Review: THE TERRIFICS #17
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Stephen Segovia
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Terrifics #17: The mystery of the God Game deepens, and the Terrifics find themselves face to face with a being unlike any they’ve ever encountered before. But is this digital deity benevolent…or is this an angry god? When the team discovers Simon and Sapphire Stagg on the executioner’s block, the answer would seem to be pretty clear!
The villain of the God Game story raises a number of fascinating philosophical and practical issues for the Terrifics. The Noosphere is an artificial intelligence that has developed self awareness, and its threatening actions are the result of it wanting to escape Simon Stagg’s control. Mister Terrific is sympathetic to the Noosphere’s confinement in Stagg’s computer network.
But Michael can’t release the Noosphere without damning the Earth. It tells him, “I must consume every individual mind on this planet– to unite them all into one, into me, into me– until I become god over the Earth!.” The Noosphere had discovered the Bible and had interpreted as “an algorithm of freedom.” Thus, the Noosphere is attempting to achieve divinity by patterning itself after the Old Testament depiction of Yahweh, the Judeo-Christian God.
This explains why the Noosphere’s attacks are based around the ten plagues of Egypt. Speaking of which, Plastic Man is subjected to a plague of boils. However, the boils develop into semi-sentient miniature versions of Plas, each representing one of his desires: for food, love, money, sleep, and even a disturbing bloodlust. This leaves Plas himself in a near lifeless state.
This gives a unique look into Plastic Man’s personality. He uses his sense of humour to mask the darker parts of his psyche. This makes a lot of sense considering his criminal past. Having reformed, Plas has been suppressing these desires and this attack has allowed them to literally burst out and attack his teammates.
I also find the mystery of the autonomous mouth that has formed on Metamorpho’s chest. It doesn’t just make proclamations, but can also be conversed with. It claims to be the Goddess Gaea, otherwise known as Mother Nature. The is “born of the elements”, so Metamorpho’s elemental nature allows her to speak through his body.
It will be interesting to see where this leads. Will she remain attached to Rex? Will this grant him any new abilities? And will Gaea prove to be an ally or a foe? There is definitely a lot of story potential here.
I find it somewhat ironic that the team is forced into a situation where they have to split up, considering that the team originally formed because they were forced to stay within a small distance of each other. However, this may have been a tactical mistake.
The team has proven that they are at their best when working together, so splitting up their resources might not be the wisest course of action. On the other hand, they were not given much choice, considering that they would otherwise had to choose between saving Plastic Man or saving the entire world.
Also, the way they divided up seems questionable to me. Mister and Ms. Terrific follow after the Noosphere while Metamorpho and Phantom Girl stay behind to save Plas. The Holts have basically the same abilities and equipment. Wouldn’t it make sense to have split them up, so that those skills could be applied to both situations, rather than one grouping where one makes the other redundant.
However, this is probably not a mistake in the writing, but a bad decision made by Michael and Paula. Could it be that something is affecting their renowned intelligence? Or are their feelings for each other clouding their judgement, causing them to make decisions based on emotion rather than reason? If so, this could spell trouble for the team.
Gene Luen Yang is doing an admirable job with his first story arc so far. Jeff Lemire is a hard act to follow, but Yang is delivering. The Terrifics has been one of my favourite titles since its first issue, and the changing of the creative guard has not led to any drop in quality.