Just as fast paced in all the right places as the first issue, this second issue opens right where it left off, with the startling appearance – albeit in holographic form – of ABC Comics’ Tom Strong, as Jeff Lemire and Ivan Reis (with help on art from Jose Luis) continue to play fast and loose with characters previously treated as almost sacrosanct by DC because of their links with the comic god that is Alan Moore. Not anymore. But, if these fabulous four adventurers are seeing and hearing this pre-recorded message, he informs them, he’s probably already dead! Looks like it’s down to this gang to save the universe it would seem. But, which one?
And, before their return from the Dark Matter universe, they just have time to pick up new found orphan Phantom Girl (who we learn has had to grow up all alone, and in her phantom form, when her parents had to jettison her years earlier), as they get the Hell out of Dodge and Rex is reunited with the love of his life, Sapphire Stagg. They are back on terra firma, however, and their problems are only just beginning for these heroes who find themselves bonded in a way that will, no doubt, see them eventually take up the title of the comic. Just not quite yet.
All the elements of a great series are coming together, at break neck pace too, giving this book more of a feel of a Silver Age comic, not afraid to abandon the decompressed storytelling of recent decades, to give the reader a fun and action packed read. I like good value for my money, and this comic delivers that in spades. Each character is given enough time to continue to establish their own character and voice, with Plas wise-cracking, Liynna given the space to breath that she simply couldn’t have had in the first issue’s narrative structure, and Mr. Terrific being rather the pragmatist, who seems to favour the mystery of who Tom Strong is rather than consider Phantom Girl’s immediate wellbeing. Well, I suppose, with Rex and Plastic Man around, he’s not ignoring her plight, but rather prioritising.
It’s another great issue that pulls you in immediately. So much so that it barely registers that there is a change in art in the latter pages of this issue as Jose Luis makes a suitable replacement to Reis (not an easy feat), creating a smooth, consistent read that isn’t always the case in modern comics when fill-in artists are hired to complete an issue. It’s a comic that makes you want more as the mysteries build up. Phantom Girl, as we know, is a character from the future and the Legion of Superheroes. So, why is she here, and in this dark dimension? What about Tom Strong, who no-one recognises? We know this is going to be a multi-dimensional adventure title, and so Lemire’s inclusion of these characters with no explanation for now, neatly plays to the audience wonderfully, piquing the readers’ interest and ensuring that they, like me, will be coming back for more.
So far, this has been the stand out title of this New Age of Heroes line of comics and it’s only two issues in. And, while the underpinning theory behind this line is to spotlight the artist at a time when writers are getting all the glory, this comic gives us the best of both world with a wonderful meeting of two of comics’ biggest talents today. As a fan of Lemire’s, it was sad to see him leave DC for fresh fields, so I for one am glad he’s back where I feel he belongs.
Here’s to a long and fantastic run on The Terrifics, guys!