A Contemporary Comic With A Classic Look: The Terrifics #4

by Oliver MacNamee

Issue #4 and already this title is on its third artist!  But when that a artist is Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner (Future Quest), you won’t hear me complaining. Not when Shaner’s style is such a great fit for this book. As the designer of The Terrifics, it only makes sense that he has his time on this book anyway. Although, judging by the previews for the next few issues, a revolving door on art duties seems to be the order of the day. Unfortunate really, as each artist on this book seems to bring with them their very own distinct and different style and I’m not sure how well that works, cohesively, in both the short and long run. It doesn’t necessarily give the book a definite look, that’s for sure. But, let’s not worry about the future and refocus on this issue and Shaner’s art, along with Jeff Lemire’s script, shall we?

Shaner offers The Terrifics a classic, clean-lined style befitting of it’s Fantastic Four/Silver Age heritage. A contemporary comic, no doubt, but with a sense of tradition and homage of the bygone era this title hearkens back to, what with its adventurous, multi-dimesnional and outer space-faring scope. I loved his work on DC’s Hanna and Barbera Future Quest and the Alex Toth vibe he brought to that title. Well, that vibe is equally welcome on this book too, and adds to the story centred on Phantom Girl in this issue, as she ventures back to her homeland of Bgztl alongside her fellow team mates, now sporting the black and white costumes we’ve seen on previous promo art. And, to maintain it’s own DC identity, it was great to see some familiar looking DC alien scavengers who have hoovered up The Terrifics as they journey across the stars to Bgtztl. Is that a Tamaran I see behind that big, bushy beard? I think so.

Time has moved on since the events of last issue, as we learn through Phantom Girl’s diary entry – a nifty bit of exposition – with the gang on a new adventure in the stars. With a few surprises along the way, too. Surprises Mr. Terrific thought best to keep from Phantom Girl until she reached her world. For the third cleverest man on Earth, I’m not too sure he showed brains in this decision. But, it certainly works as a narrative device that surprises both Phantom Girl and the reader. Lemire gives us a young, innocent and bright-eyed Phantom Girl, which Shaner perfectly executes on the page, too. A teenage girl who looks like a teenage girl too, and not like other ‘teen’ heroes depicted elsewhere in comicdom. Although, thankfully, even the sexualisation of such characters is slowly dying out. Comics are great, but there is a darker side that isn’t often enough called out, I fear.

The Terrifics is still a great joyride of a book. Shaner put the ‘art’ into the ‘heart’ of this book, while the entertaining and oft-times comical interplay between these fantastic friends, courtesy of Lemire, gives the book its soul. This is a great action-packed comic, with the soap operatics and humour I loved about Wolfman and Perez’s The New Teen Titans so many years ago now. Plastic Man and Metamorpho make for a great Beast Boy/Cyborg double act, that’s for sure. The New Teen Titans was book that brought me into comics and into DC and my lifelong love affair and addiction. I do hope this book has the same effect on new readers who are able to pick up a copy themselves. Well, maybe not the addictive part, although there are worse things to be addicted to in this world.

The Terrifics #4 is currently available from DC Comics.