Sunday, September 25, 2011

DCnU - Mister Terrific #1 from DC's New 52

Eric Wallace writes, Gianluca Gugliano provides pencils with inks by Wayne Faucher on Mister Terrific #1.

I've been a fan of Mister Terrific for a long time. I liked the one from the JSA (Terry Sloane) back in the Silver Age. I liked Michael Holt as soon as he was introduced in the pages of the Spectre.

I like that he is a thinking man's hero. Quite capable of fighting his way out of many situations, he prefers to use his mind.

I also come predisposed to like Eric Wallace's writing, although I haven't read his work on Ink or Titans. He writes for Eureka, which is a show I really enjoy. A nice, frequently character-driven show that also has super science in it. That's a strong pedigree to bring to a comic about a super-inventor. Eric's blog, The Revealing Science of Ewrote shows how he feels about science. Not to mention, he just discovered FX's Louie and was blown away, so we know he has a great sense of humor.

The story starts strong, with Mister Terrific battling a battle-suited opponent. He uses a combination of science and a good right cross to overcome his opponent while Londoners, and the Mysterious Lady in Red, look on.

As he is being thanked for saving people, the first mention of race that Wallace brings in to the comic comes up. I'm glad to see it. I am glad that DC is including more diversity among their leading characters, and it is good to see an intelligent black man, writing about an even MORE intelligent black man, and that he isn't going to avoid the social impact of race.

As the comic continues, we get insight into Michael Holt the man. He is damaged by the loss of his wife, with whom he had an idyllic relationship. They were well-matched, and she was everything he could have wanted. She died, pregnant with their son in a car accident.

At that point, Michael lost his faith, as well as much of his will to live. It was only by a visitation from that lost son that he found the strength to carry on with his wife's final wish: Not to stop educating the world, like he had done for her and would have done for their son.

We get introductions to Mister Terrific's supporting cast in this book as well. Karen Starr, who was Power Girl pre-relaunch shows up as a friend (seemingly with benefits) who runs her own software company, StarrWare. No evidence in this comic if she is still super-powered. She has a discussion with a woman named Aleeka, who seems to work for Michael, and also have romantic designs on him. Here again, we see race come up as an issue between the two women. And lastly, Jamaal, who is barely sixteen, but has an IQ of 192. And is trying to scam champagne.

The characters fit together very organically. The story progresses well, and we are introduced to a phenomenon that bears Michael's investigation. An average guy on the street suddenly becomes brilliant, and acts without morals. He, for no apparent reason, turns his savage intellect on his waitress, reducing her to a sobbing mess, and then kills a homeless man for being a drain on society. He follows this up by writing out equations that Michael says would "give Stephen Hawking a headache."

All of this, and a surprise twist ending make this a very strong story. If Wallace can continue along this vein, I think this can be a very successful comic. Intelligent stories, a willingness to examine race issues, and other social issues from a mature stance. This could be a great comic. I was also a fan of Michael Holt taking an "issues rather than party" stance when it comes to politics. Too much in today's political world is one side automatically gainsaying the other. I love that Michael is willing to throw his support behind a candidate based on issues rather than whether he wears an elephant or a donkey on his lapel.

The only downside to this book is the art. I find it inconsistent. Some panels are good, even great. Others, much less so. One of the main problems I had was with the way Gugliano draws faces. They are sufficiently inconsistent that it can be hard to recognize a character from panel to panel. See below for an example.

All 4 of those shots are of Michael Holt. The definition to his widow's peak, the width of his nose, the broadness of his jaw, and pointiness of chin, all of these things change within these four pictures of the man.

I find Gugliano's work to be okay, but would actually like to see different artist on this book, in the hopes that it could really reach the audience I think it deserves. To that end, I am quite interested in checking out issue #3, where it seems that Scott Clark, an artist with a very different style from Gugliano will be guesting for an issue.

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