[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Joe Bennett, Sandra Hope, Matt Santorelli
No one escapes Element World! The Terrifics find themselves out of their, uh, element in a battle to save a town turned into elemental monsters. With Metamorpho and Mr. Terrific out of commission, Phantom Girl battles the Kingdom of Gas (insert joke here), while Plastic Man tries to survive the Domain of Rock by turning it up to 11. All this, and the source of the Terrifics’ terrible tragedies has one more masterstroke: Tom Strong must die!
The Terrifics continue their fight against Algon, a villain with Metamorpho’s powers. Lemire shows his love for DC’s history in the selection of this villain, who first appeared in the original Metamorpho in the 60s.
And immediately after dealing with Algon, the team encounters a brand new villain, Dr. Dread – who bears a resemblance with a certain foe of the Fantastic Four. Clearly, Lemire isn’t afraid of adding to the existing similarities to Marvel’s foremost family.
Also, an encounter with the Orb of Ra leaves Rex transformed back to his original human form, which amusingly is a situation that the Fantastic Four has visited more than once with The Thing.
There are some emotional moments in this issue. Michael is forced to relive the death of his wife, reminding us that the normally stoic Mister Terrific is no stranger to tragedy.
Also, Phantom Girl brief gains the ability to control her intangibility, only to quickly lose it again. Perhaps Mister Terrific will eventually find a cure for her intangible condition? But it looks like Phantom Girl will have to content herself with this brief taste for now.
There is also a brief moment where Plastic Man’s usual smart-aleck façade cracks and he quickly dispatches a foe, stating “You now, normally I’d tell some sort of joke right now, but I’m having a really bad day.” Happily, Lemire isn’t just relegating Plas to comic relief, but is giving the character some depth. Some of the best stories can arise when the clown of the group moves past the limitations of that role.
I also like the decision to match the panel layouts to specific characters, where each character is allotted a specific quarter of each page. And if two or more characters are together, their panels merge into one. It’s an interesting storytelling method. However, it does make me wonder what would happen if 2 characters in opposite corners were together on a page.
I can’t really complain about much. Although, throwing the team directly from one adventure to the next means that we didn’t get a chance to learn any more about Plastic Man’s son this issue. However, I am sure that Lemire won’t leave us hanging for too long before getting back to this storyline.
The Terrifics is one of my top two favourite books of DC’s current lineup (the other is Joshua Williamson’s The Flash). Whenever I get the new issue, I find myself compelled to immediately tear into it. Lemire has created something special in this title. The Terrifics is another in DC’s long string of successes since the dawn of the Rebirth era.