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Comic Book / Mister Terrific

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Michael Holt and Terry Sloane

Mister Terrific is the name of a pair of DC Comics characters, the first of which made his first appearance in Sensation Comics # 1 in January, 1942. Terry Sloane was a brilliant polymath and Olympic athlete who by the age of twenty, had succeeded in everything he had ever wanted to do, and was left so much at a loss that he was nearly suicidal. Seeing an actual suicide, however, he instinctively saved her and used his abilities to rescue her brother from a life of crime. Realising there was more he could do in the world, he took the identity of Mr Terrific, "The Man of 1000 Talents", wearing a green and red outfit. He was a reserve member of the Justice Society of America, and was eventually killed in one of their team-ups with the Justice League of America (JLA Vol. 1 #171, "The Murder Among Us: Crisis Above Earth-One", October 1979).


His successor was introduced in The Spectre Vol. 3 #54 in June 1997. Like his predecessor, Michael Holt was a polymath genius and Olympic athlete. Also like his predecessor, he is introduced as suicidal, in this case owning to the death of his wife and their unborn child. He is told Terry Sloane's story by the Spectre, and is inspired to instead follow his example as a superhero. He subsequently becomes a core member of the new JSA, eventually being made their chairman.

A version of the Michael Holt version of Mister Terrific appeared in Arrow as Curtis Holt, portrayed by Echo Kellum.

The name was used as the title of a comic-book series published by DC Comics, one of the first of their New 52 initiative. The series follows the adventures of Michael Holt, the third-smartest man in the DC universe, who uses his scientific mind to fight crime and improve the world. After the series' cancellation, Mister Terrific was packed off to Earth 2, but later returned in The Terrifics.


Notable appearances Terry Sloane:

Notable Comic Books

Notable appearances Michael Holt:

Notable Comic Books

Mister Terrific I (Terry Sloane) provides examples of:

  • The Ace: He's a master of the arts and sciences. He's also athletic, a great fighter (capable of throwing Jay Garrick when moving at superspeed), a talented piano player, an expert on nutrition, and can find a flaw in a giant clockwork machine by studying it.
  • Arch-Enemy: Spirit King, who eventually killed him.
  • Broken Ace: Until he was inspired to become a hero.
  • Badass Normal: His only "superpower" is being a Renaissance Man.
  • Black-and-White Morality: It's noted that his raw intellect lets him work through philosophical and moral issues with perfect black and white clarity, and he tends to be heartbroken when the rest of the world doesn't live up to the moral standards he holds himself to.
  • Blessed with Suck: Has lamented on at least one occasion that his perfect expertise at, well, everything tends to make his life feel empty and trivial—In fact, he was about to kill himself over it.
  • The Cape: As noted in Starman, the words "Fair Play" might seem corny and naive, but if someone truly believes in the ideals of fairness and equality enough to wear them proudly, they may be the greatest hero of all. And Mr. Terrific does.
  • Challenge Seeker: Part of why he became a hero—in fact, in one story he's excited after being temporarily blinded, seeing it as an interesting handicap to overcome.
  • Chest Insignia: It's more on his gut, but "Fair Play" is probably the best-remembered thing about him.
  • Child Prodigy: An accomplished architect at eight, graduated from high school at eleven, and from college at twelve—that is, after a year the college awarded him an honorary degree after acknowledging that there was nothing they could teach him. So he decided to focus on physical pursuits instead, and beat so many full-grown men that he ended up with a room full of trophies.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: One story suggests that guilt over being born with unfair advantages over everyone else drives him to share his gifts in order to close the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has a brief one upon learning that the Allies were bombing Dresden in order to keep Nazis from recruiting there, and not to destroy munitions factories as he'd been told. He very nearly gives up being a hero in disgust, until The Flash explains that he could be an example for an unfair and morally gray world to live up to, which inspires him to continue.
  • Hyper-Awareness: As a result of his intellect.
  • Instant Expert: As a result of his intellect and natural physical ability.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Struggled with this for most of his life. Initially he felt isolated enough due to his genius to attempt suicide at one point (only to turn into heroism instead).
  • Irony: For all his talents and efforts, he just plain never hit it big as a hero, in-universe or out.
  • Killed Off for Real: In The Bronze Age of Comic Books, Sloane was murdered by his old enemy, the Spirit King.
  • Nice Guy: Unfailingly kind, selfless, and all about fairness, if that wasn't clear enough by now.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Although almost killing himself over it might have been going a bit far...
  • Nothing Left to Do but Die: Having accomplished just about everything, he felt this way until was inspired to become a superhero.
  • Recurring Element: Whether it's exposing bribery and corruption, helping people who've been cheated by bad luck, or ruining rip-off artists, fairness and setting things right play an important part in most of his stories.
  • Renaissance Man: From science to business to athletics, there was nothing he couldn't do. He is an expert in numerous fields of science and academics, including music, art history, ballistics, seamanship, navigation and geography. He is also a well read polymath.
  • Rescue Romance: Saves Wanda Wilson from killing herself, and sways her younger brother from a life of crime. She figures out his identity right away, and he takes her on as an assistant.
  • Time Travel: One story has him being brought forward in time to the year 7352 to fight would-be world conqueror Black Barax.

Mister Terrific II (Michael Holt) provides examples of:

  • Affirmative Action Legacy: Prior to the advent of the New 52, Michael Holt was the second person to call himself Mister Terrific, with the original being a white man, Terry Sloane.
  • Arch-Enemy: Kobra. The reboot had Brainwave.
  • Badass Normal: No powers, just an incredibly smart, well-educated, tech genius martial artist.
  • Civvie Spandex: In his initial appearances, his "costume" consisted of a leather jacket with Sloane's "Fair Play" insignia on the back.
  • Drone Deployer: He developed little all-purpose satellites called T-Spheres that he can command to do whatever he wants.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Ragman once questioned how he could be an atheist when he'd met angels (Zauriel and the Spectre), demons, and was talking to a guy whose suit was powered by corrupt souls.
  • Genius Bruiser: He is a super genius and has also a black belt in 6 different martial arts disciplines.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Doctor Mid-Nite.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Avoided. He's an atheist, but respects the Christian Dr. Mid-Nite, despite debating him on the subject.
  • Legacy Character: To the original, as an inspiration.
  • Loony Fan: The first Mr. Terrific had a fan obsessive enough (with hints of racist undertones) to hate Michael Holt for taking on his name. He schemed to remove Holt's intelligence and then destroy all evidence, up to including the information in his head by suicide, so it couldn't be reversed.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Holt is a polymath who has specialized in multiple fields of medicine, engineering and science. He possesses 14 Ph.D's (two of which are in engineering and physics-including assorted doctorates and masters in degrees in Law, Psychology, Chemistry, Political Science and Mathematics).
  • The Smart Guy: Naturally has this role in the JSA.
  • Super Intelligence: He is also known as the third smartest man on Earth. Michael Holt is described as having "a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes;" picking up complicated skills quickly and retaining them, such as performing emergency surgery on teammate Alan Scott after reading about the procedure in a medical text book. As Holt himself put it, "everyone has a talent...Mine is learning".

This series contains examples of:

  • Black and Nerdy: Mister Terrific is the third-smartest person in the entire DC universe.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Mister Terrific is frequently depicted as an atheist and skeptic of all things supernatural. This despite him having met gods, demons, spirits as well as the Spectre, the personification of God's wrath.
    • During the Infinite Crisis, a rather bemused Ragman questioned him on how he remained atheist despite having worked with an angel (Zauriel) and didn't believe in souls despite Ragman's powers being based on capturing corrupted souls. The response was a scientific handwave of what they could be.
  • Insufferable Genius: The first arc of the Mister Terrific series involves the supervillain Brainstorm randomly boosting people's intellects at the cost of turning them homicidal.