The Terrifics #23 is an interesting look at how to do a time loop issue. With writing by Gene Luen Yang and artwork by Sergio Davila, this issue delivers well on its premise and keeps the reader from being bored by repeating events. The issue continues the previous story that involves Bizarro and his team of ‘The Terribles’ (a different team than the one Jeff Lemire used back in volume 2 of The Terrifics) trying to change time in order to keep Bizarro relevant and in control of his homeworld of Bizarroworld.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Mr. Terrific, Plastic Man, Metamorpho, and Phantom Girl have stopped the Terribles from turning back time on earth…so, yay! Solicit over, now it’s party time! And…wait a tick…hey, Bizarro! Get away from Bgtzl! That’s a bad Bizarro! Very, very bad! You’re not supposed to alter that entire planet’s position in space-time! Wait…you have to talk to him backward, right? That’s a very good thing you’re…um…not doing, Bizarro!
Tell me about it!
There’s one specific page within this issue that has some fantastic panelling. On the title page, they have the panels repeat in a spiral to represent the loop Bizarro has caused. While in concept it’s a really basic idea, it’s pulled off incredibly well by Sergio Davila as it’s the same four panels but are repeated in such a pattern that it works to illustrate what the page sets out to convey. Throughout the whole issue Davila manages to illustrate the time loop by varying the scenes ever so slightly while still seeming repetitive enough that you know it’s still the same loop. It reminds me of issue #11 of Silver Surfer from 2017 where Dan Slott, Michael Allred and Laura Allred did a similar premise where the characters were stuck in a time loop until they managed to break out of it. In both cases the slight variation of the same panels keeps the reader from just skipping over the pages until something changes. Time loop plots are hard to pull off due to the aforementioned problems, and the fact that Yang and Davila are able to pull it off in this issue is a testament to their ability for storytelling.
The Bizarro speech in this issue has actually improved in my opinion over the previous ones in that it’s slightly more consistent and easier to work out compared to how the previous issues. While overall I’m enjoying this plot, I do feel like it’s been stretched out a bit too long due to Year of the Villain. But ultimately, I can’t fault the creative team for having to keep going with a line-wide initiative given to them by editorial.