Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mr. Terrific: Truth, Justice and Boredom

London, 1920.
A World War I combat veteran, terminally bored and probably suffering what they then called “shell shock,” places a newspaper ad seeking adventure, and gets plenty of it.
That’s the opening of H. C. McNeile’s novel Bulldog Drummond. The protagonist’s predicament has since provided the springboard for more than one hero, among them The Equalizer and Mr. Terrific.
The latter debuted in Sensation Comics 1 (Jan. 1942) as a backup feature to Wonder Woman.
Writer Chuck Reizenstein and artist Hal Sharp gave the theme a nihilistic twist when young Terry Sloane, a polymath “Man of a Thousand Talents,” found life so unchallenging that he decided to commit suicide. But as with Hugh Drummond, adventure provided an antidote.
Sloane made himself a costume and went into the superhero game, saving a boy from a life of crime while putting some gangsters out of business. He and Wildcat joined the Justice Society in All Star Comics 24 (Spring, 1946). His last Golden Age adventure appeared in Sensation 63 (March, 1947).
Mr. Terrific returned in the Silver Age Justice League of America 37 (August, 1965), only to be murdered in Justice League of America 171 (October, 1979).
Sloane’s nom de guerre, adopted by Michael Holt in 1997, was the only part of the character to make it to TV in 1967.
The success of the Batman show prompted CBS to offer a superhero sitcom called Mr. Terrific, starring Stephen Strimpell as a gas station attendant who gained the strength of a thousand men and the ability to fly. Like Captain Nice over on NBC, this “Mr. Terrific” more closely resembled Sloane’s JSA colleague Hourman. Both gained time-limited super powers through wonder drugs.

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