Both A Classic And A Contemporary Feel To The Terrifics #5

by Oliver MacNamee

The Terrifics seem to be one of the only titles from the much delayed New Heroes initiative at DC Comics that’s still holding its own and keeping its head just above the water. So, here’s hoping that I can shed a spotlight onto this fun and somewhat unloved book from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Evan ‘Doc” Shaner, the latter returning for his second concurrent issue. Hopefully, Shaner’s here to stay, as his classic, clean and crisp artwork on a book, homaging the Silver Age created Fantastic Four, is just the perfect fit. No wonder DC have him on lockdown creating retro style covers for their recent Silver Age omnibus releases.

Deceptively simple in its execution, Shaner brings a certain artistic sensibility to his layouts that very effectively keep even the most action-packed scene from being overcrowded, muddy and difficult to follow. A mixture of Silver Age sensibilities with contemporary design work, and you have a great looking comic like this one. Without Darwyn Cooke, I’m glad artists like Shaner exist and hold up a certain tradition through the art they are producing.

And, with the close adherence to a very specific page layout running throughout this issue – and one that hearkens back, also, to a bygone age of comic books –  what you have is a comic that delivers a great story and a great reading experience. It’s the comic book you could give to a non-comic book friend or family member, and they wouldn’t be put off as one can easily do with some of the more complex layouts that, in my opinion, is one of the stumbling blocks to interesting new readers. I can see this doing very well in trade paperback sales, if promoted correctly.

Lemire delivers an issue which really is a game of two halves. With a focus on the downtime of these fantastic friends, we catch up on the domestic lives, the trials and tribulations of Plastic Man, Phantom Girl, Metamorpho and Mr. Terrific. All of whom have their own problems when it comes to affairs of the heart. Is Mr. Terrific yearning for Power Girl when he was quizzed by Phantom Girl on his own domestic affairs? Does that mean we’ll be seeing the return of Power Girl? I do hope so, now that Earth 2 is defunct.

After all, these guys were billed as multiverse-spanning explorers when this series first launched. With the current threat of the multiverse eroding at a perilous rate – as we’ve seen in the recent relaunched Justice League comic book – surely this could be on the cards? I’ve always had a soft spot for Power Girl as a hugely different take on Supergirl, and I feel with the imminent return of the JSA to DC, Power Girl could once again take her place among the rest of the heroes. Here’s hoping.

But, I’m getting off the point somewhat.

We dip into each of the four heroes’ stories as they are divided on the page into separate, equally sized panels, with these panels doubling in size when two come together, and becoming full splash pages when they all come together to focus on a very familiar, but still exotic, danger. This makes for some very dramatic storytelling that goes beyond the widescreen and into IMax territory, if we’re sticking to the cinematic comparisons, and ramps up the action, and the danger.

I do hope this title survives, as it’s still one of my favourites each and every month, but maybe, just maybe, DC might want to try and give it another promotional push. After all, with two great talents such as Lemire and Shaner, it’s something of a surprise this ain’t doing better.

The Terrifics #5 is out now from DC Comics.