary supporting characters, but for the most part you have the jealous employee, the unrequited lover, the nervous intern, and the conspiring rival. These are fine for the soap opera, "fight the bad guy" type of story. But Mister Terrific really deserves more than that. His intelligence should really be highlighted here, not just relying on the macguffin of his unexplainable technology. I'd enjoy the series more if there were more consulting with physicists, more input from some of the hardcore science fiction authors of the day. A "Mister Terrific" story written by Paul J. McAuley, Gwyneth Jones or Kim Stanley Robinson -- just to name a few potentials -- could really present the super hero as the science hero he's meant to be.
Artistically? I love the covers by J.G. Jones. Each and every one is beautifully rendered. They capture an essence, either of the story or the character, whenever they're presented. Alas, the interiors by Gianluca Gugliotta I found to be hastily -- almost sloppily -- drawn. Faces are distorted to the point of presenting characters with extreme hydrocephalus. The few stand-ins by Oliver Nome and Scott Clark, while different, were not much more impressive, although I did find Clark's to be the superior of the three styles.
I continue to believe that Mister Terrific harbors a huge reservoir of untapped potential. I believe we see a portion of that with Mind Games, and I'll continue to follow the exploits (especially now that it's moved into the very excellent Earth 2 tableau). However, I'm hoping to see the comic and the character evolve into that potential in the near future.