By Jeff Lemire, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Marcelo Maiolo
When Marvel canceled Fantastic Four in early 2015, it was more of a mercy killing than a tragedy. It had reached a pinnacle of popularity, then slowly sunk into mediocrity. Also in 2015, DC ended its New 52 initiative, rolled out its Convergence event, and launched its DC YOU brand of titles to re-energize its books and characters. Three years later, DC has drastically improved its creative output, both in quality and creator representation, and decided to resurrect the FF in their own image. What we get are spiritual analogues to Mr.Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and the Thing set in the DC Universe and trying to uncover the secrets of the Dark Multiverse.
As first issues for team books usually go, the debut sees the team coming together, and like its inspirational forerunner, the team converges in a science based accident. Mr.Terrific is investigating an experiment going awry by Simon Stagg involving Metamorpho, and he brings in Plastic Man at the last minute as all three are pulled into the Dark Multiverse.
Once there, the trio land on the body of a Brobdingnagian celestial body (who vaguely resembles Galactus) and meet a young woman from the planet Bgztl named Linnya Wazzo with the power of intangibility. The issue ends with the group discovering a video will from Tom Strong himself.
There’s a lot of Easter eggs and DC history to take in and appreciate in this issue. One, there’s the acknowledgement that Mr.Terrific has traveled to a parallel Earth in Earth 2. There’s also the return of his classic look instead of the one sans his iconic jacket. Plastic Man being stuck in an egg form only to wake up when needed by another hero. A Metamorpho more like classic iterations than the one portrayed in Legends of Tomorrow. Finally, there’s the folding of another Alan Moore property into the DCU at the same time Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are bringing Ozymandias and Dr.Manhattan to meet Lex Luthor and Batman.
I have mixed feelings on Tom Strong joining the DC proper, following after characters from Watchmen. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the issue.
Ivan Reis is the penciler for the issue, and gets to depict the scientific shenanigans and other-worldly environments. I’ve been a fan of Reis’ art since his work on Green Lantern in 2006, and have continued to enjoy his renderings of DC’s cast of characters. Reis is able to encapsulate the grandeur of DC’s heroes while still capturing body proportion and clear facial expressions. While he may fall under DC’s house-style, Reis tends to be among the more consistent and cinematic of their pencilers, having worked on major projects like Blackest Night and Geoff Johns’ Aquaman. Reis’ depiction of Plastic Man’s animated movements are particularly whimsical, but capture that character’s personality. In point of fact, he captures Mr.Terrific’s Olympian physique, Metamorpho’s varied textures on his body, even Linnya Wazzo’s intangibility is noticeable by her posture and facial expressions from a few brief panels. When nothing can hurt you, you’ll carry an air of boredom around you, and Reis makes that clear without relying on Linnya missing limbs and being see-through.
It’s clear both from press releases and the issue itself that this is meant to be a book modeled after the Fantastic Four. Terrific has Reed Richards’ brains (and equally colorful sobriquet), Plastic Man has his powers, Metamorpho has the Thing’s monstrous looks matched, and Phantom Girl is as immune from harm as Invisible Woman’s force fields. Even the DC Universe logo next to the title reminds me strongly of the first issue of the last Fantastic Four volume:
Lemire has assembled an intriguing team of heroes, who in the past were unlikely to interact due to being on different team or even planets. If there’s one writer who could bring this team together and send them off into the Multiverse, it’s him. I don’t know how long it can maintain this momentum, but it nicely fills a void in the market and adds another fun series for DC to publish.
With an interesting team, intriguing story potential, and blockbuster style art, The Terrifics #1 is This Week’s Finest.