The original Mr. Terrific (on the right) was Terry Sloane, a playboy-turned-adventurer who, for whatever reason, thought that costume made sense, and just to cap it off, he would write “Fair Play” on his stomach, because that would scare off the bad guys. Later, as DC’s classic Golden Age characters were being revamped for a new generation, Mr. Terrific was, for some strange reason, left behind.
It would be decades before anyone thought to bring the concept back, and I will admit to thinking “that sucks” when I heard about it. “Oh, of course they’re bringing him back, but I’ll betcha they make him a black guy,” I said at the time. And sure enough, we get Dr. Michael Holt as the new Mr. Terrific, complete with “Fair Play” written on the arms of his leather jacket and a “T” on his face. And his powers have something to do with balls.
Later, I would be surprised to discover how much I like this new take on such a lame character.
The “new” Mr. Terrific (he’s been active longer than the original, in comic-book time, when you think about it) is the third-smartest man in the world, an inventor and scientist and also a martial artist and Olympic decathlete who has developed the technologies that give him his abilities. He’s invisible to electronics and uses those floating nanobot things to scan around him and feed him information, giving him a solid tactical advantage. I think they shoot lasers, too, or maybe I’m just wishing for laser balls.
That Mr. Terrific is such a success should come as no surprise; he’s part of DC’s revitalization of the Justice Society of America, a series that consistently proves itself as the only modern superhero comic worth reading regularly (Geoff Johns, this is about you). As the X-Men flounder under a sea of stupidity, the Batman Family keeps adding caped crusaders and the JLA reinvents itself almost monthly, the JSA has remained solid with good characters, excellent writing and an ongoing theme of superheroic legacy, family and loyalty. Terrific indeed.