[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado
Bound together by fate, united by the spirit of exploration and hope for tomorrow, the Terrifics bound from the Dark Multiverse of Meta! When Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man and Phantom Girl find themselves literally bound together by a tragic accident, our team of unlikely allies must rely on one another to make their way back home. But a startling revelation on their return trip brings them face to face with a new mystery: where in the universe is Tom Strong?
There are many similarities between The Terrifics and Marvel’s Fantastic Four. These are deliberate, as Jeff Lemire has stated that he is attempting to recapture the spirit of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original stories. Marvel has let this property lay dormant, which has led some to speculate that the Terrifics is DC taking a jab at Marvel, essentially saying, “If you won’t publish Fantastic Four, then we will.” I think this overstates things somewhat. The Terrifics is in some ways a pastiche of the Fantastic Four, but there are also enough differences to make it its own thing.
Most importantly, the Fantastic Four is more a family than a team. They were a close-knit group before they gained their powers in the same accident. The Terrifics are four established characters with separate origins that are brought together by the events in this book. Well, technically three established characters – Phantom Girl is not the one we know from the Legion of Super Heroes, but her ancestor.
And the power sets, though similar, are significantly different. Phantom Girl’s intangibility is not the same as invisibility. Metamorpho’s elemental powers go well beyond brute strength or flame powers. And Plastic Man’s pliability outstrips Mr. Fantastic’s.
But that’s not to deny that there are deliberate similarities. Both groups are led by brilliant scientists with grandiose heroic names that match the group’s name. The Terrifics start the series stranded in a Dark Matter universe, which seems analogous to Marvel’s Negative Zone, which the Fantastic Four have visited several times.
Also, Plas and Metamorpho seem to be starting an antagonistic relationship similar to the one between Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm. It’s early days, so it remains to be seen if Rex and Plas will develop a strong friendship like their counterparts.
I also like that Plastic Man is being shown to have some depth and not just serving as the team’s comic relief. Sure Plas is clowning around, but he expresses his anger at having been left dormant for years without Mr. Terrific or Batman attempting to revive him. At one point he snarks, “Gee, I dunno know, Mr. Fair Play, am I gonna turn into a giant egg again for a few years if I listen to you?”
I really like Plastic Man’s costume. It’s a bit different from the classic version, but just slightly, with black shorts below his belt. However, this may be a moot point, as the cover and promotional materials indicate that the entire team will switch to coordinated costumes.
This book was fun to read, which unfortunately makes it seem very short. In fact, we only meet Phantom Girl right at the end of the story, preventing us from learning much about Phantom Girl. From her appearance, the fact that she comes from Bgztl, and her name (Linnya Wazzo), we can deduce that she is an ancestor of the Legion of Super Heroes’ Phantom Girl. But we don’t really learn anything else about her.
Perhaps it might have been a better idea to have held off and released the first two or three issues as an oversized issue, so that we had more time to get to know the characters better, especially Phantom Girl.
I have been looking forward to this title ever since it was announced, and so far it’s living up to my expectations. If Lemire and Reis can keep up the momentum, The Terrifics could be DC’s next big hit.