THE TERRIFICS #5 by Jeff Lemire and Doc Shaner
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Despite a slightly rushed final action sequence, THE TERRIFICS #5 suceeds on nearly all fronts. The deep focus on character and the incredibly energetic pencils of Doc Shaner push this series in the right direction!
90 %
Approaching Terrific
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Jeff Lemire and Doc Shaner have done a lot of things right in THE TERRIFICS. Their deep focus on Silver-Age styled strange science has given this series a welcome comedic and often intriguing edge. However, they haven’t yet taken the time to fully explore the characters. For someone like myself with very little background in Mister Terrific, Plastic Man, and Metamorpho; I didn’t have the necessary knowledge to fully appreciate these characters. That is, not until THE TERRIFICS #5.

In THE TERRIFICS #5, the team has just returned from their brief sojourn to Phantom Girl’s home planet, Bgtzl. With little else on their plate, they each go about trying to reclaim their old lives. Plastic Man finally contacts his ex-wife and son. Metamorpho sits down with Sapphire to have a necessary heart to heart. And Mister Terrific finally begins his tests on Phantom Girl to fix her destructive ailment. However, not all is well in the world of the Terrifics. An ancient and powerful threat stemming from Rex’s past has arrived to seek revenge, and only the Terrifics can stop him.

Pulled In Four Directions

THE TERRIFICS #5
THE TERRIFICS #5 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

THE TERRIFICS #5 succeeds where previous issues haven’t because of its characterization. This series has largely been a super-science odyssey, sending our heroes on action-packed adventures to other planets and dimensions. However, this focus has forced our attention away from the characters themselves. In the last issue, we did get some potent characterization of Phantom Girl, and I will say that she doesn’t quite get the same focus as her teammates in this issue.

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However, THE TERRIFICS #5 works around one of the hardest aspects of a team book. It delves straight into the minds and hearts of three of its main protagonists. We don’t get their histories, which is a bit of a shame. Nevertheless, we get a really powerful glimpse into their present lives. Eel O’Brien is especially interesting, considering that his Plastic Man persona has been comatose for the last five years. His phone call with his ex-wife is incredibly compelling, as he tries to explain himself and reclaim his old life.

Yes, I did want a little more from each of these characters. I wanted to delve deeper into their histories and see how they got here. I especially wanted more with Michael Holt, whose conversations about his past seemingly bring up some sort of deep trauma. However, I still feel satisfied with what we got in THE TERRIFICS #5. This is a truly emotionally charged issue, with some really fantastic dialogue and powerful emotional moments. Before, the focus fell on the action. Now, the opposite is true, and I couldn’t be happier.

Elemental Action

THE TERRIFICS #5
THE TERRIFICS #5 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

With that said, though, the true brilliance of THE TERRIFICS #5 comes from its balance. This is a character-centric issue, but Lemire isn’t afraid to leap into plot and action elements. In fact, the way he ties plot into character truly makes this story stand out. The main threat here, Algon the Ancient Elemental Man, has direct ties into Rex Mason’s powers and history. This gives the story a deeper weight, especially in the context of the extreme threat he brings with him. This story works best as a snapshot of these characters and how they react to the world around them, and that truly feels satisfying.

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However, THE TERRIFICS #5 does have a bit of an issue with pacing. We don’t get to the action sequence until halfway through the story, meaning that a lot of major plot stuff has to happen in a short amount of time. A lot of writers can make this work, but for some reason, it just feels rushed here. The team shows up, they get beaten down, and suddenly, they get transported to various other locations. The action is interesting, largely thanks to Doc Shaner’s incredible pencils. However, so much happens in a short amount of time that I just felt a bit lost. I needed a bit more context to understand the stakes and the motivations at play here.

Doc is in

THE TERRIFICS #5
THE TERRIFICS #5 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

As strong as the characterization and plot are in THE TERRIFICS #5, none of this compares to Doc Shaner’s work on the pencils and inks. Shaner has illustrated the last two issues of this story, and I have absolutely loved his work. While I did enjoy the realism of former artists Joe Bennett and Ivan Reis, this series really benefits from the cartoony nature of Doc Shaner’s style. So much energy exists in these pages, and the way Shaner approaches the stranger elements looks absolutely perfect. The final battle in itself, with its huge pops of visual effects and strange proportions, wouldn’t look better under anyone else’s pen.

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THE TERRIFICS #5: Final Thoughts

THE TERRIFICS #5 is a nice step in the right direction for the series. The deeper focus on characterization over plot adds a nice touch to DC’s newest and strangest super team. Despite the super-science oddity, these characters face truly human crises, giving this book a deeply relatable edge. It does have its issues, yes. The final action sequence kind of rushes by despite its truly epic potential. However, THE TERRIFICS #5 is still a fantastic and deeply relatable comic that should be on your bookshelf.

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