Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mr. Terrific... Loser? -- Part Two of a "Comical Wednesday" Post




Howdy, fellow babies! Before we resume with the overview of DC's Mr. Terrific, I've got some news for y'all. Due to a small but fervent demand in public and in private, the serialization of "Two Ships" will now come to you not once, but twice weekly, tentatively on Mondays and Fridays. That will still give me leeway to do my random posts and my regular Comical Wednesday posts, as well as muck around with the occasional Theme Thursday or Sepia Saturday entries.

And now... Part Two of "Mr. Terrific... Loser?"

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Last time, I treated you with a history of Terry Sloane, a/k/a Mister Terrific, a 1940s character revived in the 1960s by DC Comics. I'll start you off by throwing the last few sentences of the first segment at you:

Apparently, there wasn't enough about Terry Sloane for anyone in comics -- readers as well as DC's own writers and artists -- to find particularly dramatic. So, during a period in the late 1970s when my youthful comic-reading habits were at a relative low, the following issue of Justice League of America appeared:


Where's Terry Sloane on that cover? Think about it.

Briefly: Mr. Terrific came out of retirement -- comics' way of saying he donned his silly costume again -- to warn the Justice Society (and the Justice League as well) that an old JSA foe, the Spirit King, had returned to cause trouble. 


The threat was real. The next time we saw poor Terry was when the members of the JLA and JSA found his corpse. The ordinarily death-obsessed comic business allowed Mr. Terrific to be slain off-panel, without even an illustration of him on the cover!


"But," you may be saying, "the second part of that two-parter must have avenged Mr. Terrific's casual killing, right?" Wrong. Thank you, writer Gerry Conway! (The same writer who'd killed off Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacy a few years earlier, by the way.)

Hell, they didn't deal with the Spirit King until years later. No lie, fellow babies.


And that panel above is about as much respect as the poor b@$t@rd got for years afterward.

A 1989 series called Hero Hotline had a character called Ms. Terrific, but other than the ripped-off uniform, no one ever bothered to explain the connection, if any.


The real Mr. Terrific even started getting a few covers once the 1990s hit, because some of the folks at DC had the same fondness for the old characters as I did and do.



Yeah, I know, I know... "He's dead. What's with all the new crap?" Well, luckily for people like me, there's such a thing as a flashback story. I mean, you have seen movies about Abe Lincoln, right?


1997 saw the debut of a new Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt. I'm not going to discuss him here, but only because 1. this post is already too effin' long, and 2. I'm not incredibly familiar with the character anyway.

Through the magic of time travel and other such plot devices, the two Mr. Terrifics -- or would that be Misters Terrific? -- have met.



By the way, fellow babies, I'm not a big fan of action figures, but I want one of these!


But I'm not the only fan of ol' Terry Sloane. The relatively recent book pictured below has a back-up story featuring Sloane, written by none other than Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon!


But who if anyone, you wonder, could really do something that could justify Mr. Terrific's existence, and pacify over-aged "kids" like myself who felt that the character had somehow been cheated?

Why, scripter James Robinson, of course, in his outstanding Starman series which I've dealt with before.

 The Jack Knight Starman, son of the original Starman, Ted Knight, had an occasion to speak with several of the deceased JSA members, including Mr. Terrific. (Hey, it's comics; don't ask.)


Terry: Having "Fair Play" as an emblem. That's what people remember. That's why they loved me. It was so corny, naive. But people bought it.

He continues...

Terry: I was always a second-stringer. Whatever that factor is... that thing that makes a great superhero... I didn't have it.


Jack Knight rises to the occasion.

Jack: The words "Fair Play." They're only corny and naive... Hell, they're just plain dumb... but only if you didn't believe them yourself. If you believed them... enough to wear them proudly like you did... maybe that makes you the greatest hero of them all.

Terry: Oh, I believed them. I still do. I'll believe those words forever.


Heh. Somehow, I'll bet he does.

*  *  *  *  *

And now for something a little more frivolous and light-hearted than usual. Just to show you how delightfully incestuous the field of comics can be, let's see how many ways today's post ties into several of my previous score of Comical Wednesday posts!

  • The briefly-mentioned Ms. Terrific appeared in the Hero Hotline series.  Hero Hotline was created by Bob Rozakis and Stephen DeStephano... who also created 'Mazing Man!
  • Mr. Terrific's "Fair Play" emblem was not on his chest, but on his stomach... as were the emblems of the Fat Fury and Lt. Hercules!
  • The Starman tie-in is kinda obvious...
  • As a member of the JSA, of course, Mr.Terrific appeared in All-Star Comics.
  • CBS' Mr. Terrific was shown at 8:00 p.m., and followed on NBC by a similar parody superhero, Captain Nice, at 8:30.
So, as I so often say, see how these things all come together?

Thanks for your time.

21 comments:

  1. i am a little more familiar with the new mr terrific...actually i do (weel my boys) have a action figure of him...

    i actually like some of the new star man..i think it only lasted like 91 issues or something like that...funny i was just in a convo the other day about it...

    that is a cool interaction validating him a bit though...

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  2. @Brian: Everything I've seen -- which isn't much, as I no longer read new comics -- of the New Mr. Terrific says he's a good character.

    James Robinson's Starman series was a masterpiece, something for then- current readers (like myself) and fans of the older stuff from the 1930s to the 1980s (also myself). It was also the last regular series which I read... errr... regularly.

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  3. I really love this Mr. Terrific Silver and I dont think he is a loser and I love this second part, when I read I remember a lot of comical issues I read time ago:)
    Is a nice post:)

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  4. I don't even blink an eye anymore when they die. Either poof time travel, poof alternate reality, poof clones, poof body swapping, poof this that and the other thing.

    No respect though, geez I guess they felt he wasn't so terrific. Funny how all things come together too.

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  5. Yes it IS a nice post Mr. Terrific Silver! I want the action figure, but I want him alive and full sized.

    Love,
    Lola

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  6. @Gloria: I'm interested in what sort of comics you may have read as a child. Really.

    @Pat: "Nobody dies forever," right? It's like the soap operas!

    As for the "no respect" part... Well, evidently, some of the guys who are my age or thereabouts, or younger, agreed with me that he'd never gotten a fair shake, and they've tried to make up for it in the last twenty years or so.

    @Lola: I have a feeling that the sort of "action" you want the figure for wasn't intended by the manufacturer!

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  7. Really ? I have to make memories, but I was terrific for read (we dont have TV when I was a child, the TV arrive when I was 14 )LOL
    so Im not a TV girl:)

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  8. Is that Ms. Terrific seated there with Mr. Terrific?

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  9. @Gloria: Maybe we'll start calling you "Comical Gloria!"

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  10. @Betsy: Good question, doll. A closer look makes me thinks it's his JSA teammate Black Canary. I'll have to check.

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  11. @Betsy: It could work. They're both dead!

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  12. ah, one of those 'next life' scenarios!

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  13. I love the slogan Fair Play but then it reminds of my time in Ireland when that was a saying after many a comment. My comic book reading stops at Wonder Woman I'm afraid but I'm getting quite the education!

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  14. @Kate: Frankly, I'm pleasantly surprised that many who don't give a rat's patoot about comics are reading the Comical Wednesday posts!

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  15. Another fun and informative Comical Wednesday posting!

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  16. @Paul: Ahhhh, what do you know about comics? Hey, wait! I almost forgot, I'm talking to the founder/owner of That's Entertainment, the "pop culture emporium" located in Worcester and Fitchburg, Massachusetts... which sells new and collectible comics, role-playing games, sport and non-sport cards, and much, much more! Anyone whose store has won the prestigious Eisner Award must know something about comics!

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  17. Geesh, Silver...I even knew who he was! ;)

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  18. @Betsy: He's famous! He has his own Wikipedia page!

    And he probably has a really cool Mr. Terrific action figure in one of his stores! And it's almost Christmas! And... Nahhh, after the ultra-cool Moby Dick comic he set me up with, I'm not beggin' for anything more!

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  19. So hard to take a superhero seriously when he has "Fair Play" plastered on his chest haha.

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  20. @Sub-Radar-Mike: I'll have to quote (re-quote?) from Jack "Starman" Knight.

    The words "Fair Play." They're only corny and naive... Hell, they're just plain dumb... but only if you didn't believe them yourself.

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