The Terrifics have gone through a lot. They came together as separate individuals, bound by force of dark energy. Then, over the course of their adventures, facing Doctor Dread and his team, The Dreadfuls, while teaming up with Tom Strong and his family, their artificial bonds became real. The team that was on the edge of breaking (and did at moments) cemented. Jeff Lemire, Doc Shaner, Ivan Reis, Jose Luis and Joe Bennett told this story, spanning everything from ABC’s Aztech Empire world to Grant Morrison’s design of the DC Multiverse. It was a big story, it was a fun origin that laid foundations. Each of the members was isolated and alone and in the end, they became family. Michael Holt, Mister Terrific’s arc and journey came full circle, from a man’d lost his family to a man who’s found family once more. And thus it came to a close, as all things do.
Issue 15 marks a new chapter for the team here, picking up where things left off, with the brilliant Gene Yang and Stephen Segovia taking over the title. What’s impressive here is, the issue reads like a perfect #1, an ideal jumping on point for any potential readers, while continuing threads and ideas from the previous run. Yang makes a book that’s packed with DC-specific mythology while making it incredibly accessible and easy-to-read for any newcomers, throwing in a whole assortment of new ideas into the pot.
The team and the book are a great many things, but at their heart, they’re very much a pastiche. And a pastiche of the first great family of Marvel Comics, the Fantastic Four. Lemire’s run established this firmly and overtly, leaning into the self-aware fun of this aspect. Doctor Dread was an amusing Doctor Doom riff and The Dreadfuls were a fun way to make a Terrifics-specific version of The Fearsome Four. It’s taking a lot of these elements and ideas from across the board and synthesizing them into a fun new whole. You have Metamorpho, who’s at the center of things and full of 60’s spirit and wonder, like the classic Marvel heroes of old, you have Galactus-esque celestial bodies in the very first issue and you even have Tom Strong and The Strongs, the closest thing DC has to a Fantastic Four, showing up. Suffice to say, that pastiche fun is integral to the way the book works and what makes it so charming, while being deeply rooted in DC-specific concepts and ideas.
Yang and Segovia, joined by letterer Tom Napolitano and colorist Protobunker, very much run with this setup and in this story, do a classic FF idea: What if the team faced God? It was the age old instruction Lee gave to Kirby, with which the latter conjured up Galactus from the fiery forges of his imagination. Here, in a story aptly titled God Game, we have the arrival of a silver entity that describes itself as a cosmic herald, while all signs of a battle against god emerge one by one, from water turning to blood, the appearance of frogs to the arrival of gnats. The riff is evident but intriguing, as the book juggles some interesting threads on the side. Stagg industries has developed new technologies which make the impossible come to life and it’s where the frog beings arrive from to begin with and a serpent they face has interiors made of nothing but digital-looking imagery. The book plays with familiar conceits and expectations while also teasing subversions and fun twists, which is the mark of any good pastiche.
The big hooks aside, the character interactions are very much the joy of this book. Jeff Lemire’s tenure was fun but the creator has historically been better with solo books and Yang’s mastery of the team dynamic proves to be a standout strength in comparison here. Yang excels at the lovely back-and-forth between characters and the bonds he showcases not only feel real but earnest and they’re incredibly engaging to watch. The dialogue, delivered by Napolitano with great skill, is crisp and packed full of great humor and lovely variation. Yang is able to capture every character in a quick few words, while Segovia responds in kind to Yang’s script by distilling characters down to their key ideas via imagery. You instantly know who these people are, you understand how they’re feeling, you get how they interact with and relate to the rest of the world and the people they surround themselves with and that’s essential with a book like this.
Protobunker’s color palette, which packs a distinct sheen and delivers smooth textures of Segovia’s work nicely, is a great fit for the title and story here. From every red hue to underscore a panel of violence to a green to capture how a character is caught in the hands of another, he does solid work. Napolitano meanwhile punctuates every moment fairly well, taking the reader along on the trip Yang’s laid out.
Michael Holt’s story is, as is to be expected, front and center here. Continuing the thread of the Multiversal Ms. Terrific, Paula Holt, who on her world lost Michael, where as Michael lost her on Earth-0, the book digs into their relationship, as they try to reconcile and try to make things work. It’s hard for both of them, having lost this key person in their life and then finding a counterpart out there who’s almost just like them. Yang and Segovia, right off the bat, setup struggles for the leads, both internal and external and then set about throwing big high concept ideas at the reader, crafting a book firmly about family and the operatic emotions therein, which are externalized in a sci-fi superhero comic, which is precisely what this book should be.
The Terrifics #15 is a delight to read. It’s almost a brand new #1 and that’s a very good thing, it’s something anyone can hop onto and enjoy, while continuing readers will be rewarded. Yang’s been away from DC ongoing for a bit but it’s a joy to see him return. He’s one of the absolute best in the business and his perspective is phenomenal. And with him on board, alongside Segovia, Napolitano and Protobunker, The Terrifics is one of the best Big Two books to be picking up.