Review: Mister Terrific #1 by Eric Wallace and Gianluca Gugliotta

Mister Terrific #1

Written by: Eric Wallace
Penciled by: Gianluca Gugliotta
Inked by: Wayne Faucher
Lettering by: Dave Sharpe
Colored by: Mike Atiyeh

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

I was very surprised that DC gave Mister Terrific his own series. I always liked this version of the character in JSA, and I think this book really has a lot of potential. But did it live up to that potential?

Summary (contains spoilers): The comic jumps right into the action with Mister Terrific sneaking around a company called Dalton Enterprises looking for a massive battle suit. In typical comic book fashion, he finds it when the suit of armor attacks him piloted by CEO Miles Dalton, blowing him right out the wall of the building. This leads through a chase through London that ends when Mister Terrific magnetizes the London Eye, ruining the armor and probably Dalton’s reputation. People ask Mister Terrific who he is, and the following conversation happens:

After the rescue, we flashback to Mister Terrific’s origin story. Michael Holt was already a brilliant guy with terrific athletic talents and a gorgeous wife. His wife died in a car accident caused when her GPS goes haywire. It’s implied that she is pregnant when she dies. Holt throws himself into his work, and contemplates suicide. One night in the lab, he gets visited through a dimensional rift by someone claiming to be his son telling him “Don’t Give Up.” Back to the present and Holt is telling this story to Karen Starr, who runs a company called Starrware. It’s not clear if she’s Power Girl…but she’s definitely built like Power Girl.

As you can see in the panel, we also find out that he calls this vision of his son Aaron, because that is what they had planned to name their son if they ever had one. He invites Karen to join him as his date at a fundraiser dinner for a Presidential candidate and Senator named Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, across town, a man named Edgar Holowitz is having lunch at a cafe when he starts to glow. Edgar stands up and starts insulting everyone around him as he stalks off into the night. As you can imagine in Los Angeles, someone gets pissed and attacks Edgar, and Edgar snaps his neck. He’s arrested, and seems obsessed with drawing equations, so Mister Terrific is called in to investigate. Mister Terrific heads into his own little pocket dimension, the T-Sanctuary, to think about what’s happening.

Later that night is the fundraiser, and Karen shows up wearing a dress that is clearly a Power Girl homage. I am sorry that I seem to be obsessing over this, but I have a close friend who is a Power Girl fan, and I know she’s going to want to know about this:

At the party, we meet some of the supporting cast, including a sixteen year old genius named Jamaal, and an unnamed black female who seems to think of Karen as a rival for Michael’s interest. He don’t really know exactly how these characters are related to Mister Terrific and Holt Industries, but more on that later in the review.

Michael starts to talk to the Senator, and he gets the weird glowy thing Edgar got earlier. He snaps at the Senator and starts to attack the Senator’s seismic protection system. He says that his goal is to KILL THE SENATOR. Next issue features a villain called Brainstorm…I suspect he might be responsible for this.

Review: Eric Wallace was clearly pandering to get a good review from me when he tossed this line right on the third page:

I would like to say that I am not to be bribed by such things…but it would be a total lie. This panel is even getting featured in next week’s Weekly Checkup, Comic Nexus’s premier Doctor Who column.

I actually had been getting annoyed by the whole “third smartest man in the world” tagline this book had been getting, but when the line showed up in the book (see image above), it was the first time in a long time I actually laughed out at a comic. This book has a terrific sense of humor, which is always a selling point for me.  Even when Edgar starts to rampage, his dialogue is just hilarious.  And it’s nowhere near as over the top as some of the humor guys like Peter David slip into their comics.  Wallace hit on a perfect balance here.

I did think that introducing Jamaal and “unnamed female love interest” so late in this issue made no sense at all. They really didn’t get much development, and almost felt throwaway. I also thought the whole “white girl, black girl” rivalry felt forced, but a lot of that could be because we didn’t have any sense of who this character was. I think that would have better served the flow of the book if Wallace had waited until issue 2.

The cliffhanger at the end of this issue was really well set up with Mister Terrific being turned into a bad guy. This really plays nicely off the earlier scenes with the police looking up to him and asking for his help. I am thinking that Karen Starr will save the day in the beginning of issue 2, which would be great.

I also really liked how they adjusted Mister Terrific’s origin to work without the original JSA Mister Terrific or Spectre. I actually think this is a much better origin for the character.  Eric Wallace seems to have a tight handle on what he wants to do with this  book and this character, and I really can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Gianluca Gugliotta’s art fit the book perfectly, but I am not really sold on Mister Terrific’s new look, especially the Fair Play tattoos, which really don’t make sense without being based on the original Mister Terrific. But it really didn’t distract me from what was a really solid first issue.

Started with action, gave us an origin, created a compelling new villain, and even set up the supporting cast (though I think that is the weakest part of this issue, as it felt rushed, but if the rest of the book is any indication, this will be better in later issues).

Final Score: 8.5 – An excellent first issue. Eric Wallace and Gianluca Gugliotta really manage to create what seems like a whole new character which respects and adds to JSA’s Mister Terrific.

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