FINAL CRISIS FLASHBACK: Mr. Terrific

Thu, December 4th, 2008 at 8:58am PST

Comic Books
Brian K. Eason, Guest Contributor

Messieurs Terrific

In the pages of DC Comics' "Final Crisis: Resist," the forces of Apokalips overran the Earth with only a rag-tag resistance daring to stand against the armies of Darkseid and the dreaded Anti-Life Equation that continues to contaminate the minds of all living things worldwide. At the forefront of the resistance is Checkmate, the United Nation's private army, and their leader the White King – also known as Mr. Terrific. In our ongoing series of FINAL CRISIS FLASHBACKS, CBR takes a look at Michael Holt and his predecessor, Terry Sloane, two men who were, simply, Terrific.

MR. TERRIFIC I

The Golden Age Mr. Terrific, Terry Sloane, first appeared in "Sensation Comics" # 1 (January 1942), by Charles Resizenstein and Hal Sharpe. Terry was a millionaire with a photographic memory, mastery of a variety of martial arts, and a world-class athlete in general. Sloane graduated from university at 13-years-old and pursued a business career that led him straight to the top.

Everything was almost too easy for the "man of 1,000 talents." With no new worlds to conquer, Terry became suicidally depressed, but upon saving a young woman from jumping off a bridge -- an act Terry himself was about to perform -- he found his sense of purpose. Sloane discovered the woman, Wanda Wilson, had a brother caught up in gangsterism and juvenile delinquency, and he was inspired to create the masked identity of Mr. Terrific in order to help the young man.

Following his motto of "fair play," Mr. Terrific was an able mystery-man and crime fighter. He was a reserve member of the Justice Society of America, and a full-time member of the All-Star Squadron during the second World War. Mr. Terrific retired alongside the other members of the JSA in 1951.

In "Justice League of America" #171 (October 1979), Sloane came out of retirement to attend the annual meeting between the Justice Society and the Justice League. Sloane revealed to his allies that he was on the trail of his old enemy, the Spirit King, and that the villain was among them on the JLA satellite. Before Terry could conclude his investigation, he was murdered and the manhunt was on. An investigation undertaken by the Batman eventually revealed that Jay Garrick (The Flash I), while possessed by the Spirit King, had killed Mr. Terrific.

One Mr. Terrific team-up tale is collected in "JSA: All-Stars"

Death was not a sufficient bar to the plucky Terry Sloane. He’s made recurring appearances over the years, both in the afterlife and through the miracle of time travel. One notable appearance occurred in “Starman” #37 in 1997. In that James Robinson and Tony Harris series, the titular character, Jack Knight, met annually with his brother David, himself a deceased superhero. On one such occasion, David met with Jack while in the company of many other dead mystery men, including Mr. Terrific, who discussed with Jack his inspiration for getting into the crime-fighting business.

In "JSA" #42 (January 2003), the second Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt, travelled through time and met with Sloane. The pair teamed up to stop the time traveling villain Black Barax from destroying the future in the past. Terry also appeared in 1999’s “Day of Judgment,” which saw a team of heroes attempt to convince Jim Corrigan to become The Spectre once again. In that story, Sloane was seen amongst the heavenly host.

MR. TERRIFIC II

Michael Holt made his first appearance in "The Spectre" vol. 3 # 54 (June 1997), and was created by the team of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. Like Terry Sloane, Holt is an intelligent man with a knack for picking up skills. As a child, he was a voracious reader, studying the geniuses behind modern physics when his fellow students were still learning the alphabet and basic mathematics. Michael possessed what he called "a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes." This is defined by Holt’s ability to develop and retain skills that would take any other person a lifetime to achieve. With doctorates in Engineering, Physics, Law, Psychology, Chemistry and Mathematics (just to name a few), Holt is a multi-millionaire, a gold medal-winning decathlete, and redefines the term Renaissance Man. But being "the third-smartest person in the world" did not prepare Michael for profound tragedy.

Michael Holt is Mr. Terrific II

Michael lost his older brother, his wife and his unborn child, all in short order. This string of blows was too much even for Holt. As he considered suicide, Holt was visited by an agent of God, The Spectre – which was ironic, as Holt was an atheist. The Spectre related to Holt the story of Terry Sloane, a man much like Michael. The tale of the Golden Age Mr. Terrific inspired Michael to reconsider his fate and to take on the mantle of Mr. Terrific.

Following in his namesake's footsteps, the new Mr. Terrific joined the Justice Society of America. In his time with the team, Michael has served as a security consultant for Hourman's Tylerco (who compensated him by supporting a youth center that Holt had founded) and was elected Chairman of the JSA. Michael has also encountered Terry Sloane on two separate occasions via time travel. During one of the meetings, Terry expressed great pride that someone as truly terrific as Michael Holt carried his name into the future.

During the events of "Countdown to Infinite Crisis," (2005) Mr. Terrific was selected by the Batman to join a team scheduled to assault the artificially intelligent satellite known as Brother Eye. After it was revealed in "Identity Crisis" (2005) that Zatanna had modified Batman's memories, the Dark Knight created Brother Eye to monitor the activities of other superheroes. Brother Eye fell under the control of Maxwell Lord, and the satellite was used to control an army of cyborgs called Observational Meta-human Activity Constructs (or OMACs for short). The cyborgs were ordinary citizens transformed by a virus developed by nanotechnology obtained from Brainiac-13, and designed to assassinate anyone with superpowers. Mr. Terrific was added to the team for his incredible intelligence and skills, as well as his invisibility to electronic detection due to nanotechnology woven into his specially designed "T-Mask."

Mr. Terrific II stars in "Final Crisis: Resist"

In 2006, Holt added to his resume membership in Checkmate, the United Nations Security Council's intelligence agency. As with everything, Michael advanced quickly within the organization, beginning as Bishop to the White King, Alan Scott (Green Lantern I). When Scott was forced to resign, Holt became the organization's new White King. During this period, Mr. Terrific developed a relationship with Sasha Bordeaux, Checkmate's Black Queen. While Terrific resigned his chairmanship in the JSA, he remained a member on the team.

During "Final Crisis,"(2008) Checkmate's headquarters came under attack by Darkseid’s brainwashed minions, including the meta-human Ice. Terrific, with Snapper Carr, Cheetah and the Thinker, convinced the OMAC collective to aid them in battling the forces of Apokolips and activated the OMAC virus, creating an army of cyborgs to battle the Anti-Life Equation. Sadly, in the process Sasha was exposed to Anti-Life, thus turning her into another brainwashed minion.

Now, with an army of OMACs programmed to obey only him, Mr. Terrific leads the resistance as Man's last hope against Darkseid’s forces and his meta-human Justifiers. Michael Holt’s fate will presumably be revealed when “Final Crisis” comes to a close in 2009.

TAGS:  final crisis, final crisis flashback, mr. terrific, justice society of america, checkmate

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