By: Eric Wallace (writer), Scott Clark (penciller), Dave Beaty (inker), Mike Atiyeh (colorist)
The Story: Downgrade this Braintsorm into a Braindrizzle—Mister Terrific’s here!
The Review: I’ve tried to avoid focusing on the subject of race in reviewing this title because it doesn’t seem like a very post-Norman Lear thing to do, and I don’t plan on going too deep into it now. But I think it’s fair to say this title, because it had a minority character who isn’t an icon for its star, had a higher burden to prove itself. Unlike other breakout titles, Mister Terrific couldn’t afford the luxury of a slow burn; it needed to hit the ground running with A-writing.
This it does not do. Unfortunately, Wallace is just too given to some incredibly cloying bits of dialogue, which would have dragged down any character, not just Mr. Terrific. Take this line, delivered by our hero without the slightest bit of camp or irony: “It’s Brainstorm that needs a lesson in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Why he felt the need to insert this already oft-misused reference here, especially with so tenuous a context, we don’t know.
Even if the dialogue was working we’d still have problems with the lack of imagination in the plot—or plots, since there are several and none of them go against what’s already been done. Brainstorm, of course, turns out just as vapid and flat as you suspected. His only ambition is to achieve a vague desire to become “the All-Mind,” the benefits of which he never really explains. His plan to “fertilize” random minds and then reap their genius when he’s ready also makes little sense. Seems rather counterproductive, if you ask me.
Once Brainstorm reveals he actually has a significant, grim connection to Michael’s past, we then get the “hero goes vengeful, gets caught by the adoring public, and stains his reputation in the process” storyline. Besides Brainstorm’s poorly set up revelation, Wallace executes the scene in the most cliché way possible. Sappiest of all is when one of Mr. Terrific’s young admirers, with tears in his eyes, rubs out his “Fair Play” tattoos in front of his former hero.
As for the corporate intrigue going on in the background, it only has so much novel substance to offer. While the board’s insistence on Michael choosing a successor made sense in light of his induced breakdown in the last couple issues, Donald’s betrayal revolves entirely around his lust for Aleeka. Since we know so little about either character, let alone their history together, the whole thing lacks emotional impact of any kind.
And then you have this cosmic element still mostly lurking in the corners of the title, featuring a set of (unestablished?) aliens who warn our hero of the coming of another set of (unestablished?) presumably more malevolent aliens. It may be a good idea to take Michael off planet though, since he’s not really have much of an influence on it.
Clark offers a major improvement over Gianluca Gugliotta. He has a sharply angular but organic look that sits well with the technological elements of the issue while still giving strong expression to the characters. Frankly, this is the art that should have led the title, as it makes you feel as if there’s an actual, high-functioning script at work here.
Conclusion: You might say this issue concludes our hero’s first outing and exposure to the comics-reading public. As such, it’s very unimpressive indeed, doing little to ingratiate the character or engage our interest. There are too many titles deserving reading for me to keep up with one that’s so stubbornly middling. Chalk this one up as Dropped.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – First of all, Donald, no one has ever truly won the girl’s love by getting rid of his rival or acting like a backstabbing jerk.
– Second, Aleeka, your guy’s not biting. Don’t turn into the fictional trope of a strong, smart woman who waits around for a man to notice her.