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‘The Terrifics #4’ (review)

Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Evan “Doc” Shaner 
Published by DC Comics

 

“Mr. T… are you really telling me that this oversized baseball we’re in can travel faster than light?”

“Please Rex, do you really think I would bother to build a T-Sphere that couldn’t?”

They’re back! The terrifically tympanic Terrifics! (Drum roll please.)

Now in newly minted color-coordinated uniforms! Okay, so, more like black-and-white-coordinated.

Really? Couldn’t punch-up the red a little more, just for Plastic Man’s sake?

*sigh*

Anyway, they’re stuck together, so now they roll together.

Or anyway they travel by giant T-sphere together.

This week, our inadvertent, intrepid team of adventurers are off on a rollicking space adventure!

That didn’t take long.

Helps I guess to have the unknown, new, (and very Legion of Superheroes-esque) heroine of the team be from another planet. At least she’s styling her hair more like an Earther girl now. Sure is nice to have Mr. Terrific unclench enough to agree to the jaunt. Guess he’s really just a softy at heart. Sure was a quick shift from Mr. Self-Involvement though. Wonder if that’s normal, or if something else is at play here? But, I mean after all, it’ll only be a several hour interstellar flight. And it has been ten long years since Phantom Girl has even seen her parents.

Or has it?!?

There isn’t all that much to this issue. No big baddies. No major plot developments. No foreshadows of an ominous world-dangerous threat lurking in the wings. Other than Simon Stagg probably. Because Stagg is a jerk. But it is a good backstory filler that gives writer Jeff Lemire a chance to start laying down some necessary team building dynamics – in a far less than ordinary environment of course. And that’s good. The Fantastic Four did that all the time. And something like this is needed after three issues of zany, off-the-wall, no-time-to-breathe team origin escapades. I guess. I like all the zany, off-the-wall, no-time-to-breathe escapades personally. Not that there’s no action in this issue mind you. There’s that giant alien tentacled space-thing.

Lemire’s clearly a big believer in the idea that all true artists are world-class thieves. So it’s fun to see echoes of everything from the FF, to the X-Men, to the Legion, to Doc Smith’s Skylark series, to Star Wars, all interwoven through the mix.

Well OK, maybe more than an echo of Star Wars. More like… an homage maybe? We’ll go with that. (Might as well just lift the actual Han Solo line while you’re at it though, Jeff.)

One of Lemire’s great talents is his facility with the human touch. So, it’s no surprise he’s finding his way into that rather quickly. I’d be happier if the set-up and the sub-textual expectations of the book didn’t make it feel quite as formulaic, but I trust that once we’re past the initial phases of this, he’ll be doing more than the basic building blocks of better team bonding.

I hope so. Much as I love Plas, he’s still feeling a bit too much like the odd-joker out. It’s already difficult enough having two mega-ectomorphs bumping up against each other constantly on the same team. So far though Plastic Man’s comic relief schtick still seems better suited to a larger team.

The obvious solution: a little less Plas, a little more Eel O’Brien. But, I mean, good luck with that. I have faith though! Given time, Lemire can work wonders with the strangest of characters. Let’s just hope he gets it.

This month we have yet a fourth artist on the book. I hope they settle down and pick someone to be the regular for the series soon, ideally someone who can really capture the full scope of Lemire’s kinetic imagination. It’s already a disservice to the inherently scatterbrained style of the plotting on this book to have a constantly changing sequence of artists. Not the best way to go. Much better to have a clear stylistic through-line, seems to me.

This month it’s “Doc” Shaner on pencils. He’s ok. Nothing particularly exciting. But solid enough I suppose. At least Metamorpho doesn’t look so much like a ghoulish freakshow in every panel. Which is probably why he got the gig.

Can’t fault any opportunity to show off Plastic Man as a giant goggled octopus though!

Plas On! Terrifics Forever! (It’s Chromium time?) They’ll figure it out.

Next month: Who knows!

 

 

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