A couple of issues in, “The Terrifics” is starting to lose focus. The first two entries elegantly produced a story pairing each member of the team together going on a mission but the last done-in-one installment was a troubling detour in a title that should be aiming towards the next big adventure. Hopefully, the comic will be able to live past the New Age of Heroes line of comics and be one of the few outliers. With such an endearing cast of oddball heroes and impressive talent lined up on the comic, I hope we see “The Terrifics” #4 live up to its full potential and last a long time, does the new installment earn any of the goodwill back?
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Doc Shaner
Colored by Nathan Fairbairn
Lettered by Tom Napolitano
“THE GIRL FROM BGZTL”! Return with the Terrifics to the Phantom World! As our heroes continue their trek through the multiverse (dark or otherwise) to find a cure for the condition that binds them together, their journey brings them to the home planet of Phantom Girl. This is one tearful reunion you do not want to miss! Plus, a giant space squid attacks! That’s right, a giant space squid!
Out of each member of the line-up in the cast so far, readers haven’t been able to see much of Phantom Girl up to this point. The charming, endearing, and down-to-earth hero has been a great personality to change the dynamic of the team overall. Thankfully, the latest installment of “The Terrifics” takes a chance to stop and explore her current mindset and physical state while advancing a piece of the story from previous issues. In fact, by the time we catch up with Phantom Girl she’s already on the ship with the rest of the roster making her way towards her home planet, Bgztl. Diving into a fascinating mystery and taking Doc Shaner along for the ride gives the script a renewed sense of purpose and focus I was looking for from past issues of the series and if the finale is any indication, the storyline will be continuing from here.
The true star of the creative team is Doc Shaner. Shaner’s incredibly polished and vibrant pencils lend something special to the story which has never been quite as refined as is in this issue. Shaner’s work has tons of detail and fantastic expression for each member of the cast. Under Shaner’s pencils, the lines in some of Plastic Man’s transformations are particularly impressive. Amid giant squids, Metamorpho’s physical changes and the staggering level of detail seen here, Shaner allows for a much better series and standard of art that readers have ever seen before. Shaner’s level of detail is also particularly poignant on the final page where Phantom Girl has an emotional moment with a large cast of characters are on-panel.
The dynamic between the different members of the team is also starting to evolve. Lemire has wisely imbued the characters with some flaws making them interesting to interact with and watch. Phantom Girl is too naive while Michael Holt pushes people away. The difference in character makes each cast member different while relationships between characters like Phantom Girl and Plastic Man are much better established in the issue. While each member of the team is still developing their relationships with each other, the relationships between the characters are starting to feel more organic.
Even though the issue has a strong energy, the plotting does feel thin at points. Getting to know each member of the cast and exploring some of the twists and turns of the issue make for poignant moments but Lemire’s conflict in the scripting process does not make for the most interesting threat and instead becomes something more tedious the cast needs to get rid before moving on to the more interesting factors within the title. The non-linear storytelling device towards the beginning of the title is cute but does not bear a strong impact on the story. The device also makes the issue meander more than it should and wastes a page which doesn’t develop very far past the clever idea introduced towards the beginning of the script with light interaction with some of the greater cast members.Continued below
“The Terrifics” #4 is by no means a perfect comic book, but the installment certainly indicates a different focus for the overall series. Thanks to the pencils of Shaner, the comic has never looked better. The fantastic costumes and interesting cast members paired with Nathan Fairbairn’s colors transform this issue into one of the most beautiful comic books you are going to read from The Big Two this week. Thanks to the final page, it even seems Lemire and company have a better idea of what is coming next with a more focused, serialized plot coming down the pipeline. Best of all, “The Terrifics” #4 takes a throwaway plot point to answer a question loyal readers will be wondering about and provides an interesting answer.
Final Verdict: 6.5 – “The Terrifics” #4 is an ambitious shift in scope for the title bearing astonishingly detailed artwork.